Bank Holiday Call Plan – InBound

Create a Bank Holiday call plan using the date and time control nodes to send calls where you need them, when you need them. Add in a Divert node to build additional destination numbers if your main destination is busy or unavailable. Use the ‘Schedule Activate Option’ so you can build you Call Plan in advanced, knowing it will activate when you need it to.

InBound Date and Time Control Nodes

These nodes allow you to set different termination points on different days and at different times (e.g. one for Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and one for evenings and weekends).When you add these nodes into a call plan two boxes appear, one called control and one called default. Click on the control box to specify certain days and times and then drag a destination node onto the box to specify your termination number. Drag a destination node onto the control box and any days/times not listed on the control box will follow this routing.

InBound Divert Node

This allows you to set alternative destinations if a destination number is busy, not answered or suffering from a network error. Simply drag a divert node onto a destination node and then add destinations for each of the three options.

InBound Schedule Activate

Once you have built your call plan, instead of clicking Activate, click Schedule Activate. In the window that appears specify the start date and time for this call plan then click Done. Your call plan will appear as if it is already active but if you go back to the call plan list it will show your call plan with the date and time it is due to activate next to it.

Not sure

Just email details of the dates, times and forward number to theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk with the subject Bank Holiday Call Plan and we will set it up for you.

Bank Holiday Call Plan – Horizon

Use Call forward and Divert options to send calls to mobiles. Set up Voicemail to email alerts so you get copies of your Voicemail messages sent to your email for you to listen to where ever you need to. Use the Hunt Group schedule facility to plan your call plans in advanced.

Horizon Call Forward Hunt Group

Send calls to your mobile or home phone using the Hunt Group Call Forward options. Go to Call Groups>Hunt Group, click Edit next to the Hunt Group you wish to forward. To send calls directly to your Divert number, go to Advanced Settings and use the call forward option (make sure to hit Save whenever you make changes!).

To forward to another number after first ringing on your Horizon handsets go to Options and Use the Forward after x seconds option.

Voicemail to Email Hunt Group

Receive an email notification whenever someone leaves you a voicemail, including the date, time, callers number and a copy of the recording. Go to Call Groups>Hunt Group and click edit next to the number you wish to make changes to. Go to the Voicemail tab tick the box for ‘Notify me at this address’, type the address you wish the email to be sent to and click save.

Hunt Group Schedule

Add Christmas, Easter and other Bank Holidays into your call Schedule. Under Advanced settings, click Edit Next to Schedule, then click the plus sign next to Additional Routing.

Name your Schedule and click Create. On the Add Event screen give your event a name and specify the start and end dates (these are displayed in month/day format). If you untick the box marked All day event you can specify your start and end times.

Once you have set your date and time you can then click create. You can add further events (such as New Year) by clicking on Add event again. Once all your events are created, close the window. Finally click Save.

Not sure

Just email details of the dates, times and forward number to theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk with the subject Bank Holiday Call Plan and we will set it up for you.

23

Predictions for 2021 and it’s all about speed

The Year Covid Hits 2020

Nobody could have anticipated the events of 2020 and the impact the pandemic would have on our everyday lives. Indeed, talk at the beginning of the year was all about our breakaway from the European Union. Then along came Covid and one thing is for sure that businesses in the main will not be going back to the working practices prior to March of last year.

The year of Covid has taught us a great deal about the kind of connectivity both companies and consumers will demand. To say lockdown proved just how much the UK needs high-capacity fibre is a bit of an understatement, moving forward. 

April 2020 and a change to working habits

From 23rd March, 20, lockdown one; if you can work from home, do so, was the Government’s instruction. Demand for solutions to enable this went through the roof and we were never busier in catering for the wants, needs and requirements from our existing customer base. This, in turn, led to a rise in new customers seeking solutions their providers were struggling to accommodate. Taking VoIP phones home, Horizon Collaborate, Zoom and Microsoft Teams were in huge demand for immediate deployment as businesses looked to connect armies of remote workers to cloud based services and video conferencing.
With a lack of decent broadband in many areas problems began to occur. We are sure many of you would have been on numerous video calls and experienced a problem on most. Someone would freeze mid-sentence or stuttering audio sound. Someone else might drop out altogether and be required to dial back in. 

Moving forward – 2021

It is inevitable that Covid will leave a lasting impression on the way we work, with hybrid working models – whereby, employees spend some of the week in the office and some of it at home – set to become the norm.

We will need more bandwidth, and lots of it. Openreach’s decision to retire the legacy, copper-based infrastructure by 2025 should accelerate the pace of fibre roll-out which cannot come soon enough for many.

UK Fibre providers, historically, have been able to focus on bandwidth requirements at business centres during the day and residential suburbs in the evening. Now, business districts are all but silent while residential areas hum with almost continual digital activity. 

While businesses continue to take advantage of the various grants available to invest in high-capacity leased lines, remote workers will increasingly need FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) internet connectivity. Your need for speed will depend on what exactly you do, but in the new world of work there may be more than one home worker in any household. FTTP speeds of around 100/300Mbps are probably more than enough for now, but it is not too much of a stretch to imagine data-hungry multi-homeworker residences requiring 1Gb connectivity in the not-too-distant future. Most end-users with fibre, at present, will be getting a maximum download of 80Mbps on FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) – the green box at the end of the street. 

In conclusion

Deep Blue can source and supply the best deals from the likes of BT, Virgin, Vaioni, Talk Talk, SES, Gamma, Zen, City Fibre to name but a few. With Government-funded grants available why not give us a shout and find out what works best for you…it’s all about speed.

Changing-the-landscape

6 Steps to hit the ground running in 2021

In 2020 the rule book has been torn up and we have all had to adapt and change in order to meet the unique challenges that have been thrown at us. As the year draws to a close, it’s time now to take stock, evaluate and start looking ahead to 2021.

Reflection

While we hope 2021 will be different, there is still a lot we can take away from the last 12 months. Reflect on how your business has adapted, what changes you have had to make. What have you done well? What areas could be improved on? Where did you fail?

Do you plan on reverting back to pre-Covid working ways or will you be carrying forward some of the changes? Some level of home working has had to become the new normal for many of us. There are pros and cons to home working, both for the individual and for the company. A careful weigh up of these will be needed when deciding whether to continue with some level of home working or not.

Reflection should not just be limited to your company but also to the market you work in. How has that changed? Do you expect a post-Covid bounce back or a long term impact and how can that be managed? Should your focus next year be on driving for new business or retaining existing business?

Try to keep your analysis honest and accurate. While it’s fine to try and make predictions, try to avoid pre-conceptions because, as the last year has taught us, anything can happen.

Understand your market

Understanding your customers, their needs and the challenges that they face is important to any business. It should inform all areas of your business from stock and staff levels to marketing strategies. Even if you have a pretty clear idea of what your market looks like, after the last year it is good idea to re-evaluate how things may have changed.

Talking to your customers is a great way to keep a feel for the market and understand how businesses are doing. Who’s hurting and who’s thriving, where are people spending and where are they cutting back.

Make SMART goals

Whether it’s sales targets, consolidation or expansion plans, marketing strategies or any other plan, make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).

You may decide that you want to improve your customer service, but an improvement will have different definitions to different people. This also is difficult to attain as improvement is something we want to strive for continually. Instead be more specific and measurable e.g. to decrease complaints by 20% or to increase your customer ranking from four stars to five.

By making your goals measurable you increase your chances of achieving them, and give your team the boost of being able to see things ticked off.

When planning your goals, make sure all the relevant teams are involved. A customer service goal for example, may need input from other departments as well. If delivery times are an area generating complaints then logistics need to be part of any plans. If people aren’t hearing about your latest offers then marketing need to join the discussion.

Actions and Tactics

The actions you take now will shape the future of your business so it is important that they not only reflect the current climate but tie in with your plans for the future.

With COVID restrictions still in place and looking to be around for a while longer yet, it is important that the actions we take now and in early 2021 are realistic. If you usually rely on and budget for face to face events like trade shows and expos, have a good think about how likely any of these events are to take place and be well attended. It might be time to invest that money elsewhere such as by increasing your online marketing or building a new website.

Budget

The last year has had a financial impact on many business and sectors. In the year to come, planning your budget will be more important than ever. While many businesses will be looking to make savings, it is important to not cut corners. Using the plans and goals you make will help in deciding exactly where your resources need to go.

Track your results

While conducting reviews are great, they can only tell you what is and isn’t working after the event. By tracking your results you can see how things are going as they progress and make tweaks and changes much faster.

To Finish

If 2020 has taught us anything it is how to be adaptable. As we move into 2021, there is hope of an end in sight, of a return to normality but there will still be a lot of challenges to overcome before we reach that point. And even when we do come out the other side, somethings will still be different: just because it was the normal way to do things before doesn’t mean it was the best way.

We would like to close by thanking our amazing customers for their support and patience during an unprecedented year. As you can imagine, when the first lockdown was announced we had to help facilitate a lot of people in the move to home working in a very short space of time. It is only thanks to the patience of our customers and the hard work of our team that we were able to achieve this.

Is it time to put your system out to pasture?

There’s never been a better time to switch to VoIP

At Deep Blue we currently have funding to offset the cost of new Horizon hardware. Couple this with the Connectivity+ Voucher scheme and there has never been a better time to switch to VoIP.

Funding is available for both existing and new Deep Blue customers, whether you are currently on VoIP or not.

Making any type of change to your business can be a daunting prospect, especially in the current climate. This is why we have put together the following guide on the key points to consider and debunked some of the common myths around SIP.

Is it time to put your system out to pasture?
Is it time to put your system out to pasture?

What to consider

Company Structure

What is your company’s structure? Are you all based in one location? Or do you have multiple sites or homeworkers? How do these sites need to be managed?

With Horizon you can choose how you manage calls at different sites and adapt and change them whenever you need to.

Department Needs

How do each of your company’s departments operate? Are they desk based, out in the field or a bit of both?

Do you have a receptionist or gatekeeper?

Do some staff deal with calls from multiple departments or numbers? Do they need to be able to move in and out of these hunt groups?

With Horizon you can mix and match hardware and apps to give each staff member exactly the setup they need. A handset with side car for reception, laptops with video calling for training, seamless integration of desk phone and mobile app for sales.

The easy to use Horizon online portal allows you to manage your hunt groups at the click of a button. You can move staff in and out of Hunt Groups, re-route calls, add voicemail without the need for an engineer appointment.

The Weaknesses of your current setup

What does your current setup do well and where does it fall short? What are the issues that cause your colleagues problems? Are you missing functions you really need? Are you paying for extras that you never use?

Once you have identified what your main issues are, your Horizon system can be tailored to truly meet your company’s needs.

Cost

They say time is money and in business this is particularly true. Not only are VoIP systems like Horizon cost effective, they can also be setup quickly.

Our fastest turn around was for a company who found out their sales team needed to be able to record calls for compliance. They contacted us at 10am and by 2pm they had three sales staff making and taking fully compliant calls on Horizon.

Adaptability

What changes will you need to make over the coming months? Is your business impacted by seasonal peaks in call volume? Will you need to support staff in working from home as well as the office? Are you potentially going to need to move site due to changes in needs or the end of a lease?

We understand not everyone wants to get into making changes to their phone setup, which is why our support team is on hand to assist you in any tweaks you may need doing.

But for those companies where adaptability is key, Deep Blue provide full training on your Horizon portal so that you are fully in control of your calls.

Present different numbers for different departments. Move staff in and out of hunt groups in response to demand, for example if you are taking more calls due to a promotion. Schedule your calls to route differently at the busiest parts of the day. Feel fully in control with full call stats and analytics.

Still not sure if you want to change?

Deep Blue has secured funding for both new and existing customers to help offset the cost of your new Horizon system. For many businesses, this will make your new handsets completely free of charge.

The Connectivity+ Voucher scheme can also help if you need to upgrade your broadband connection to make full use of VoIP. Our post on the Connectivity+ Voucher scheme has more details.

Service Quality

If you have never used VoIP before you may have reservations about the service quality. Here are some of the key myths debunked.

The call quality is lower than that of fixed line

For many of us, our first experience of VoIP will have not been a good one. Tinny, distorted sound; delays, packet loss and that was if the call got through in the first place!

Early VoIP was subject to many limitations. The broadband connection it ran over, the hardware it used (often built in speakers and microphone on a PC or laptop), the software powering it.

But things have come a long way and modern SIP call quality is more than comparable to ISDN.

It will be expensive

Often the latest tech comes at a price, usually a high one. But SIP is a very cost effective solution. Unlike ISDN, you are not subject to the same engineer costs should you need to expand your system or make changes.

We offer Horizon bundles with inclusive minutes so that you can know what your bill will be each month.

Add in the lower upfront cost of SIP vs ISDN and the savings soon add up.

It is an unproven technology

SIP technology is trusted by thousands of companies, big and small, across the UK. Deep Blue have been running our offices off SIP for more than 10 years.

With the approaching end of life for ISDN, more and more companies are making the switch every day.

The Horizon development team are always working to expand and further develop the service. Taking on feedback from users to constantly improve the platform and it’s functions.

It will be too much hassle to change

Changing phone systems used to be a resource intensive process, often resulting in disruption and extended downtime. The migration to SIP is surprisingly easy and quick.

You can even run Horizon alongside your current system to keep downtime to a minimum.

At Deep Blue we manage the migration process for you, taking the hassle out of the switch to SIP.

What next?

Ready to make the change? Whether you are already on SIP and are looking to improve your system or are looking to jump from traditional telephony, our friendly team is on hand to help you get started.

Still not sure? Our knowledgeable team can answer any questions you may still have. We can also provide demos of Horizon so you can see what the service is like before making any decisions.

Contact us today on 0333 240 9100 or theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk

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Connectivity+ Vouchers

The Connectivity+ Voucher scheme is offering funding of between £500 and £3,000 to help local businesses cover the cost of upgrading to faster, more reliable digital connections or broadband.

As a company based in Wetherby and providing services to many businesses in the surrounding areas we know all too well how inconsistent broadband speeds can be around here. An office at one end of the street may be enjoying super fast fibre, while just a few doors down, they may be getting by on a 3 Mbps ADSL connection.

We’ve worked hard over the years to try out many different ways of delivering connectivity to our end users and we are pleased with the improvements we have been able to offer to many local companies. But we know that many of these solutions come at a cost and, particularly in the current climate, this may leave faster broadband still out of reach of some businesses.

This is where the Connectivity+ Voucher scheme comes in. They are designed to help cover some of the costs of upgrading your connection.

Vouchers can also be used to cover other costs associated including:

  • The actual cost of the installation i.e. the cost of the physical connection, including excess construction costs to reach a network
  • Hardware related to facilitating the connection e.g. a firewall, router, receiver/antennae (for wireless connections)
  • Virtual servers and software licences (subject to limitation of upfront costs only)
  • Internal ethernet network cabling
  • Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony
  • Consultancy/project management cost to install a connection – capped at 25% of the value of a voucher

They can even cover some, or all, of the cost of the first years rental of a connectivity solution providing the first year is paid to the supplier in full at the start of the contract.

Connectivity+ Vouchers are intended to help businesses upgrade to higher speed business grade broadband. They can be used to get your speed over 30 Mbps if it is currently under that, or to double your speed if you currently get over 30 Mbps.

To find out more about what options maybe available to help your business take it’s connectivity to the next level, contact us today.

recording calls

What kind of call recording is right for your business?

Whether you see call recording as a box to tick on your compliance checklist, a training tool or as part of dispute resolution: with Horizon it is quick and easy to get started.

But which version of Call Recording is right for your business? Our helpful chart shows the key differences between Horizon standard and enhanced call recording to help you choose the product that is right for your business.

To find out more about Horizon call recording or to order speak to one of our friendly team on 0333 240 9100 or at theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk

remote workforce

Enabling a remote workforce

The need for a remote workforce has never been more at the forefront of business mind’s than now. Here we look at why and how you can enable your business to have an efficient and productive remote workforce.

Why is a remote workforce important?

There are many reasons to consider having a remote workforce. From logistics to cost saving, personnel to resources, having a remote workforce can benefit many areas of your business. Here we look at two of the biggest benefits.

Employee satisfaction

Employees who are engaged and motivated within their job role have higher employee satisfaction. A survey carried out by Leadership IQ found that only 24% of office workers said they loved their jobs, compared to 45% of remote workers.

It is this higher rate of job satisfaction in remote workers which can lead to improved productivity. Resulting in increased profitability, reduced absenteeism and increased employee loyalty. This can have a positive effect on overall company growth. With higher employee retention and lower turnover.

Business Continuity

Most companies already have a disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place should they suffer loss of service.

From builders accidentally cutting cables to power outages, DRPs can keep your business receiving calls. But what happens if your office is completely out of action? Building damage from natural disasters, staff in isolation and transport issues can all hinder your business. An established remote workforce with a well developed infrastructure can seamlessly keep you going.

Remote workforce – The key challenges

Having an effective remote workforce is about more than simply equipping them with a smartphone. Without the right tools and support remote working can have a negative impact on productivity.

Common complaints about remote working

  • Feelings of exclusion – Remote workers can feel excluded because they don’t have the same level of interaction with their colleagues. They may miss out on important communications.
  • Frustration at inability to perform –Remote workers commonly feel inconvenienced and frustrated because they have to carry separate business and personal devices and use multiple tools for work communications. –many of which aren’t designed for use in a mobile environment.
  • Interruptions and distractions – One of the most obvious challenges for a remote workforce is interruptions and distractions. They can seriously damage productivity.
  • Poor service delivered to customers – If remote workers can’t be easily contacted when they need to be, or they don’t have the right information available.
  • Increased risk of security breaches –Commonly because employees use non-approved consumer apps to communicate or to store information.
  • Loss of valuable information – This becomes an issue when an employee leaves and company data or contacts are stored on the workers personal phone.

Solutions for a successful remote workforce

The right tools can keep remote workers aligned with the rest of the workforce. But what solutions can be put in place?

A platform to unify your business communications

Unified Communications enable businesses to integrate all of the ways they communicate such as voice, video and data. It is easy to roll out and cost-effective. And, crucially, it can help to facilitate remote working and communication between teams in different places.

A business Grade Mobile Service

Your employees will have a wide range of requirements from their mobile service. From using it to make and receive calls, to it becoming a potential source of connectivity should their home broadband fail. As such it is essential to have a reliable, business grade service.

An integrated cloud based phone system

Hosted phone systems have long replaced traditional desk phones. Combining fixed and mobile telephony into a user-controlled online interface, your workers have the full range of features they are used to at the office, even when working remotely. Built in directories and CRM integration give your workers access to the right details when they need them.

In conclusion

A remote working policy underpinned with good technology can provide valuable opportunities and significant advantages for organisations.

Improve your remote working policy with our blog post ‘Tips for home working‘.

Contact us today to learn more about our range of products and services to help your remote workforce, including our fully intergrated, unified communication solutions.

Card Payments – Your weakest link?

As businesses adapt to the changing landscape and look to conduct business in new ways, for many this means taking their business online or over the phone. With all the changes and considerations around Covid-19 and keeping staff and customers safe, have you considered if you are PCI DSS compliant?

What is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS is the worldwide Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It exists to help businesses process card payments in a safe and secure way. PCI DSS has 12 requirements which cover the processing and storage of card details to help business reduce the risk of card fraud.

What are the 12 points?

  • Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  • Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
  • Protect stored data (use encryption)
  • Encrypt transmission of cardholder data and sensitive information across public networks
  • Use and keep up to date anti-virus software and programs
  • Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
  • Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know
  • Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
  • Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  • Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  • Regularly test security systems and processes
  • Maintain a policy that addresses Information Security for employees and contractors

Why is PCI DSS important?

Uk Finance’s ‘Fraud the Facts 2019’ report found unauthorised fraud losses totaled £844.8 million in 2018 – a year on year increase of 16%.

Card payments, particularly card not present (CNP) transactions are an especially risky area.

The penalties for non-compliance are severe. Not to mention the damage to your hard earned reputation.

What happens if I'm not PCI DSS compliant?

What happens if I am not compliant?

If your business is found to be non-compliant then you may be subject to fines. If your business isn’t taking sufficient steps to rectify your non-compliance then you may even be stopped from taking card payments.

Should card fraud be committed due to an oversight in your company, the penalties are much worse, not to mention the damage it can do to your reputation. If a forensic investigation is carried out and it is found that your company was at fault then you will be responsible for picking up the cost of the investigation. Fines can be leveled against you, not just for breaching PCI DSS but also for GDPR violations. Your company can end up liable for the costs of fraudulent payments made against the customers card.

Compliance obligations for any organisation found to have had a breach increase significantly.

How can I make sure I am compliant when taking payments over the phone?

One of the main risks with taking card data over the phone is exposure of the data. If you are simply asking for the numbers to be read over the phone to you it could be easily overheard, by someone nearby or by someone listening in on the line. It is important to make sure that your phone system is as secure as possible by:

  • Not using default passwords/codes for the system and its functions (e.g. voicemail)
  • Ensuring that any phones that may be unattended in public areas are passcode protected
  • Avoiding taking card details and processing payments in public areas if the call could be listened into.

People are often the weak link in any process, even the most reliable staff member can make a mistake. The people that have access to card details should be kept to a minimum. Consider taking people out of the loop completely with a payment system like Link Pay Plus which handles payments for you.

What can Deep Blue do to help my business?

Card not present (CNP) transactions are a challenge for PCI compliance, telephone payments are particularly challenging. More often than not they will breach PCI security standards as they are exposed to additional people/systems that may not be compliant.

Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) masking, where customers key their details in on their phone key pads, can be a way to get round this but are costly to set up and maintain.

Link Pay Plus is a great way to take payments in a safe and secure way. A payment link can easily be sent to people by your preferred contact method:

  • Email
  • SMS
  • Webchat
  • Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • and more

The payment can then be taken and tracked in real time by your staff, without them seeing the customers card details.

The Link Pay Plus dashboard keeps you up to date with links generated, their conversion rate and amount transacted.

How it works

The Benefits

  • Manage multiple payments at once – if you are hand keying details into your card reader and a second query comes in, what do you do? Ask you customer to wait and risk losing them? Write the details down somewhere? With Link Pay Plus you can quickly and easily send links out to multiple customers.
  • Pre-populated details – What if you are processing a payment and the customers card declines and they don’t have another one to hand? Or what if you have spent time converting an enquiry into a sale only for the customer to realise they don’t have their card to hand? Do you risk letting the call go in the hopes they ring bank? Many of us now have our card details saved in our devices and Link Pay Plus can use this information to auto-populate the customer’s details.
  • Minimal interaction – payment can be taken quickly and easily at the point of order. Pick ups and drop offs of goods can be done quickly and safely without the need to process payment at that point. Great for completely contactless service for those who are shielding.
  • Peace of mind – By letting Link Pay Plus handle your card transactions, you don’t have to worry about your staff seeing card details, or having to store sensitive information.
  • Cost effective – Link Pay Plus works on a pay per transaction basis, with no additional service charges or rentals. There is also no onsite equipment to store or maintain.
  • Fast set up – with no software or equipment to install you can be up and running in no time.

Want to know more?

If you think Link Pay Plus could be the solution your business needs then contact us now for a no obligation discussion on 0333 240 9100 or email theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk

Putting Customers First


You can’t put a price on great customer support, although it seems some telecoms companies like to think they can. Stories have emerged recently of some companies locking customers into contracts and then charging them as much as £50 a time to make simple changes like altering voicemail.

Keeping your customers up to date with the constant changes of COVID-19 would certainly hike up your monthly bills!

At Deep Blue, we are proud of the service we offer and the support we give to our customers. Many of the services we offer allow you to make changes yourself to give you the control over your telecoms. And if the situation should arise that you can’t make those changes, we are here to offer you free support.