Free Yourself From Hold Hell — Buddy On Hold!

If you’ve ever been stuck on hold waiting for an important support issue to get resolved, you know why you need Buddy On Hold. You’re chained to your phone, and you can’t use it to make or receive other calls. Can’t get up and walk away either, right?

Now, some systems do offer you the option of receiving a call back when your turn comes up. However, they don’t tell you a couple of important gotchas: first, you usually get bumped to the bottom of the list when you select the call-back option. Worse, when you do get the call back, you get put right back into the queue again, listening to the same music, waiting for someone to pick up your call. Yes, presumably, you’re a bit closer to the front of the line than you were when you selected this option, but you still have to go through the same frustrating imprisonment.

Buddy On Hold takes care of everything. It waits on hold for you, so their system doesn’t even know you’re not there listening to the music. You don’t lose your place in line. And you won’t get a call back until there is actually a person on the other end of the line. If you have our Mobile Extension feature, you can leave your office and go about your business, and you’ll get the call on your cell phone when you get to the front of the line. Either way, when you answer the call, you’ll be speaking with a person, not back waiting in line again.

If you are using our Call Center Queueing system, you can use Buddy On Hold to benefit your callers as well. It offers them the option to receive a call back when there’s an agent available, it keeps their place in line, and it will not call them back until there is actually a person on the line ready to speak with them.

Your Domain Name, Your Network, Your Passwords

Let’s say you keep some important documents in a safe in your home. Would you give the combination to the company that installed the safe? Take it one step further — would you let them set the combination and not tell you what it is, so that you could not access the contents at all without bringing them in to open the safe?

Of course you wouldn’t – yet that is what lots of business people do with their web hosting service, email, routers, and network equipment. Unfortunately there are lots of unscrupulous IT consultants out there who claim that the only way to have these things be really secure is for them to have the passwords and complete control, with the customer being at their mercy.

One extreme example: a marketing consultant I once interviewed – but had not yet hired – registered a domain name using the name of my product and set up a demo website to try to secure my business. The domain registration, which could have listed me as the administrator so that I would have control of it, instead listed the consultant as both the admin and the technical contact. When I pointed out that she had illegally taken my intellectual property to register this domain name and demanded it be released to me, the consultant then claimed that there was a 60-day freeze imposed by GoDaddy on all new domain registrations, preventing it from being transferred to a new owner. That was simply a lie, and only the threat of legal action resulted in the release of this domain name to me.

While your IT consultant is not, I hope, quite that dishonest, you may very well be among the large number of business owners who do not have control over their own intellectual property (the domain name) nor over their own networks (passwords to routers, wireless access points, and other equipment).

I’m assuming you have your own domain name. If you’re using email or a website for your business and you don’t have your own domain name, that’s the subject of a different blog – but in brief: you really should.

Here’s the scoop on domain names and access to the registration.

Every domain name (“redroad.com” is a domain name) is registered at a Registrar, where Internet software can look up the necessary information to access the website, email, or other servers for that domain. The registration includes an administrative contact and a technical contact. Every domain has a couple of name servers that enable access to any publicly-accessible servers such as email or websites.

If you change hosting providers, if you change Internet providers and have an in-house server, if you choose a new web developer, if you do anything that involves a change to your domain registration, then you need administrative access to either the registration or the hosting service or both. There is absolutely no justification for any outside consultant to have exclusive access to these. It’s fine if they have the ability to log in and make changes, as long as they’re working for you. But you must insist upon also having that same ability. Otherwise, you can’t get into your safe without the help of the company that installed it.

The very same logic applies to all your passwords for all your devices. Sure, if you have an IT consultant who maintains your network, they need access to your router and other equipment. But again, there is no justification for them to refuse to give you those passwords. You need to have them stored away, using a secure online service or an old-fashioned paper notebook stored in …. a safe. Or at least a safe place.

VoIP Can’t Do? Park a Call

This is one of a series of posts about features that many VoIP providers claim cannot be done. We’re doing them.

When you replace your old phone system with a new hosted PBX or cloud-based service, be sure you don’t just assume that all the good features of your old system will be available with the new one.  There’s a few features that are not automatically implemented in a VoIP system; it takes the ability to write software to make these things work, and most VoIP providers do not have that capability.  Lots of folks are falling into this trap because it seems so obvious that a brand-new system using new technology must be able to anything a 30-year-old clunker can do.  Well, we think so too – but all VoIP providers aren’t on the same page.  Check it out before you sign that contract!

One of the most common “old system envy” features is Call Parking. You have a caller on the line, and you want to put that call on hold and have someone else pick it up.  “Call for you on Line 2”, right?  The other person sees a red light on Line 2 on their phone, presses the button, and picks up the call.

The thing about a hosted or cloud-based PBX system is, the phone lines are not connected to your phones at all.  The connection to the telephone network happens at the service provider’s network center.  Your phones are connected to the provider’s system via a digital network connection, not a phone line.  So there is no button on your phone that connects directly to a phone line.   Each phone has its own collection of “lines”, which are channels into the provider’s system, not direct connections out to the phone network.  So when your phone’s Line 2 rings and you pick up the call, and my Line 2 rings and I pick up the call, you and I are not on the same line.  You’ve got your Line 2 and I’ve got mine, and they are not the same line.  So although you can place a call on hold, I can’t pick that call up on my phone because it’s on hold on your Line 2, not mine.

VoIP systems usually do have the ability to park a call.  This means placing the call into a parking lot that is managed by the hosted system, not your phone.  When you park a call it disappears from your phone completely.  Anyone in your office can pick up their phone, dial a special set of codes, and retrieve that call.

The hiccup is: the process of parking a call and unparking is almost always in one of two categories: either it requires a ridiculously complex sequence of codes and pushbuttons, or it cannot be done at all on a system with multiple companies because there is no mechanism for separating your parked calls from those of your service provider’s customers.  Because of these issues, VoIP providers commonly just say they cannot provide this capability at all.

At Red Road Telecom we solved this problem by writing the needed software to implement parking lots for our customers, keeping them completely separate; and we’ve made the process of parking and picking up a call as simple as it used to be last century.

You park a call by pushing two buttons:  Transfer and Park.  The Park button starts blinking red and the call is no longer connected to your phone, it’s in the system parking lot that’s dedicated to your company.  That same park button starts blinking red on all of your phones.  To pick up the call, you just press that blinking red button.  We provide up to 16 Park buttons for each customer, so you can have the equivalent of 16 lines shared across all your phones for parking and unparking calls.

If your business has multiple locations you can share parking spaces across locations if that works for you, or you can assign a separate set of parking spaces to each location.  If you share them, that means that, for example, you can park a call on a phone on Maui and I can pick up that call by pressing the blinking red button on my phone in Los Angeles.

Features like Call Parking make a big difference in your staff’s comfort level and enjoyment of your new phone system, and that’s going to show up in the bottom line one way or the other!

 

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