Phone System Training

Training

One of the issues we’ve struggled with in the past is training individuals on how to use their new phone system.  You can’t just give someone a phone and a user guide and expect them to get the most out of their new business investment.

We’ve tried holding training sessions, both large and small.  While that does help, we’ve found that people generally do not retain much of the information.  We’ve also struggled with “WhatAbouters”, you know the people who extend meetings seemingly forever with their “what about this”, “what about that” scenarios.  While these people are usually well intentioned, they often end up wasting other people’s times.  Those other people are employees who are being paid to be at the meeting and will never care about the scenarios being discussed.  These training sessions can turn in to meetings that waste the employee’s time and the company’s money.

We’ve also tried just giving users a “Quick Start Guide” and then referring them to the user guide for their phone system.  This was a step in the right direction, but could only go so far.  The “Quick Start Guide” had to be very short, or it wouldn’t be read and the user’s manuals are not always user friendly.

Training Solution

What we’ve have developed is a three step approach to training.  With each installation, we give each user a custom one page “Quick Start Guide” that instructs them how to setup their voice-mail, change their password, make and receive phone calls and a few other minor details of the phones.

Once the new system has gone live, we make sure that everyone is able to use their new phone.  If they have a quick question that is not answered in the quick start guide, we’ll be there to answer it.  We’ll also give additional training to key employees. A “train the trainer” approach.

For the third part of our training solution, we developed a new web site, OurNewPhone.com.  OurNewPhone.com is a very easy to navigate web-site that allows users to simply select a picture of their new phone, and get a whole list of topics to help them setup and use their phone.  Most topics include custom made cheat sheets and videos showing step-by-step directions.

This approach has worked out well for our customers.  It allows their employees to know how to use the phone, allows them the opportunity to learn what they need, when they need it and helps eliminate wasted time.

 

When you choose North Florida Communications to provide a new phone system for your Jacksonville, Gainesville or Ocala area business, you can rest assured that you'll know how to use it!

Small Business - Serving Small Business

Small Business - Serving Small Business

 

Since our founding in 1990, North Florida Communications has focused primarily on providing communications solutions for Small Businesses in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ocala and surrounding areas.  Our bread and butter is providing business telephone systems and network cabling for small companies.

Now, I must confess, over the years we have tried to gain business from larger corporations, universities and local, state and federal governments.  We’ve performed sub-contracting for companies that service most all of the major retailers.  We’ve done work for all forms of government.  We discovered long ago, that it’s just not for us.

Our goal is to provide the best communications solutions for smaller companies.  We can’t provide the best service if we have to be the lowest bidder. We can’t train a user how to best use their phone system, if there is someone looking over our shoulder with a stop-watch, only looking at the bottom line.  Frankly, we don’t like working for big business.  We don’t want to work for large retail contractors who require you to be on hold for longer than you work.  Our most satisfying work is with small business.
 

Our typical customer is a small business with 5-50 employees.  They’re companies who care about professionalism, not just the bottom line.  Our customers are business owners and managers who understand that their phone system and their network, are vital to their business operation.  They want the equipment to work, and for people to stand behind it when a problem arises.

We enjoy working with other small businesses.  We enjoy the relationships we build with our customers, some who we’ve worked with for over two decades.

Small business telephone systems and network cabling…that’s what we do.

10 Things an IT Guy Needs to Know About Fiber Optic Cable

10 Things an IT Guy Needs to Know About Fiber Optic Cable

 

 

 

Fiber Optic cabling can be very complex. Below are 10 things that can help someone in the Information Technology business know more about their fiber. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of everything that needs to be known about fiber.


1) IMPORTANT: Never look directly into an active fiber. While most media converters use eye-safe class 1 lasers, there are transceivers that use lasers that can harm your eyes. This light is invisible to your naked eye and can hurt you before you realize it. Safety first!

2) There are two main types of Fiber Optic Cabling, Singlemode and Multimode. Multimode fiber works well for shorter runs. It is great for connecting multiple equipment rooms in large buildings, or even small campuses. Singlemode is generally used for long runs. It can go for miles. 

3) Have the fiber installed correctly, by a professional and it should last a long time. The fiber needs to be terminated into boxes, either wall-mount or rack-mount. Patch cables should be used between the fiber boxes and your equipment.

4) Do not bend the fiber too much. 

5) Singlemode fiber is usually a little cheaper than Multimode fiber. Multimode electronics cost less than Singlemode electronics. 

6) Multimode Fiber is currently divided into 4 types.  

Category

100Mb

1Gb

10Gb

40Gb

100Gb

OM1 (62.5/125)

2000 meters

275 meters

33 meters

NA

NA

OM2 (50/125)

2000 meters

550 meters

82 meters

NA

NA

OM3 (50/125)

2000 meters

550 meters

300 meters

100 meters

100 meters

OM4 (50/125)

2000 meters

1000 meters

400 meters

150 meters

150 meters

 7) There are several different types of fiber connectors. The most common ones used in data communications are LC, SC & ST.

 

unicam-mm-connectors

 

     a. ST connectors are round. This is an older style connector and is generally not used for new cabling, unless it needs to be matched to existing cable.
     b. SC connectors are square. This connector is most often used to terminate fiber in the field.
    c. LC connectors are very small, and are generally seen paired together. This is the most common connector found on modern fiber electronics. 

8) Fiber transceivers do not auto-negotiate. You cannot connect a 100BaseT fiber transceiver to a 1000BaseT transceiver. You cannot connect a Singlemode transceiver to a Multimode transceiver. All transceivers must be of the same type and speed. 

9) Fiber patch cables come in different types, lengths and with different connectors. Always use patch cables to connect the equipment to the cabling. You can purchase cables with a LC connector on one end, and a SC connector on the other (or multiple other choices). This will allow you to connect the cable terminated in the fiber box to the fiber transceiver. 

10) Common fiber transceivers use two fibers, one to transmit and one to receive. If you connect the fiber and the equipment is not passing traffic, try swapping the fiber strands.

If you're responsible for several different fiber optic cables, consider getting a laser pin such as the Eclipse 902-186N. This low-cost device will help you identify the fibers, and at least make sure they can pass light.

Backup Internet?

Do you have a backup to your internet service?  Should you have one? Why would you want to pay for a second internet service?  Let’s discuss it....

Most of today’s small businesses have become dependant on the internet to some degree or another.  A small engine repair shop may only need to occasionally look up part numbers, if the internet service goes out for a few hours it’s not a big deal.  On the other hand, loss of internet for the same period of time at a lawyer’s office can be a real problem!

Now, when you throw VoIP phones and SIP trunking services into the mix, a company is REALLY dependant on the net.  With the further adoption of cloud services we’re all becoming more internet needy.

What happens in your office if your internet goes down for a couple of hours?  How much productivity is lost?  How much incoming business could be lost?  Since we live in Florida, what would happen if you lost internet service for several days due to a natural disaster such as a hurricane?

Here’s my suggestion, if you live in an area that is served by more than one internet service provider, get a backup!  If your primary carrier is the cable company, get a DSL circuit from the phone company.  For $100/month or less you can have a reliable backup circuit that may help your business survive a short outage or even a really long outage.

You’ll also want to get a decent (read: not purchased at a Big Box store) router that can handle more than one WAN connection.  Hire a knowledgeable tech to set up your router so that both services can be used seamlessly.  That way you won’t have to reconfigure anything to keep wheels of commerce rolling during an internet outage.

Please contact us if we can help!

Larry Nazworth
North Florida Communications

Should You Repair or Replace Your Business Phone System

Repair or Replace

When your business telephone system goes down, you’re often given a choice to either repair or replace your current system.  When is it okay just to repair your current system, and when would it be better to replace it with a new system?

Before we answer the “Repair or Replace” question, let’s back up a moment and discuss the planning of your communication systems life-cycle.  Like all of the equipment in your office, your business phone system only has a certain amount of life in it.  Your phone system runs 24 hours/day, 7 days a week for years.  The control unit gets surges from the electrical line, and from the phone lines.  Phones take a beating every day.  Phone systems do wear out.

For years I’ve heard the typical life-cycle of a business phone system is 7 years.  Perhaps that is the amount of time that manufacturers design there systems to last, but I’ve seen businesses keep their phone systems for 10, 15 and even 20 years.  But, eventually they will wear out.  There will come a time when you can no longer find (decent) parts.  It is best to plan your upgrade to a new phone system before it dies.  You’ll have much more opportunity to get quotes from multiple vendors and choose the system/vendor that will best meet your needs.

If your phone system dies sooner than expected, or if you’ve procrastinated, what should you do when your phone system takes an unexpected dirt nap?  Have it fixed, or replace it?  Here are three things to consider:

  1. 1)Is your phone system more than 10 years old?  If so, replaceMost likely the unit is no longer in production and you can only find used parts.  You have no idea where those used parts came from, or how long they’ll last.  If a phone system is only 5 years old, you can probably find decent parts and repair is a reasonable option to consider.
  2. 2)Is the manufacturer of your phone system still in business?  If they have gone out of business, then you many want to consider replacement overWhile you may be able to find the part to repair your system, you may need to upgrade/replace another part of the system in a few months.  If you can’t find a part a few months from now, you’ve wasted money that could have been put towards a new system.
  3. 3)Is there a local vendor who supports your current system?  With the bad economy, many local interconnects went out ofIf you cannot find someone who has experience servicing the equipment you own, you really need to consider replacing the system.  Phone systems have become very complex over the years, and they’re all different.  A reputable interconnect will not want to work on equipment that they’re not familiar with.

Even if you know it is best to replace your current system, you may not be willing to spend money and will want to fix your current system.  Don’t be surprised if your local vendor refuses to do that for you.  As a vendor/interconnect, we have to know when to walk away from a system because it is not only best for the customer, but because it can end up costing us money, instead of making us money.

Consider this…When we have a customer with a downed phone system that is 10 years old, we may be able to find a part for the system to get it back up and running.  But, we have no idea about the history of the system.  Has it been repaired from lightning?  Does it have a quirk that won’t be discovered for a few days?  Are there leaking capacitors that will cause the system to fail in 2 weeks?  If so, then we have to eat the cost of the replacement system, and the time it takes to install and program the system.

Now, what if this is a system that the customer bought from an out-of-business competitor?  That means, we have no programming records.  We have to guess at what needs to be programmed.  That usually means that we have to make a return trip, or even multiple return trips to get the system programmed correctly.  Is it our fought that we didn’t know how the previous vendor setup the system?  No.  Is it the customers fought?  No.  So, who should pay for those return trips?  It should be the customer, but often they don’t feel that way.  They feel that we (the vendor) didn’t do our job properly and don’t want to pay for return trips.  So, we’re left with the choice of losing money/time or having an unhappy customer.

It’s always best to plan a system replacement in advance.  But, if you’re caught having to make a choice between repair or replacement for your phone system, be sure to think the process through, and not just look at the bottom line. 

A Small Business serving Small Businesses

small businessNorth Florida Communications is just like most of our customers, a small business.  Our focus is serving the communications needs of other small businesses.  We’re not trying to be the lowest bidder in order to get a government contract.  We’re not trying to service the Fortune 500 companies of the world.  We’re just a small business, looking to help other small businesses with their communication needs.


How can we help you?

 

  • Business Telephone Systems that help you communicate with your customers, suppliers and staff.
  • Background Music & Paging Systems that allows you to talk to all of your staff and visitors with important announcements and/or helps mask private conversations.
  • Telephone Service. We can set up traditional phone lines, and internet service from most of the major carriers.  We can also provide SIP telephone service via the internet.
  • Hosted Telephone Systems that give you the most up to date phone equipment and services, without a major investment.

 

 If we can help, please Contact Us!

 

Larry Nazworth

Auto-Attendant Recording Tips

Auto-Attendant Recording Tips

 

Download the Cheat Sheet

 

 

I’ve been recording auto-attendant greetings for our customer’s phone systems for two decades and I’ve worked with countless customers to record their own greetings.  While it’s not a complicated process, there are a few tips you can use to make better sounding recordings. These are general tips for recording Auto-Attendant Greetings, ways to make your greeting sound better and more professional.
 

Write a Script

Always write out a script using your favorite word processor.  The script will make the initial recording much easier, and will make future changes much easier.

Make the script as short as possible.  Some people hate auto-attendants.  Most people accept them as a necessary evil.  No one likes them.  So, make your auto-attendant script succinct and to the point.  Give as few options as possible so that the caller can reach a human easily.  If you fill the need to give the caller a long list of options, use sub-menus and keep the main auto-attendant menu short.

 

Avoid Unnecessary Phrases

Don’t say, “Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed.”  One of our long time customers has had this phrase on their auto-attendant for 15 years, and the options haven’t changed. (They a contractor in the phone business (sigh).)  A regular caller will recognize the options have changed.  Someone who hasn’t called will not care.

Avoid saying things like, “we appreciate your call” or “your call is very important to us”.  Saying it doesn’t make it true and callers will only believe it when they are talking to an actual human being.

Even phrases like, “if you know your parties extension number you may dial it now” probably no longer need to be said.  If a caller knows your extension, they’ll dial it as soon as your auto-attendant answers.

Include options that the majority of callers will need to reach and leave the “0” option for all others.  For example a doctor’s office may have a recording similar to:

“Thank you for calling Acme Medical Practices.  For appointments press 1, for insurance questions press 2, to speak to the nurse press 3, for our hours and office location press 4. All other callers please press 0.”

Options 1-4 will handle the vast majority of callers.  The rest will hit “0” to speak with an operator. 

 

The Zero Option

Make sure that your “0” option goes to a real person during normal business hours.  People understand the need to use auto-attendants, but they will get very frustrated if they cannot get a hold of a real person.  Depending on your phone system, and the competency of your phone tech, “0” doesn’t have to go to one person, but it can ring a group of phones. 

Make sure that the zero option goes to voice-mail after-hours.  Let callers know that your office is currently closed, but they’ll get a return call the next business day.  Make sure that calls ARE returned ASAP.

Some business owners and managers do not want a zero option.  This is a mistake.  People will dial 0, even if you don’t want them to.  Realize that callers need something, usually something that can make your business money (directly or indirectly) and that you need to give them service.

 

The Recording

Go somewhere quiet.  A place you won’t be self-conscience about hearing yourself talk.

Practice your script.  Read over it several times before you start the recording process.  Read it out loud and practice your pronunciation.  See how it sounds.  Does it sound professional?  If not, re-write it.

Before you start to record, get yourself something to drink, preferably a hot drink.  Hot liquids loosen up your vocal cords, creating a better sound, thus a better recording.  Cold liquids tend to tighten the vocal cords, which is generally not helpful in your vocal tonality.

Never use the speakerphone, always use the phone handset.  Using a speakerphone will automatically make your auto-attendant subpar and unprofessional.  Profession voice talents and singers often where headphones so that they can hear themselves when making a recording.  Hearing yourself amplified through an earpiece allows you to better control your voice tone, thus making a better recording.  The phone handset will provide side-tone, aiding you much like the pro’s headphones.

Check your posture before you start recording.  Good posture allows your diaphragm to work better and easier, thus making your voice sound better.  I often prefer to stand up to do recordings, which gives me the best sound. (Do professional singers usually perform sitting down, or standing up?)

You’re almost ready to record!  Take a deep breath, smile and speak directly into the mouthpiece of your handset.  Taking a deep breath will help you speak more slowly.  Most people need to force themselves to speak slower.  While you know what you’re trying to say, your callers will need a little time to process what you’re saying so they can make a proper selection.

Believe it or not, smiling can be heard through the telephone.  This is important!  Always smile when you’re making an auto-attendant recording!  Even better, always smile when you talk on the phone!!

Make sure the ear-piece is on your ear, and your mouth is next to the transmitter, just like during a normal phone conversation.  Unless you’re a Loud Talker, you may want to speak just a little louder than normal.  Don’t go overboard like a 90 year old talking on a cell phone in the middle of Wal-mart.  Speak like a professional speaker would, at a good level and making a good effort to pronunciate your words.

Once you’ve made the recording, take the time to listen to it.  Make sure it sounds professional and is the greeting you’ll be proud to have all of your callers hear.  If it is not, do it over until you get it right!

Recording an Auto-Attendant greeting is not Rocket Science.  Using these tips, I’m sure you’ll make a great recording!

 

Larry Nazworth

North Florida Communications

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