Streaming MOH For Asterisk: New Custom Streams Available

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Asterisk VOIPThe move to VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) for business phones has increased the number of ways phone systems play music on hold (MOH). While currently most hosted VOIP providers play an uploaded audio file as the hold queue audio, new options are opening up for Asterisk-based hosted VOIP systems. Easy On Hold has developed a groundbreaking solution that will provide Asterisk users an opportunity for more robust marketing on hold programming.


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Programming Needs in The MOH Environment

For some companies, the presence of hold music is a mere placeholder; a way to indicate to the caller that they have not dropped the call. Others opt for information on hold as a way of better holding the attention and interest of the caller. Marketing-savvy businesses take the MOH concept a step further, using on hold messaging as a marketing tool to deliver timely call-to-action messages to a captive audience. Such marketing on hold messages have proven to be effective, often prompting a caller to inquire further about something they heard while waiting.

Challenges Of Off-Site VOIP

Producers of phone on hold messages, such as Easy On Hold, have traditionally provided an audio player (external MOH device) that feeds a continuous sound signal into a PBX. VOIP phone systems that are hosted on-site still often provide a sound card input to allow use of an external MOH player. Hosted VOIP phone systems, on the other hand, are “virtual” or entirely “in the cloud”. Since there is no entrance point for an external MOH player in a virtual environment, a single, self-contained audio file has been the norm for MOH playback. Often, these uploaded MOH files play from the start of the file each time the hold button is depressed. This architecture limits the variety of information businesses can convey during customer on-hold time. Further complicating the process is that a qualified administrator is often required to manage on hold audio files.

Hosted VOIP Market Growing

As of the date of this writing, Vonage had just completed their purchase of Vocalocity, one of the fastest growing providers in the SMB hosted VoIP market. A Vonage news release stated:

During the first half of 2013, Vocalocity had revenue of $28 million and growing, implying an annual run rate of greater than $56 million. First half 2013 revenues were 39% higher than the same period in the prior year.

Michael Storella, COO at snomTechnology Inc., the German manuafacturer of IP phones, recently stated that the demand for hosted and cloud-based VoIP systems is also growing, especially among in the small to medium business (SMB) market sector.

One reason VOIP is growing may be that it requires less hardware, which means less energy use. It also offers workers the opportunity to telecommute easily, as noted in a recent Infonetics VoIP and UC Services and Subscribers report.

MOH Industry Response to Hosted VOIP

As an increasing number of businesses opt for off-site or virtual phone systems, the music on hold industry has been slow to respond. On hold equipment providers continue to offer devices that connect via on-site audio inputs, while production companies have been content to offer audio files for upload. The result: hosted VOIP end-users are missing out on the marketing potential of timely messages on hold. Easy On Hold clients using Asterisk-based systems, however, now have access to a full range of hold messaging features via a never-before offered solution.

Streaming MOH For Asterisk

The Asterisk phone system is an open-source software solution that is very popular among I.T. providers such as internet technology integrators. The Asterisk website says:

Asterisk is an open source framework for building communications applications. Asterisk turns an ordinary computer into a communications server. Asterisk powers IP PBX systems, VoIP gateways, conference servers and other custom solutions.

Many Asterisk phone systems are being set up to play a single audio file on hold, but all have vast programming capabilities, including the ability to use an http stream (streaming URL feed) for music on hold.

A New Solution: Custom MOH Streams

Easy On Hold V.P. Tim Brown says his technical team has developed a music and message on hold solution that automatically changes content based on a planned schedule, rotates content to provide a unique caller experience, and makes changing and updating content easy—without the aid of equipment or technicians.

We devised a unique programming technique that encodes playback instructions into each of a series of custom-scripted topical announcements. Then we set a sequence of rules to manage message repetition and customer preferences. A weighting system controls message frequency, so the most important announcements play more often.

 

Examples of the programming in action might be:

  • A restaurant has lunch specials that callers hear about in the morning, and dinner specials in the afternoon.
  • A credit union with a limited-time interest rate that gets more “ear time” than other announcements in the rotation.
  • An automobile dealer promotes weekend hours to callers on Friday.
  • A doctor’s office that uses “good morning” and “good afternoon” phrases to make patients feel welcome.

Modifications to the message rotation are easily and quickly made, with the results being heard immediately.

“Since it is a live stream, customers never have to wait for changes to kick in. There’s no media to handle, no file to transfer. Streams can be monitored live via the customer portal at easyonhold.com,” Brown said.

Techs Respond To Easy On Hold Streaming Option

A call center manager who switched to streaming MOH from Easy On Hold recently remarked at how simple the set up was. The 128k .mp3 stream is a light load on bandwidth, which is already busy streaming video, Pandora personal internet radio, overhead music or other content at many businesses.

IP telephony techs from New York to Honolulu participated in the streaming service rollout, quickly arriving at the same conclusion: The stream is a piece of cake.

Mack Hendricks, Asterisk Support Manager at dOpenSource says,

I like the way the streaming solution is solving the MOH problem.  This year we are focused on partnering with companies that provide complimentary services and Easy On Hold looks like it fits the bill.  80% of our business consists of supporting Asterisk based systems.  So, we can definitely promote the product to our customers.

Specifics About How Streaming Music On Hold Works

Here are some specifics about how Streaming MOH improves the on hold experience for callers on hosted VOIP systems such as Asterisk:

  • Audio content is organized into specific topics businesses want callers to hear. Each topic is treated as an individual “spot”. Typically, a company will have between 6 and 10 topics or paragraphs playing at any time.
  • A variety of music backgrounds (30 seconds and 60 seconds) are used. It’s a welcome departure from the old “voice-over-4-minute-music-track” approach.
  • A topic can be quickly deleted, paused or added to the rotation without disturbing other content.
  • Since the stream is live, all changes are noticed immediately.
  • The frequency, days of the week and times of the day can all be programmed into each 30 to 60-second announcement. Callers are likely to have a fresh, unique listening experience with each call.
  • Each spot can be assigned a priority rating, allowing select messages to play with greater frequency than others in the live group.
  • All content is legal and licensed through our agreement with BMG Music, a publisher in the music business for 178 years.
  • Additional custom streams can be added in a matter of minutes, for extra locations, various company departments or extensions, etc.

 

 

 

Easy On Hold, http://www.easyonhold.com, created in 1997, provides professional telephone recordings, music and on hold message productions, auto attendant, IVR, voice mail greetings, and web audio to companies around the world.

Easy On Hold Named OnSIP Music On Hold Channel Partner

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Easy On Hold and OnSIPEasy On Hold has been named exclusive custom music and message on hold channel partner by OnSIP, a leading provider of business VoIP services to businesses.

Easy On Hold developed the technology to stream custom announcements for the OnSIP platform. The OnSIP music on hold solution delivers multiple 30- and 60-second promotional spots, mixed with music, to inform and educate callers, while adding to branding and sales efforts.

“It’s like designing your own custom message and music on hold channel,” says Easy On Hold President Julie Cook. “Now you can have a robust phone system and an on hold marketing program all in one solution.”

As a channel partner, Easy On Hold will provide exceptional service to OnSIP users in search of custom message on hold programming. OnSIP users will receive a custom URL (web address) to use as the source for Enhanced Music On Hold. Easy On Hold has 16 years of experience providing businesses with properly licensed music, custom scripting and voice talent. Customer admin tools to help businesses use telephone on hold time to improve customer relations and company image.

A video has been released to inform OnSIP users of the availability of the new streaming music on hold service.

Unique New Service: Custom OnSIP Music On Hold Streams

No other professional messages on hold production company has offered multiple streaming music and message on hold delivery until now. Easy On Hold has truly added a new category to the message on hold marketplace.

Easy On Hold V.P. Tim Brown, who led the development and testing phases of the new service says, “OnSIP users have only a live streaming URL as an option for music and messages on hold. Our system can generate a unique customer streaming channel instantly, and populate it with content delivered live.”

Since its inception in the fall of 2013, the Easy On Hold streaming music on hold system has streamed over 1.1 million audio files. “Bandwidth is no longer an issue in today’s business environment and serving streams is quite commonplace,” Brown commented.

Advanced Scheduling

With advanced scheduling features, the Easy On Hold streaming solution delivers timely content to callers on hold based on the day and time of day. “Announcements can be focused on a call-to-action for greater impact, then stop playing automatically,” explained Julie Cook.

Since callers hear the stream live, content changes can take place immediately. No audio files or equipment needs to be handled in order to change content. Features include:

  • Content can change automatically, based on a schedule of your choosing.
  • Spanish, French and other languages and translations are available.
  • Multiple streams can be applied to various users on an OnSIP account.
  • New message productions are created in 3 business days or less.

OnSIP

Hosted PBX is continuing to grow as an affordable, flexible solution for small and medium-sized businesses, and the OnSIP platform is built to be user-friendly and robust. Many businesses are switching from on-site PBX phone systems to hosted PBX from OnSIP to reduce costs while taking advantages of a wide range of solutions previously unavailable from their on-site PBX.

Companies with tele-workers or employees who travel will find OnSIP a seamless solution. Phones can be deployed and moved anywhere that a high-speed Internet connection is available. Companies experiencing rapid growth are able to easily add users to the system, each with customized feature sets, including automated attendant, integration of Android devices, iPhone and third-party applications, free on-network calling, video conferencing and much more.

OnSIP was created by Junction Networks, founded in 2004 and delivers communications services to over 22,000 small, medium, and large businesses.

Free Trial Offer Available

Taking a cue from OnSIP, which offers a free 30-day trial of its services, Easy On Hold is also offering customers a 30-day trial of the new OnSIP streaming MOH service.

 

Easy On Hold is not responsible for the performance, installation or operation of equipment we do not sell. Articles about equipment are for educational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of any make or brand. Easy On Hold makes no claims or warranties regarding telephone equipment of any kind.

The 4 Things Your Customers Want to Know About You and Your Small Business

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Guest author Tom Borg, a business consultant in Canton, Michigan,  provides tips on how your business can build lifetime customer satisfaction.

Among the many things that people want to know about the people who serve them, research shows that four specific items are at the top of the list. Here is what the studies have identified.  Your small business customers want to know the answers to four questions. They are:

1. Do you like me?

2. Do you care about me?

3. Can I trust you?

4. Do you know what you are talking about?

The first thing they want to know is if they are sincerely liked by the person serving them. Your customers will know this from how the representative interacts with them. Does your employee use their name, does he or she really listen, and do they have sincere empathy in their voice?

The second thing your customers want to know about your employee who serves them is, does the representative really care about them. The customer can sense this from the questions they are asked, the tone of their voice, how helpful they are and all the little things your employee says or does that shows they really do care.

The third question your customer wants to know the answer to is, can they trust your employee. Indications of trust can be seen in how confident the representative is and does he or she follow through as promised. One example of how trust can be lost by a small business owner or employee is by how promptly a phone call or email is returned to the customer. When there is a long period of time that elapses between the time the customer contacts your small business and is followed up with, or worse yet, not followed up, trust diminishes rapidly. A good rule of thumb is to have all phone calls and emails returned within 24 hours or less.

Finally, the fourth thing people want to know about the employee who serves them is whether or not the person serving them is knowledgeable and competent. Indications of these qualities are demonstrated by how familiar your employee is with the particular situation the customer is experiencing or the product or service they are purchasing. Customers want to know if this employee has solved similar types of problems for other customers in the past. If they have, it builds confidence in their  buying experience.

In summary, to build lifetime customer satisfaction with the customers you serve, make sure your small business is able to provide the right kind of customer service training that teaches the proper customer service skills. These skills should empower all of your managers and staff to treat your customers in such a way that consistently answers their four most common questions they have about your small business.

Tom Borg is president of Tom Borg Consulting, LLC. He is a business consultant, trainer and author of the book Making Service Count-Leveraging Customer Satisfaction to Make Your Small Business More Profitable. He can be reached at 734.404-5909 or tomborg@tomborgconsulting.comt, or visit his website, www.tomborgconsulting.com.

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Tierzero VOIP Phone Service Chooses Easy On Hold Music and Messages On Hold

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VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is the biggest buzz in telephony since the dial tone. The increasing speed and bandwidth of Internet connections has allowed businesses of every size to take advantage of upscale business telephone service options. One leader in the VOIP telephony industry is Tierzero, based in Los Angeles, California.

Easy On Hold is now working with Tierzero, the largest owner-operated commercial Internet and VoIP provider in Southern California. With a menu of high-tech business-class communications services, Teirzero is upgrading caller-on-hold messaging to better inform customers.

For Tierzero clients, Easy On Hold can provide custom-created voiced announcements for on hold messaging and auto attendant (IVR) prompts. Since on hold music and voice audio is delivered via the Cloud, Easy On Hold provides audio files that are conveniently uploaded by the Tierzero customer.

As legacy phone systems fade away, many businesses are choosing to upgrade to Cloud-based, or hosted PBX service. The appeal is strong: a multitude of flexible features, flat rate or all-inclusive plans, relief from owning phone equipment. Review Hosted PBX Service Video from Tierzero.

As in Internet provider, Tierzero provides service across most of the U.S. One area of expertise is construction and management of private and secure  MPLS networks.

Tierzero serves all industries including manufacturing, printing and graphics, defense, aerospace, accounting, legal,  PR, music, fashion, education, government, health care, electronics, IT Services, Software, transportation,  and on and on. In the entertainment field, clients include Dick Clark Productions, Relativity Media, The Motion Picture Association of America Dr. Phil, Technicolor and more.

Easy On Hold is not responsible for the performance, installation or operation of equipment we do not sell. Articles about equipment are for educational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of any make or brand. Easy On Hold makes no claims or warranties regarding telephone equipment of any kind.

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Easy On Hold Named Frontrunner Networks Partner

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Easy On Hold is now a featured partner with Frontrunner Network Systems, a single-source provider of business communication equipment and multimedia integration services for voice, data, video and advanced applications, serving enterprise and SME customers across the Northeast and Midwest.

Easy On Hold provides messaging on hold content for businesses of every size, working directly with Frontrunner Networks for flawless implementation and operation of on hold message equipment. Business already taking advantage of Frontrunner’s end-to-end network-support solutions will now have seamless on hold content setup and operation via Easy On Hold.

Among the offerings will be a multi-site network of on hold messaging devices that update over a web connection to the Easy On Hold studio, allowing businesses to provide constantly updated and relevant information to callers on hold.

Other Frontrunner partners are: Avaya, a global leader in business communications systems providing unified communications, contact centers, data solutions and related services, Benbria, a leading provider of intelligent notification solutions, Enterasys, a Siemens Enterprise Communications Company and premier global provider of wired and wireless network infrastructure and security solutions, Meru Networks, creators of an innovative self-monitoring wireless network that allows an all-wireless enterprise,  Mitel, a global provider of business communications and collaboration software and services for voice, video operating in over 90 countries, Polycom, an industry leader in unified collaboration solutions, including video and telepresence, Siemens, the global leader in unified communications solutions in more than 100 countries, and Telecom Brokerage, Inc. (TBI),  a consultancy that works on behalf of leading carriers in Voice, Data and Internet to negotiate the most competitive rates available on the market today.

About Frontrunner Network Systems

Frontrunner Network Systems is headquartered in Rochester, with offices in Buffalo, Syracuse, Latham, Plattsburgh and Highland, New York; and Chicago, Illinois. The company was founded in 1978 as ROTELCOM, a subsidiary of Rochester Telephone Co. As of February 19, 2008, Frontrunner Network Systems Corporation now operates as a subsidiary of Williams Telecommunications Corp.

Frontrunner has enjoyed over 30 years as a Nortel distributor and maintenance provider and we continue that relationship with Avaya. We work with several other telecommunications manufacturers, including Mitel, Siemens and AllWorx; and although telecommunication remains a large percentage of our core business, we have expanded our product and services offerings in recent years.

 

Easy On Hold is not responsible for the performance, installation or operation of equipment we do not sell. Articles about equipment are for educational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of any make or brand. Easy On Hold makes no claims or warranties regarding telephone equipment of any kind.

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