This Post will be about utilising your existing VOIP telephone service more efficiently and definitely more effectively.
These days many if not most of your Practices will be using VOIP services to handle all the incoming and outgoing Telephone calls. This is cheaper then the equivalent older PSTN Telephony from a decade ago. However It is not limited to the basic VOIP connection that may have been provided by your Internet Service provider!
The next common option used by any business is to add a hardware PBX of some sort, often provided by a company specialising in that sort of thing. That is a better use of the numerous(or just one) “Line” that you may have but there are limitations in this as you may have little or no control on the way this operates.
A better option still is to use a Cloud based PBX service on a commercially hosted server or one controlled by YOU. Having done the latter process for our own Practice I will outline how that works and how we have benefited over the last 6 months.
In August 2020 we installed the 3CX software PBX for our Practice Telephones on a Private Cloud server running Windows 2016 Server. We pay for the Server by the month but we pay $0/month for the Standard 3CX licence which allows 8 simultaneous calls and all the basic functions for FREE. The average Vet Practice simply does not need much more than that. Installation is pretty straightforward and all the complicated stuff is done automatically by the installer system.
Once the PBX service is installed you can Access the Admin Screen and start creating “Extensions” to use for the PBX, we have 10-15 extensions currently running on:
- 4 PCs with Bluetooth headsets using a 3CX Web Panel
- 3 Yealink Cordless VOIP telephones. The Yealink Base station supports up to 8 unique Extensions all with cordless access.
- The Vet’s mobiles using the associated 3CX APP and a data connection, either 4G or wifi network. This provides direct access to the Vets mobile phones using an Extension call and allows them to call out to clients even when they are not in the Clinic without having to block their mobile number. Calls can be transferred to these mobile phone Extensions if necessary and back again as required.
You can see in the Screenshot above what the Web Panel looks like, note that the Personalised Extensions are not visible in this view. The 3CX phone APP is similar and allows us to keep tabs on all the “phone” extensions at Reception or any other Extension. We can call all the other Extensions from any of the other Extensions and can easily see who is actively on a call. Calls can be put on hold and transferred as needed within the system. You can even establish Webmeetings directly from the Phone or PC APP and we have not even delved into that feature yet.
The next step is to have your existing VOIP connections added to the PBX, that is affected mostly by the Provider of those services allowing it to happen but if you can access the login details then it will be relatively simple. The provider “may” have to allow the connection at their end in some cases. We have 2 incoming Lines(with a single calling number) and an extra line(no number) for outgoing calls. You can add a lot more VOIP lines than that with no problem as the need arises.
Once that is done you can establish rules about incoming calls and Voicemail. In our case all incoming calls on the only incoming “line” are directed to 3 separate phones(the cordless ones) as a Group call. If we do not answer a call in a sensible time on any extension the caller is advised that we are busy and asked to call back. In 90% of cases we call them back as soon as we finish the current call/s as we can easily see the missed calls in the Web Panel or on the phones themselves. The PBX has been configured with our opening hours and holidays and these are dealt with automatically. When we close the callers are directed to a Voicemail at exactly that time but it could just as easily divert immediately to another number for A/H service.
Outgoing calls do not affect incoming calls as they are made on a different VOIP service at a low monthly inclusive price.
This sort of PBX installation could be handled by a moderately Computer savvy person but you can also get it done by 3rd party and still maintain control of the Admin system and user management once it is operational. We do not provide this service at this time but we can strongly recommend this sort of PBX as a way to significantly improve your telephone communication to Clients. It has been a great addtion to our Telephone Communication with Clients, alongside SMS.
You can check the Pricing for Hosting here with a list of Australian 3CX providers. Alternatively you can get your own Virtual Private Server with our preferred supplier here and do it yourself. You can ask us what Spec you will need to run this reliably. Expect to spend <$60-70/month on the server.
Feel free to ask us for some more tips via the Contact Us page. If you need more assistance we can schedule a more comprehensive “consultation”.