Introduction to Grandstream GRP Phones unboxing, first impressions, and tips!

When I first talked to Grandstream about these GRP phones, this time last year, I was cautiously optimistic. I was hopeful, but it was hard to say if I would like them enough to want to use them, let alone support them. Don’t get me wrong, we have many avid Grandstream only customers, but when you are working in phone config files; p-codes are something you prefer not to deal with on a day to day basis. There were also issues with Weather widgets, and some bad firmware… but let’s let the past be the past!

Grandstream promised me, without me even needing to ask: No more P-codes and Dual Boot Firmware. Hence my cautious optimism, if Grandstream could achieve those two things and start with a stable firmware, they could have a great product on their hands.

Well, here we are! In this video, I give you my honest feedback on the phones as I take them out of the box. As a guy who has handled and configured over one hundred models of VoIP phones in the last 10 years, they left me feeling good about Grandstream in general.

Spoiler Alert, I decided that we wanted to work with Grandstream and Support these phones officially.


Introducing: Appointment Reminders with vBroadcast

The ability to send appointment reminders has consistently been among the most popular feature requests that we receive.  And so, we are very happy to make this new capability available to resellers as part of the vBroadcast app.

I’m really happy with the progress and development of vBroadcast. It started as a Call Campaign dialer (not for telemarketing use), and SMS Campaigns were added last year. Now, we are introducing an Appointment Reminder in vBroadcast which can be used for a lot of things, but I think about Doctor appointment reminders specifically. If you haven’t used vBroadcast before, it’s a tool that you can set up, rebrand, then provide to your customers where they can manage their own campaigns with just a little bit of training.

After seeing the new application in action, my mind was spinning with different possibilities of automation that could be done. You could integrate with something as simple as a Jotform, or tie in an office’s appointment scheduler application to automatically schedule a reminder anytime an appointment is created. 

In the video I’m using a text message to send a Webhook to Zapier from the Manage DID Portal, then I use the Zapier formatter to modify the incoming request before sending it out again to Google sheets. Then we use information that is input in Google sheets to add new appointments.

Here’s to another tool that can help set you apart from the competition!

ActionURLs with Zapier and Slack

As promised! An ActionURL video with Zapier where I set up integrations with Google Sheets, Email and Slack. I really appreciated the emails and feedback on the last video showing the Philips Hue integration through IFTTT. The feedback led me to include several things in this video; such as where to find documentation, auto-provisioning, and some troubleshooting basics. While the Philips Hue integration might have sparked your interest, this video may help you realize more of the potential behind using ActionURLs. The possibilities of what you can do with ActionURLs are nearly endless, it’s only limited by your imagination.

ActionURLs can be configured on just about any brand of VoIP phone, where they send an HTTP GET or POST request to a URL. The URL that you send to is called a Webhook, which is just waiting for information from the GET or POST. Without any development experience, you can use tools like IFTTT and Zapier to trigger another action, like change your Slack status! Utilizing ActionURLs can really set you apart from the competition, including the big Telco guys.

I’m adding timestamps in case you are interested in jumping to a specific topic. I cover creating a call log with Google Sheets (2:19), creating emails when a phone loses registration (13:39), and changing your status in Slack by your phones activity (19:47).


The Github Tool that I mention in this video can be found at here

Webhooks, Actions URLs and Smart Lights

I’ve had ‘Create ActionURL explainer video’ on my personal todo list for years, mostly because I don’t think enough people are really using ActionURLs in our industry. ActionURLs have been around for a long time, and it might be something that you overlook when you’re in the WebUI of your phone, but you really shouldn’t. ActionURLs give you a big leg up against other phone companies by expanding your ability to customize for your customers.

I find myself somewhat obsessed with smart home technology almost as much as VoIP. I spend too much time thinking about what I can do next and how I can bring the different pieces together to make life just a little easier. So it was a natural choice to use IFTTT and Philips Hue Smart Lights as a BLF-like mechanism for the purpose of education.

Outside of changing colors on lightbulbs, the possibilities are almost endless with ActionURLs. Some examples of things I’ve done in the past include: Logging missed calls to a google sheet, generating notifications for registration drops to help troubleshoot a Local Network issue, or to log when certain end customers put their phone in DND (when they swear they weren’t doing it). If you can think of it, you can probably do it, I hope this video makes life a little easier for you!


Twilio Studio Integration for IVRs with Speech Recognition

Our Senior Platform Engineer, Jim DeVito, introduced Twilio Studio to a group of resellers at Vectors 2019 in a breakout session. I missed the session but walked in at the end and saw a group of people standing around Jim, asking him questions. I could see the excitement in the room and knew I missed something very interesting. I decided to dig in myself, but I’d like to offer a big thanks to Jim for the introduction and getting the most difficult part out of the way!

Twilio Studio has a very interesting way for you to build IVRs with Speech Recognition, which is wonderful because you’ve been asking about it! As we discussed at Vectors, we already had speech recognition in our roadmap, but this Twilio Integration gives you access to these types of features if you need them today.

The Twilio Studio concept is fairly simple, it allows you to build IVRs with a graphical flow chart without a need to do any programming. While the concept is simple, the program itself is complex, yet well thought out and intuitive. After 30 minutes of playing around and building a clone of SkySwitch’s main Auto-Attendant with speech recognition, I felt that I had a good understanding of the Studio and I found myself overwhelmed by thoughts of the possibilities.

Most people don’t have the time to look at other products, like Twilio Studio, so after playing with one for a while I felt it was necessary to share it with you and make the integration as easy as possible. You can see step-by-step instructions, and a video how-to in our help docs:

I hope the video and article makes life easier for you. The next step will be to show you how we can use webhooks to integrate SkySwitch, most of our phones, and Twilio Studio with things like Slack or IFTTT!


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