In this episode of PodMD, Rob Horn from 1Cloud Voice & Data will be discussing the topic of PBX business phone systems, including what PBX phone systems are, what ring groups are, how the auto attendant feature works, the voicemails options you have with PBX systems and more.
This podcast is brought to you by 1Cloud Voice & Data. 1Cloud Voice & Data is a retail Telecommunications Service Provider specialising in the supply, management, billing and support of business telecommunications services to business clients across Australia. 1Cloud seeks to provide customised solutions that meets with their business customers initial telecommunication needs, whilst also taking into consideration their potential future growth and operational changes.
You can get in touch with 1Cloud Voice & Data via their website.
Please note this is a machine generated transcription and may contain some errors.
*As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.
Today I’d like to welcome to the PodMD studio Rob Horn from 1Cloud Voice & Data.
1Cloud Voice & Data is a retail Telecommunications Service Provider specialising in the supply, management, billing and support of business telecommunications services to business clients across Australia. 1Cloud seeks to provide customised solutions that meets with their business customers initial telecommunication needs, whilst also taking into consideration their potential future growth and operational changes.
Rob is the Service Delivery Manager at 1Cloud, and in that role he helps to oversee the project management and provisioning of new business services for their clients.
*The information provided within this podcast is general in nature, and 1Cloud recommends speaking with a business telecommunications specialist regarding your own specific needs and requirements. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of 1Cloud Voice & Data, not PodMD.
Rob, thanks for talking with us on PodMD today.
Rob: Thank you for having me
The topic of today’s discussion, is the PBX Business Phone System, and some of the basic system features for a practice to possibly utilise.
So, Rob firstly, are all business phone systems the same?
Rob: No, not necessarily. The phone systems themselves can either be the older style physical in-house systems, whereby the phone system ‘box’, is mounted on a wall somewhere within the office, and the phone handsets are then cabled back into that system.
Then we have the cloud based, or hosted PBX phone systems. This kind of system is hosted on cloud servers by the Service Provider and they can be more efficient, are quickly and easily to expand capacity when required, offer more redundancy, and it can often be more economical to operate than the in-house systems.
That being said, some of the basic features we will be discussing today, should be available within most of the latest model phone systems these days. Although the costs for these features can, and do, differ greatly depending on the solution being used, and the Service Provider providing the service.
Ok, and what are some of these basic phone system features that we will be briefly discussing today?
Rob: Whilst the full least of features and functionalities can be quite long and complex, we thought we would just cover off some of the basic features that we believe are most useful to medical type practices.
These will be….
– Auto Attendants
– Ring Groups
– Direct In Dial or DID numbers
– Professional message recordings
– Voicemail options
– Staff working remotely, e.g. from home
– And finally, multiple practice location solutions
So let’s start with the Auto Attendant feature, what is that exactly, and how can they be used within a practice?
Rob: Ok, so most of your listeners have probably experienced an Auto Attendant at some stage, but not necessarily known that that is what it is called.
An auto attendant functions like a virtual receptionist, connecting incoming calls to ring groups, extensions, or other devices that have been configured to the phone system. The initial auto attendant often announces a business’s name, followed by a selection of dialing options.
A typical welcome message might be “thank you for calling ABC practice, for patient bookings press 1, for accounts press 2, or for general enquiries press 3, etc.” Or for a practice, you may have it set up to press options for certain practitioners so that the patient can select their specific doctor, and have their call routed to that doctor or receptionist. Callers press the number that corresponds with their selection and the call is then directed accordingly.
So as you can see, auto attendants are a great feature for efficiently managing and directing your incoming calls, and it also allows the caller to speak with the right department or person, based on their selection.
You just mentioned Ring Groups, so how are they used?
Rob: Ring Groups are one of the most commonly used features within a business, and they allow you to better manage your incoming calls based upon the rules that have been configured to the phone system.
Basically, a ring group is setup to distribute the incoming call to a group of internal extensions. You can have it so that the call rings simultaneously across several extensions, at all the receptionist handset extensions for example. Or, if the call does not get answered in a certain amount of time, the call can then ring on additional internal extensions in stages, or even overflow to another office location, and then finally route the call out to a voicemail system if it still goes unanswered.
Another term sometimes used for this feature is hunt groups.
Therefore, using the previous auto attendant example, if we had Press option 1 for patient bookings, we could route that call to a ring group called Bookings, and then the allocated internal extensions, or users, that manage the patient bookings would be setup within that bookings ring group, so that only they receive those bookings related calls.
The term direct-in-dial, or DID number, has been around for some time if I recall correctly, can you tell us a bit more on how you would use these?
Rob: That is correct Peter, direct-inward-dialing, or DID phone numbers, were very common on the older, and now obsolete, business ISDN lines. Quite often there would be a consecutive number range, 100 numbers for example, that sat over the top of the underlying multiple ISDN voice lines. These numbers would normally contain the Prime, or main advertised phone number, and then the remaining 99 Auxiliary numbers could be used on the phone system if required.
We still have DID numbers in use, albeit as the numbers are now all virtual and not attached to physical phone lines, you can have a number of single individual DID numbers, or a consecutive range of numbers such as a 10, 50 or 100 number range.
These additional, auxiliary DID numbers, are perfect for when you need to promote or advertise additional phone numbers, either for differing practice locations, for specific practitioners or departments, or for individual user extensions.
Some practices like to have a secret DID number that is only given out to GPs for example. This is so that the GP’s can have a direct line into the practice, and if the phone system is configured correctly, the reception team can also see that the incoming call is coming in on that particular GP number, and not their main phone number.
Some practitioners may also like to have their own DID number assigned to their extension, so that certain associates may then be able to call them directly and bypass the reception all together.
The phone system appears to require various messages and prompts etc., so what are some of the options for those recordings?
Rob: Yes, there can be quite a number or situations where a message recording is required to be added to the phone system.
We spoke about the auto attendants a little earlier, and that is definitely one area that would require a specific message recording in order to provide for the initial welcome greeting, and the various option prompts.
Some of the other common message recordings required, is one for what we refer to as ‘busy’, for when a call cannot be answered during business hours, and then there is the ‘after-hour’s message, the voicemail greeting message, and also a holidays closure message.
Some businesses may also like to have a customised ‘message-on-hold’ recording. This will play when a caller happens to be placed on hold at any time, and can help promote your services and offerings, rather than playing standard on hold music.
Whilst the basic messages can be recorded to the phone system directly from any user handset, you can present a much more professional image if a professional voice artist records your messages in a professional recording studio.
We work closely with our business customers and a professional recording studio, in planning out their message recording scripts to ensure that they will then align with the phone system configurations, to achieve the exact outcome that our customer was requiring. Once finalised, these professional message recording files are then simply uploaded in to our cloud phone system ready for use.
We are all very much familiar with voicemail on our mobile phones, but what voicemail options does a business phone system have available?
Rob: Well again, the phone system can be configured in quite a differing number of ways to suite a particular business’s needs and requirements.
Most commonly, there would be a voicemail box setup to capture calls and client messages from the main phone number. That may be for when a call goes unanswered during business hours, during after-hours when closed, whilst on holidays, or even for when the site is offline due to a power or internet outage.
Most systems can be configured to be able to send the voicemail messages to an email address, or several email addresses, where they can be easily played back from your mobile, tablet, or laptop. This feature is very useful for when you happen to be away from the office and still wish to be able to receive your business voicemail messages.
So whilst you may have a generic voicemail box setup for the business calls, you can also have individual voicemail boxes setup on individual user extensions. That can be particularly useful if you were using the DID numbers on your individual extensions as mentioned earlier, as callers will then be able to leave you a message if you are not at your desk.
The voicemail option certainly aids with our mobility, which leads us into the remote worker, or work from home reception/practice manager scenario. Can the business phone system help with this kind of setup?
Rob: Most definitely, and this is where the current phone system technology really comes into play.
These days, most of us are very familiar with being able to access our email and common web applications no matter where we happen to be working from, and that is generally due to those apps being cloud based, or hosted on servers somewhere.
The cloud phone system extends on that idea by essentially enabling workers various ways in which they can access their business phone, no matter where in the world they may, provided they have access to a suitable internet connection.
If you are based out of a home office, then the desktop IP Phone handset is still the most practical option for ease and efficient in managing phone calls, and accessing the phone system functions. Therefore, a practice could have several staff working at differing locations, but all taking, making, and managing their phone calls in the exact same manner as if they were sitting side by side within the same office.
For the remote worker, that perhaps travels quite a lot, and changes locations quite frequently, there is the option for accessing the phone system via a web browser on their laptop, and or using a Softphone application installed and configured on their mobile phone. This allows them to continue to work and integrate with business phone system, and provides them with the same business functionalities. It also means they are not using their personal mobile phone and number, to take and make business related phone calls.
So Rob, I am assuming that this would be a similar setup for practices that have multiple office locations?
Rob: That is again, one of the main advantages of a cloud based business phone system. It does not necessarily matter where the user is located in the world, provided they have suitable internet access and their handset or device can connect back to the cloud phone system, then they can make use of the phone system’s functionalities.
With multiple offices, we often configure the phone system with the Auto Attendants and Ring Groups to manage the incoming calls for each location.
This can be done in such a way so that unanswered calls from one office can overflow to the other office location and vice versa.
If certain practices are only open on certain days and times, we can easily configure the system to automatically route the calls to specific locations based on these business hours and requirements.
Then there is redundancy, where calls can be automatically redirected to another site if one site happens to be offline due to a power or internet outage, meaning that you remain operational and calls are still being answered.
It sounds like technology has improved greatly on the old business phone systems. In closing, what would your advice be for setting some of these features up?
Rob: Firstly, we would recommend planning out exactly what functions and features you think your practice may require, and have a sound understanding as to how you would like your calls to be managed.
That then provides a starting point to have a more in-depth conversation with a professional business telco, who can offer you some advice and suggestions on how you might get the best setup and use from your phone system.
Like most things, it is best to plan, implement, and then fine tune your phone business system, rather than try and build it piece by piece on the fly, with no real outcomes in mind. Depending on the service provider, that could also turn out to be a frustrating and costly exercise for you and your business if it is not planned well.
Thanks again for your time and the insights you have provided
Rob: It’s been a pleasure