Communication Expert: Small and Mid-Sized Businesses should Review Business Phone System Options in Wake of Recent Emergency Failures

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Widespread failure points to business phone system vulnerabilities; new generation of business phone systems provide small to mid-sized businesses greater security, choice and options.

A great majority of business phone systems failed just at the very time they were most needed

The widespread business communication system failures that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other recent natural disasters are providing the impetus for potentially vulnerable small and mid-sized businesses to reevaluate their business communications systems, reports ConnectMeVoice, a leading business phone system solution company. The company has issued the following four-point self-evaluation advisory to help companies navigate the increasingly complex business phone system options so that they are better prepared for potential future events.

“A great majority of business phone systems failed just at the very time they were most needed,” says Scott Seltzer, CEO of ConnectMeVoice. “The good news is that there is a new generation of cost-effective options now available that can help small and mid sized businesses in vulnerable areas be better prepared should they face emergency situations in the future. Better yet, many of these systems also provide value-added benefits that transcend emergency considerations.”

Seltzer provides the following advice:

  •     Consider Virtual Hosting: There was widespread failure of local PBX and cell phone services in the wake of Katrina. Towers fell, antennas and other equipment were seriously damaged and generators intended as a fail-safe for the loss of the grid were submerged. On the other hand, new virtual PBX business telephone systems were largely unaffected. Virtual PBX systems provide a range of advanced features -- including call routing, follow-me calling, voicemail, fax-mail, and ACD queues – delivered over the public switched telephone system, thus requiring no customer-installed equipment. These systems are an alternative to the expensive on-site PBX systems used at major corporations, costing thousands of dollars. Given that they are virtually hosted, they can continue to operate even when equipment is damaged locally.

Seltzer pointed to two examples:

o    During recent hurricane Katrina, a church in the New Orleans area used ConnectMeVoice virtual PBX services to communicate critical information to their congregation when telephone service was largely unavailable. Users retrieved pre-recorded information from the system at their convenience; they were able to leave voicemail messages for church staff that could then be retrieved at any time from any telephone or Internet connection.

o    Also, during the blackout in August 2003 that affected most of the Northeast, Canada and parts of the Midwest, ConnectMeVoice virtual PBX systems kept the communications for a number of major New York City law firms from going dark.

  •     Set up an 800 Emergency Number: In the midst of an emergency, and in the absence of working traditional communications systems, properly configured business phone systems can serve as a vital communications point for employees to communicate with family, friends and other colleagues. New phone systems also enable users to leave specific, detailed messages, which can be critically important when others have difficulty reaching them. Businesses should consider setting up a special 800 number that can be dialed from any location toll free that can be utilized by employees during an emergency.
  •     Utilize Follow Me Services: One of the primary challenges facing individuals following Katrina was that they were difficult to find as “moving targets.” These individuals were staying with different families, friends and in hotels. New “follow me” services within select business phone systems allow individuals to forward the calls to a toll-free number to as many as six additional numbers. It’s the ideal approach for individuals on the move.
  •     Choose Hosting Carefully: Companies should be sure that their business phone systems are hosted someplace that has excellent power as well as environmental controls and backup. A 24-hour power outage at a physical company location does not need to put the company out of business for a day. For companies that have their own telephone or PBX systems, ConnectMeVoice recommends having backup gas-powered generators, and backup cooling systems to prevent complete power failures. An outsourced system located in a secure environment can have a dramatic impact on a company’s ability to continue in business during a power failure or disaster.

“Small and mid-sized businesses have greater options in choosing advanced business phone systems and features than ever before.” Seltzer adds. “Companies should be proactive in evaluating their business communication options proactively and carefully.”

About ConnectMeVoice

ConnectMe is a leading business communication solution company with more than 25 years' experience. The company has developed and provided business phone system solutions for thousands of users at Fortune 500 companies. The company is pioneering new, robust, innovative and cost effective business communication solutions for small to mid-sized businesses across the country. For more information, visit ConnectMeVoice.com

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Stephanie Schwab
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