Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Fun Facts!

  • Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.
  • The world’s largest Christmas present was the Statue of Liberty. The French gave it to the US in 1886. It is 46.5 meters high and weighs 225 tons. Talk about a big gift!
  • The Germans made the first artificial Christmas trees out of dyed goose feathers.
  • The name Santa Claus was created by the Dutch who settled in the New York region of America, the term Sinterklaas, the Dutch name for St. Nicholas, was Americanized to produce the name Santa Claus.
  • Over 45,000 multi-colored LED lights adorn the 76 foot tall Norway Spruce in Rockefeller Center. Interestingly, the very first tree at Rockefeller Center was unadorned. Construction workers placed a bare tree there at the center of a construction site in 1931.
  • Approximately 30-35 million living Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S.  And on that note, Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
  • Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone.
  • According to the Guinness world records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.
  • Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870. Alabama was the first state to declare Christmas a legal holiday in 1836, and Oklahoma was the last to declare it in 1907.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Proverbs to Live by in Business

5 Ways to Kill a Business Deal

He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail.
Let’s face it, ‘winging it’ hasn’t worked since high school and even then I can recount the numerous times I’ve flopped a big presentation or bombed a quiz because I wasn't fully prepared. When it comes to business lack of preparation only leads to embarrassment, angry customers, and empty pockets.

VP of Sales Ken McCormack says it best, "Don't bring a knife to a gunfight." First impressions count so always put your best foot forward. Whether you are sending out a quote or attending a sales meeting, sometimes you only get one chance to make or break a sale. It is important that you not only understand your customer's needs, but also address any potential concerns. When you are prepared, you appear more professional, intelligent and competent.

For example, if you are meeting with a CTO or CIO, make sure you bring a sales engineer; if you are meeting with a Fortune 500 company, then bring your VP. Use your resources as a competitive advantage.

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
Kids are question-kings and masters of nagging. They are resilient and will stop at nothing until they get what they want. So what happened to that courage, that no holds barred, ask anything attitude? Now, as adults, we’d rather spend countless hours spinning our wheels and coming up with excuses rather than to simply 'just ask'. So why the hesitation? For some it may be fear of rejection or embarrassment, and for others, just plain ego. Regardless, I bet for every ‘no’ you've received, you've received triple, if not quadruple, the yes’es. So the next time you want something or have a question, what’s the harm in asking? Asking is a skill that functions like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger you get.

The early bird catches the worm.
Does ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ sound all too familiar'? Don’t let procrastination run your life. Success comes to those who act on what they want today, not tomorrow. Some opportunities are only available to the first competitors.

Honesty is the best policy.
Don't make promises unless you can keep them. Reliability is critical to any good relationship. It is important that you deliver on your promise and if you cannot for any reason, address the situation (be honest and upfront no matter how difficult it can be), and determine why you failed so it can be prevented in the future.

Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
Treat others as you would like to be treated. Respect is perhaps the most important component in any successful relationship, whether business or personal. Respect is not given, it is earned.

Read more articles from TouchTone's Partner Newsletter

Thursday, September 12, 2013

One-Touch Conference Calling

Building on its experience of telecom and computer technology, ZipBridge has partnered with TouchTone Communications, a full-service voice and data provider, to deliver a highly unique outbound conference calling service. Powered by TouchTone Communications, ZipBridge provides users the ability to launch a conference call or send a SMS or text message to a group of people simultaneously from their smartphone, tablet, or computer.

For a limited time, ZipBridge is offering a free trial at

“There is no conference bridge number to call into. At the touch of a button and from the convenience of any device, ZipBridge calls everyone in the group for you. It’s that easy,” said Leidy Smith, President of ZipBridge. “

ZipBridge not only provides a way to make conference calls quickly and easily, but allows users to communicate instantly in case of an emergency.”

As part of the partnership, ZipBridge will co-locate its servers to TouchTone’s geographically diverse data centers and exclusively utilize TouchTone’s carrier network for call completion. ZipBridge will continue to provide its own billing, while TouchTone will provide all the network services.

The inspiration for ZipBridge came after a conversation the company’s president had with a college IT director whose biggest frustration was trying to get key people on the phone right away during an emergency.

“We searched for a conference calling service that called the parties rather than the other way around, but couldn’t find one. So we built one ourselves,” said Smith.

TouchTone will offer ZipBridge outbound conferencing solutions to customers through its network of authorized agents, who are located throughout the United States.

“At TouchTone, we continually strive to bring our agents differentiated service offerings that can solve problems for their clients. ZipBridge is an excellent example of that because it offers a better and easier way to do something most of our end-user clients do every day – make and host conference calls,” said Pino Bio, President of TouchTone Communications.

About the partnership, Smith shared, “We are very excited to be working so closely with a carrier with the depth and resources of TouchTone. This partnership will help launch ZipBridge in the commercial market while solidifying our position in the Disaster Recovery market by giving us a geographically diverse serving infrastructure.”

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's Trending In Telecom

In this day in age, it is technology that stimulates our senses and gives us a feeling of innovation and creativity. In the world of telecom, innovation increases year-by-year.

Over the past 25 years, technology, especially in the world of telecom, has changed the way we work and play almost beyond recognition. We want, and expect, more powerful devices and applications to help us do things faster, better and with more ease. 

But keeping up with technology trends can be overwhelming, and you may find yourself asking, "which technology trends are for me."

The obvious answers are to determine your needs, read and research (we've helped you with that one, read below!), try it out (many companies offer free trials), and if you don't understand it, don't be afraid to ask questions. 

Here's a list of some of today's trending topics in telecom and technology.

Telecom Trends
  1. IP services- More and more companies are moving away from TDM and switching to IP services, such as SIP. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) provides many benefits for businesses including lower calling costs and a large capacity to serve an entire organization regardless of its size.    
  2. Mobile Device Management (MDM)- As the use of personal devices in the workforce increases, the need for businesses to incorporate mobile device management becomes a necessity in order to protect corporate information and reduce security risks. If you’re looking for a MDM vendor, here is a list of the 10 leading vendors in the market today, drawn from the leaders and visionaries in Gartner's 2013. Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management Software.
  3. Apps, apps and more apps- Chances are that you have a smartphone, a tablet or maybe even both. These devices have transformed the way we communicate, especially in businesses. Mobile apps prove to be especially useful in businesses because they can help manage day-to-day activities (schedule meetings, manage contacts, set reminders, money/account-managing, etc.). If you haven’t done so already check out these great apps: Brewster (personal address book), Contactually (contact management), Asana (plan, organize and stay in sync with your team), and Basecamp (project management). There is an app for almost anything nowadays!
  4. The Cloud- With today’s dynamic office environments, cloud services are proving to be a surefire way to reduce costs and streamline operations. So what does it mean exactly ‘to move to the cloud’? 
For some, the cloud means a storage locker in the sky; a place to save documents, pictures and videos online so that they can be stored, accessed and even shared whenever and from where ever there is Internet connection.

Not only has this made our personal lives easier (we no longer need to e-mail documents to ourselves or burn a CD of vacation pictures for family and friends), but businesses are looking into cloud-based data storage in support of protection efforts such as replication, backup, archiving, and disaster recovery. 

For others, the cloud serves as a way to provide cost effective and scalable voice and data services. Commonly known as hosted communications or business VoIP, voice is provided over an IP backbone (the cloud) – the PBX and service is fully managed offsite by the provider. Cloud-based phone service provides more robust functionality beginning with crisp, clear voice quality and an abundance of features not available with traditional phone service. Since the service is completely outsourced and the PBX does not reside at the customer’s premises, upgrades are automatically provided by the provider in the background so there aren't any costs to upgrade. Learn more about cloud-based phone service.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

8 Tips For An Effective Business Plan

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is a dream that many of us go-getters aspire to reach. This journey in building a successful business can be exciting, yet at times can also be troublesome. Building your own business is most definitely a risk; but if done correctly, your business can be a successful one. 

Let me introduce you to MaryEllen Tribby, a business consultant who has coached some of the most successful entrepreneurs, such as New York Times best-selling author, Michael Masterson

Her many years of experience in the corporate world and passion for a successful life have motivated her to write an informative book, Changing the Channel: 12 Easy Ways to Make Millions for Your Business. Aimed at helping entrepreneurs looking to develop and grow their business, Tribby suggests that in order for a business to be successful, one should create a solid business plan. 

"I know so many entrepreneurs and business owners who make excuses for all the failures within their business. Sadly, so many of those failures could have been avoided with the construction of an effective business plan," states Tribby on her website.

Most people agree that creating a solid business plan is important, however, sitting down and actually doing it seems to be a weak spot for many business owners.  

Business Plan Development Tips
  1. Execute A Summary- The summary is usually followed by the title page. This summary should consist of a general synopsis of your business plan. The summary should be able to tell the reader what it is that you want. Don't worry, you don't have to make the summary lengthy like a book; that's why it's called a summary! It should be no more than one page and should be put together in a professional and businesslike manner. 
  2. Market Analysis- There are two important things that a market analysis can do. It can familiarize you with all aspects of the industry your business is in. It can also enable you to establish pricing, distribution and marketing strategies which will allow your business to grow in today's competitive markets. Start your marketing analysis by defining the market in terms of size, structure, growth aspects, trends and sale potentials. Before a business can begin and become a successful one, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the market that you will be competing in. 
  3. Company Description- This description should include the nature of your business and the important elements that you believe will make your business prosper. 
  4. Organization and Management- In this section, you should include your company's organizational structure, the details about the ownership of your company/business, descriptions of your management team and the qualifications of your panel of experts of board of directions. For any business to be successful, organization skills are extremely important. Sometimes a business can fall apart entirely if it is not performed in an organized manner. 
  5. Marketing and Sales Strategies- MaryEllen Tribby emphasizes the importance of creating effective marketing strategies for your business. "This is the lifeblood of your business. Marketing creates customers and customers generate sales." In this section, you should define your marketing strategies. These strategies consist of a wide array of methods that you can apply to grow popularity and sales for your new business. Tribby suggests using both direct marketing (when a customer hears about your product or service directly through a salesperson that is representing your business) and indirect marketing (when a customer learns about your product or service via third part entities, such as internet, newspaper, advertisements, television, radio and/or billboards.) A combination of both direct and indirect marketing would lead your business start up to great success!
  6. Service and/or Product Line- This is the section where you describe the product and/or service that you want to sell. State the benefits of your product or service, not the features. You want to tell your customers why they should invest in your product or service. What will they get out of it? 
  7. Funding Requirements- Funding is one of the main reasons why businesses fall apart. So be smart, and plan your funding requirements ahead of time. In this section, you should state the amount of funding you will need to start your business. But don't just stop there; also lay out the amount you will need to expand your business. Always think of the next step, especially if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.    
  8. Financials- This consists of your company's balance sheet, income statement, annual report and all other indicators. Tribby suggests creating financials AFTER you have analyzed the market and set clear objectives for your business.  
Keep in mind that an effective business plan should always be written more than once, in fact many times. An aspiring entrepreneur, like yourself, should understand that this business plan will evolve and change as you further invest yourself in your business. Marketing strategies can change, environments can change and so can your funding capabilities. So don't put a final stamp on the first business plan you develop, be prepared to create revisions on that plan.

Mary Ellen Tribby is confident that after following these steps in creating your business plan, that sky will be the limit for you! Don't be discouraged if your previous efforts in starting a business did not go smooth. You have this chance to get it right and reach your dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur! All your needed was the right advice from the right person. Forbes magazine, here you come! 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Customer Service Tips For Your Small Business

As a small business owner you know the importance of keeping your customers happy. However, many businesses fail in doing so simply because they don't know how to develop and implement "good customer service" strategies.

Here are some useful tips on how you can apply good customer service strategies that will keep your customers happy and your business booming!

  • Identify your target customers- What type of customers will your business attract? Who are they? What are their needs? Start by doing some quality research on your customer demographics. The key to making your customers happy is to understand what they really want.
  • Anticipate your customers' future needs- Not only is it important to determine what your customers want now, but also what they will need in the future. This will help generate loyalty and repeat customers. You can find out your customers' wants and needs by:
    • Conducting online customer service satisfaction surveys. (Some free online survey sites:,, 
    • Phone/email survey 
    • Product testing- Find out what your customers prefer by allowing them to try free testers or even allowing your employees to do the testing. For example, find out which flavor is in more demand, chocolate or vanilla. Have people taste the flavors and gear your business accordingly. 
Photo courtesy of:

  • Don't make promises you can't keep- A lot of the times a business will lose a customer because of unfinished promises. You want your customer to be able to rely on your business and trust that whatever promise you make, you will complete it in a timely manner. For example, imagine if you were promised that your bedroom furniture will be arriving on Monday, but instead arrives on Thursday. You have every right to complain and be one not-so-happy customer. The same applies to your clients and customers. 
  • Be a good listener- It's important to hear your customers out. They have a voice too. In addition, listening to your customers will not only help your customer, but will also help your business. Talk about a win-win situation. By listening, you get a better understanding of what it is that your customer really wants. A good practice is to repeat back to them what your comprehension of their needs and wants are; this way you both are on the same page.
  • Get your customers to interact with you- Use your social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter to talk to your customers. 
  • Deal with the complaints- You're a business, and you're bound to get a couple of complaints here and there. You can't please all people, but you definitely shouldn't ignore the complaint. This can be a deciding factor of whether your customer is satisfied with your business. 
  • Apologize when needed- It can be difficult to apologize sometimes. But remember, you're a business, and every business makes mistakes. If you make a mistake, it's okay, it happens. Just make sure that you acknowledge it and make it right by the customer.
  • Answer your phone- You don't want to be that company that rarely answers phone calls. Answering the phone is your biggest advantage. A customer then knows that he/she can rely on your business and that they will always be helped. These days, technology makes it easy to be accessible 24/7. A cool feature offered by many phone companies is Find Me/Follow Me. It allows you to have calls forwarded to anyone and to any device - your place of business, your cell or another person.     
Customer service can either make or break a small business. Customers are not only looking for service, but also value. Show them that your service (or product) does just that by implementing customer service straegies that make them feel unique, and not just another number.             

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Host Meetings With An Easier Alternative!

It's time you put your business in high-tech mode! Let go of the old-school business habits, and take advantage of today's technology to help your business run more effectively. You might be wondering how.

Every business conducts meetings - they could be with employees, clients and/or vendors. Traditionally, these meetings would happen in a meeting room or someone's office; but what if you can take conferencing to a whole new level?

Audio and web conferencing service allows you to conduct meetings anytime, anywhere and with anyone (no matter where they are located!)

It's a SIMPLE and EASY process (probably two of your favorite words!) You can choose audio conference only, or web and audio conferencing combined to host a live interactive meeting.

With audio conferencing you receive a permanent dial-in number, conference code and pin which you can use at anytime. The features include:
  • Record and playback
  • Project codes for bill back
  • Toll-free dial-in
  • Operator assistance
  • Direct Event - this includes passcode expedited call entry, separate dial-in numbers, optional call registration and call customization.
Web conferencing combines audio, web and video. The features include:
  • Host a live meeting
  • Create and show multi-media presentation
  • Interactively train employees, partners and customers
  • Deliver cost effective events
  • Use web conferencing as a support center to view, diagnose or solve customer problems online.
Kick up your feet and relax as you conduct meetings with your staff members, customers and vendors from the convenience of your home, office or even your car! Conference with one person or a group, it's your choice. The opportunities are endless.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Business VoIP: Stay Organized, Be Successful

Staying organized in a business can get a bit tricky, especially if your day-to-day activities consist of running around, doing errands and making important phone calls. From the numerous calls you receive and need to make, to all the people you need to meet with, it can all get very hectic.

So what can you do to ease up this hectic life and get a bit more organized? Try considering TouchTone’s business VoIP phone system, a perfect solution for small businesses (2-10 employees) who want to gain a competitive edge. Business VoIP provides powerful calling features to help you stay organized.

Unlike traditional phone service, Business VoIP provides your business with enterprise-class business features, as well as professional and advanced service (including unlimited calling). And the best part is, it’s a lot cheaper than traditional phone system and service.

TouchTone’s Business VoIP system would work perfectly for you if:
  1. You prefer to pay less and get more out of a phone system (i.e., enterprise-class calling features, unlimited talk).
  2. You prefer to use newer technology versus old and outdated traditional technology.
  3. You don’t want to invest in an IT person to handle the maintenance and the setting up of your phone. TouchTone covers all that for you; from maintenance to setting up, we got you covered!
Some features to help you and your business get organized and keep up with your fast-pace environment are:

  • Call Forwarding- Allows you to redirect incoming calls to another number, voice mail, or block the call all together. You choose what type of calls, as well as when calls are forwarded. Call Forwarding categories include: All Calls, When Busy, Do Not Disturb, No Answer and Selective Forwarding.
  • Selective Call Management- Also known as call screening, with selective call management you can selectively reject or accept calls made from specific numbers so that you can manage your time more efficiently.
  • Web Management/Web Portal- You can make adds, changes or moves 24 hours, 7 days a week through the self-managed Web Portal. Access all your contacts, voicemail messages, call logs and much more. Organized business here you come!
  • Hunt Groups- One of your worst nightmares is probably losing your valuable customers and clients. This could be an outcome of poor customer service. When a customer or client calls your company, you want to make sure they are being taken care. The Hunt Group feature is extremely helpful when multiple lines are in use. For example, when a line goes unanswered or is in use, the call is automatically routed and transferred to another user, and so on and so forth. This powerful feature will ensure that your phone is answered by someone in your company at all times.
The type of phone service you use for your business plays an important role on the functionality and future success of your company. Take your business to the next level with Business VoIP.

Any questions? Feel free to leave comment!