Auto Attendant & On-Hold Message Do’s and Don’ts, From A Voiceover Expert

BY DONNA RENEE, GUEST BLOGGER

I’ve been doing telephony voice work for 20 years, and let me tell you — in two decades of experience, you see a little bit of everything.  Some great scripts…and some really bad scripts. I’ve cultivated tidbits of advice on what you should do and what not to do.  Here are some highlights:

How to Incorporate Extensions Effectively

  • DON’T mix extension numbers (ie “dial ext. 207”) and press numbers (ie “press 1 for sales”) in the same Auto Attendant script.  
  • DO use one or the other, and be consistent throughout the whole script.
  • WHY – We expect to hear one or the other, so it’s confusing to the caller.  Our minds take too long trying to connect the dots when we hear something we don’t expect.

Getting the Right Voiceover Length

  • DON’T write ‘War and Peace’ for the Auto Attendant Greeting script. Many marketing departments want to list their greatest talking points, tags and slogans, but this is not the right venue for that.
  • DO give only the pertinent information as succinctly as possible.
  • WHY – No one wants to listen to a recording that drags on for 2 minutes, no matter how good your content is. They just want to speak to someone ASAP.

When to Present the ‘Dial for Operator’ Option

  • DON’T give the ‘press 0 for the operator’ in the first sentence of the Auto Attendant!  
  • DO give that option at the end of the greeting.
  • WHY – If you give the option right away, they won’t listen to the rest of the greeting. Everyone will zero out, and the rest becomes pointless.

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

  • DON’T have silence on hold.
  • DO have either music provided by SkySwitch or On Hold Messages by AdvantageIVR.
  • WHY – With silence, it’s too easy to think you’ve been hung up on and they’ll call back, making staff busier than they need to be.  

First Impressions Matter

  • DON’T think that the voice on the Auto Attendant doesn’t matter, or that it’s a throw-away task.
  • DO have the Auto Attendant Greetings professionally recorded.
  • WHY – The Auto Attendant is the NEW Director of First Impressions, just like the receptionist used to be.  And was the receptionist important back in the day? I rest my case.

Incorporate the Company Directory in a Smart Way

  • DON’T give a long list of names, departments and their extensions in the Main Menu. (i.e. For Bill Wright, head of Marketing, dial 278; for Barry White, lead singer of our company choir, dial 777, etc.)
  • DO say “For a Company Directory, press ___” and then plug them into the directory.
  • WHY – The Main Menu should be short and staccato-like. Callers would rather have a couple of menu levels than be forced to listen to the whole message to hear what they need  — which is typically at the end. 😄

Add Music Here, But Not There…

  • DON’T use music on the Auto Attendant Greetings.
  • DO use music on the On Hold Messages.
  • WHY – People don’t expect music when a call is answered. They automatically think they’ve been placed on hold because they have been trained to know that music signals “on hold”.  So think: Auto Attendant = Voice Only, On Hold = Voice with Music.

Be Careful Where That Music Comes From

  • DON’T play the radio or your favorite mp3 download or music CD on hold.  It’s illegal.
  • DO use licensed music only or professionally recorded On Hold Messages with licensed music.
  • WHY – Composers legally earn royalties from their songs played on the radio, digital downloads and CDs. The ‘royalty police’ – ASCAP, BMI, SESAC – can fine you for doing such.  AdvantageIVR uses ONLY licensed music for their on hold productions.

The Differences Between Voiceover Message Types

  • DON’T think that Auto Attendant Greetings and On Hold Messages are the same.
  • DO know the difference.
  • WHY – When explaining the services you offer, Auto Attendant Greetings are recordings heard when the phone is answered, the menus they navigate through and the voicemail greetings.  On Hold Messages are heard after a call has been answered and is placed on hold and they are always set to music. Apples and Oranges.

Know Your Audience and Cater to That

  • DON’T have a male voice doing the Auto Attendant Greetings for an OBGYN clinic, or similar female patient only business.
  • DO have a female voice for that client.
  • WHY – Self-explanatory.

If you found these tips helpful and want to learn more about the importance of creating great, personalized voiceovers for your business, then make sure to sign up for this SkySwitch webinar I’ll be broadcasting live on Tuesday, April 14th!

Product Review: Grandstream GRP2613 Desk Phone

Grandstream’s GRP lineup aims to bring a series of phones that are highly functional, easy to use and easy on IT teams to deploy and provision. In time, on the SkySwitch blog, we’ll check out a plethora of Grandstream GRP phones, starting today with the GRP2613. 

 

The Grandstream GRP2613 features a color screen, support for all major voice codecs, easy one-touch buttons for call management, HD Audio and support for up to 3 phone lines. This is a functional and mid-level telephony workhorse for today’s connected employees. 

Features and Out-of-the-Box Experience

For IT and company management, the GRP2613 offers a great feature set for your users. 

These include:

  • A 2.8” color LCD screen
  • Support for up to 3 SIP accounts and 6 multi-purpose line keys
  • Dual switch gigabit ethernet ports with integrated Power over ethernet (known as PoE)
  • HD Audio support with support for major codecs
  • Swappable faceplates for logo customization and branding

When your GRP2613 arrives, it comes with the phone’s base unit, the handset with cords, a power adapter, including ethernet cable and stand — which can be attached to the phone at two different spots to customize the viewing angle of the LCD screen.

Setting up the phone for use is straightforward — simply unpackage and assemble the phone. Attach the handset, ethernet cable and power adapter, and the Grandstream GRP2613 powers up. On this unit, a dedicated headset jack is included for your wired headset of choice. In my case, I attached my Plantronics Savi 8820 for my calling activity.

GRP2613_front-trimmed

Provisioning the Grandstream GRP2613

After physical setup, the GRP2613 is ready for provisioning on your network. If the Grandstream phone was ordered through the SkySwitch store, the phone will come automatically provisioned and ready for use directly out of the box.

As my unit came direct from Grandstream, I simply followed the instructions on the SkySwitch Knowledge Base, which instructed me to: 

  • Add the Grandstream’s MAC address to my SkySwitch Dash Manager via the MAC address, which can be found on the rear of the phone.
  • Set the GRP2613 to use SkySwitch’s provisioning server via the GRP2613’s web user interface. 
    • To find the GRP2613’s IP address, use the onboard menus to navigate to Status, then network, then you’ll see the IP.
    • Login on the address using Admin as the login, and the password which is printed on the back of your GRP2613.
    • Set the provisioning server to sipcfg.io/cfg
    • Your Grandstream GRP2613 will reboot and be ready for use

Use and Performance of the GRP2613 Desk Phone

When looking at the GRP2613, it’s apparent that Grandstream wanted to build a phone that’s fully featured for office workers and easy to use. I enjoy the buttoned-up design that puts functions such as mute, headset, call management and more in a straightforward manner. 

In my usage of the Grandstream phone, calls have been reliable, crisp and fast. This phone works perfectly well with SkySwitch’s network backbone for flawless execution. Also, my callers report that I’m clear, no matter if it’s calling my colleagues within SkySwitch or landlines and mobiles of those at partner companies. I also really enjoyed using the soft keys that the GRP2613 comes with — I have one-touch access to my most-called extensions, which saves me a lot of time.

One complaint: The Grandstream GRP2613 is a reliable and functional phone, but it definitely requires a physical connection as this phone doesn’t have WiFi built-in, so if you’re deploying this phone to an environment without an ethernet connection, you’ll need to look at other Grandstream models that do so.

Conclusion

Grandstream’s GRP2613 is a reliable calling workhorse that will satisfy the IT Director’s desire for an easy-to-deploy phone that satisfies end users with a functional and fully featured desk phone. With its straightforward design, onboard screen and easy-to-use call functions, the GRP2613 will keep everyone in your office producing and well-connected.

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

Webinar Replay: How to Work From Home Successfully

Earlier this week, the SkySwitch team hosted a webinar that covered everything you need to know to work from home successfully and how SkySwitch resellers can counsel their customers who need assistance with this rapid office to remote work environment transition.

Our team of Work From Home Experts who gave tips and advice to the SkySwitch Community included:

  • Andy Abramson, SkySwitch CMO
  • Emily Vasquez, SkySwitch Communications Manager
  • Jason Harris, SkySwitch Product Reviews Editor
  • Darren Buckner, Workfrom CEO

This webinar was jam-packed with tips and advice you can use to work from home smarter, so make sure to watch the webinar replay and check out the slide deck below.

To give you a quick highlight reel, here’s what our team covered in the webinar…

How the SkySwitch Store Supports the Demand for Work From Home and Safe Work Solutions 

In early March, we saw a huge spike in sales for Power-Over-Ethernets and Power Supplies (aka Power Bricks). The increase in demand was so sudden, that it was difficult to keep inventory levels replenished. But thanks to the hard work of Kelly Osborne, our e-Commerce Operations Manager, we have been able to source work from home solutions that are in high demand.

The team created the “Work From Home Solutions” category in the SkySwitch Store to initially create a convenient spot during this mad rush, but the category has evolved over time. The team has received questions about what solutions resellers can offer to their customers who don’t have the ability to work from home, but still need to practice safe social distancing during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. This category is now called “WFH and Safe Work Solutions”, and in this webinar, we discuss the hot items for both work from home and safe workplace needs.

Be More Productive With the Right Work From Home Gear

As SkySwitch’s resident gadget geek, Jason Harris had a lot to say about the devices you need to successfully work from home, how to determine which devices are the best fit for you and how resellers should approach advising the best solutions for their customers.

Jason Harris covered work from home essentials like headsets and speakerphones, and detailed all of the different specifications you should be considering when choosing the right one to match your work style and schedule. In addition, he discussed some other gear that most people don’t think about when it comes to working from home successfully, like the type of internet connection you have and softphone clients that make you more reachable for your team.

The Life of the Anywhere Worker: Top Tips and Advice

Darren Buckner, Workfrom CEO, dived into the major do’s and don’ts for remote work, how not to go crazy if you’re new to remote work, how to manage distractions, how to stay connected with your co-workers and social etiquette for working from home.

 

In just 15 minutes, he provided webinar attendees with a litany of advice they could use for themselves, and as resellers counseling their own customers who have made the sudden transition from the traditional office environment to their home office. 

 

A big question the audience was interested in knowing, was how to stay connected with their co-workers with the barrier of physical distance? Darren suggested creating Slack channels or chat groups dedicated to non-work talk, so co-workers could still engage in “watercooler conversation” – physical separation doesn’t need to mean social separation!

To listen to more tips like these from Darren, Jason and Andy, make sure to listen to the full webinar recap. If you’d like to review the webinar slide deck, you can download this PDF.

Meet Donna Renee: Specialist for Auto Attendant Greetings and More

BY DONNA RENEE, GUEST BLOGGER

Most of the SkySwitch community know me as the voice of Wendy in all of the CVA Branded Reseller Videos  — but, I do more than that!  

I’m Donna Renee, Professional Voice Actor and Owner of Advantage IVR. Since 2014, I’ve worked with the SkySwitch community, providing quality auto-attendant greetings and VOaaS solutions for resellers. If you attended Vectors last year, you might remember meeting me there! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting closer to the SkySwitch community, so I felt it was about time to introduce myself a little more so we can continue growing our connection.

A little bit about my background: I actually stumbled into my career as a voice actor while working part-time for an on-hold message company 20 years ago. One of my first clients asked me to voice their on-hold program. Two years after that, they asked me to voice their TV commercial, and that opened the door to launch my career. Today, I have voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials, training and educational videos, sales videos, promos, e-learning modules and of course on-hold messages and auto-attendant greetings!

Since I’ll be hosting a webinar with SkySwitch on April 14th, we thought it would be fun to share a snippet of the broad range of things that I have done over my 20-year career in voice acting.

Here are my “Top Ten Best Hits”:

1. Psalm 46
My personal favorite. Produced by Moving Works, this is a short film bringing to life the reality of Psalm 46, which teaches us to trust God in the midst of life’s worst moments. How appropriate for right now.

2. INTERPOL
I have a video producer client in Germany that gets a lot of EU Government jobs.  One of the most interesting assignments that I’ve done for him was an e-learning script for new employee onboarding for INTERPOL.  I could tell you more, let you listen to a sample, but then I’d have to _____ ___. You know the rest. It’s a good day to keep living, so let’s move on!  LOL.

 

3. 2016 General Election
I love politics! So, in the 2016 General Election when I scored a relationship with a political production agency, it was a heyday! That season I did the voicing for 1 US Senator, and 35 other candidates and issues. I hope the 2020 General stacks up the same or better! 

4. Papa Murphys
For 3.5 years I was the radio voice for Papa Murphys. This was through an agency, and sadly, I don’t have a sample. (I’ve always asked, but they never sent it.) Sure wish I could have had free pizza as part of the deal!

 

5. Surf’N Gourmet TV Show – Discovery Life Channel
This comes with a disclaimer. I don’t love my voiceover style in this, but I gave them exactly what they asked for — and my client loved it! Even though I sometimes cringe when I hear it, I’m putting it on my list because I was hired by a producer for Discovery Life Channel, which was a big win for me. The Surf’N Gourmet was a TV show airing in the USA and other countries. They were in a new VC round and wanted a sizzle reel to garner interest. I auditioned and got the job! 

6. Inspirada
This was a commercial for an adult living community in a Las Vegas suburb. Another big audition win on a huge ‘pay to play’ platform … hundreds of auditions. I think this turned out great!

7. St. Joseph Medical Centers
Big win through one of my agents …the client auditioned thousands of voices through multiple agents, couldn’t find what they were ‘listening’ for and kept searching through multiple agencies. Finally, they heard my voice and I got hired. What a blessing!

8. Heathman Hotel – Art Tour
This was the most unique gigs I’ve ever done. The Heathman Hotel in Downtown Portland Oregon has an eclectic art curation that they are quite proud of. They created an audio tour of it and I voiced it! Super unique and fun project. They renovated the hotel in 2018 and sadly my audio tour no longer exists. But it was there for a decade!

9. Car Gal – Lexus, Volvo, Mercedes, BMW, Maserati, Genesis
Somehow, I have become the go-to Luxury Car Gal voiceover for commercials  — and I love it! I should have counted how many car ads I’ve voiced. Radio, TV and internet.  Here are three favorites!

10. Funny Commercial – ODC – Son Burn
Lastly, I have one client who does comedic, parody-types of commercials. They always crack me up. Sometimes they almost cross the line, as in this case. Is it really funny?  No — but at the same time, yes. I included this one because sometimes a little dose of laughter is a good thing.

I hope you enjoyed listening to my top hits! Keep an eye out on social media and the weekly SkySwitch newsletter for some of my upcoming blog posts that will cover voiceover do’s and don’ts, and for reminders on webinars that I’ll be speaking on.

Product Review: Yealink SIP-T54W

BY JASON HARRIS, REVIEWS EDITOR

Yealink, the top-selling brand in the SkySwitch store, is best known for delivering high-quality voice products that are well built, sound great, and are a big value. Today we’re going to look at the Yealink SIP-T54W desk phone and see if this model delivers on the brand’s reputation.

Features 

The Yealink SIP-T54W is a handsome phone unit with a colorful 4.3” color display that swivels vertically for an optimal viewing angle depending on your desk height and setup. The SIP-T54W has built-in support for Bluetooth, dual-band Wi-Fi, so you can use it without being tethered to an ethernet cable if you choose, and a USB port for call recording.

Those in a noisy office environment will really dig Yealink’s Acoustic Shield technology, which eliminates background chatter and distractions. I find it interesting that Yealink calls this a ‘corded-cordless’ model — what this means is that a dongle can be attached to the back of the phone unit, so you can pair this wired phone with a cordless headset unit in case you want to walk around your office.

Other features to highlight:

  • Support for Wi-Fi 
  • Bluetooth connectivity for wireless headsets
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support
  • Support for up to 16 VoIP accounts
  • LED for call and message waiting indication

Opening the Box and Setup

My review unit came with the expected kit: the phone base unit, the handset, cord, stand, and ethernet cable. One note — my unit didn’t come with a power supply, so if your office doesn’t have power over ethernet (PoE) set up in its network cabling, you’ll need to ensure you purchase a Yealink power supply for this phone. (This is also the case if you plan to use the Yealink SIP-T54W via WiFi in your office.)

Lastly, there’s an included plastic stand that enables you to customize the angle the phone sits on your desk. This phone model is easy to assemble and to connect to your network — it took me less than 75 seconds to get the phone physically ready to use.

If you purchase the Yealink from the SkySwitch store, it arrives already provisioned out of the box. For me, this unit came from Yealink, so I had to provision it myself. Luckily, getting the new Yealink handset online and ready to use was an easy three-step process:

  • Find the MAC address using the YeaLink on-screen menus
  • Add the phone to my Skyswitch Dashmanager PBX using the Yealink’s MAC address
  • Setting the Yealink to use SkySwitch’s server URL in the web user interface

For the Yealink, I simply navigated to the Admin settings, set the provisioning server address to http://sipcfg.io/cfg – then, the Yealink SIP-T54W power cycled itself and the phone came back ready to use!

Let’s Check Out Performance 

After a week of using the Yealink, I can say that it performs very well! The phone was easy to set up, looks very handsome on my desk and has sounded perfect in each call I’ve placed. I have used the SIP-T54W to call my SkySwitch colleagues via extensions, regular landlines and on their mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada, and each call sounded clear.

Yealink’s Acoustic Shield noise isolation technology came in handy when I had noisy office chatter in my work area; it was great at silencing the copying machine near me as well. The buttons and user interface on the 4.3” screen are a joy to use, and I easily figured out how to integrate my headset to mute and transfer calls. 

I also tested out the speakerphone on the Yealink, and it performed as expected. Callers were able to hear me but not any of my background noise – but, of course, they also reported that  I didn’t sound as good as when I was on the handset.

Conclusion

The Yealink SIP-T54W is an attractive, well-built, and highly functional office desk phone that will compliment your office or home office well. It delivers amazing call performance and has a set of features that’s unrivaled in the marketplace. 

 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

4 Big Reasons Employees Shouldn’t Use Personal Phone Numbers for Work

Recently, we’ve seen employers nationwide quickly switch over to a remote work model due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with that rapid switch, it means we’re seeing more and more workers utilizing their personal phones for work while waiting for desk phones to be shipped over to them.

 

While the BYOD (bring your own device) arrangement is a fairly common, lower-cost option that tends to work out, there are significant potential issues brewing each time a remote worker uses their personal phone numbers for business purposes, especially if they are in a heavily-client facing role. 

1) Difficulty distinguishing between incoming personal and business calls

This is one of the most common issues employees face when using their personal phone for business. For example, a call from their child’s school doesn’t seem any different than a call from a customer or important prospect. 

Now, this leaves the employee unsure and unprepared on:

  1. A) How to respond 
  2. B) Determining how urgent the call is
  3. C) Whether they need to move to a quieter room, or if it’s a casual call they can take with some noise in the background

Nobody likes being unprepared, especially if it’s for an important client. So, the solution to eliminating all that unnecessary guesswork? Routing your business phone number to your cell phone with ReachUC. By downloading the ReachUC softphone client on your cell phone, you can answer calls directed to your business phone number on your cell. And on the ReachUC mobile app interface, you can access your entire business call history, business contacts, voicemails and text messages with ease. 

 

You Might Be Interested In: ReachUC Is An Ideal Business Cloud Voice Softphone

2) Work-life balance (and overall productivity) becomes tricky

If employees start giving out their personal phone numbers instead of their business line, then it becomes nearly impossible to turn off one part of their lives without turning off the other. Taking work-related calls on the weekends or while on PTO can become very problematic because while this is sustainable in the short-term, it can lead to major burnout in the long-term. This is especially true for those who work from home and already struggle with defining boundaries between work and their personal life, since it’s all conducted in the same spot — home.

With a separate business phone number, employees are able to set boundaries and take time to recharge on their time off — and that is just another big advantage to employers utilizing a softphone like ReachUC. 

 

You Might Be Interested In: ReachUC on iOS Is the Mobile Worker’s Dream

3) Important customer data travels with your employee

If an employee uses their personal phone number to conduct business with clients, you may run into tricky privacy issues. By using a personal number to call or text clients and prospects, now all of that important contact information, call logs, text messages and voicemails, travel with the employee  — even after they leave the company. 

 

That’s where the ReachUC softphone comes in handy. If an employee decides to leave their company, their business phone number can be deactivated so that they no longer have access to private customer information. This way, the company retains information that belongs to them and mitigates any customer privacy issues they could have faced.

4) Employees struggle with a cluttered, unorganized inbox


When both personal and business phone calls are coming through one line, the resulting call volume can be a lot to manage. Especially since contact with a client isn’t conducted solely over the phone, but also through text and email. 

 

By routing a business number to your employee’s cell phone with a softphone solution like ReachUC, that no longer becomes an issue. All business calls and text messages will be housed in one space (the ReachUC mobile app) so accidentally texting a client about an upcoming weekend BBQ never happens.

SkySwitch Resellers can offer the ReachUC softphone as a great Work From Home Solution to their customers, and it is available for download on Android, iOS, PC and Mac. If you have any questions about ReachUC, please browse our extensive Knowledge Base Docs or feel free to reach out to your SkySwitch Sales or Onboarding Rep. We’re always happy to help!

What I Learned From My Internship at SkySwitch

In October of 2019, I was offered the position of Social Media Marketing Intern for SkySwitch. Every moment since then has been a whirlwind of professional development, personal growth and thinking on my feet. 

 

Shortly after being brought on to the team, we traveled to Orlando, FL for Vectors 2019, the annual user group conference hosted by SkySwitch. Being the largest Vectors conference yet, I had a lot of quick thinking to do as the fast-paced environment was both terrifying and exhilarating. I helped coordinate and capture the event highlights and worked around the clock to assist the marketing team in ensuring everything ran smoothly. The late nights and long hours were worth it when we learned of the incredible success of the event — especially when I got to see the graphics I designed up on-screen in front of hundreds of people! 

 

My time at SkySwitch was not without its trials and tribulations. As with anything, there was a learning curve and I had to adjust accordingly. I’m grateful for the guidance I had along the way during the moments of confusion. Entering the telecommunications industry was difficult, and it was up to me to learn the terminology and new skills, like B2B marketing, in order to properly represent the voice of the company. Fortunately, there were many resources provided in order for me to develop the necessary skills, and we had team meetings to assess my progress and strengthen the areas that needed work. Also, Google was a big help. 

 

My past work experience is in the realm of Social Media Marketing. While my internship extended far beyond that title, I was able to implement my skills and create social posts and campaigns that were posted to the company’s platforms. One of my favorite projects is the #MeetTheTeam campaign, a series of social posts designed to bridge the gap between corporate offices and our resellers by allowing our clients to get to know our team members on a personal level. From the concept to the graphic design, to the copy and scheduling of posts, I had the pleasure of kickstarting a fun and engaging campaign that will extend beyond my time here at SkySwitch.

 

These past six months have been incredible and I’ve learned so much about my career field, the industry, and most importantly myself. During my time here, I had the opportunity to document huge events, draft creative briefs, create banners that were printed and used in conferences and so much more. The experience was unforgettable and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I was given at the organization. What I’ll miss the most though, is the wonderful work environment I was lucky enough to be a part of. 

 

My direct supervisors, Andy Abramson, Emily Vasquez and Erica Vasquez strengthened me as a professional in many ways. From providing endless support and answering the many questions I had, they were the best mentors an intern could hope for. SkySwitch truly is a family and I couldn’t recommend this internship or organization more. Thank you, everyone, for everything — and especially for trusting me with your Chicken Salad Chick orders. 



All the best,

Melanie Margolese

Product Review: Plantronics Savi 8220 Headset Is the Connected Worker’s Best Friend

BY JASON HARRIS, REVIEWS EDITOR

Working in the 21st century means having to stay connected. These days, we have many, many options for connecting with our colleagues, friends and coworkers. For me, I’m constantly switching between my deskphone, computer-based service such as Zoom, Slack and other services, and of course my mobile phone.

We’re used to wired headsets that can connect to our deskphones that sales, support, administrative or anyone who calls regularly for work are familiar with — and then in some cases, we need a separate headset for smartphones and tablets such as Apple AirPods that connect via Bluetooth.

This is why the Plantronics Savi 8220 headset is pure genius. This connected device can hook up to all three devices that you have your daily calls on, no matter which device they occur on, all at the same time. Let’s dig in and see how the Savi 8220 performs.

First Impressions and Unboxing

The Plantronics Savi 8220, as you can see in this picture, is a two-piece solution — the base itself and the wireless headset. The box comes with all accessories needed, the cords and a quick start guide to get you up and running fast.

The headset is well-built and the kit comes with:

  • Wireless headset 
  • USB Type-A cable
  • Phone RJ-11 cable
  • Headset base

This headset is extremely lightweight and so comfortable. It connects to your laptop or desktop computer via USB cable; to your mobile phone via Bluetooth connection; and to your deskphone using the included phone jack. One might think this connection set up and wiring would be difficult, but every cable is clearly labeled and documented in the supplied “Quick Start” guide.

The Impressive Feature List

The Plantronics Savi 8220 is a premium grade desk headset, and this is apparent with the feature list. This device delivers enterprise-grade DECT audio, which means you’ll have amazing stereo sound, active noise cancellation (which cuts out background noise) and more. Let’s go through this impressive feature list:

  • Multi-device connectivity including mobile phone, computer and deskphone
    • You can even join calls together between your mobile and desk with the push of a button for handy three-way calling
  • 580 feet of range— that’s almost two football fields, or three hockey rinks, in distance
  • Noise-canceling mic
  • Battery life that lasts 13 hours of talk time before needing a charge
  • Adaptive power system that activates low-power mode when the headset is close to its base, to conserve battery life
  • Mute alert that tells you if you’re talking on mute mode
  • Built-in ringer so you can take calls away from your desk

Buttons and Controls

The Savi 8220 headset and base have buttons that let you control every aspect of the calling experience with the device.

On the headset itself, the adjustable mic enables you to position it perfectly so your callers can hear you. There are two buttons on the mic boom, including the multi-function call button that starts and ends calls, and the red mute button. On the right side of the headphone is a slider dial-like rotating button that adjusts call volume in an easy way. (That means no having to fuss with up and down buttons that can be super confusing.)

On the bottom of each can (the headphone itself) are two buttons — one is off/on so you can control power. On the other can is a button to toggle ANC, or active noise cancellation, that cuts down background noise on the mic in case you’re in a noisy environment.

On the base, there are three buttons that control which ‘channel’ the headset is connected to — either your mobile phone via Bluetooth, your computer or your deskphone. Again, you can bridge calls between your mobile phone and your deskphone in case you need a quick 3-way call with ease.

Performance and Call Quality

So, there are many things to evaluate with the Savi 8220. At its price point, it’s important that this headset performs. I’m here to tell you — it really does!

As far as call voice quality, I’ve never heard my callers with such high-fidelity. No matter if I’m calling through my deskphone (the headset is hooked up currently through my Grandstream VVX3370), my mobile or a Zoom call on my Mac, the high-fidelity audio features shine. Also, HD Voice calls via my mobile are high quality. Callers say I sound crystal clear, and their voices are also fantastic to me.

It’s remarkable how comfortable the Savi 8220 is. It’s surprisingly lightweight, easy to wear all day and it is amazingly sturdy.

I also really like the wireless range of this headset. I can walk around my entire office, which means I’m hundreds of feet away, and take calls even through walls. This is super handy for when you’re on a call and need to run and grab a print job, or hop into a huddle room or conference room for privacy. 

This headset’s beauty is in its simplicity. After initial setup and hook up, it’s so amazing to handle calls between three different devices with wireless ease  — without the corded headset tangled mess or need to switch between earpieces.

Conclusion

The Plantronics 8220 stands out in every way it should. This includes:

✅Easy to set up and use

✅Amazing battery life

✅Fantastic call performance — both for you and those you’re calling

✅Long-range Bluetooth that lets you walk around your office and stay connected

No matter if you’re an office worker who calls others down the hall or across the country via your deskphone, or someone who goes between their mobile and desktop conferencing solutions like ReachUC, GoToMeeting, Zoom and others, this headset will add value to your work setup. 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

Poly and SkySwitch Discuss the C19 UC Challenge for Telecom Resellers

Earlier this week, Darren Knapp, Poly’s Director of Global ITSP Sales, joined SkySwitch’s CMO, Andy Abramson, to address the challenges that telecom resellers now face due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, and to discuss how telecom resellers can successfully rise to those challenges.

 

In this webinar, Darren walks through how the work from home market was already huge before the COVID-19 pandemic, what the current state of employees working from home looks like, and how the work from home trend is expected to grow in the coming years.

 

When it comes to more of your customers quickly transitioning to a work from home environment, both the service provider and customer are likely to run into some hurdles.The three big UC challenges that Darren targets, and presents solutions for in this webinar are:

  1. How do telecom resellers and service providers respond to this accelerated demand for WFH?
  2. How do resellers and service providers minimize the pre and post-installation technical challenges?
  3. How do VARs, MSPs, etc. scale on short notice when they are accustomed to a certain rate of growth?

 

Watch and listen to the webinar recording below, or read the full transcript to get all the answers on how SkySwitch and Poly are helping telecom resellers respond to the increased demand for work from home solutions.

Full Webinar Transcript:

Andy Abramson 

Good morning, and welcome to another SkySwitch webinar. I’m Andy Abramson, Chief Marketing Officer for SkySwitch. And joining me today, I have a good friend from Polly, Darren Knapp, their Director of Global ITSP Sales and a friend to everyone. And I mean everyone in the SkySwitch family. Hi, Darren. 

Darren Knapp

Hey, Andy, thanks for the intro. I feel friendly now, just after that intro I’m feeling friendly.

Andy Abramson

Good, that’s the way you should feel. We’re going to talk about a bunch of things today. Originally, it was going to simply be “Let’s catch up on where Poly is” but you know, the change in life, the new normal, the way business is now ‘business unusual’ and how it’s impacting everyone from Poly to SkySwitch to our resellers and to their customers. You quickly pulled together, and I want to thank you, a whole presentation around the coronavirus COVID-19 Unified Communications challenge. And before we dive into one of the things we’ve been reading about, whether it’s Apple or any company in the world, everyone’s talking about the supply lines. What are the Polly’s supply lines looking like right now, especially here in the US and also in the manufacturing channel?

Darren Knapp

Well, there’s two things, right? One is supply line, and that’s definitely affected. Everybody is affected because as you’ve seen on the news, even if we’ve got a manufacturing facility in Mexico, a lot of the components are manufactured in China, right? So your microphones and speakers and chipsets and a lot of those pieces are manufactured in China. And it’s something that we’ve been in the process of doing, I think, on the Plantronics side, if you think of the merge between Polycom and Plantronics. 

Now, Polycom, you’ve definitely seen aggressive and smart moves towards moving as much to Mexico and places outside of China. We’ve got other Asian facilities that do manufacturing as well. But I think the entire US is having a look at their business processes. And think about how we’re going to do business going forward in this this new world, post COVID-19. And it’s everything from the, you know, biomedical to, especially in our sector, and the tech and the hardware that goes underneath the hood for everything we do. And it’s important, you know, just me personally as a father of four and you know, a family guy. 

I care about the future of my family and how we’re doing financially. And I’ve seen the things that we get upset about – there’s rampant tech stealing and you know, just what what’s going on in China needs to be fixed. And hopefully this is a wake up call for the United States to shore that up and look to other sources and just make sure that our IP is is protected.

Andy Abramson

Well, that’s great. Now what about inventory here in the US? Working with our store manager, Kelly Osbrone, this morning, things look like they’re normal, a little bit normal again. What do you know about the inventory of Poly gear here in the US?

Darren Knapp

Yeah, so it kind of depends on what you’re looking for. Um, you know, kind of like right now I can go to the store and I can actually buy some some fruits and some vegetables. But if I want toilet paper, good luck, right? And it’s kind of similar in that there’s been a massive run on headsets and we’ve seen numerous of our headset lines be depleted, and then also put on backorder. So some of the most popular lines are on backorder right now. 

And, and one of the things that I’ll cover is that diversification in your supply line is important because to your point, you may be buying from one distributor today, and not even aware that down the road, there’s another distributor that has inventory on the products that you need. I was hearing an anecdote yesterday about the fact that Staples had plenty of toilet paper. You know, it’s not the first place you think of to go buy toilet paper, but somewhere someplace somebody’s got toilet paper. And it’s the same kind of way in the Unified Communication space, somewhere someplace. Most likely, there’s some inventory. 

The other thing that you may have to look at is if, you know, like one of the lower phones in inventory for us is the VVX450. So if that was your primary phone, you might want to start looking at the VVX350. They could be a suitable replacement in the interim. And right now there’s no stock issues on the VVX350. Whereas the 250 and 450 are a little constrained. There’s also plenty of inventory on our generation 2 VVX, select your VVX 301, 311, 4014. There’s plenty of those available as well, because most have started to migrate to the new technology. But those are still available, we still sell them and they’re still a great device. And so that’s another opportunity for you to look in a different place and find something to be able to install your customer.

Andy Abramson

Sounds like Power over Ethernet. And headsets in the Unified Communication space have become the same thing as toilet paper and sanitizer. Everybody’s grabbing them, everybody’s stocking up on them, and everybody needs them. People who are sending their staff home, some are sending them home with their phones, but others are starting to order new phones and I think this is a great time to upgrade. Anyway, let’s dive in. You put together a killer presentation about the COVID-19 UC challenge. It’s up on the screen. Everybody, we’ll be taking questions with Darren at the end, so please don’t hesitate in the chat to indicate that you have some questions and we’ll get to them at the end. So, Darren, my friend, why don’t you take it away?

Darren Knapp

Thanks, Andy. You know, just as a quick intro, I’m Darren Knapp, I manage the service provider space with Poly and cover service providers from in the USA to Latin America. So from Alaska all the way to the tip of Argentina, I’ve got a sales team that works with our partners to just to make sure it’s easy to do business with Poly. And so that’s kind of what I do. 

The other thing is, is like I said, I’m a father of four. I’m working from home right now, as I imagine most of us are. And I’ve also got four kids doing homeschool and a big bloodhound dog that could bark at any second, so things could get interesting in a heartbeat but that is both the blessing and the curse of working at home. So I’m happy to do it because I’ve got my comfortable shoes on. 

So let’s jump right in, you know, kind of the agenda for today. I want to start out with a Poly perspective on what we’re seeing in the market. And then we’ll jump into what are some of the challenges that we’re going to face as we look at this brave new world post COVID-19. And then, what are some of the ways that Poly can help you meet that challenge? And that’s that whole partnering to win – how can we work together? Skyswitch, Poly, you – and making sure that business flows smoother and you’re able to scale and grow your business. We’ll wrap it up with some question and answer and then I’ve got some winners, we’re going to pick a few names out of the hat and give away some headsets to some of the attendees. And then we’ll also talk about a promotion that we’ve got going on right now for us sponsoring some lucky winners to the Vectors conference coming up here in the fall. And so we’re gonna sponsor that, and will let you know the details on it. 

Hosted Voice Market Continues Growing

So let me jump in. From a market perspective here’s what I would have been talking to you about three weeks ago, three weeks ago is a very different time in place. But I would have talked to you about just how exciting our space is. Double digit growth and just the amazing growth that we’ve seen not just last year, but year after year after year after year, and there’s no end in sight. What you see on the left is the growth rate between 2017 and 2024. On the right, what you’re seeing is where we expect where the analysts expect that the saturation or the installed base will be by 2024. So by 2024, the expectation was as of three weeks ago, about 51% of those who are going to move to the cloud would have done so by 2024. Which means we’re only halfway there, right? Under the current conditions, this is what we’re going to talk about – how things are changing. 

So the other thing I want to talk to you about is that work from home has already started. I’ve been doing it for seven years now when I started Polycom, started as a remote worker, work from home. But Poly did a study on the enterprise and we interviewed several enterprises and in that study, what we came back with was, there’s several different types of workers right? And we’ve got them all listed here. By the way, at the end, you’ll be able to download this, we’ll provide a link for you so that you can download this presentation. But what we did is we kind of created these personas of who it is that works in the enterprise. And so there you’ve got Olivia on the left, she’s an office communicator, and then on the right, you know, you’ve got executives, road warriors, flexible workers that kind of work in multiple places. 

But the big key finding for us and that’s relevant, very, very relevant to what’s going on today is that 48% of the enterprise doesn’t always work in the office. They frequently work at Starbucks and on the road in the car and from home and in the airport and so on. And so, before coronavirus, almost 50% of the enterprise was already working remotely. You can imagine as we go forward, how things are changing. So let’s talk about that.

UCaaS/VaaS Defies the Market Crash 

You know, I’ve got some retirement funds and this is what has been giving me panic and sleepless nights is looking at the market and watching the, you know, the 401K drop like a rock. But what was interesting,  was we as we watched that happen, that wasn’t the only story. You know, there’s a company called Zoom, that in the face of one of the worst market declines in history, was growing like gangbusters. And this is actually true. There’s a lot of our partners that aren’t publicly traded. And they’re seeing expansion and growth during this worst time. And the reason is, right, people gotta continue working. You can’t just let your business falter. And go away because of this challenge. We’ve got to rise to the challenge, come up with solutions and Zoom was one of the most publicly visible solutions in the market. And so they’ve benefited from a huge growth in their stock. 

Coronavirus Intensifies Work From Home Demands

The other thing that we’re seeing, and I’ve watched this as I’m sitting on my couch, checking out the news at the end of the day. You know, you’re seeing all of these news stories about work from home. I mean, it’s constant. I could probably put up here in the neighborhood of 100 different articles that I’ve seen just in the past week that deal with work from home. And we’re seeing this, I’m living it, I’m working from home. I’ve actually was talking to one of my employees and she was telling me that she’s working out from home. So over one of the video platforms, she was able to actually do her work out with one of her friends and do this right online. So even that’s changing. Social events on Friday – this is probably the funniest one. I got a text from a buddy that wanted to use my bridge. And I asked him what he was using it for, because it was after hours and on a Friday. He says, “Oh, yeah, me and some of my neighbors are going to get together and drink some wine.” And so I, you know, had to laugh because it’s just a different way. I don’t think anybody had thought that we could use a video platform to kind of sit back and chat and have wine and enjoy. 

The other one, of course, is school online. All for my kids, now they’re being homeschooled. They’re online and they’re doing video calls with their teachers, and they’re experiencing the whole work from home experience as well. So people are getting creative, and they’re figuring out how to let life continue to happen as best as possible. And they’re using our technology, this Unified Communication space to get that done. 

So the thing we’ve got to consider is that the future of remote work is changing right before our eyes. If I’m a business person, and I’ve been caught sort of unaware, I’m scrambling right now, I’m buying headsets, I’m sending people home to work. And I’m probably not real comfortable with the way that’s going because it’s being forced on me in the matter of a week or two, versus the way normally enterprises and businesses plan. They plan potentially years in advance, if not six months in advance or three months in advance – not one week in advance. So the future of communications is changing right before our eyes. And we’ve got to prepare for it because what we saw before is going to change. Right? [Inaudible noise in the background] There’s Buddy in the background, he’s saying “hi.” 

But this same chart that I showed you before, guys, is going to change. So right, these things are going to go up and the new trajectory is going to be faster. Our expectation is that it’s not going to be 2024. Now, after coronavirus, that we see a 50% penetration of unified communications. We think this is going to really pick up steam, and even after we’re done, let’s say we get to the summer, and kind of the rough patches finished, and we’re going forward. We’re going to see businesses sit down and say, “Okay, that’s not going to happen again.”

What if this rears its head again this winter, right? Because normally the way viruses work is they pop up, and then they come back after the summer is over. And then you’ll get another flow or increase of the problem as we get back into the winter season. And by the way, what’s the next one that’s going to come out? So these are the things that businesses are thinking about. And these are the things that we’re going to have to help them solve as UC providers.

How Do We Respond to Accelerated Demand for Work From Home and Over-the-Top Unified Communications?

So I outlined what I’m calling the C19 UC challenge. And I want to define some of the problems that I’ve observed, right. So here they are: how do we respond to this accelerated demand for work from home and over the top unified communications? Number one, is we’ve got to understand the client. We’ve got to understand what it is they’re needing, what does the work from home employee need us to do for them? Second, we’ve got to be able to minimize that pre and post install technical challenge. This a lot of issues and I’ve got I’ve heard a lot of anecdotes over the last couple of weeks about people that went home, you know, they picked up their phone out of the office, and then they took it home and plugged it in and it didn’t work. It worked at the office, now it doesn’t work at home. And these are the nightmares for us as service providers. 

Many of you, I don’t know that you know this, but I used to run the network operations for an internet telephone service provider back in the middle 2000s. My own company, called Real Links. And that was my daily nightmare, was how to fix stuff that was broken behind the customer’s firewall. You know, how do you even see that stuff? 

And then number three, how do you scale, right, if the demand is going to increase? And I’m accustomed to a certain rate of growth, how am I going to ramp up in short notice? And so what I’m going to attempt to do, is hopefully present some ways that Poly can help you in these three categories. 

So first of all, let’s understand the challenges, right? Understanding and meeting the customer’s needs. Part of it is environmental, and this is where we’ve got issues with…you know, what I’m hearing right now: the dogs barking in the back, we’ve got workers working outside on a retaining wall. And the ability to focus is difficult. When there’s noise happening around you, it’s hard for you to concentrate. So we’ve got to be able to help that. We’ve also got to help the far-end hear us clearly, my kids were on this zoom call. And one of the things that my son told me was, “Yeah, dad, it was so distracting because everybody was making noise.” And so you’ve got 20 school kids, sixth graders, on a call and nobody’s on mute. So you can imagine the cacophony and the mayhem that’s going on. 

The other one is this multi-platform challenge. So, internally, you, your customer – you probably have a go-to unified communications and also video as a service platform that you use as your go-to. But inevitably, tomorrow, you’re going to be invited to something different. So whether you’ve settled on Zoom or whatever, tomorrow, you’re going to be invited to Teams or WebEx, Go to Meetings, Blue Jeans, and the list goes on. There’s about 20 solid platforms out there that folks are using today. And that’s going to continue to grow, especially in light of what’s going on. So you’ve got to have devices that can hop between the different platforms, and aren’t just tethered to one single solution. 

And then finally, it’s got to be easy to use. We can’t spend all of our time trying to train a customer on how to use a headset, or use a telephone or something like that. So we’ve got to be able to help that problem. Second of all, we’ve got to minimize the pre and post install technical challenges. So how do I know if my customers got a LAN issue? How do I know if it’s their internet connection? That’s the problem. How do I know it’s not the old ID 10 t issue, right? You know, my customer plugged the thing into the wrong port? And how can I find that out? And then how can I fix it quickly, because regardless of who’s at fault, if your customer takes a long time, in their eyes, to get a situation resolved, they’re probably going to turn and they’re going to go somewhere else. Even if it wasn’t your fault, even if it was that their home network was a disaster. They’re not going to pin that on themselves, they’re going to pin that on you. And so you’ve got to be able to help them fix their own problems, and you got to do it quickly. And because ultimately, the, you know, the customer loyalty that you’ll gain by fixing the problem they created is unbelievable. They’ll recognize at the end of that, that, “Hey, it was my fault that this didn’t work. And yet, you fixed my problem. You guys are amazing.” And that can really translate into customer loyalty.

Then finally, how do we scale and how do we grow this thing? And to do that, we’ve got to be able to automate installations. I’ve got to be able to get a brand new phone drop shipped from the distributor, it lands at my customer’s home office, they unbox the phone, and they plug it in, and it just starts working. That’s what we need. 

We’ve also got to be able to solve cash flow. If you’re ramping up your business at a speed that’s greater than what you’re accustomed to, that costs money. And so finding ways to lower your CapEx hit is going to be very important. How can you convert the CapEx that you’re spending today on equipment? How can convert that to an OpEx monthly option instead? 

And then finally, you’ve got to diversify supply chain, because somebody’s going to run out of something and you’ve got to be able to pivot and go find that solution. 

Meeting the Challenge: Poly Work From Home Devices

So here’s how Poly jumps in to help you meet some of these challenges. So the first one we talked about, is kind of the customer-side environmental challenges, right? The noise, platform jumping between all the different platforms and so on. And so here’s the way that we do that. First of all, environmentally, we’ve got some noise cancellation that’s just unbelievable. I’m going to play a clip here in a minute so you can actually listen to some of it, if you haven’t heard it, and then I’ll show you where to find those clips on YouTube as well. 

But the other one is, not only on the phones do we have this, but we also have it on the headsets. We’ve also got cameras to do this great speaker tracking and can follow you around as you’re walking around your office and so on. The multi-platform, it’s got to be plug and play. So we’ve got lots of these USB devices that don’t care what you’re using. They just work as an accessory to your PC. 

And then intuitive and usable. Yes, our stuff’s easy to use, but it also helps when you’ve got videos and how-to’s posted online that you can point your customer to, to help them out that extra step. So I won’t spend a lot of time here but we get it, right? If you’ve ever worked from a Starbucks or even a WeWork or home office specifically. I mean, with the kids bouncing all over the place, it can be maddening. And we did in that big survey, when we’re looking at enterprises, we did some digging around, what’s the end users perspective of noise? And here’s what we found: 64% of office workers say that background noises are distracting. So that’s in the work environment, they’re complaining about that. Now, just imagine if we were to do the same set of questions to those that are working from home – I’m pretty sure that’s going to go to 100%. Everybody’s got this problem of background noise and distractions, the ability to reduce the ambient noises and focus and getting rid of distractions. These are all really important.

So here’s acoustic fence. Check this out on how we solve it.

[Video on PowerPoint Presentation plays:]

Hey everyone here Knapp here with Polycom. And I’m coming to you today to demonstrate the power of Polycom acoustic fence technology. So, what is acoustic fence? It’s simply a way to remove unwanted sounds and noise from your phone calls. We’re going to demonstrate this today using a Polycom VVX 600. But acoustic fence also works in the entire VVX line of phones. So that’s the 101 the 201 300 400 506 hundred series IP phones from Polycom. So, our scenario today is a zombie apocalypse. So, cue noise: Imagine if you were working from home and a zombie apocalypse breaks out –  always a possibility. So acoustic fence is not active right now when I’m on speakerphone, so why what happens when I take it off? Now acoustic fence is active because the phone is listening to my voice through this microphone on the handset or headset. And this microphone that’s normally reserved for the speakerphone is listening to the ambient noise and it’s removing it. So acoustic fence off…and acoustic fence back on. That’s the power of acoustic fence. Remove unwanted noise and be heard clearly. Enjoy.

So, that’s a demo of acoustic fence and that’s available on our phones. But I also want to play you another one that is the cancellation of noise using a headset, and this is called close conversation limiting, so check this one out.

[Video on PowerPoint Presentation Plays:]

You know when you’re trying to have a private phone call, but you’re surrounded by nearby conversations? This environment makes it very difficult for the caller to hear you, and to protect personal information. That’s why Plantronics developed ‘close conversation limiting’, our next-generation digital signal processing. DSP enables all sorts of headset advancements, to make sure your voice is delivered clearly, like minimizing sounds around you. But the most difficult sound to minimize is a conversation close by because it’s like trying to separate the voices of two people talking at the same time. This is the challenge for DSP when it tries to isolate the headset user’s voice from other nearby voices. That’s what makes close conversation limiting true audio artistry. Plantronics engineers expertly tuned thousands of values and thresholds, people testing in real-world applications until they achieved this. These speakers are playing recorded conversations and this is the actual level of sound around you. Imagine trying to isolate my voice in this type of environment. Much better. The conversations are still playing on the speakers, but you can hear me clearly because I’m wearing a headset featuring close conversation limiting. Only by Plantronics.

 Reduce Noise With Poly Work From Home Devices

So there you go, guys. Just two ways that we limit the background noise and really change the game on the work from home space. And so again, those are acoustic fence, and you can YouTube that. You can find it by looking at Polycom zombie. And then the close conversation limiting if you just look up Plantronics close conversation limiting, you’ll find that. We’ve also got another one called noise block, but that’s more for the conference room. 

And so let me kind of walkthrough to the other piece of what’s important is these tutorials. They’re intuitive, right, most users pick up the phone, they know how to dial a call, they put on a headset, they know how to pair it with Bluetooth. But not all users are as, let’s call it technically savvy. And so it’s helpful to be able to point them to online guides. There’s two things I’ll call out. One is we’ve got a Poly portal for all of our partners. When you go in there, you have access to co-brandable videos that you can put your information on. We’re also working with Andy and the SkySwitch team to create those co-brandable videos for you, so you can have a custom set of videos that you can put on your website that you’re using, so users understand how to use your equipment. But then there’s also YouTube. It’s just a wealth of information out there. The Poly channel has numerous of these, and then many of our partners have done very a bunch of different ones. And so you can send links to your customers to get them up and running without you having to walk them through every single step of the way. 

Poly Recommended Work From Home Devices At a Glance

I won’t spend a lot of time on devices -that’s not really my main thing, but I think I’d be remiss as a device provider, as a manufacturer, if we didn’t look at some of the work from home devices. So I’m going to speed through this. Not going to spend a lot of time, but just wanted you to see some of the devices we see high demand for in this work from home space. 

So obviously the phones, the X series, the VVX X50 series, has been a great hit for us. Very affordable line of phones but still keeps that Poly quality that you’re accustomed to. Also put at the bottom there that three of the models, the 253, 350 and 450, are WiFi enabled with the OB WiFi dongle. So if you buy that OB WiFi dongle and stick it in the back, you now have a WiFi phone and work from home environment. This can be really important because running cables at home is just a nightmare. So those are some good solutions as you’re sending folks to work from home. 

Also, we got the new VVX D230 dect phone This was recently released and is up and running and certified and available. So that one’s going to be a good one for work from home. You may not think of this one initially, but a lot of folks at home really just have an analog phone, maybe they’ve got an analog dect telephone that they bought from Walmart, and an ATA will solve the problem of getting the SIP to that device. So you could send them home with a one port FXS ATA and have them connect that at a very inexpensive price, and then connect their dect phone to it. So that’s another way to get them their office phone at home. Again, this one also supports the WiFi. So it’s got a USB port, you can actually plug the WiFi dongle into even the smallest ATA that we sell, that OB 30o. And now, you don’t even have to run cabling for it and just run it off the WiFi. 

From the headset perspective, again, I’m going to speed through this, but kind of a good, better best in various classes. So just in the office worker work from home category, my son right now is using the Blackwire 5200, wanted to see how it worked for him as he connected to Zoom calls, and I’m seeing that this entire line, just from a down and dirty plug it in and get up and running, is doing really well for us. It’s also, by the way, one of the ones that’s the most backordered. I did see, as a note, the Blackwire 7225, there is some inventory on that one. So if you’re looking for one of these, that would be the one to jump on, the Blackwire 7225. I think the 3300 and the 5200 are very slim. I know that we have a Microsoft SKU on the 3300. So it’s going to be the 3315 and the 3325 Microsoft, and those will work on non-Microsoft applications as well. So if you’re looking for a headset, that’s a reasonable price, that’s a good option for you right now until those run out.

Another series that hasn’t been gobbled up as quickly, I think because people think of these as call center headsets, is the Encore Pro Series. We sort of quietly snuck in that we have a USB version. If you’re familiar with Encore Pro, we sold them with a quick disconnect cable and you had to buy a separate cable and connect the two. So if you wanted a USB, buy the separate USB adapter. These models, the USB series, come with the USB built in, so when you buy the Encore Pro 300 USB, it comes with the USB adapter connected. So there’s the 300, 500 and 700 hundred series. These are a better play for having stock, so I would look at these if you’re not finding luck with some of the other categories. 

In the wireless dect category, one of the most popular models we have Is the CS 500 series. That CS 540 by far is our number one selling dect wireless headset. And as you can imagine, it’s also the one that’s probably the most backordered. But the Savi 7200 was just released, a lot of people don’t know about it, and that one is available. The 7200 is intended to eventually replace the CS 500. It’s really slick, sounds amazing. It’s got ANC, and it sounds phenomenal. The 8200, also a phenomenal headset. The benefit of both of these guys, is that you can connect to more than one thing at a time on the 7200 and the 8200, you’ve got the ability to connect to your Poly desk phone, as well as your computer and Bluetooth, your cellular to the base, so you can answer calls on all three mediums with the same headset. 

In the Bluetooth headset category, we’ve got an over the ear set, and that’s the Voyager 4200, the Voyager focus and the Voyager 8200 UC. And the UC naming convention means that it comes with a little USB dongle. And what that does is you can plug that dongle either into your Poly phone, if it’s got a USB port, or into your computer and the headset will simultaneously pair to your cell phone and to that dongle. So now if I’m using my headset all day on my computer, and my cell phone, I can go back and forth without having to change my pairing. So that’s a really nice feature for this line. If you prefer in the ear, we’ve got some models, I do know I saw yesterday that the Voyager 3200 is still available. It’s my personal favorite. It’s so comfortable and light. Also comes with that Bluetooth dongle. The 5200’s noise cancellation is unreal. And then the 6200 is that all-day, wear it around your neck, it’s just there and it’s got a 10 hour talk time. So that’s super comfortable and always available because it’s sitting around your neck. 

We also just recently came out with the Office series for a couple of these models. So there’s the Voyager 4200 connected with the base of the office series. And we saw that in two different flavors one where you can just connect to the desk phone, it comes with an RJ9 cable that will run from the office space to your telephone. If you want the electronic hook switch controls, you’re going to also have to buy the app 51 HTTP 51 cable. Then on the CD model, that means computer and desk phone, so it’s got a USB cable that goes to your computer. It’s got RJ9 that goes to your phone, and then you can Bluetooth pair to your cell phone, so you can have the three mediums in one. And I know that I saw yesterday that some of these were available, and we do the same thing in the 5200 serie, so here it is: the office 5200. And same concept, you can get that in desk or computer and desk, and both of them pair to your cell phone. 

The other one I just got yesterday, I’m really excited about this, because every time my kids and my wife walk into the office, they always kind of look at me. I’ll be looking at my screen and I’ve got my headset on, and they don’t know whether I’m on a call or not. So now I’ve got the status indicator that will go red when I’m on a call – it’s red right now. It’s kind of like the old recording studio or the radio station, when you’re live on air, it goes red. So now when they walk in, they don’t have to ask me if I’m on a call, they can see the bright red indicator.

And then finally, for the speakers and speaker phones, we’ve got the Callisto series. So the 3200 is just simple USB, it couldn’t be easier. You plug it in and you got a speakerphone with a nice microphone. The 5200 adds a battery and also 3.5 millimeter cables, so you’ve got two cables. So you can plug that into your computer, you can plug that into your cell phone if you’ve got that 3.5 millimeter port. And it’s got a 10 hour battery on it. So you could have your cell phone run as a small conference system all day long, pretty much. 

And then my favorite, but definitely right now backordered, is the Callisto 7200. It’s got a really nice set of four microphones and really excellent speaker, so this thing sounds on par if you’ve ever heard the Polycom IP 6000 speakerphone. It sounds about like that, both from the far side and from the near side, that kind of quality. So some really nice units. 

And then this just came out, the Elara 60. This is an answer for those who just use their cell phone. Cell phone docking station that wirelessly charges your cell phone, it’s got a speakerphone built in the keypad to be able to dial your calls, and then the headset charging cradle right there. So it’s all in one, just ready to to work for your mobile

And then from a video space, we’ve got a small camera that we call the Eagle Eye Mini. That’s the one pictured here. Really nice 1080P, really great, simple just connect it to the top of your laptop or your monitor and you’re up and running. What I’m using right now, and I love this thing, this is the Eagle Eye Cube USB, and what I love about this is it has the speaker tracking built in. So I like to walk around a lot when I’m on a video call. And regardless of where I’m standing, the camera automatically follows me, and it’s as if I’ve got a producer with a camera, holding it on their shoulder while they follow me around. So it’s really cool how that thing works. A little bit more pricey, but I’m finding, especially executives, love this thing. And it works just plugged into your laptop. It also pairs with our trio conference phone. 

And then the last one I think I’ve got on here is this Studio. Now, you’ve got to have the right type of office to have the studio because it either sits on a credenza, or you’d mount it on the wall. But this is the speaker, the microphones and the auto speaker-tracking camera all built into one unit. It’s got a USB cable that you just simply plug into your laptop, and there you go. The far end is getting that high-end video experience in an all in one bar.

Minimize Pre-Install and Post-Install Technical Challenges With Poly Device Management Service for Service Providers

So challenge number two: pre and post install challenges. And I told you before, I used to live this and I would dread the customer call. You know, they’re working from home and something’s broken and they have no clue on how to troubleshoot it. So you got to kind of dive into that. So how do we help you fix that? Also, how do we help you resolve things quickly in gaining that customer loyalty? It really all comes down to one thing. We’ve got a service that we rolled out about a year and a half ago when we purchased the company ObiHai. So if anybody’s familiar with Obi Talk, we bought ObiHai and we rebranded it as Poly Device Management Service for service providers. It’s a mouthful, but it really is, that’s exactly what it is. Imagine now with this tool, the phone that you plugged in at your customers premise, right, their home, you’re actually now able to get into it through their firewall and run a PCAP, look at what’s plugged into the PC port or the USB port. You can look at the packet loss latency and jitter. You can run speed test, trace route, ping, and it also does a lot of stuff for our zero touch provisioning. 

So here’s kind of what it looks like. Today, you’re connected to the SkySwitch cloud. You’ve got control over the provisioning of your phone. Nothing changes, that all stays the same. What we’ve done is we’ve added a second set of tools, and the phone will actually dual register. That’s not talking to us to do any sort of voice protocol, it’s only talking to us to enable the tools. So here’s what happens. The phone is reaching out to our cloud over HTTPS. So it’s poking through that firewall on a very commonly used port, the firewall is not going to block the HTTPS port. And so it’s going to reach out over that it’s going to register with us. And then it’s going to create an encrypted TLS tunnel so that that is a secure channel. Now you’re able to log into that, swivel over to our portal, and you now have access to every phone that you’ve connected to the PDM SSP portal. 

And again, you can do stuff like remote packet capture. Huge, huge benefit to remote troubleshooting. You can look at things like packet loss. So, my customer calls in and says, “Hey, this call sounds terrible.” Here’s a potential scenario. You look in there and you see packet loss. “Well, Mr. Customer, why don’t you pick up that phone? I’m seeing packet loss. I think your cabling might be broken, or your WiFi may be too far away. Why don’t you take that and put it right next to your router? Plug it in directly, and let’s see what happens.”

“Oh, gee, the problem went away.”

“Excellent. We’ve now proven to you that the problem was the cabling that you had.”

Another possible scenario, too, is the customer calls you up and says, “Hey, this call sounds terrible.”  And you look into the phone and you see, oh, there is a headset plugged into the USB port. And by the way, I can see it’s a Plantronics headset. Okay, now the customer is pretty impressed because you can see what they’ve got on their head, and you can ask them, “Are you talking through that headset right now?” If they answer yes, you can say, “Well, could you pick up the handset and tell me if the problem goes away?”

Hey, lo and behold, the problem went away when I picked up the handset. This is awesome. Well, Mr. Customer, I think you may have maybe a broken cable or something’s wrong with that headset. I need you to talk to Poly’s support for your headset.

PDMS-SP Testimonial During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I can also give you a really cool testimonial. We just got this in a week ago. One of our partners, Impact Telecom, would call them and they had tried to install a customer that had gone home with their phone and they plugged it in. It worked fine at the office but when they got home and didn’t work, she was able to connect and see that over PDMS SP. She had a connection, so she knew the phone was up on the internet. And she was able to get in there and run a packet capture and see that the phone was sending the registration invite out to their server. But when she looked at their server, they weren’t receiving it. So they deduce that they could call the ISP and say, “Hey, we don’t see sip traffic going out of your network.” They came back and they said, “Yep, we turn on SIP, by request. So let’s turn on SIP for your customer.” 

They turned it on, the customer started working. And what Terry told me was, “Darren, this would have taken hours to troubleshoot without this, but I was able to look at it and within a couple of minutes, I was able to figure out exactly what was going on. And when we got on with the ISP, there was no question as to whether or not it was their issue. So we were able to confidently tell them, ‘Hey, we don’t see the SIP registrations coming, this is on you’.” 

And immediately, they fixed it. This is the type of thing that the PDM SSP can help you with during this, this pandemic that’s going on. What devices does it work with? This is the current snapshot. So all of your generation two VVX, your 301, 311, 401, 411, 501, 601, also your, 101 and 201 if you’re using those. Also the X50s, the 150, 250, 350, 450, the VVX D230, and all of our trio conference phones as well as our OB ATAs. 

Last thing I’ll leave you with from a support perspective, is a lot of our service providers are afraid to get into the headset business because they just don’t know how to troubleshoot them. So we’ve got a bunch of tools available for you online. So we’ve got a compatibility guide. You know which headset works with which phone, what accessory do you need if you want to do electronic hook switch. All of that stuff’s available through that link that I’m showing you. The easiest way to find it is just go to Plantronics.com, click on ‘Support’, and look at all the different tools that they’ve got on there. Also got a product finder that will help you find accessories that will help you find the right type of solution for your customer. We’ve also got Plantronics hub that the customer can download and update their software with. And then our support team is unbelievable. It was one of the most exciting things for me, is we became a new partner, a new part of the Plantronics team, and the two companies came together as Poly. I was really impressed with the level of support that they give to their end customers. 

So your customer can call our support directly, you don’t even have to take that call. The other thing that can happen is if you do want to take the call, you can actually call our support line on behalf of the customer and kind of be the intermediary and use us as a tier two support. 

Scale Your Operations to Meet Work From Home Demand With Poly’s Device-as-a-Service Program

Finally, I want to talk about scale. And I want to be cognizant of time, so I’m gonna move through quickly on this. But number one, we’ve got zero touch provisioning, right? So if you want to have that phone, just auto pop up, wherever you send it, to straight from distribution to a customer, we can do that for you. If you’re not using that today you should be. The other thing that’s going to be really important is managing your cash flow. So I’m going to talk to you quickly about a device as a service option that we’ve got. And then last, I want to talk to you about supply chain. 

So device as a service, what is it? It’s simply a rental. It’s a rental to you, it’s not a rental to your customer. We’ve got a finance partner that will rent the phones and the headsets to you, and then you can turn around and wrap that into your services or turn around and rent them to your customer. We also begin a seven year advance replacement on the phones and a three year advance replacement on the headsets. 

Now the requirement is you need to be able to do around what would be $100,000 a year in purchases. That’s about what you’d need to do to qualify for the device as a service. To put that into perspective, that’s about 1000 units a year, or 100 units a month, and that can be both the headsets and the handsets. So that’s about 50 phones and 50 headsets a month is all you have to do to qualify.

If you do the math, it’s real simple. In the old world, I buy a $100 phone, sell it for $110. Yipee, I made 10 bucks. The problem is, is I bought it, I sent it to my customer and their broadband installation was delayed. Now we’re waiting on their Broadband installation to turn it up. Meanwhile, I’ve got to pay the distributor for my phones. Finally, we get the thing up after a few weeks, and then oh, I’ve got to wait for my billing cycle. And then the billing cycle goes out and then, oh, the customer didn’t pay me on time on their 30 day terms. Now we’re at day 45. So you’re cash out of pocket, anywhere from 60 to 90 days on an average customer, and this creates a massive cash crunch, especially if you start selling bigger deals. 

So now in the new model, the devices a service, that same hundred dollar phone is going to cost you $2 dollars and 85 cents a month. So month one, all your out of pocket is $2 dollars and 85 cents. So the delay is not going to hurt you. Meanwhile, could you rent that for five bucks probably. Now you’re making 20% of what you would have made in the first month, $2 dollars and 15 cents instead of 10 bucks in month one by month 36. You’ve made $77 dollars and 40 cents using somebody else’s money to finance the deal. 

So this is what it looks like if you were to combine the phone and the headset. So here’s a VVX 250 and an Encore Pro 320 USB, the total of the two would cost you $4 dollars and 12 cents a month. Just let that sink in. Your cost’s $4 dollars and 12 cents a month. By the way, if the customer cancels and walks on you, you just send the units back and you stop paying for them. 

Real quickly, we’ve seen a lot of free phone offers and why don’t I show you how a lot of those are being financed. So let’s say for instance, you’re selling at $24.99 today, your unified communications package. You’re probably being beat up on that for price, and you’re having to drop down to $19.99, $18.99, $17.99. And it’s just a price war. Meanwhile, how would your customer perceive it if you were offering a free VVX 150, 250 or 350 with that? Your cost, even let’s go on an expensive one, VVX 350 will cost you just under four bucks. So now you keep your prices $24.99, but you tell them but the phones included, it’s a premium phone with two USB ports. Their appetite to stay at the $24.99 is way higher than if you were to just discount to $19.99 without the phone. So you actually are earning money compared to discounting by giving away a free VVX 350 with your offer. 

Shore Up Your Supply Chain to Meet the Increased Demand for Work From Home Technology Solutions

Last up, supply chain. Guys, you know, again, you may have one of these partners, but I want you to know that we’ve got 12 distribution partners that you can go to today to buy your devices. You can also buy straight through the SkySwitch store, and we’re incentivizing that, and we’re going to talk about a promo that we’ve got going on where you can buy through the SkySwitch store, and you can let Kelly worry about which one of the distribution partners she’s going to work with to get the fulfillment for the devices. But, whether you buy through SkySwitch or you go direct with one of these distributors, the key to understand is you’re not locked into one as a Poly partner. You can buy from any of our distributors, and that’s going to help you solve your supply chain bottlenecks. 

So, just as a quick summary, and then we’ll close up here, you know, we’ve got a complete work from home portfolio, unbelievable noise reduction, plug and play, and easy to use lots of tutorials available. We’re going to be your troubleshooting partner with that free – underscore, free – device management tools that we’ve got for you called PDMS SP. Solve those issues. And then we’re going to help you scale by giving you a device as a service to break free of the cash flow problem. And then we’re going to give you supply chain fluidity with all these distribution options. 

 

[QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION FROM THE AUDIENCE] 

 

Andy Abramson

Well, that about wraps it up. We’re right at the top of the hour. It’s a fast one hour, Darren, and some very good questions from our audience. I wish we had more time but we blocked out an hour, and given everything that’s going on in this world, let’s stay on time and keep people safe. I want to thank Darren Knapp, my good friend from Poly, for taking time with us this morning. Our entire SkySwitch audience of resellers, thank you for participating and listening. And everybody, in this strange time of ‘business unusual’, stay safe out there. I’m Andy Abramson. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer of SkySwitch. Thank you all.

VoIP Network Assessment Tool: A Powerful Remote Working Tool for Your Customers

Working from home requires more than just having a plain old internet connection

If you now find yourself working from home, especially if your role has you talking as well as typing, this means you need more than just any old internet connection. You see, there’s a lot that happens between your computer, tablet or smartphone, and where the call ends up. Unlike a traditional POTS line, VoIP calls and web conference calls all need to deliver a buffer, packet loss and jitter-free experience.

 

Between the start and end of the connection, you’ve got a cable, fiber or DSL modem, a router, some Wi-Fi access points and maybe an ethernet connection. Then when the signal leaves your home, you’ve got to deal with the cable company or telco’s network to your house. This all means you need to have the latest gear, and the proper speeds to support voice and video. With more and more of your customers working from home due to the current climate, how do you (or your clients) know if their work from home setup is rock-solid?

 

Last year, SkySwitch launched a white label VoIP network assessment tool called NPAT (Network Performance & Assessment Tool). The NPAT was designed so that SkySwitch resellers could pre-qualify client sites before installation and perform VoIP readiness testing remotely. It was a huge value-add to the SkySwitch reseller product suite back then, and now in 2020, it’s an even bigger value-add because of the rise of remote working.

What Does the VoIP Network Assessment Tool Do?

In short, the NPAT allows a telecom reseller’s customer to perform three different performance tests: Route, Speed and VoIP. Within seconds after performing the test, full results will be emailed to the reseller so they can assess those results. Without the NPAT, the reseller would need to drive all the way out to a client’s site — which can be tedious. Why spend all that time commuting (especially with the current rampage of Coronavirus), when you can get an answer within seconds at the touch of your fingertips?

 


All of the NPAT test types available

 

The convenience of pre-qualifying and troubleshooting connectivity issues remotely was big news last year, and now as more companies are seeking the best communication tools for remote work, the impressive NPAT has just become even more relevant. 

Why Are White Label VoIP Network Assessment Tools More Important Than Ever in 2020?

With the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, more and more companies are implementing work from home policies — escalating the steady trend we’ve seen for remote workers on the rise. While many would think that all you need is a working internet connection to work from home, that is far from the reality of truly productive remote working.

 

A hurdle that many remote workers face is effective real-time communication and collaboration with their teams. For example, issues like high packet-loss and buffer delay severely impact the quality of a user’s experience when using a web-based conferencing solution. When you’re in the middle of a great brainstorming session with your team, nothing is more annoying than a wonky connection and conferencing experience. This is just one scenario where we see the importance for remote teams to have the best remote working tools at hand — and where the use of the NPAT can troubleshoot, or even avoid a communication mess altogether if used before an employee officially begins to work from home.

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Now, with public health factors contributing to the sharp uptick of remote workers, you’ll find that remote working communication tools will become high in demand. And as a reseller, MSP or IT services specialist, you’ll want to leverage the NPAT and how it helps bridge gaps between your customer’s employees working from home, or getting work done from home more efficiently than ever before.

All of the NPAT Features Explained (It’s More Than Just a Speed Test)

One of the most commonly asked questions we get is, “Isn’t the NPAT just a speed test?” And, the answer is no. You can find countless Speed Tests available for free online, but the NPAT provides you a much richer perspective, measuring throughput speed, capacity, packet quality, efficiency, data loss, recovery, duplication of data, retransmissions and even corruption. 

 

All of these granular details are assessed collectively to give you a complete view of the user experience of a connection — and that’s what makes this VoIP network assessment tool so powerful and unique to the SkySwitch Reseller Community.

Watch SkySwitch Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, give an intro to the NPAT tool.

How Telecom Resellers Can Utilize SkySwitch’s White Label VoIP Network Assessment Tool to Build Customer Relationships

Being able to offer your customers an easy way to assess if their work-from-home situation is all ready to go is a huge value-add — so make sure to let your customers know that you offer this awesome, convenient and free evaluation tool.

 

SkySwitch resellers have the ability to brand the NPAT with their own company logo and web domain. Simply log on to your Reseller Dashboard, and with a few easy clicks, you can customize the NPAT to appear as your own company’s specialized tool. Our unbranded NPAT tool can be accessed at www.npat.skyswitch.com, which also includes a glossary of terminology and FAQ section.

 

If you’re a SkySwitch Reseller and want more information about how to use the NPAT, feel free to contact us anytime! And if you’re a telecom reseller who’s not yet partnered with SkySwitch and like what you’re hearing — feel free to schedule a demo with us.

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