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Last week on the Dialexia blog, we posted an infographic based on a recent survey by Software Advice, which aimed to identify the most sought after IP-PBX features and components among SMB buyers in 2015. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the most sought after IP-PBX features in the SMB segment, and explain how these are used to improve customer service, productivity, manageability and reliability in a small office setting.
IP-PBX Features for SMBs: The “Essentials”
The IP-PBX has a set of standard features that enable enterprise employees, from the PC-based worker and the road-warrior to the SOHO-enabled contractor to maximize productivity. Several of these primary functions – perhaps the most essential – are shared with the Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) PBX.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Companies can benefit from improved customer service by offering a full-featured IVR system. The IVR enables employees to access their voicemail and account information 24/7/365. Perhaps most importantly, it enables external callers to rapidly access a business’ corporate resources and information by using a telephone keypad to communicate with an auto-attendant. Auto-attendant features like language selection, call transfer (by extension, last name or group), and operator access (dial 0) enable SMBs to process client calls in a manner that increases productivity without compromising customer service.
With an IP-PBX, voicemail messages are digitally encoded. This means that users can access, save, delete and forward them using a computer, in addition to the traditional telephone methods. The IP-PBX administrator can select how voicemail storage is decided among users by defining limits in their user profiles. This includes the total number of received messages and the total disk space allowed for storage of all messages on the server.
Advanced Call Forwarding
This feature allows calls to be forwarded to a secondary telephone number or a different extension. It is an excellent method for helping callers locate an agent when they are not at their desk or out of the office. Calls can be forwarded to a mobile phone or to a colleague’s number unconditionally, on no answer, on busy or according to a certain schedule. With this feature, users can send their desk phone traffic to any other phone, so they don’t miss any important calls at home or on the road.
VoIP-exclusive IP-PBX Features: The “Modern Classics”
The IP-PBX also has unique features that are not found in TDM PBX systems, but have been offered on VoIP-based platforms for over a decade. Some of these features offer considerable productivity advantages to SMBs.
Unified Communications and Messaging
With unified messaging, voice messages that are received in one’s voice mailbox are also sent to a user’s E-mail inbox as E-mail messages with attached sound files. They can also be viewed and listened to from within a browser-based application.The advantage of this approach is that voicemail can be accessed from anywhere, and voicemail sound files can be conveniently forwarded to another user and archived for future reference.
The Hunt Group feature is a time-saving call transfer distribution mechanism. User extensions are ranked under one communal extension and are assigned different call priority weights. When the communal extension is dialed, the user extension with the highest priority weight will ring. On no answer, the user extension with the second highest priority will ring, and so on.
SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) is a standard that is often found in advanced IP-PBX platforms. Processing logic is used to determine user settings based on their assigned permissions, preferences and presence status. The presence feature is useful when an individual wishes to broadcast their availability to others. Status options include available, not available, busy, in a meeting, out for lunch, and on vacation. When a user has a certain presence status flagged, calls can be transferred to a different extension or number. This feature improves corporate productivity as a whole, since customers don’t have to be kept on hold or be left hanging without a rapid response to their inquiry.
A reliable and easy-to-use feature, Call recording allows phone conversations to be recorded for order verification, quality monitoring and training purposes, and saved to the user’s voice mailbox for future use. Recorded calls are they are backed up onto a server and can be recovered in case of an emergency.
All of the IP-PBX features discussed in this article come standard with Dialexia’s IP-PBX, Hosted PBX and Softswitch platforms. For more information about our company’s VoIP Solutions, please contact us.