Archive for Better Business Practices

Dropped calls: Causes and Solutions

dropped callsIn my 30 + years in the telecommunication industry, one problem I have seen consistently are issues where the end of a phone call might be interpreted not as a drop, but as a deliberate act with one party becoming offended.

So let’s take a look at the causes and some solutions.

By and large the most common cause of dropped calls that my company has seen are due to problems with older phone systems that still are using copper  phone lines or similar. Such problems existed  in 1919 and still do in  2019.  In recent years problems with calls originating to or coming from cell phones have increasingly been contributing to problems with dropped calls.
One of the ironies of the dramatic improvement in cell phone service quality is that since one can rarely tell when another party is on cell phone or a  landline or VOIP line resulting landline or VOIP carriers getting the  blame for dropped calls that are in fact caused by cell phones.  The slight upside to this is that folks these days are less likely to assume  an abrupt end to a call is a deliberate act on the part of the caller.

Other causes of dropped calls include:

a) electrical power problems.

b) internet carrier or related IT problems.

c) user error, in which case it becomes an “accidental or deliberate disconnect” and not a dropped call.

d) on older non VOIP systems component issues.

e) user issues often related to persons new to the phone system.

On  VOIP systems however.., the problems most times are not due to phone carrier carrier  or issues or the equipment but  one of 4 things;

  1. inadequate internet bandwidth – in which case a simple upgrade in speed will often solve the problem.
  2. Issues related the your internet service provider. These issues can usually be corrected pretty easily by contacting the customer or technical support department of your internet service provider. When contacting them include asking them to make sure everything in your carrier provided modem is set to allow, give priority to and/or not bloc SIP signals. In the rare times we have seen such calls not completely solve the problem we have found that insisting the carrier replace their modem has solved the issue.
  3. Make sure your ethernet switch or ( if you have a private router) is upgraded to the latest gigabyte technology and speeds.
  4. Talk to an  IT professional about providing a thorough check of your IT system for viruses. Viruses can infect a computer and/or computer network at any time. Many virus can take up massive amounts of bandwidth on even the fastest of internet circuits and by doing so play havoc with your IP phones!

The best way to avoid dropped calls is through the use of the modern business telephone system.

On older phone systems, if a component is about to go bad  dropped calls would be one of the problems one could experience.  If it is not a problem with the systems components  things that will cause a call to drop on a modern “land-line” system include a loss of electrical power and carrier issues. Switching to a VOIP system improves greatly the chances of this not occurring – but does not eliminate completely the potential for this problem to occur

So, what to do when you experience a dropped call:

  • Immediately make a note of the phone number dropped, and the time of the dropped call
  • Call the dropped party back, apologize for the interruption and inform them that the drop was a technical problem, not a deliberate act.
  • If you have internet based (VOIP) phone service contact your  local internet  service carrier and create a service ticket.  In most cases your Internet provider can help  especially if provided the above information. As noted in this article earlier  in some cases you may need to insist they replace your/their modem.

If over  a period of several months you continue to experience dropped calls on a regular basis, consider changing local phone or internet service carriers.  Most often  however today’s carriers are very good at identifying  and fixing these issues.  As bothersome as these things are be  patient with your phone or internet carrier since it may take several reported incidents before they can clearly identify  and get a handle why this is happening.

If  ongoing  issues with dropped call  is getting especially frustrating – hang in there!  A solution can almost always be found! In the meantime consider taking a break and firing up a Jimmy Buffett tune on your computer or smartphone  until things finally get resolved!

Problems with dropped calls have been around the since the days of Alexander Bell. As good as our modern communications infrastructure is, I don’t expect them to go away anytime soon.  Take the advice I’ve given you here, and you’ll find the problem to be less pervasive, and frustrating.

Robocalls: Not Just an Annoyance, But a Threat

Back when machines (or programs) first started making calls as a way to cheaply find a live person answering his/her phone, they were more annoyance than anything else.

robocalls

However, as the technology has evolved, they have now become a true threat: With the exception of reminders from medical professionals and pharmacies, many of these calls come from scammers, thieves, collection agencies and the like.

To help you combat this latest technological scourge, I’ve compiled the information you’ll need to both better understand the dangers it poses, and and some tips for avoiding them.

Dangers:

  • New AI (artificially Intelligent) programs can fool you into thinking you are speaking with a live person. The calls use even the most basic responses from you to then commit you to fraudulent activities. I consider this to be is the most dangerous threat;
  • Simply by answering the phone (even if you say nothing) you could find yourself on the equivalent of a “do call list” and the calls increase, clogging your phone line; in many cases the folks paying for robocalling do not care if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call List (Registry);
  • A Robocaller from another state or overseas can easily generate a local caller ID signature, thus fooling you into answering/considering the source legit and it’s downhill from there (see bullets 1 & 2).

What to do (personal phones):

  • Register all personal/mobile numbers with the National Do Not Call List.
    If you have a Google Voice number remember to register that too. While it may not stop some callers, it at least cuts down on the number of calls you’ll receive.
  • If you don’t recognize the incoming call phone number, don’t answer it.
    Let it go to voice mail. If it’s legitimate, the caller will leave a message.
  • Do not say a word.  If by accident you do answer the call and you don’t know the caller,  hang up.
  • Never hit the opt-out option.
    This used to be a legitimate way to stop further calls, but now it’s a sign to the robocalling service that they have reached an active line. This will result in more robocalls.
  • Use your cell phone blocking feature.
    This by itself is far from a full proof solution to the problem but it helps
  • Report suspicious calls to the FCC.

What to do (office)
(especially one that gets large number of calls from unrecognizable numbers)

The good news is that most of the current voice scams won’t work on calls to businesses simply because at any given time multiple people can be answering the phone and that defeats some of the scams.  But they do still happen, and when they do:

  • Don’t hit the opt out option
  • Report any suspicious calls to the FCC
  • Do an internet search on the phone number
    …to determine if a legitimate person or company is associated with that number. You can then decide whether taking calls from that number benefits your business.

If you have any questions on this or any other phone safety topic, don’t hesitate to call us at  813-276-1666, or toll free: 866-459-7266.

Callers Who Can’t Reach Someone Go Elsewhere…

Occasionally I’ll be asked to name the single most important thing a business can do to improve their office’s external communications.

My reply to them is always the same:
Simple. Make sure your callers can easily get to a live person.”

This answer surprises people but – it shouldn’t. Here’s why:

  • In our experience up to 80% of folks who call a business or non-profit for the first time and encounter a busy signal or voice-mail call elsewhere
  • Over 90% of those same folks won’t leave a message in voice mail
  • Up to 70% of repeat callers won’t leave a voice mail message
  • Up to 75% feel they haven’t reached “a real business”
  • Busy signals especially indicate management doesn’t care about people calling their office.

Even more interesting – if you ask business owners or managers with offices that don’t answer phones with a live person, if they are looking to both grow their business and deliver excellent customer service, all will say yes….

And, the biggest handicap to fixing this problem is not money or resources but the simple mindset of denial. What I call the “yes but we’re different or special so this doesn’t apply to me or my company” syndrome

I also hear:

  • A lot of our customers communicate with us by email (because you’re compelling them to do so…)
  • Our customers are “used to” reaching us by leaving messages instead of speaking to us live…(because you leave them no other choice; not a good business practice…)
  • Our customers don’t really need to reach us by phone that often (you give customers a phone number for a reason, yes?)

Most importantly:

The best time to show a caller that yours is the type of quality business with which they can trust to invest their time and money is when the caller has the time to do so…which is when they call you! …And get a recording?!  Or are forced to send you an email?

The good news: any business that feels like “they are too busy” to answer their phones by a live person is probably a fairly successful business!

The bad news: they are missing easy opportunities to grow their business and improve their customer service.

Back to more good news: this is easily done by implementing procedures to ensure incoming calls are answered by a live person, such as:

  • call queuing
  • automatic call distribution
  • delayed ring to mobile phones
  • phone system call apps for mobile phones

These are just some of the many very affordable capabilities that are available to get businesses off desk/cell phone voice mails and other customer alienators so that they can enjoy the growth and excellent customer service that reaching a live person by phone can provide.

The solutions are there. A small amount of time taken to explore & implement those that best fit your business will reap you many happy returns.

If you want help finding and setting up phone answering options to fit your company’s needs, call me @813-276-1666/toll free 866-459-7266 – or, if you prefer, email me directly at johnb@jhbtele.com

Why I recommend Brighthouse Firewall

Fact is all  that all businesses need a firewall. This is the most affordable solution I have seen yet!Here are the benefits:

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Now Frontier Wants Your Phone System Business too

cowboys

IMPORTANT ALERT TO ALL BUSINESS OWNERS AND MANAGERS: You won’t believe who is now trying to get your company to trust them with your phones!

That’s right folks! The same people that brought  Tampa Bay the worst service and support  ever from a phone/Internet carrier that to my knowledge anyone in this area  has ever seen, now incredulously is sending out invoices to businesses  asking them to also trust them with their phone systems !!

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