Among the more surprising twists of 2017 was the rise to prominence of the once obscure telecom topic, net neutrality. Politics aside, that many people could lucidly and somewhat knowledgeably discuss the issue seems to show just how seriously we take our not exactly constitutional right to unencumbered internet access. It may have seemed laughable a few years ago, but we now rely on this resource in a way that isn’t far removed from our reliance on clean air and clean water. Similarly, when businesses examine PBX SIP service for their business, they often neglect to consider the SIP service that makes it hum. And that can be a difficult mistake to recover from.
The PBX: Grand Central Station for Your Company’s Communication System
Imagine that you are hosting a viewing party to binge-watch the inevitable Netflix-driven X-Men-Muppets-Stranger Things crossover, “Middle School Mutants Take Manhattan.” You buy a 65-inch OLED television, an Apple TV 4K puck, and a Sonos Playbase soundbar with subwoofer. All your hardware is pristine and dazzling. However, before you even get a chance to pass out the Eggos, you press play only to find that the stream stutters and stops every 40 seconds, buffering away everybody’s patience.
Were you having equipment issues, you might be able to fix them or work around them. You could roll in a backup television or switch out the Apple TV box with a Roku or Fire stick. But if your internet service isn’t reliable enough to sustain a 4K signal, you might as well send your guests home.
This is the same issue that many SMBs run into with their communications stack. In previous articles, we’ve explored the pros and cons of on-premise PBX hardware vs. cloud-based IP-PBX. We don’t pick sides in this fight since there are solid reasons for choosing one over the other based on your needs. Whether it’s a premise-based PBX, a hosted solution maintained by your company, or a fully hosted and maintained solution, 3CX powered by Voxtelesys’ PBX SIP service can handle it. But businesses preparing to invest in PBX SIP service often get seduced into taking flights of fancy about the features that today’s modern PBX offer them, without taking the time to ensure they have a service that can consistently connect your customers with your agents.
We think of the PBX as the Grand Central Station of your company’s communication system, ensuring that inbound calls are efficiently routed to the right person while outbound calls are placed on the fastest track to their destination. And, indeed, the features of today’s PBX platforms monitor and coordinate this traffic, while mitigating the risk of losing a customer when call volume gets heavy.
On the inbound side, PBX systems often tout their call handling capabilities, including:
- Caller ID
- Direct Inward Dialing
- Ring groups (a set of extensions placed in one group, that will ring the phones simultaneously or in sequence based on business rules)
- Call Forwarding and Call Routing
- Dial by Name
- Follow Me (which allows users to design their own call flow, so callers can always find them)
- Call Waiting and Call Parking (different forms of placing a call on hold)
For outbound calling, the PBX vendors tailor their feature sets to align with the needs of the outbound crowd, often emphasizing speed and compliance, like:
- Attended Transfer and Blind Transfer (options for transferring a call, based on whether you want to notify the person being called or not)
- 911 and Emergency Calling (to allow emergency calls to go through a trunk when needed)
- Speed Dial or Auto-Dialer integrations
- Do-Not-Call (DNC) integrations
However, this doesn’t even scratch the surface. Many PBX systems also flaunt IVR (interactive voice response), call monitoring, call recording, call detail records, distinctive ringtones, conference calling, video calls, LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol, which serves as an interactive phone book), voicemail, fax-to-email, voicemail-to-email, and SMS-to-email and vice-versa. Feature bloat makes it challenging to comparison-shop since many PBX systems boast of having hundreds of capabilities.
Most SMBs only wind up using a handful of these PBX features. Unfortunately, their due diligence rarely includes two vital ingredients: their internet provider and their PBX SIP service provider.
Poor PBX SIP Service Can’t Be Saved by Hardware
Think back to the examples we’ve shared above. When your Netflix stream turns into a trickle, do you blame your television or your Apple TV? Probably not. When your train is late, or your plane is delayed, do you blame the train station? The airport? You could, but the blame would be misplaced. Instead, you will be angry at Comcast or Spectrum, or Amtrak or United.
The same applies to your telecom needs. If the phones suddenly stop ringing, it’s unlikely that the problem is the PBX. It may be your PBX SIP service provider.
Only about 1/3 of businesses with an on-premise PBX claim they rarely experience PBX SIP service outages, while less than 1 in 5 with a cloud-based PBX can say the same thing. These outages or degradations in service—even if they’re brief—can sour a customer on your business permanently. Just consider the times you’ve called a customer service line only to have the call drop after you’ve been on hold for 40 minutes and/or been transferred multiple times. For many of us, these episodes can mark the end of our relationship with a business.
But along with finding a SIP provider who can meet the 99.999% uptime standard, you need to make sure that they play nicely with your new PBX. If you’re choosing a PBX based on one or more specialized features, you need to know that the SIP provider supports them. Only about 1/3 of businesses say their PBX SIP service provider supports all the features of their PBX, and that number seems to trend lower for those with on-premise deployments.
Whether you’re an IT manager surveying the PBX landscape or a consultant trying to find the right solution for a client, it’s critical that you consider the SIP service side of the equation. Too often, we see situations where SMBs start suffering minor and then major problems, which can be traced to their PBX SIP service. But when they try to rectify the problem, they realize that they’ve been locked into a long-term contract with the provider, who may not be incentivized (or even able) to solve the issue. Learn how you can improve customer service and boost productivity and reduce costs with 3CX IP PBX powered by Voxtelesys. Contact us first so we can help save you from receiving the dreaded call from the CEO looking for who chose the provider that is slowly bringing down the business.