“Follow me” is one of, if not the, most common phone feature. This is especially true if you often find yourself out of the office or working from multiple locations. It also goes by the name “find me”, but the core function is the same. Imagine you have multiple offices and you are not sure which office you are going to be in at a given time. You want to make sure when clients call you, you can somehow pick up the call. This is a great alternative to giving out your cell phone number.

The follow-me feature solves the issue by forwarding your calls to multiple locations, simultaneously, such as your two offices and cell phone. It is almost like broadcasting the call to many extensions and phone numbers. As soon as you pick up the call in one location, the call is transferred and pulled from the other location(s). With the follow-me feature, you can have unanswered calls  go to voicemail. We can also have some type of ring strategy, as well. For example, we want to ring to the first location, followed by the next location and so forward.

On-call Ma software takes the same feature and modifies it from ground up to help home care after hour on-calls. We know that home care agencies never close and therefore rely on after hour on-call coordination. Coordinator takes all the calls after traditional business hour and represents the company’s customer care. It was a challenge, but not impossible.

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Outsourcing.  Remember when that was a hot topic? If it is not clear, COVID-19 gave a huge push toward remote working. As we all know, software development is the next generation mutation. The enforcement of remote work made new generation business owner re-think about hiring people outside of the country. Of course, many types of job is not possible to source for security reason, time zone issue, and so on. This type of job that can be outsourced remotely is listed on websites such as upwork.com and fiverr.com. These sites are for freelancers. Most of the jobs that are time-consuming and repetitive are more cost-effective to outsource to another country.

Here is the reality of outsourcing, just as the USA can outsource to other countries, other countries can outsource to the USA as well. A perfect example is Zendesk. I was recently introduced to Zendesk when I needed to upgrade my ticketing system. Zendesk stock publicly trades  in the US.  Compare this to Happyfox, not a USA company. In fact, they are based in India and are more expensive than Zendesk. I ended up picking Happyfox because they provide better customer service. The point is, a company is able to sell software at a higher cost when they provide a better service. The reality is that remote work will force our economy to take advantage of global resources such as outsourcing. We are not forced to do this in the past.

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Brain Off Switch is Meditation
The English interpreter sitting at the Main Tibetan Temple watching His Holiness the Dalai Lama on TV during the teachings in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 16, 2020. Photo by Lobsang Tsering

The human brain has no on/off switch. Since we were born, our brain never turned off until we move on to the next life. The Quran, the Bible, and other sources of religion explain why that may be so. Even if we cannot turn off our brain 100%, there are ways to relax our brain. It is a proven fact that stress level does impact the health of the brain resulting in overall health issues.

In my experience of solving customer’s problems do require creativity and creativity do require the mind to relax so it can focus. However, most of the time business owners do not invest in tools to relax and maintain our minds. As Dalai Lama said “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.” I have one CEO tell me that “what does he know, he never had to work in his life”. I think both cases are valid, such as getting a stroke because of stress or maybe spend thousands of dollars on a therapist.

Brain’s Off Switch is Meditation

In many ways investing in religion is investing on your mind and body. For example, Islam praying 5 times a day is a form of medication. One form of meditation is spending 10 minutes of your time just focusing on one thing. One common focus is sitting in one place, close your eyes, and focus on the tip of your nose. Sometimes you lose track of focusing on your nose and you may need to breathe harder to bring your focus back.

In Islam, praying also means focusing on words you repeat over and over from the Quran. Those words are exact text within the Quran written in the Arabic language. Imagine praying 5 times a day where you relax your brain for 10 minutes over your entire lifetime. This type of investment does help keep your mind in better shape than you did not meditate. In fact, it might save you a lot of money by not going to a therapist.

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“Matt, why do you have a cell phone if you never answer?” That is what I tell Matt, all the time. He always responds with “you call at the worst time”. However, he responds to all the text message I sent him. Sometimes right away. Statics prove that over 90% of all SMS recipients read a text messages within 3 minutes of delivery. It is also clear that texting is protected by FCC so it does not become the next voice broadcast.

There is one interesting difference between a phone call and text message. When someone makes a call, the phone system knows if the other end picked up, even if the answering party says nothing. By design, phone system technology confirms a connection between parties. However, that is not the case with texting. Texting was not designed to get confirmation if the other end received the text. You may send out 1000 text messages and receive confirmation that all of them went through, but that is not 100% correct.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way when one of my previous bosses felt deceived when I told him that I texted him. He felt I was not truthful even after showing my phone screenshot. Later on, he apologized after receiving the text in the future. It is true that the chance of text not going through is very low, but it can happen.

Add your stories and comments, too! 👇

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It was a reality check and unfair as it comes. There he was sitting at his $10,000 dollar desk as he expressed his pain. “I need to cut my operating cost because I have no money coming in. What section of the IT can we cut, Tim?” I looked at the marketing guy and thought how would he answer.

The reality check is, Information Technology (IT) is embedded within the operation cost where it is harder to extract out the value, in the form of numbers. I am sure the marking dude can tell me how many leads came in and how many leads became a customer. He would certainly love to point out how the customer acquisition cost decreased over the years. I know he is going to finish me if I attempt to explain 50% of the marketing value came from IT. You cannot blame him as he is only trying to keep his co-worker.

Demonstrating Phone System’s Value

That is how Tim, my colleague, expresses his thoughts and he is 100% right about IT being embedded. For example, a client of mine provides immigration services. He has a phone system. It is clear that the phone system brings value because if he cannot talk to people, then he can’t convert them to customers.

One of the ways to put a value on a phone system is to view the dilemma in the opposite way. That is: How much money does the company lose if the phone system is down? Imagine that the marketing department converts ten leads per day. Not to mention five employees that are costing $1000 per day. We can simply say that losing the phone system will cost the company at least $1000 per day.

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 There I was, trying to pull a fast one by taking my wife on a gondola ride in Las Vegas. They built an actual canal indoor to make it look like Venice, Italy where you can take a gondola ride while the gondolier is singing. “Wasn’t that great? Now we don’t have to spend all that money to visit Italy”. Of course, that did not work. The following year, I was in a hotel in Rome, booking a train ride to Venice. My wife deserves some credit for not showing a bad mood while I was talking to clients in the United States.

On all those occasions, I was using a Grandstream Wave softphone that connected to a phone system in the United States from Italy. After you  download the Grandstream Wave App from the Apple Store or Google Play, all that you require is a wireless connection, such as WiFi.

Softphones are not created equal

Many people do not know that there are two types of softphones:

📶 Internet-based softphone – Uses 100% wireless (eg: wifi, 3g, 4g, LTE and etc). Grandstream Wave falls under this category.

☯️ Hybrid softphone – Use minor wireless data in the beginning, followed by a carrier reception. When I say carrier’s reception I am talking about using cell phone towers as if you are using a non-smart phone to make a call. Examples are Google Voice or On-Call Ma mobile app.

Internet-based softphone has greater flexibility. It can work anywhere, as long as a quality internet is provided. On the other hand, Hybrid does have a number of advantages. For example, there are regions where Internet only softphones experience blockage by the internet service provider.  If you are not aware, some countries such as India or Bangladesh do not allow VoIP technology. Softphone falls under Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.  Consequently, it can be used to make international calls for free as I did in Italy.

Side by Side Softphone Comparison

The table, below, shows the difference between Internet based and hybrid softphones:

Internet-based Softphone

Hybrid Softphone

  • Must have quality wireless internet to work. It does not need a SIM card if quality wifi is provided
  • It was not designed to handle calls while moving very fast. For example, driving
  • Voice quality changes depending on the compression. Softphone compresses your voice and decompresses when it arrives on the other end. In voice technology, we call it codec. It is the same process as when you zip a file, send it by email, and the receiver unzips the file. 
  • A mobile phone needs to provide high-speed computing power to allow the softphone to compress on the fly. A slow phone might not work too well with an internet-based softphone.
  • Needs some type of cell reception. This means a SIM card is required. NOTE: Carrier such as Sprint do not need SIM and that is because they use CDMA technology
  • It works just like making a call using a non-smart phone. Softphone tells the phone system over the internet to call the cell phone and join the 2nd party like a conference call. When the call comes into the cell, the softphone app makes it look like you made a call. Also, the phone system spoofs the number so the call appears it came from your cell phone or whatever phone number you want to assign (e.g. a business line).  Moving at high speeds, driving or on a train to Venice, is fully supported by the cellular-based system.
  • The voice quality usually stays the same since the compression is mostly done on the phone system side.
  • You do not worry about the phone speed. Phone manufacturers make sure the phone has enough speed to handle calls from the cell tower.

It is also IMPORTANT to know that you should not pick-up your phone during a gondola ride because Return On Investment (ROI), namely your wife’s happiness, will decrease like a recession during the coronavirus season. However, you do not have to take my word for it.

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