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.

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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