March 6, 2021

Building a reliable work-from-home environment: How the cloud, and SIP connectivity, ensures continuity in a COVID-19 world

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COVID-19 has pushed many businesses to adopt a work-from-home model. For many, that has meant adopting cloud-based services, making customer-to-company interactions through voice, email, social media, and the web accessible from virtually anywhere.

As the world continues to weather the challenges of the pandemic, it’s becoming clear that the changes organizations make now have the potential to outlast the virus itself. For some organizations, the abrupt social experiment that was remote work is giving way to a long-term reality of a fully- or partially- remote workforce, even as restrictions ease and workers are able to return to offices.

For those in need of voice and phone call capabilities for their remote contact center, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which transmits audio over the internet, is one choice. SIP enables voice over internet protocol (VoIP), which eliminates physical hardware connections needed in more traditional call center set-ups.

See how the nation’s largest music equipment supplier uses SIP to serve millions of customers a year.

SIP uses SIP trunking to connect a private telephone network used within a company or organization to the public telephone network over the internet. Here are three ways to know if SIP would work well for your organization.

1) You’re dealing with service interruptions or outages.

Most businesses still rely on premise-based telephone network systems, or service from the phone company. While that seems like it would be reliable and resilient, unexpected events like a few inches of flood water, a car crash into a power pole, or a gas leak in your building or a neighboring site can take your phone system down for weeks. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40 percent of small businesses go out of business when faced with an unplanned disruption.

The key to avoiding interruptions and surviving unexpected downtime is to maintain a working communications system. Staying in contact with customers is essential for preserving vital relationships while your business gets back up and running. By moving your phone system and service to the cloud, your business can maintain a working phone system. A cloud-based phone system means its calling platform and features are hosted by a service provider in a data center.

With a cloud-based system, users connect to the system by plugging their phones into the internet, instead of making calls over the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN), run by the phone company. During downtime, businesses can re-route calls to a mobile phone or other phones reducing the impact of the disruption.

Schomp Automotive Group, one of the Rocky Mountain region’s longest-standing and largest independently owned automobile businesses, experienced a sudden and total outage of their telephony system due to a cut line. But in less than 24 hours, Schomp was back up and live with a brand new phone system, thanks to SIP.

Since switching, Schomp saves approximately $4,000 per month on phone services, and also was able to increase its call volume handling by 50 percent. Because of coronavirus-required social distancing, the organization has also moved its entire car sales process online, selling cars from the safety of their own homes.

Here are 5 questions to ask when choosing your telecom provider.

2) Voice traffic exceeds your capacity, or is unpredictable.

When high bandwidth connections don’t deliver better performance, the problem isn’t with the network connection, but rather with hardware that lacks the processing power to take advantage of it—for example, TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) services. TDM is a time-based method to transmit several messages or signals simultaneously on the same circuit or channel.

Today, the challenge with TDM is its inability to scale and flex with the growth and unpredictability of data traffic patterns; TDM systems often fail when dealing with high traffic rates. And, they’re expensive to maintain, with fewer and fewer professionals qualified to do so.

OneSupport, which provides support for companies’ IT management needs, not only handles more than 1,000 concurrent calls easily thanks to SIP trunking, but also was able to move its entire contact center support team to work from home in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

3) You’re experiencing poor call quality.

Poor call quality results from a few different causes. High latency—the lag time between when speech is spoken and when it’s heard—is one of the primary causes of poor call quality. It sounds like an echo. Latency varies based on the type of network connection you have. Most internet service providers are designed for web surfing and not phone calls; “transporting” voice requires an additional set of internet protocols that your provider may not be providing.

Another cause for high latency is using an internet connection for both voice and data. Unless your router can prioritize voice traffic, call quality can be impacted by the other users on your network. For companies who need global connectivity, latency can be particularly problematic since calls are traveling longer distances with variability in connectivity across different countries. SIP solves this problem, as it’s expressly meant to handle voice as well as other multimedia traffic.

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Want to learn more about best practices for how to keep a distributed workforce connected to its customers? Watch our on-demand webinar, and see how organizations big and small launched remote cloud-based contact centers in our COVID-19 Communications Field Guide.

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