Pet Peave: Hyphens

OK, this has nothing to do with technology or VoIP or anything directly related to Red Road Telecom.  Just getting it out of my system.  No, not that system!

I have noticed a trend over the past few years: improper hyphenation seems to be everywhere.  I am quite certain that this post will have no effect on this – I’m just letting off steam.

The common factor in these errors: confusing an adjective with a noun.  Let me explain.

There’s a category of hyphenated phrases in which the purpose of the hyphen is to join together two words in order to form an adjectival phrase out of them, and secondarily to eliminate possible confusion as to which word goes with which in the surrounding sentence.

For example:  “The large-scale deployment of this solution now appears to be possible”.   The phrase “large-scale” is an adjective modifying the noun “deployment”.  Without the hyphen it might be read as something called a “scale deployment”, a large one, now appears possible.

On the other hand:  “It now appears to be possible to deploy this solution at a large-scale”.

At a large-scale what?  “large-scale” is still an adjective.   The correct sentence would be:

“It now appears to be possible to deploy this solution at a large scale”.

Another example – I recently read a wonderful story about a woman who joyfully accepted a surprise proposal from her honey.  Unfortunately, she had not done her nails that day but she really wanted to post some pics of the two of them kissing with the ring on her hand in the foreground, and she really wanted her nails to look good.  Little sister to the rescue!  Her sister did an amazing job of holding up her left hand with the ring in front of the kissing couple, while snapping a pic with her right hand.  Amazing!  It really looks like the fiancee’s hand!

OK, so what on Earth is my point?  The article ends with “They really appreciated her quick-thinking”.

I suppose, like pink Hondas, now that I’ve drawn your attention to this you’ll start seeing them everywhere.  On the other hand, realistically, I doubt there are very many people who’ve actually read this far.

Mahalo to you for your long-suffering!

Appointment Reminder System

One of the great benefits of a VoIP Hosted PBX system is that it’s based on software, and software can be continuously updated and improved.  Of course that depends on the software developer.  Red Road Telecom has developed all of the Hosted PBX custom features we offer, and we regularly release new capabilities in response to our customers’ needs.

The Red Road Telecom Appointment Reminder System is designed for activities businesses, accounting firms, medical practices – any company that has multiple appointments.  If you’re spending significant staff time confirming your appointments, you need this system.

The reminder system can send out reminders by SMS (text message), email, or phone call.  It receives and records replies – confirmation, cancellation, or any other reply you wish to define.  It can be set up to make multiple attempts – for example, if there is no reply to the SMS reminder after 24 hours, try a phone call or an email.

We will work with you to set up an automatic process to capture your appointment information and put it into the format our system needs.  Typically this will involve giving us access to your existing appointment calendar so that we can run a regular query.   If you don’t have that capability, we’ll help you set up a simple process to upload the appointment information to us.  Each appointment, for our purposes, consists of a company ID, a date and time, a provider ID, and the user information: name, preferred and alternate contact methods.

Whenever we receive a reply to a reminder, our system will email you the details.  Every day we will email you the current status of all appointments for that day, showing contact method, status, and reply.

All reminders will specify the responses that you define – usually 1 to confirm or 2 to cancel, but it can be whatever you want.  All reminders will also specify your phone number to call for rescheduling or other questions, and that can be a special number that rings to just one of your phones or any combination of phones.  If the reminder is sent via phone, you can specify an option to be connected with that number directly, during the reminder phone call itself.

The cost for all these services is just $0.25 per reminder, with a minimum charge of $100 per month.

Interested?  Questions?  Please contact us at (808) 443-2700, or service@redroad.com.

SMS – Of course you can text with your business number!

Don’t your customers and contacts want to text you instead of calling or emailing? With our SMS service, this is a snap!

When someone sends a text message to your sms-enabled number on Red Road Telecom’s Hosted PBX service, you’ll receive it as an email to your preferred email address, or we can text it to your phone. Either way, you can reply either to the email or to the text message, and your reply will go as a text to the sender.

We can also provide multiple email addresses to be associated with the same SMS phone number, or multiple SMS recipients for incoming messages.

What about sending out appointment or reservation confirmations by SMS? Yes, we do that! Our ConfoCall system can make automatic voice, email, and text message notifications, including the ability to have the recipient confirm or cancel the associated appointment.

Like what you hear? Give us a call at (808) 464-6458. Or text!

sales@redroad.com

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.

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