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Posted on: October 16, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By TAYLOR MALLORY HOLLAND – Contributor

There was a time when quality products and reasonable prices were enough to earn a customer’s loyalty. Not anymore. In today’s overcrowded, tech-driven marketplace, customer experience matters most.

According to MyCustomer, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one, so providing an extraordinary experience is key to not only building, but also saving revenue. Most business leaders have already gotten the memo: 89% of companies see customer experience as a main driving force of loyalty and retention, said MyCustomer. And according to Salesforce, 58% of customers say technology has changed their expectations of how companies should interact with them.

Therein lies the opportunity for Vonage channel partners. With the right UC customer experience integration, your clients can empower employees to interact with customers across more channels than ever, while using communications data to continually improve the experience with each interaction.

So, how can you help your customers improve their customer experience with the Vonage communications platform?

The Building Blocks of UC Customer Experience Integration

Not long ago, cloud communications simply meant Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — phone systems that connect over high-speed internet and automate certain tasks, such as directing callers to the correct representatives or letting them request callbacks when the wait time is long.

Then came unified communications (UC) and unified communications as a service (UCaaS), a cloud-based platform that combines voice, video, messaging, and conferencing. With UC, employees can interact with customers across channels and easily switch from one channel to another based on customer preference. Better yet, with CRM integration, employees can see all the relevant information about incoming callers, so they can greet customers by name, anticipate their questions, and provide thorough personalized answers.

UC alone can improve customer service and sales. With easy CRM access, automatic call logging, and the ability to connect from any internet-enabled device, salespeople can stay connected to their clients from anywhere and ensure that customer information is always up to date. Deploying UC is just the first step in modernizing communications, however. The next step is leveraging communications APIs, such as:

  • Chatbots. Provide 24/7 customer support, AI-based recommendations, and even self-checkout options via chatbots or voicebots.

  • SMS alerts. Alerts allow you to keep customers in the loop with personalized offers, shipping and delivery updates, and other timely communications.

  • Geofencing. Send personalized messages based on customer location using geofencing technology.

  • Phone number verification. Shorten the login experience for customers with automatic verification.

The Case for Integrations and Add-Ons

These features help brands provide seamless communication from the moment a customer initiates contact with the company. But what about the folks who haven’t reached out yet — for instance, a prospective customer who enjoyed a blog post or discovered a product on Instagram? Of course, a simple Google search could help them contact the company, but for impatient customers or impulse shoppers, that might be one click too many.

Enter communications platform as a service (CPaaS), a set of developer-friendly APIs that let companies embed real-time communication features (voice, video, messaging) into their mobile apps, websites, and social channels. So, if a customer finds the brand on social media, they don’t have to log off and look up contact info. Instead, they can start a conversation with the brand directly from the social page, using whichever communication channel works best for the situation.

Finally, businesses that field a steady stream of customer communications can benefit from contact center as a service (CCaaS). Like UCaaS, CCaaS is a multichannel communications platform, but whereas UCaaS is designed for office workers, CCaaS is designed for call center employees.

Businesses can typically integrate CCaaS and UCaaS to get the functionality of both solutions. However, with Vonage Business, your clients can get it all from one solution: CX Cloud Express. This solution layers the CRM-integrated contact center platform on top of a traditional UC platform. This way, employees can communicate with each other and with customers, using the same technology with the same customer data.

Simply put, with cloud-based platforms like CX Cloud Express, employees can easily collaborate to deliver the seamless, personalized customer experience that consumers want and that your clients are struggling to provide.

The Benefits of UCaaS Extension Customer Experience

If your clients still aren’t convinced they need to modernize communications to improve the customer experience, a little data might help. According to a 2017 study conducted by Vonage and IDC, communications “powerbrokers” — companies that leverage UC, CPaaS, automation, and integration — significantly improve the customer experience and enjoy better business outcomes because of it.

These powerbrokers decreased customer service resolution speed and hold times, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty by 42%. And these changes in customer experience led to an improvement in the bottom line, too: powerbrokers saw a 34% reduction in costs and a 47% improvement in go-to-market speed for products and services, which led to increased profitability.

For companies that truly prioritize the customer experience, nothing is more important than modernizing communications. And as a Vonage channel partner, you’re perfectly positioned to help them do it.

Posted on: October 15, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

The Benefits Of A Departmental Contact Center

Let’s be honest: The idea of opening a massive contact center probably isn’t all that appealing, especially if you are a startup or small to medium-sized business operating on a tight budget and trying to run an agile operation.

Related: Mobilize Your Business With UCaaS

Building a traditional contact center, after all, is no small ordeal. It requires a lot of space, hiring dedicated staff members, securing premium communications infrastructure, and so on. All things considered, a contact center can be one of the most resource-intensive departments in  company.

Related: How A Scalable VoIP Solution Can Help Your Business

Despite these challenges, contact centers are extremely important—more so, in fact, than ever before. In the age of the customer experience (CX), where expectations are through the roof, ensuring a seamless and helpful interaction with your brand has become one of the golden rules of doing business. According to Salesforce, 47 percent of customers claim they will stop buying from a company if they have a subpar experience; 76 percent of customers say it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.

The Departmental Contact Center

Without the services of a contact center, it’s just about impossible to keep customers satisfied—putting business owners today in a tough predicament about how to proceed. As a workaround, many businesses are embracing the idea of informal, or departmental, contact centers.

Related: UCaaS As A Critical Customer Service Tool

A departmental contact center is one where non-traditional employees (like sales associates or IT personnel) are empowered to interact with customers over channels like voice, email, and live chat. It can reduce or eliminate the need to hire full-time customer service representatives.

Related: Why You Should Update Your Business Phone Service

Departmental contact centers typically leverage a cloud communications platform, which can be accessed securely from any location. All communication takes place over a centralized, cloud-based portal—in effect, enabling a borderless customer service department.

The Benefits Of Departmental Contact Centers

Some of the top benefits to using a departmental contact center include:

Reduced CAPEX & OPEX

By taking an informal, departmental approach, and leveraging cloud software, a business can provide strong customer service without having to spend enormous amounts of money on backend telephony infrastructure and agent-facing equipment. It will also eliminate all overhead that would otherwise have to be spent on a physical contact center (like floor space, seats, utilities, and so on).

Related: What All Multi Phone Systems Should Include

Keep Employees Connected

In a traditional contact center environment, dedicated agents handle most customer-facing interactions. Information is entered into a customer relationship management (CRM) portal, where it can then be exported to other teams like sales, marketing, and Research and Development. One of the downsides to this environment is that it creates a barrier—and a disconnection—between customers and employees. All too often, critical customer data simply goes unused. By allowing high-ranking team members to communicate directly with customers, it can serve as a valuable educational component that can lead to better products and services, and happier customers in the long run.

Related: The Future Of 5G

Improved Loyalty

Customers, of course, will appreciate connecting with experienced team members instead of part time call center agents. For example, imagine using a software as a service (SaaS) solution to run a business, running into a problem and contacting customer support—and instead of speaking with a regular agent, you connect with a lead developer who knows the ins and outs of the software better than anyone. This type of experience will foster feelings of strong brand loyalty—and it will reinforce the message that the company really cares about providing great support, to the point where workers will take time out of their busy day to help solve problems.

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Our bring your own network (BYON), access-agnostic solutions equip your customers to easily swap phone systems and migrate to the latest communications and networking technologies they need while keeping their underlying connectivity in place. Cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), value-added SD-WAN and managed security services will improve customer engagement, employee productivity, network performance, service reliability and cyberthreat protection.

Featured BYON Windstream Enterprise solutions include:

  • SD-WAN – Choose the technology platform that is right for your business from two of the leading WAN edge infrastructure providers— VeloCloud or Fortinet—both options are recognized as leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, provide PCI DSS compliance, and leverage our state-of-the-art partner portal
  • UCaaS – Our many “flavors” of Unified Communications as a Service offer a more connected, collaborative workforce, with instant messaging, chat, presence, mobility, conferencing and CRM integrations—all backed by a world-class network with 99.99% always-on reliability
  • Security and Compliance – Most experts agree that a security breach for most companies is no longer a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. Our suite of Security Services includes Cloud and CPE Firewalls, SIEM and DDoS Mitigation to shield the most sophisticated threats.

Enjoy big payouts. In addition to our standard competitive residual monthly compensation, we’ll give you a 5% bonus residual and up to 4X accelerator for BYON services!

 Everything you need from a single source. If you’re also looking for network solutions, either as a replacement or for diversity, we can do it all—BYON, network solutions or both.

Want to Learn more? E-mail Windstream Enterprise

Posted on: October 11, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Yes! It’s a Match Made in Heaven!

SD-WAN has been a trending topic in the technology world for quite a while now, and long enough that it’s beginning to become commonplace in network discussions and more routine when it comes deployments.

Today, most SD-WAN deployments are managed by companies that exclusively handle  SD-WAN. So any voice provider that planned to sell SD-WAN as a part of their solution to a customer would essentially be relying on these third-parties or outsourcing to manage the SD-WAN service.

That’s why Momentum recently made headlines when they added SD-WAN to the company’s solution portfolio.

Although unique, a voice and communications provider offering a managed SD-WAN solution brings a number of advantages to every deployment. Here  are a few:

1) The Benefit of the UCaaS Experience

VoIP and unified communications are a few of the primary applications that use an SD-WAN connection. So while traditional SD-WAN providers may be concerned with general deployment, connection speeds, etc., voice and communications providers are able to approach SD-WAN configurations and designs with a firmer understanding of the application requirements and end goal.

This allows voice providers to optimize and lay out an SD-WAN blueprint and delivery plan for customers that ensures each and every deployment gets maximum results for their voice, UCaaS and all other applications.

2) Access to More Advanced Technology and Integrations

Because SD-WAN providers deal exclusively with that technology, they don’t always have the access or the capability of integrating into all the latest pieces of technology. This especially happens at the individual application level where you’ll see handshake deals or head nod agreements on how particular services and applications will perform on the connection.

Voice and communication providers have the experience, understanding and partnerships to combine cutting-edge branches of technology to deliver the absolute best delivery to work with applications

For instance, Momentum has designed a way to deploy SD-WAN in a way that builds on the technology’s enhanced availability, visibility and control without having to sacrifice security and reliability. One way this is accomplished is through the option of placing a virtual session border controller in Momentum’s data centers to ensure peak performance and quality.

Additionally, Momentum’s SD-WAN deployments can leverage both wired and wireless bandwidth. This is a game-changer because the expansion of available connection options allows for deployments to truly find and use the best available bandwidth. It also means the solution isn’t limited to locations with wired connections so it can be used almost anywhere.

3) Streamlined Experience

At the end of the day, one of the biggest benefits of having managed SD-WAN from a voice provider is the customer experience. You can see this in getting a single bill for multiple services, receiving access to savings through using multiple services and having main a single point of contact for questions and troubleshooting. Also, a voice and communication provider delivering SD-WAN can actually also provide even tighter protective security because all transmissions and signals remain in a single network.

SD-WAN from voice and communication providers delivers expertise,  enhanced technology, a better experience and move financial value to customers. And if the provider is like Momentum and provides a white-glove experience, having a single provider for voice, SD-WAN and even possibly other network services can give deliver additional meaningful value that simply can’t be ignored.

Posted on: October 10, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Emails pile into your inbox by the dozens—or hundreds. Notifications pop up on your desktop computer and phone. So do text messages. And both your desk and mobile devices constantly ring.

Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone.

Sometimes we feel like we work for our communications devices, not the other way around. They pull us in all directions when we just want to get some work done. In today’s work environment, we’re challenged to be productive and effective, sometimes in spite of the technology we use.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Unified communications (UC) combined with smart, intuitive collaboration tools (UC&C) makes work easier, connecting us more efficiently with colleagues, customers and partners, all from one platform that can be accessed from any device.

Improving The Customer Experience

With UC&C, employees can connect with customers through any channel, no matter where they’re located. Envision this scenario: A customer’s flight is delayed two hours, so she misses her connection. After speaking with the gate agent, she resignedly wanders off to get a bite to eat, five gates away. Why shouldn’t she? She knows it will be a while before she’s rebooked.

In the meantime, the gate agent finds an alternative flight. He brings up the customer’s information from her reservation, finds her mobile number and, with a click, the system dials her smartphone. She answers, thrilled when the agent shares details about her new flight. After agreeing to the rebooking, she sets off to the new gate.

Improving Team Productivity

Your creative team is hard at work developing a new client’s marketing campaign. But before they can proceed, you discover they need a critical piece of information from an internal subject matter expert. Despite leaving a voicemail and sending an email, you’ve received no response. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if your colleague is even on this continent, let alone available to conference with the team?

Presence technology lets you see if the SME is available and by which means: voice, text, video or not at all. The system automatically routes calls from one number to another. On top of that, your colleague can see all communications with UC&C’s unified messaging. Whether he’s in his office, in the car or working remotely, by signing on via a shared cloud platform he sees all messages, including texts, voicemails and emails. If he’s not available, the team sees this immediately and reaches out to another colleague for the information it needs.

Improving Community Communications

It’s not only businesses that benefit from UC&C. Staff and teachers in the Lovejoy Independent School District needed a way to communicate both internally and with parents. After UC&C was implemented, they gained a phone and voice mailbox in each classroom with conferencing capabilities. One feature, the Time of Day Call Restriction, allows teachers to put the classroom phone into “meeting mode” at scheduled intervals. That way, they’re not interrupted by calls during class time.

When class is out of session, teachers easily make calls from any device, either with a single click from their contact list or by entering a name. They can also easily join conference calls. That’s particularly handy when someone can’t make a parent-teacher conference in person.

Improving Partner Collaboration

In product development today, speed to market is essential. To achieve it, employees must work efficiently with partners, involving them as early as a product’s design phase.

Imagine you’re an engineer developing a new battery for a prototype automobile. You need to collaborate with the vendors supplying the necessary parts. UC&C provides tools that not only let you manage the project – setting tasks, scheduling meetings, sharing documents and virtual whiteboards – but enable you to invite external parties to participate via a secure, web-accessible interface.

It doesn’t matter which communications tool the vendor uses. UC&C can send messages across multiple providers. It even allows you to build a digital twin online so you can conduct a deep dive into the product’s requirements, working side-by-side.

UC&C Drives Results No Matter Where You Are

UC&C is bringing organizational communications into a new era. Now, colleagues, customers and communities can easily communicate across devices, geographies and across applications.

Discover How Hosted UC&C Makes Good Business Sense. >

Posted on: October 7, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Choosing the right Unified Communications platform

A unified communications (UC) platform should be your ticket to easier team collaboration, with all workflows for instant messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, VoIP telephony and more running through one streamlined application. Whether it actually becomes this ideal all-in-one hub will hinge on which solution and vendor you select.

What’s at stake when shopping for UC – and why you should explore cloud

When you choose a UC platform, you’re not just purchasing a product – you’re buying into a larger ecosystem, much like you do when you opt for iOS or Android. In addition to placing a bet on the solution’s underlying communications technology – i.e., its ability to handle calls, messages, and meetings – you are also trusting its vendor to support it and other vendors to allow it access to their APIs. That raises the stakes for making an informed decision, as the wrong choice can leave you with a UC solution that is as unreliable for end-users as it is difficult for you to integrate into your larger IT environment.

Making these sorts of high-stakes choices between seemingly similar – but actually quite different – collaboration tools is the enterprise equivalent of the format wars that once dominated consumer tech. For example, imagine being a movie buff circa 2006 and going all-in on the ill-fated HD-DVD instead of Blu-ray. The latter quickly drove the former out of the competition despite their comparable specs, leaving early adopters with an expensive player that studios had abandoned and which couldn’t even play Blu-ray discs – in other words, a major sunk cost.

When it comes to business communication tools, there’s a much wider range of competing solutions, from on-prem UC based on SIP trunking and an existing phone system to cloud-based implementations from vendors including Telesystem. Cloud-based UC, which is low-cost and continuously updated, is generally the most reliable platform for sustaining growth and ensuring real-time communications, not to mention eliminating the risk of ever being saddled with expensive, low-utility assets down the road.

That said, it’s important to scrutinize the features of any unified communications platform as well as the specific value the vendor can add to it. Let’s look at what you should prioritize during the selection process.

Deployment model: Cloud, hybrid or on-premises

All UC solutions are designed to perform the same basic task, namely to create a one-stop-shop for:

  • Voice calls.
  • HD video conferences.
  • Instant messages.
  • Virtual meetings.

At the same time, they differ in the specific infrastructure they harness to reach this goal. An on-prem unified communications platform is built on equipment the customer owns, operates and maintains. In contrast, cloud UC – or Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) – leverages the power of the provider’s data centers and hosted IT resources, and hybrid blends the two.

There are pros and cons to each approach. On-prem and hybrid afford a higher degree of control, at the cost of budgetary and operational flexibility. Cloud offers the latter two in spades but requires finding a trustworthy vendor. For now, cloud UC seems to be winning the race, with a Synergy Research report finding its adoption among enterprises increasing a staggering 57% year-over-year in 2018.

A UCaaS platform like UC-One from Telesystem can completely replace your existing PBX without requiring you to handle its maintenance or perform the complex operations for moving, adding or changing the system’s users. Cloud-based unified communications are highly scalable, flexible and cost-effective, as they are billed as periodic operating expenditures, not as steep upfront capital expenditures.

Features for calling, messaging and meetings

Any UC solution worth its weight will do much more than simply be a PBX-in-the-sky, though. It will support all of the key functions integral to modern teamwork and put them into context in one place, eliminating the need to waste so much time on app switching just to keep up with the many possible ways in which a team can interact.

Indeed, today’s workplaces are home to a plethora of collaboration tools, including persistent chat apps, VoIP and video services for real-time communications, online meeting spaces and old standbys such as email, PSTN calls and text messages. The latter remains particularly popular despite the rise of newer alternatives; a survey by Technalysis Research found that they accounted for 75% of all co-worker communication.

Unified communications platforms like UC-One effortlessly balance old and new modes of communication:

Calling

Need to make a quick phone call? Corporate directory lookup allows colleagues to be found within seconds. You can also set up a single number for all of your devices, use Wi-Fi calling for cheaper rates and make VoIP or conventional calls from your business number. HD video is available as well to enrich voice conversations.

Unified messaging

Business messaging has come a long way from the early days of IRC and SMS. Chatting within a UC suite is strengthened by features such as presence (to see who’s online at the moment), private and group chat, full chat history and easy access to all shared content such as emails and other files.

Meetings

Online meetings should be simple to join and participate in, but too often they throw a lot of roadblocks in front of their would-be participants. Dial-ins, PINs and complex user interfaces complicate the experience. Meeting functionality in a platform like UC-One is much more streamlined, with a simple invitation system that gets out of everyone’s way and allows participants to get right down to business via integrated video, messaging and screen sharing. You can even drag and drop a colleague’s icon into the meeting room or, if needed, dial-in.

Support for mobile workers

Since the 2000s, there has been a steady increase in the number of people telecommuting, in large part due to the evolution of mobile devices and wireless networks. More than 4 million individuals work from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Half of the U.S. workforce holds a position that is compatible with telework arrangements and 80 to 90 percent of workers would like to telecommute at least some of the time.

Accordingly, mobile device support is a must-have in a UC solution. Specific features to look for include:

  • Android and iOS client apps for phones and tablets.
  • The ability to move calls from desktops to mobile devices.
  • Multiple call handling and merging.
  • Business phone number support across devices.
  • Wi-Fi calling with seamless handover between networks.

Integrations with other business communications apps

To return briefly to our earlier point about HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray, ecosystems matter. Cloud UC solutions without deep integrations and reliable vendor support are no better than fancy media formats that have no films or shows that anyone wants to watch.

The best UC platforms build context and support efficient workflows by integrating with everyday tools such as Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Box and more. Plus, they can pull information and events from calendars and emails. The end result is one view within the UC app that provides a wealth of information about your calls, messages, files and co-worker statuses.

Should you invest in a UC platform?

Upgrading to a unified communications system is a big step, and one worth taking for many businesses. As PBXes age and become costlier to operate and maintain, transitioning to cloud UC, in particular, is often the rational move.

UC technology brings together the core functionality of your phone system with advanced features for messaging and meeting. It also goes beyond a traditional PBX by incorporating better support for mobile devices, which can easily use an existing workplace number to create a more professional impression, especially for small businesses.

Organizations of all sizes and across all verticals can potentially benefit from a UC implementation. Multi-location enterprises are perhaps best positioned since a UC platform provides a common way for geographically dispersed and frequently on-the-go employees to consistently stay in touch.

As an experienced national provider of services including hosted VoIP, network security and dedicated internet access, Telesystem offers a top-notch unified communications experience via the UC-One platform. It’s easy to get started by requesting a quote from our team. You can also contact us directly for additional information on UC-One or any of our other enterprise collaboration tools.

 

Posted on: October 3, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

You have a choice when it comes to choosing a broadband provider, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. It’s just the way it is – one city, one neighborhood, one provider, right? Wrong.

Meet the Overbuilders

You may have heard the term “overbuilder” in conversations about the communication industry. You may also be asking yourself, “Who or what are they?” These are the companies that are building the next generation of fiber and cable over existing phone and cable infrastructures. They’re nimble and passionate about service and innovation, and they’re constructing a network that’s built for data first.

While other networks are trying to squeeze the last bit of performance from old existing infrastructure — often 30 to 50 years old — overbuilders focus on constructing new, purpose-built, and robust hybrid networks that deliver a true next-level service.

How We Got Here

For years, telephone and cable companies benefited from a near monopoly over services. The original idea was to grant singular access rights to entire cities and regions as a way to help those companies recover the cost of implementing a new kind of service. And it worked. Their investments paid off, but unfortunately for consumers, they’ve paid off many, many times over. When singular access rights were revoked in the late 90’s, the large providers dominated.

Where We Go from Here

Competition spurs innovation, reduces costs, and improves service. It’s also the catalyst behind the rise of the overbuilders. With their ability to provide a custom setup for their partners, overbuilders have put pressure on incumbent cable and phone companies.

With new direct competition those providers have attempted to improve. Unfortunately, most of the infrastructure that their networks are built on was never intended to handle the level of internet traffic modern businesses require. And while the level of innovation to max-out the capabilities of legacy infrastructure has been impressive, it’s just no longer necessary.

A Bright Future

Thanks to overbuilders, you can enjoy a fast, fiber-rich, hybrid network that can be tailored to fit almost any specific customer or need. Offering more choices, more options, and more personalized packages than ever before, overbuilders’ passion for innovation and customer service is changing the communication partner landscape.

While it’s true that most overbuilders can deliver greater access and higher speeds, WOW! Business goes even further. Its sales engineers ensure that recommended products and services are optimized to meet every network need. Then they back it up with local IT and account people ready to respond with speed and efficiency.

You do have a choice. And after looking at all the options and benefits of overbuilders like WOW! Business, it might just be the easiest choice you ever have to make. Learn more.

Posted on: September 26, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

In 2019, it has become clear that SD-WAN has secured its position as the way forward for enterprise WAN connectivity. Market adoption is growing rapidly, and industry experts have declared a winner in the SD-WAN vs MPLS debate. For example, Network World called 2018 the year of SD-WAN, and before the end of Q3 2018 Gartner declared SD-WAN is killing MPLS. What’s driving all the excitement around SD-WAN? It effectively comes down to this: SD-WAN is more cost-effective and operationally agile than MPLS. SD-WAN reduces capex and opex while also simplifying WAN management and scalability.

However, if you don’t drill down beyond high-level conclusions, it can be hard to quantify how SD-WAN will matter for your business. Here, we’ll dive into the top 5 SD-WAN benefits and explain why IT professionals and industry experts alike see SD-WAN as the way forward for enterprises.

Reduced WAN Costs

MPLS bandwidth is expensive. On a “dollar per bit” basis, MPLS is significantly higher than public Internet bandwidth. Exactly how much more expensive will depend on a number of variables, not the least of which is location. However, the costs of MPLS aren’t just a result of significantly higher bandwidth charges. Provisioning an MPLS link often takes weeks or months, while a comparable SD-WAN deployment can often be completed in days. In business, time is money, and removing the WAN as a bottleneck can be a huge competitive advantage.

Just how big of a cost difference is there between MPLS and SD-WAN? The specifics of your network will be the real driver here. Expecting savings of at least 25% is certainly reasonable, and for many enterprises it can go well beyond that. For one Cato customer, MPLS was 4 times the cost of cloud-based SD-WAN despite MPLS only providing a quarter of the bandwidth.

For a real world example of how Nick Dell, an IT manager at a major auto manufacturer, optimized his WAN spending by ditching MPLS and moving to SD-WAN, check out this webinar.

Enhanced WAN Performance

MPLS was the top dog in enterprise WAN before cloud-computing and mobile smart devices exploded in popularity. Once cloud and mobile became mainstream, a fundamental flaw in MPLS was exposed. Simply put: MPLS is very good at reliably routing traffic between two static locations, but it isn’t good at meeting the demands of cloud and mobile.

With MPLS, enterprises have to deal with the “trombone effect”. Essentially, an MPLS-based WAN has to inefficiently backhaul Internet-bound traffic to a corporate datacenter. The same Internet-bound traffic is then routed back through the corporate datacenter. This places a drag on network performance and can really hurt modern services like UCaaS and videoconferencing.

As SD-WAN enables policy-based routing (PbR) and allows enterprises to leverage the best transport method (e.g. xDSL, cable, 5G, etc.) for the job, this means no more trombone effect and improved performance for mobile users and cloud services.

In addition to solving the trombone routing problem, SD-WAN is a game changer when it comes to last-mile performance. The same ability to leverage different transport methods enables a more advanced approach to link-bonding that can significantly improve last-mile resilience and availability.

Improved WAN Agility

MPLS wasn’t designed with agility in mind. SD-WAN on the other hand is designed to enable maximum agility and flexibility. By abstracting away the underlying complexities of multiple transport methods and enabling PbR, SD-WAN allows enterprises to meet the varying demands of cloud workloads and scale up or down with ease.

For example, onboarding a new office with MPLS can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. With Cato’s cloud-based SD-WAN, new sites can be onboarded in a matter of hours or days. Case in point: Pet Lovers Center was able to deploy two to three sites per day during their Cato Cloud rollout.

Similarly, adding bandwidth can take over a month in many MPLS applications, while SD-WAN enables rapid bandwidth provisioning at existing sites.

Simplified WAN Management

As we’ve mentioned, the long provisioning times with MPLS can create significant bottlenecks, but MPLS management issues go well beyond that. The larger an enterprise scales, the more complex WAN management becomes. Multiple appliances used for security and WAN optimization become a maintenance and management burden as an enterprise grows.. Further, gaining granular visibility into the network can be a challenge, which leads to monitoring and mean time to recover issues. Cloud-based SD-WAN adds value here by providing an integrated and centralized view of the network that can be easily managed at scale.

Increased WAN Availability

When it comes to uptime, redundancy and failover are the name of the game. While MPLS has a solid reputation for reliability, it isn’t perfect and can fail. Redundancy at the MPLS provider level is expensive and can be a pain to implement. SD-WAN makes leveraging different transport methods easy, thereby enabling high-availability configurations that help reduce single points of failure. If your fiber link from one ISP is down, you can failover to a link from another provider. Further, the self-healing features of cloud-based SD-WAN make achieving high-availability (HA) significantly easier than before.

The Cloud-Based Advantage

We’ve already mentioned a few ways cloud-based SD-WAN helps magnify SD-WAN benefits, but it is also important to note that cloud-based SD-WAN overcomes one of the major SD-WAN objections MPLS proponents have put forth. In the past, it could have been argued that the lack of SLAs meant SD-WAN solutions were not ready for showtime at the enterprise-level. However, with cloud-based SD-WAN from Cato, enterprises get all the benefits of SD-WAN, an integrated security stack, and an SLA-backed private backbone supported by Tier-1 ISPs across the globe.

Furthermore, this private backbone solves another problem other SD-WAN solutions cannot: latency across the globe. For international enterprises that must send traffic halfway across the world, routing WAN over the public Internet alone can lead to significant latency. In the past, this would mean dealing with the operational and dollar costs of MPLS to become worth it. However, cloud-based SD-WAN offers a more cost effective and operationally-efficient alternative. Cato’s global, private backbone has PoPs (Points of Presence) across the world that enable traffic to be reliably routed across at speeds that meet or exceed MPLS-level performance.

SD-WAN outstrips MPLS for the modern enterprise

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to every WAN challenge, it’s clear that the majority of modern enterprises can benefit from SD-WAN. We can expect to see MPLS hold a niche in the market for years to come, but SD-WAN is better suited for most modern use-cases. In particular, cloud-based SD-WAN gives businesses a reliable, secure, and modern MPLS alternative that offers the agility of SD-WAN without sacrificing reliability or the peace of mind SLAs provide.

To learn more about what cloud-based SD-WAN can do for your business, join our upcoming Dark Side of SD-WAN webinar or contact us today.

Posted on: September 25, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

If you’re on the lookout for a business VoIP phone service to streamline communications, you might want to consider Nextiva. In this post, we go into some of our genuine Nextiva reviews, top features, and pricing.

Here’s a quick overview:

What is Nextiva?

Nextiva is a VoIP service provider that offers business VoIP and call center and contact center solutions. Founded in 2006 on the principle of Amazing Service, Nextiva’s VoIP system powers 100,000+ brands in the United States.

Related: Customer Service is #1 for Nextiva. Check out the top 30 customer service tips we swear by!

2019 Nextiva Reviews and Customer Feedback

Top reviews from GetVoIP

 

Also, here’s why Shelby American, Inc vouches for Nextiva. Hint: Exceptional customer experience and technical support.

1) “Nextiva’s one of the best VoIP providers we’ve seen!”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 1

2) “Nextiva makes our life easier.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 2

3) “We love the Nextiva system, and I personally love my softphone!”

Nextiva Reviews: GetVoIP Review 3

4) “Great experience till date.”

Nextiva Reviews: GetVoIP Review 4

5) “I would highly recommend this service.”

Nextiva Reviews: GetVoIP Review 5

Top reviews from Capterra

Concordia Care Inc. loves that we’re HIPAA compliant and is a fan of the Nextiva App. See why >>

6) “Amazing service and platform.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 3

Pros:

– Increased support staff productivity and better customer relations
– Fast setup and quick onboarding
– Amazing tech support from Nextiva’s service team
– Cost-effective, but feature-rich

Cons: None

Overall: Highly recommends Nextiva for their overall ease of use and customer support.

7) “Nextiva’s support team made a tough transition easy.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 4

Pros:

– Offers a complete solution based on a business owner’s needs
– Full-stack solution that’s highly flexible
– Easy to use and cost-effective

Cons: Limited integrations

Overall: Happy with Nextiva’s platform, costs, functionality, and timing.

8) “Full service and software solution.”

Nextiva Reviews: Capterra Review 3

Pros:

– The Nextiva sales team took the time to understand our business and help us work out what we needed
– Has the services we need at a price we can afford
– Easy to upgrade in the future if required

Cons:

– Staff training was time-consuming especially because we weren’t fully prepared for it

Overall: Even after implementation, Nextiva continues to be responsive and helpful.

9) “A great software partnership!”

Nextiva Reviews: Capterra Review 4

Pros:

– Great solutions for business communications and office enterprise tools
– Customer support is amazing
– NextOS is advanced and powerful

Cons:

– None

Overall: Once you partner with Nextiva, you get the impression you’re being brought into something much bigger. It’s really exciting and fun too.

10) “Nextiva delivered for our business.”

Nextiva Reviews: Capterra Review 5

Pros:

– All phone calls have been crystal clear — no call drops
– Easy to use
– Onboarding was smooth and easy

Cons:

– Small delay to port numbers

Overall: Would recommend

Top reviews from Trustpilot

Have you tried NextOS 3.0 yet? Well, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix did, and this is what they think.

11) “It’s everything we need for business communications!”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 5

12) “A solid choice for a simple and safe VoIP system.

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 6

13) “A great communication tool!”

Nextiva Reviews: TrustPilot Review 3

14) “Thanks to Nextiva, we’re learning more about our customer relations.”

Nextiva Reviews: Trustpilot Review 4

15) Nextiva’s Live Chat is nicely designed, stable, and easy to use.”

Nextiva Reviews: Trustpilot Review 5

Top reviews from Fit Small Business

16) “Making the switch to Nextiva was easy.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 7

17) “We reduced response times and hold times.”

Nextiva Reviews: Customer Review 8

18) “Nextiva’s reporting helps us manage our staffing better.”

Nextiva Reviews: FitSmallBusiness Review 3

19) “Nextiva’s reporting is incredible!”

Nextiva Reviews: FitSmallBusiness Review 4

20) “Nextiva Chat makes it so much easier to talk to our customers.”

Nextiva Reviews: FitSmallBusiness Review 5

Nextiva’s products and services:

Nextiva’s unique VoIP phone system is for everyone and also specifically, small businesses. For example, Nextiva’s Business Communication Suite has three-tiered pricing.

Basic (starts at $20 per month/user), Pro (starts at $25 per month/user) and Enterprise (starts at $35 per month/user.)

Our feature-rich business VoIP phone service and other cloud solutions are also ideal for:

Related: The Ultimate Business VoIP Phone System Buyer’s Guide

But wait, there’s more

While our products work well alone, they work even better together. How? Introducing NextOS. It’s the technology that powers our all-in-one communications platform. There’s no better place to get a pulse of your customer experience.

Want to see what NextOS can do for you? See our bundle plans and pricing here.

Nextiva’s Business Phone System: Plans and Pricing

When it comes to choosing your business phone system, there are several questions you may have:

And so, to make things easier for you, our three-tiered pricing breaks down exactly what features you’ll get on what plan.

Basic – As low as $20 per month/user

  • Unlimited calling and SMS messages/Internet faxing
  • Voicemail with email delivery + text delivery
  • Free local phone number + toll-free number
  • Call forwarding
  • Auto attendant
  • Numer porting
  • Advanced call management

Pro – As low as $25 per month/user

  • All of the above
  • Professionally Recorded Greeting (1)
  • Nextiva mobile app
  • Instant messaging & presence
  • Team messaging & presence
  • Conference bridge and unlimited conference calls
  • Customer Surveys (NEW with Pro)

Enterprise – As low as $30 per month/user

  • All of the above
  • Call recording
  • Website Live Chat (NEW with Enterprise)

See How Nextiva May Work for You

Choosing a whole new business phone service is no joke. But maybe it’s time to break up with your landline, especially considering how much you’ll save in terms of setup time and upfront costs.

Make sure you and your team truly understand how VoIP phones work and how it stacks up against landlines before you make a move.

Related: Meet our customers and see how Nextiva helps them get ahead in 2019.

Nextiva is perfect for those businesses that need a complete UCaaS solution. When you sign up, you’ll also get custom configurations and on-demand support. Beyond this, we also offer PBX SIP trunking as well as Nextiva Drive for cloud storage.

Don’t just take our word for it! See more Nextiva reviews from ConanWest Coast Trial Lawyers, and Bauformat say about us.

Like what you see here? There’s more! Let’s get you started.

 

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Technology moves fast, and as an IT professional you’re expected to navigate new technology and drive your company’s digital transformation. Your dear co-workers might ask questions like: “Why aren’t we using this app that came out four days ago? How quickly could we move all our data and applications to the cloud?” Working in IT means the expectations of your customers and co-workers are constantly rising. More so than ever, IT teams are under pressure to respond quickly to new technology and capabilities.

In addition to being the Magellan of technology at your company, you’re expected to manage inventory, implement cybersecurity, oversee data storage, build rocket ships, and so much more. Managing all these moving parts is daunting. Luckily, many of the challenges you and other departments in your company might face, can be simplified or automated with a CPaaS solution.

CPaaS allows you to customize your internal and external communications by integrating with your current business systems seamlessly. Easily deploy automation across your entire enterprise that improves communication and productivity for multiple departments.

Music to your ears, right? Here are a few ways that CPaaS can help you work more but do less:

Easily Deploy and Integrate

There’s no need to undo any work you’ve already done. Instead of overhauling all of your company’s communications processes you can leverage and enhance your existing systems, such as CRM, contact center, support ticket management systems, email platforms, and more. Your leadership team will appreciate that you can utilize existing investments, your co-workers will be amped that they don’t have to learn a new software, your customers will be delighted with your enhanced communications, and you will be able to take a deep breath with all the time you’ve saved. Maybe grab a coffee? An afternoon snack, perhaps? Up to you. We support it.

CPaaS is flexible, scalable, and you can use what you need when you need it. Use CPaaS for on-the-fly solutions like adding additional network capacity or as a back-up option if your contact center goes down.

Send Internal Alerts

You want to make sure your customers and coworkers are always in the know. Whether you’re setting up new employees with new equipment, managing customer service responses, or responding to external issues, CPaaS has your six. Save time and instantly notify your team of what’s new. From maintenance notifications, outages, password change reminders – you name it, CPaaS allows you to quickly send messages through voice, SMS, or other channels.

Streamline Trouble Tickets

Sometimes your help desk could use some help. Between computers crashing, software not working, someone not realizing their computer is unplugged, and a million other things out of your control, people are always submitting trouble tickets. You need an easy way to interact with your team members to let them know that their request is received as well as its status as it moves through the resolution process. CPaaS applications can automate many of these responses, allowing you to focus on solving the issue rather than communicating the troubleshooting process. Integrate with your favorite trouble ticket management system to make your help desk run a little smoother with automated status updates.

Proactively Monitor and Measure

While most CPaaS platforms do not offer analytics, IntelePeer is different. Not to toot our own horn…but…*toot toot*. Gain real-time and historical visibility across your network to pinpoint issues and make better decisions. View call volume and usage to better manage resources. Not only will our analytics help you react to changes and new trends, it will allow you to humble-brag the improvements you’ve made to your everyday business processes.

If you’ve made it this far, it means you’re probably picking up what we’re putting down. Learn more about how Atmosphere® CPaaS was built with IT teams in mind here.  We’re constantly making improvements to our products based on the feedback of our customers so be sure to visit our blog and check in!

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