PROBLEM SOLVED! How to Build a Better than Office Phone System without Owning an Office Phone System

Eric Greenspan Igniting Your Practice Business or Life, Technology Marketing Leave a Comment

I’ve had many companies and many offices. I’ve had as little as 300 square feet and as much as 25,000 square feet. Watching Sonos rebuilt my former HQ to become theirs is quite a thrill. I wonder if they’ll keep the purple and gold ethernet ports I installed. My high school mascot the Jackson Polar Bears where purple and gold. The one thing I’ve always made sure of is a state of the art phone system that was easy to manage, use and had all the comforts and features my staff would need to have a productive day. But in the virtual and new world of remote and home businesses, I’m often asked how do I build an office phone system that is as good or better than office phone system?

When I started seventyfourmarketing.com and shortly thereafter, schoolofbookkeeping.com with Seth David, we used Google Voice directed to cell phones. I have 4 cell numbers to this date still under contract for each of my companies, one of which is personal. This worked for a while, but Google Voice never grew and it wasn’t feature rich. It’s free.

After coping with this solution for some time, I eventually switched to a VOIP, hosted phone system solution. I chose Line2, formerly Toktumi. Not only did it allow me to create a virtual auto attendant that would answer all my calls and help route my callers to the appropriate phone, extension or whatever, you can hear frogs croak and Darth Vader on each of our systems. (Go ahead, dial (888) 218-7482 and you’ll see what I mean.)

I have found this solution to work really well for some time and loved how even when the caller would get pushed to my cell phone when they say, pressed “1,” the caller would be redirected to the Line2 voicemail system if unanswered and not on my personal cell phone. This helped me focus, helped lift our professional image and help our customers with consistency and branding. When the voicemail arrives, it’s sent directly to my email with an MP3 or a link to the iPhone or Mac app or online website where I can do all the necessary things one does with voicemail.

 

But then, I got curious. I started looking for a solution to not having to call out from my cell phone when at my desk, where I am most of the time during the day. Well, I walk around a lot too, so I need this dialing out solution to allow me to do that. I started looking for USB connected mobile headsets. I settled on the Logitech H820e. It’s mono or “one ear” over the head (I like to keep my other ear free and be able to swap ears) and its wireless. They make a dual if you are into that type of thing.

The best part of this device is that it’s connected via USB and sets on a base station to charge but also functions as the wireless transmitter. This means no more bluetooth swapping, syncing, transferring from bluetooth devices that work well on my iPhone or Android, but are a nightmare on my Mac Pro or Macbook Pro. They work with one or the other, but bluetooth has never been a smooth switcher. You know, the time you get in the car and no one can hear you…or when you answer your phone and there’s just silence. It’s always the bluetooth switching, syncing, fighting…it’s just too frustrating. I’ve been using a wired Bose headphone set with my iPhone for this reason. It’s just bullet proof, except when you get the cord stuck on the edge of a chair and your phone goes flying and your caller just keeps talking and says, “Don’t you agree?” just as you get back connected and you either say, “Um, huh?” or you might try, “Sure, sounds great.”

 

Ok, so we all have these issues. Right? NOT ANYMORE. With the new USB wireless headset that is always connected and doesn’t use bluetooth and the Line2 app running, I can call out, receive calls, forward calls and send them to voicemail, all from my Mac (PCs work great too) or my iPhone (Android also). Finally, I don’t have to give out my cell number, ever again. I no longer have to be interrupted during a soccer game. I just turn off the app! If I get a voicemail, I can choose whether I need to return the call.

The best part of this solution is, other than the hardware, it’s free. Line2 uses wifi and the quality is better than any cell phone I’ve ever used, even though LTE finally came to upper Montecito, CA. You can add extensions to Line2 for a monthly fee so you can have a complete company directory and it doesn’t matter where you users are, worldwide actually. This same setup will work with Skype, Cisco products and other VOIP phone systems that are software agnostic. I haven’t tested others, but Skype works and Line2 works, both as expected.

Another great feature of the Line2 iPhone app, when placing a call, Line2 will always default to WiFi. If WiFi is not available, Line2 attempts to place the call via your cellular data connection. Finally, if neither WiFi nor cellular data is available, Line2 will place the call via Cellular Direct which is a manual phone call placed through your phone’s native dialer. Cool!

Couple of notable issues:

  1. The red led indicator doesn’t work with most systems. Big deal.
  2. The buttons on the headset are quirky on the mac, looking into this.

Questions? As them in the comments or tell us if you like this solution or have a better idea or any other input!

 

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