In the Trenches: The Virtual Phone System Scramble

Like a lot of small businesses, I opted to go with a virtual phone system vs. a traditional one for Cranky Concierge. This was a fairly easy decision, considering the fact that everyone in the company works from a different location. It just made sense, and it saved us money.

However, last week I learned the pitfalls of using a virtual system. Our service provider decided to “update” its system, and the new version decided to stop interpreting our custom settings properly.  That meant incoming calls weren’t being routed to the right people at the right time.  Sometimes, they were even going straight to voicemail, even calls to our urgent line. This left me scrambling to decide what to do next.

When it comes to a phone system, our needs are pretty straightforward. I want a service that supports more than a few extensions, so that it can grow with us. I want it to be able to ring multiple phones for each employee, depending upon his or her personal preference. (For example, my extension rings my cell and land lines simultaneously.) I also need the system to have a solid call-routing function, so we can send our clients to different people at different times of the day. Lastly, I want it to be easy to dial out so that our outbound calls will display our toll free number through caller ID.

Our current system satisfied most of those requirements until last week, when our custom settings suddenly stopped working. It used to be that we could set a default routing process that we could alter by creating overlying rules.  Apparently, the provider decided to eliminate some of the system’s default capability without notifying us. We couldn’t revert back, and the customer service people were unable to help us. So, I did what I imagine a lot of people would do — I cobbled together something resembling the old settings as best I could, so we didn’t screw our clients.

Since that time, someone from the company did reach out after seeing my rantings on Twitter and said he’d have someone call me.  But I never heard from anyone.  In the meantime, I started looking for a new provider.

I started my search on Twitter, where I received some great recommendations from my followers. Then I went online and looked at comparisons provided by several of the providers I’ve heard about. I’ve turned up quite a few options, but I don’t want to deliberate on for long, because having a functioning phone system is extremely important. I can’t imagine sticking with a provider that makes changes without explaining the potential consequences beforehand and fails to provide adequate assistance afterwards. With any luck, I’ll have a new virtual phone system set up by this time next week.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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6 comments
advert240
advert240

thanks, this is really a nice blog and business phone system provides best services.

cook
cook

The actions of your current, soon to be late telephone provider are horrible beyond measure.  In a prior life I was a consultant in that field, but not affiliated with any one provider: ALL client's needs are unique to their business and their usual practices.  I wish that I could help you, but I just don't do that work any longer.  Yes, I charged a substantial fee, but I was able to couple that with an absolute guarantee.  (No client ever asked for even a partial refund.)  The short answer is, Heck Yes!  You can find a provider that will meet your needs, treat you with respect and not yank the rug out from under you at a critical moment.  The rest of the solution is that you do not have to tackle the   problem alone, nor do all of the configurations yourself. (You do have more important things to do, no?) If you find the right consultant, one interested in solving your problems, not selling a specific product, you will likely consider their fee as one of the top two or three best investments you've ever made in your growing business.  You properly note that telecommunications (your 'telephone system') is absolutely vital in your line of work.  If you are to properly service your customers, it has to work properly, 24//7.  Period.  Please consider some truly expert, professional help and from a consultant that will help you monitor the effectiveness of your system and help you make any necessary adjustments as your business evolves.  You don't need glitz and bling, but experience, knowledge and a genuine desire to configure the composite to fit YOUR needs.  Changing your practices to fit the telephone system is not necessary.  In qualified hands, the system can be configured to work YOUR way.  Best wishes for continued success and please, 'get some professional help,' 

benbrooksny
benbrooksny

 @crankyconcierge  - have you checked out 8x8? I got them a few months ago and really like them. They provide hard and soft phones (which would help when you travel, enabling you to make outbound calls from your 800 number on your smartphone or tablet). I think I can give you a referral discount if you want. Their customer service is great and they are very high touch/hands on. @benbrooksny 

tivoboy
tivoboy

Take a look at Ringcentral.

anon
anon

Who did you choose for the new system?  My company got bit by the same "enhancements".  No telling how many calls we lost over the course of several days.

crankyconcierge
crankyconcierge

I haven't made a decision yet, but I've been investigating Grasshopper.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] In the Trenches: The Virtual Phone System Scramble – Intuit Small Business Blog Our phone system provider decided to upgrade the system, causing us big problems in the process. [...]

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