If you are a startup, small business, non-profit, or any organization that has employees demanding that their calls go to multiple phones since they’re traveling or remote, you owe it to yourself to look in to my new VoIP phone provider, Telzio. I continue to be blown away with how easy Telzio is to configure, use, and manage. Plus it is very affordable which I’ll tell you about in a moment.
MY POTS TO VOIP ADVENTURE
When the global economic crash occurred in 2008, one of our businesses dependent upon the home furnishings industry took a huge hit. Slashing costs became absolutely necessary and one of the easiest costs to lower was our plain-old-telephone-system (POTS) providers: AT&T long distance and our landline provider, CenturyLink (formerly Qwest).
After some due diligence I chose RingCentral (RC). I’m a geek and I personally set it all up. Unfortunately it took me about 50 hours to set up our internal phone system and fax machine, doing so with the help of RC’s only-somewhat-competent Philippines-based technical support. It was quite painful and taxed my technical skills to the limit, but we finally got it up-and-running.
As such I successfully brought our telephony costs down from $500-$600 per month to well under $170 per month. Those savings, along with a bunch of other cost-cutting measures we made, really helped us at a time when we had to fight to keep that business going like so many others had to do across our nation and the world.
Our home furnishings trend business is flourishing now, so why would I make a change to move away from RC?
Because making a change to equipment, or the plan, at RC is such a pain-in-the-ass, I just couldn’t go on. After investing 20-30 hours a few months ago with RC’s Philippines-based support folks to configure new VoIP phones we’d purchased so they actually WORKED, I was so mad that I wrote this Open Letter to Vlad Shmunis, CEO, RingCentral. He obviously read it and had someone on his team respond, so I finally got some help from a U.S.-based technical manager and everything was working.
But it was too little help, far too late to keep me as a customer.
WHY I DECIDED ON TELZIO
Knowing we were making a change for certain, I started analyzing every other VoIP provider that indicated they supported and encouraged small businesses to use their service. After looking at many options I set up a trial account at one that looked the most promising, Nextiva. To make a long story short they were just as complex and cost about the same (just under $170) so that wasn’t an option and I canceled the account.
Next I looked at Vonage business, Ooma business, and even buying a bunch of these Obi200 boxes and using Google Voice accounts (which I do personally with my personal Google Voice account and it works great…but this wasn’t a business-ready solution). In fact, I even thought about setting up my own open-source Asterisk phone/communication server in-house, but then I realized it would burn up far too much of my time.
There just wasn’t any sort of system I could find that was easy to set up and use, was simple to edit and reconfigure, and a breeze to upgrade and add phones to over time. As I looked at all of these systems and tried them out, I continued to think there had to be some startup somewhere who had solved the VoIP complexity and tear-your-hair-out frustrating use of a hosted telephone system.
Then I discovered Telzio.
TELZIO IS EASY AND JUST WORKS
They have this drag-n-drop, click-n-configure call flow web interface that works phenomenally well. After trying out their demo, I set up an account, got a phone number for a few bucks, and built my first call flow. What had taken me a few dozen hours with both RC and Nextiva took me about 15 minutes with Telzio.
The drag-n-drop call flow provides several different capabilities. You select one, click-n-configure it, and decide what should happen next (e.g., call someone, roll to voicemail, or even go to another call flow!)
One of my hot buttons, which Telzio has solved, is that on-hold music in these sorts of systems usually sounds horrible. Same thing with the custom recording capability that users do for their voicemails. The RCs, Nextivas and other VoIP providers seem to compress the hell out of whatever file you upload or record with their systems. That bad quality is a deal-killer for me and again, is a problem Telzio has solved. When I upload a very high quality .wav file to Telzio, it ends up sounding much better than any other system I’ve ever used.
So imagine my delight in being able to set up a call flow that usually takes hours and hours…but with Telzio took 15 minutes. Below is my first one and I kept thinking, “Hmm…it can’t be this easy. There must be some fatal flaw somewhere.” But as I’ve discovered, there isn’t one. It’s just elegant design that is intuitive connected to a backend that just works.
For my call flow test I set up the Opening Hours as you see above, recorded a test “after hours” voicemail (the one to the left where it says “Closed”), then set up the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Menu for when our company is open for business.
Next I set up three groups, each with their own voicemail and phone numbers. If you pressed “1” you’d go to Sales; “2” forwards to Support; and “3” goes to Consulting services.
I know this call flow is simple but again, creating this call flow took me 15 minutes and would have taken at least 3-4 hours with RingCentral. Likely I would have been on with tech support at some point too.
I was sold.
We’ve now set up our call flows and even configured our VoIP phones. The big thing for us is simple call transfer and each VoIP phone/user has its own custom ringing for either an outside incoming call or for a call transferred from within our group (and yes, call transfer works great even if a remote employee answers the call and wants to transfer it to any other user in your Telzio account).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Full Telzio setup and setting up our VoIP phones did take several hours (and porting over our phone numbers several days), but we did it all ourselves and I did about 75% of it myself. The biggest bonus was that it was actually enjoyable to set it all up and configure everything. Their support folks are really great and very responsive.
Though we’ve only been running for just over a month with Telzio—so we don’t have a long history on calling costs—our initial analysis shows that we will only spend between $50 and $70 per month (vs. $170/month with RingCentral). That’s at or near a $100 per month savings, along with having a phone system that is enjoyable to use as well.
I’ve already evangelized Telzio on our Minnov8 Gang podcast and are telling many of the entrepreneurs I know, and a bunch of non-profits I work with, all about it. Virtually all of them have people in-office, in home or remote locations, are often all over the world, and certainly have many phones or voice apps they want to ring when a business call comes in for them. Telzio is the perfect system to coordinate and orchestrate all of those voice touch points. It also makes the set up, and management of, complex call flows trivial to create and use.
Go to Telzio now and try their demo. You’ll be glad you did.