As many have you noticed this week we opened up our phone lines to accept customer service (support) and sales calls. We’ve been using a commercial VOIP system/plan (Vonage.com) for our phone systems for several years now so it’s just natural that we use this for our customer service needs. VOIP is very different from a normal phone system, which can lead to some great benefits as well as some disadvantages. We’ve now just experienced both!
Unlimited long distance calls accross North America. One flat monthly rate. This is great for any business, especially one that needs to make long distance calls.
Voicemail can be sent to an email address which can then go directly into a customer service application. This is really great because it really helps to establish the priority order in which we answer customer requests are answered (first come first serve no matter through which medium, email has the same priority as a phone call).
Enabling the voicemails to come through as a support requests in our customer service system also quickly and easily gives us metrics on how many calls we’re getting, how fast we’re answering them, etc.
Unlike the phone system, if your internet connection goes down, so do your phone lines. Normally this isn’t a big issue because you need power to answer most support requests (a running computer), however today we had a power outage that lasted several hours (due to some severe weather the night before). During this time, because we had no internet (no power no internet), our support lines were also completely down! There was no way for any of our customers to reach us during this time. Tomorow we’ll be playing catchup.
Although rare, sometimes the internet connection can lag, at which time a call can get a little choppy. To prevent this we have a high speed internet connection and use Vonage which has a reputation for having a very clear signal. Normally it’s not an issue, but it has happened on the odd occassion to have a bad phone connection.
Overall, the advantages of using VOIP far outweigh the disadvantages, especially considering the price difference. Actually, I think this is probably the only way we can make it possible for LandlordMax to offer free phone support!
All in all I’d recommend VOIP if you’re a company.