Small Business Inspiration

Virtual Call Centre Phone System Solutions

Modern technological improvements have made it possible for offices of any size to have a virtual call centre in which the company’s representatives are geographically dispersed. Instead of having all employees in one building working on different stations, the company can take advantage of talents around the world and even save on overhead costs.

Switching to a virtual call centre is very beneficial. For companies that are highly seasonal, the virtual call centre allows them to only increase their operations when needed. No need to maintain a large-scale operation year-round. The company will be able to save money on lean months and invest during peak seasons.

Having a virtual call centre also makes a company appear professional which in turn increases customer confidence.

How it works

When a customer dials a customer service number or tech support number, they are given the impression that the call reaches an actual department within the company. In reality, they are likely reaching a company that outsources support or even a stay-at-home mum, a college student or a work-at-home agent who has a phone system that is connected to the company’s secure network.

Examples of Virtual Call Centre Phone System Solution Providers


AVOXI’s virtual call centre solution is called SMART QUEUE. It claims to add more to your company’s bottom line. The hosted call centre solution is built on open-source technology. It provides the same functions and features as any proprietary call centre platform at a fraction of the cost.

If your business needs flexibility, this solution was developed what that in mind. All their solutions are scalable so you can quickly add new users to your system without the burden of a heavy cost. You can increase productivity by providing quick and easy access to all the features and capabilities.

AVOXI is ready to help you with all your requirements. They have capable engineers that can work with you to design a system that truly meets your requirements. You don’t have to worry about upgrades and maintenance with the cloud call centre solution. You can focus on your core business because you don’t have to worry about these things.

Benefits of a VOXI Virtual Call Centre Solution

  • You don’t need to invest a lot of money
  • You can get a predictable operating expense
  • Cost-effective scalability
  • Rapid deployment
  • High levels of reliability and security
  • 24/7 technical support


Vocalcom is one of the leading software solutions on the market offering a feature-rich software solution with the focus to make your agents more productive offering high customer service.

You can work faster and save money with this solution, coordinating all points of call for the customer. Whether they are in-store, on the phone or even different contractors, you will be able to keep on top of communication.

You can keep ahead of call centre software trends with this cutting-edge solution, keeping your workforce ahead of the game. Improve your customer service by answering calls quickly, delivering solutions to your clients and offering high-quality customer service. You can also add more value to your mobile environment and respond instantly in your social media.

Some Features

Skills-Based Routing

This is the heart of the Vocalcom Auto Call Distribution which ensures that customers are directed to the right queue and their call is handled by the best agent first time. This feature quickly pairs incoming calls to the call centre agents who can best help them, resulting in happy customers and a more efficient solution.

Queue Callback Routing

This feature gives your customers the options to receive a callback when their position in the queue comes up.

Keep call volume steady

If your customers can’t wait, your agents call automatically call them back when they become available. Agent productivity is increased during off-peak times by offering this option.

Easy Office Phone

Easy Office Phone offers an effective but easy to use virtual call centre phone system. It has a rich feature set and online web interface. You can enjoy detailed reports and tracking. This is the perfect solution for use in-house or outsourced call centre applications.

The solution can easily be integrated with the company’s CRM software for example Salesforce and you can streamline your complete solution using click-to-dial from your companies software, screen pops or conference calls to fully integrate your call centre.


This solution is easily integrated and will leave you with more time to manage your core business. Their Network Architects and Project Managers will actually provide bespoke solutions tailored to your business. Each customer has a dedicated account manager who will provide full operating instructions one to one via webinars and live presentations.

You will no longer need the hardware to operate your call centre, reducing up to 80% of the upfront capital, installation and configuration your ongoing costs will also be reduced. You can easily achieve your ROI with these benefits. With a speedy setup, you can be up and running in as little as 5 days.

With real-time reporting you can easily manage your workforce call targets, call queues and service levels, helping to increase productivity and reduce time in management.

The brand’s network is recognised for its quality and stability using in-house developers and tech staff. They are constantly upgrading their technology and distribute updates for free.

This is a Cloud-based solution and with the click of a button can add remote workers or temporary contractors while the back end platform can be managed from anywhere in the world providing a truly flexible working solution.

With real-time reporting and tracking you can easily get statistics on the percentage of calls answered or abandoned, average hold time, etc; specifying which dates you wish to analyse and which team members.

Having a virtual call centre allows your company to be flexible and improve your customer experience so consider having one today.

Saving Money in Your Business

A very dear friend of mine was on breaking point when it comes to the future of their business. I was employed to go to him to help to give a few suggestions on how he was to run more efficiently. Whilst I have a little experience when it comes to running a business, I do have some great experience when it comes to saving money. I used to run an ebay business which helped pay the bills from my spare room and being frugal is the key to success on ebay with such low profit margins.


Overhead Costs

The biggest charge a business can have is the premises from which it runs – bring that in to the home and you can not only save money on the outgoing bills, but also offset a proportion of the house bills on your company accounts.

Use fluorescent lights to brighten things up and lower your electric bill. Sure those spotlights make a dramatic effect on your office but they won’t have that same effect when you see your electric bill at the end of the month.

Unplug all your equipment when not in use. Machines that are not turned on but are still plugged still consume energy. Unplug whenever possible.

Look for the Energy Star label when buying equipment. These are energy-efficient machines that will give you a lot of savings.

Use the draft mode of your printer to print in-house documents. Use scratch paper too. Save the nice printing and fresh paper for presentations and documents for clients.

Monitor the photocopier. Save on copies and encourage everyone to just use email, cloud programs or post-its.

Check your phone bill. There might be several errors that you are missing or there might be some features that you are not using. Ask your supplier how you can lower your phone bill by removing these features.



If your company sends a lot of post, like mine did it is worth looking into a franking machine. You can either rent or buy one. A franking machine will print the equivalent of a stamp, weigh your letters accurately and apply the correct amount that you need to pay for. First and second class mails are heavily discounted. Aside from that, you get the convenience of topping up your credits 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No more rushing to the post office to get extra credits. It is worth comparing prices to get the best deal from the market at the time. When I got my franking machine I used a company that gave me the best offers on the market.

Marketing and Advertising

Take advantage of all your outgoing materials and documents. If you have a franking machine, you can use it to print your company logo or slogan on the envelope. Now your letter is an advertising tool.

Print an ad or promotion on your invoices, customer order forms, etc. Instead of sending a separate mail for your ads, send them with your other outgoing documents. You can also include coupons and other materials in your customers’ orders.

Ask around for referrals. You might be surprised who your friends know. You might get a good deal because of this. You can also ask them for names and contact details of potential customers. The bigger your reach is, the higher your sales potential is.

Ask your happy customers to spread the word. If you have a satisfied customer, ask him or her to bring a friend. If the friend purchases, give an incentive to your customer. You will not only transform your customer into a loyal/repeat customer, you will also gain a new one. Then just wait for the word to spread.

Make these changes in your office and you will surely make an impact on your bottom line.

Call Centre Installation Guide – Compare & Save


Which telephone systems are best for a call centre? Today, we will give you insight in to the top 5 companies that can best supply you with the right telephone system to make your venture a success. We have judged these companies on price, functionality, ease of set up and expansion.



Many professional review sites, magazines, top companies and customers vote Nextiva to be the best telephone system for a call centre.

Nextiva Call Centers offer you the ultimate flexibility so you can grow your business without worries.


Dramatic Cost Savings

You are only required to pay a minimal upfront cost. Pricing is flexible so whatever your company size is, you can experience dramatic cost savings with call centers in the cloud. You can use your existing devices to reduce hardware requirements and save money. You don’t need to have complex equipment with this solution. You can hire virtual agents and blend them with your on-premise agents to minimize your overhead expenses.

Improve Deployment Speed

Quickly scale your business to respond to call volume fluctuations and instantly access enterprise-grade technology without ever having to change your infrastructure settings. With this setup, you can always have the right number of staff so customers won’t have to be put on hold. You can provide automated call-back responses to your customers. With advanced call routing options, you can increase your first call resolution.

Flexible Staffing Structure

You can easily manage multiple locations and remote agents through a centralized queue. Your customers can enjoy uninterrupted service. Route calls to employees based on their personal or team skill sets. Hire more staff when customer demand rises or route overflow calls to your virtual agents. You can easily monitor call volume and flow through activity reports and by accessing your dashboard.

Manage Communications Anywhere

By utilizing the company’s unified communications online dashboard, you can instantly monitor your business throughout the day. You can manage your dashboard on any device or Internet browser. You can monitor call volume and identify problem areas, availability issues and even employee productivity. With one simple click, you can manage incoming and outgoing calls.

Amazing Service is Always At Hand

Nextiva prides itself for its customer service that goes beyond expectations. They want to help you succeed. A 100% US-based team is always ready to help. You can reach them through phone, email or online chat. You can also find many useful information in their Support Center.

Key Features

  • Call console allows you to manage current calls
  • View contacts – see who is available, make calls and manage directories
  • Dashboard – monitor the call centers where you are assigned as an agent
  • Agent status display – quickly see which agents are available, currently engaged, have a call ringing or set to an alternate status
  • Auto call distribution – set up calls to be routed based on the type of request to available agents who have the right skills set
  • Incoming call details – you can see the name and number of the caller and the queue they are calling from if they are assigned to a queue
  • Instant escalation – immediately transfer a call to a selected supervisor from your call console
  • Call promotion – answer urgent calls before others in the queue
  • 3-way conference – connect two selected calls from the call console with one click
  • Call queues – organize teams, departments and users by queues and callers will be routed to the next available agent in the right queue
  • Call recording – record specific calls on demand or set your service to record calls automatically
  • Call monitoring – monitor an agent or the next call that comes in to a queue
  • Silent monitoring – select an agent and listen in to a current call while muted
  • IVR/Auto Attendant – instant automated greeting that lets callers choose the person or department they are trying to reach
  • Night/weekend service – forward calls automatically to an alternate number after work hours, weekends or holidays

Startup Plan

Call Center Pro is recommended for startup call centers. It includes the following:

  • Conditional call routing options
  • Call queue visibility
  • 1-click transfers
  • Enhanced greeting and queue announcements
  • Conference bridge
  • Free auto attendant recording
  • Instant message and presence
  • CRM integration
  • ACD
  • Queue-based routing
  • Configurable call handling
  • Remote agent support
  • Skills-based routing
  • Voicemail to email
  • Dedicated onboarding service
  • Flexible unavailable codes
  • Real-time agent management
  • Call reports by queue, agent or time
  • Launch dashboard and reports
  • Call recording
  • Historical reports of key metrics
  • Promote, retrieve or transfer queued calls

You need to contact Nextiva for an accurate quote for the telephone system that you need.


Voipfone is the ISPA Best Business VoIP Provider of 2015. The company offers reliable and affordable advanced cloud-based telephone services that are especially designed for small businesses.

Anyone can use their service. Operate your phone system from the cloud and enjoy a maintenance-free, hosted VoIP PBX that can be easily and quickly installed.

You can order the phone services through the web-based control panel and have a fully functional, sophisticated hosted service within minutes. This is guaranteed to be backed up by their free, award-winning, professional, UK based team.

This award winning telephone system works anywhere and starts for as little as £2 per month for a phone number. You also get a number of features thrown in for free such as hold music, call transfer, conferencing and many more.

They have a 99.99% uptime. They provide higher quality phone calls than mobiles and landlines.

Hosted PBX Products and Services

Get advanced features and functionalities at an affordable price. The IP phone services are suitable for an ordinary office, a virtual office or a business that has several locations.

Call Queueing

A sophisticated queuing system that lets you queue multiple calls.

PBX Call Groups

Combine several of your extensions so that they ring together when called.

Virtual Switchboard

Direct customers to the right person, department, group, etc.

PBX Extension Numbers

You can have up to 800 extensions on each account. You can ring each extension internally.

Emergency Services Access

You can call emergency services immediately on sign-up.

PBX Features

Enjoy a long list of sophisticated services and features.

Hosted PBX Prices with VAT (per month)

  • Call queue – £1.20
  • Telephone extensions – £1.20 each
  • IVR departments – £2.40 each
  • Call groups – £1.20 each
  • Custom recording for IVR – £36 per recording


Enjoy a full-featured VoIP phone service with unified communications from RingCentral.


This phone system is customizable. It is internet-based and allows for voice and fax functionalities eliminating the need for on-premise hardware that is expensive and inflexible.

You can quickly and easily add user extensions, phones, numbers and locations as your company grows. The mobile app integrates remote users and mobile devices into your communications system flawlessly. Agents can use their smartphones and mobile devices for calls, fax, notifications, etc. They can also adjust their own settings. They can do these things without losing their professional identity. They can access the system anywhere, anytime.

Use the Softphone to make and receive calls from your computer. The business-class Cisco and Polycom VoIP desk phones are Plug and Ring ready. There are no setup or activation fees. Just connect the fully configured phones into your existing internet connection to start making and receiving calls. You can also use your existing analogue desk phones or other SIP-compatible devices by using analogue telephone adapters.

Add phone numbers or port existing business phone numbers to the RingCentral platform. Seamlessly integrate your phone system with Salesforce CRM.

Manage and customize your entire phone system for all your locations through the user-friendly web interface. You can change account configuration anywhere.

As there is no PBX hardware involved, your IT workload is reduced. Capital costs and maintenance contracts are also eliminated. No need to hire technical experts to manage your daily operations.

Create online profiles to manage your team, locations, groups, etc. Route calls according to department responsibilities, hours of operation and other criteria with call-handling rules. Employees can easily configure their own settings.

Plan and Pricing

The best plan for a call centre is the Premium Plan which costs £24.99 per user per month. This plan includes a free trial. It includes 2,500 per month per user outbound mobile, landline, fax and freephone minutes. 1,000 per month per account inbound freephone and non-geo number minutes are included.

You can include 25 people in HD video meetings. Enjoy unlimited conferencing, auto call recording, Glip for team collaboration, call management and phone system administration, outbound international call bundles, assigned phone numbers and desk and conference phone-rental options.

Other features include auto-receptionist and customizable greetings, fully integrated mobile app, country-by-country configurations for international dialing, Internet fax, multilevel auto attendant, CRM integration, softphone application and detailed activity reporting.

Customer support is available 24/7.


If you operate from different locations and have incoming calls 24/7, Vonage is for you. Vonage allows for mobile and flexible working. Mobile workers can use their mobile with a business landline number. Calls to their extensions are routed seamlessly to their mobile. They can also use other devices to operate as extensions.

Improve your company image

You can have a virtual receptionist to automatically answer calls with a professional greeting. Invite them to select where their call should be directed. Call hunt groups automatically search for an available agent if the intended party is unable to answer. Mobile workers can make calls on their smartphone app but they will appear with their business identity, keeping their personal numbers private.

Work efficiently

Vonage has a range of tools to help eliminate everyday inefficiencies and keep costs down. Anonymous call rejection blocks calls without a caller ID. Make calls directly from Outlook contacts with Outlook Click-to-Call.

Work as a team

A range of features is available to let groups of extension users collaborate and operate as a team. Employees can join conversations even when they are not in the same location with conference calling. Any user can answer a ringing phone within their group. Park calls and make them available to be answered by another person in a group.

Keep records and maintain privacy

Keep track of all calls and voicemails on multiple devices. Record and retrieve calls, messages and logs easily. Keep a record of some or all calls for future playback. You can decide which calls and extensions are recorded. Voice messages are recorded and sent to your email as audio files. You can file them for future playback. You can also review a history of all calls to all extensions.

Plan and Pricing

The Standard Plan costs £12 per user per month and comes with a 12-month contract. 1,000 minutes to UK landlines and mobile are included. Features include auto call back, call forwarding, caller ID display, call park, call logs, call waiting, call hold, call transfer, group paging, hold music, do not disturb and voicemail. Two hunt groups are included for every system purchase. One auto attendant is include with every system purchase.


You can have a phone system that is easy to setup without the heavy price tag with Sipgate. You can control your entire phone system through a web browser with Sipgate’s cloud solution. The software is so easy to operate that it does not even require training.

You can access all communication and configuration settings in your browser. Staff can access their communications in a single interface. They can look up missed calls, divert calls to other phones and collaborate.

UK phone numbers have nationwide availability, require no basic fee and have a block of 10 phone numbers available.


  • Voicemail
  • Conference
  • Phone service
  • Send fax
  • 3-way calling
  • SMS
  • Auto attendant
  • Group fax
  • Call groups
  • UK phone numbers
  • Forwarding
  • Free internal calls
  • Advanced routing
  • Multiple locations
  • Call recording
  • SIP standard
  • Call distribution

Plan and Pricing

The Sipgate Team 25 Plan is good for 25 users. It costs £79.95. It can support 10 locations and 25 groups. It includes over a hundred features. An optional Pro Package is available as well as a free trial.

Top Tips to Choosing the Best Name for Your Company

He didn't even remember signing up for the taste test.

The right company name can make you the talk of the town. The wrong one can spell failure. In general, your name should convey the uniqueness of your product, its value and your expertise.

Some experts suggest that a good name should immediately convey what your business is all about. Some believe that memorable names are the way to go. So how do you choose a good name? As long as you have an appropriate marketing strategy, your name will work.

Today, we will give you a few tips on how to figure out the best name for your company.

Seek Expert Help


It might seem easy to come up with a good business name but when you really think about it, it can be a complicated process. You might consider asking the experts for help. Why? Firms that specialize in this service have an elaborate system for creating new names. They also know their way around trademark laws so they know which names are bad and which ones are good.

Take note, however, that this process is expensive. Aside from naming your company, they will also include graphic design and other identity work as part of the package. The cost is anywhere between $50 to a whopping $80,000.

Let’s start


Decide what you want your name to communicate. You may also want to develop a niche and a mission statement to help you come up with a name.

The more your name communicates your business to your customers, the less effort you need to explain it. According to naming experts, people prefer words they can relate to or understand easily. These are real words or combination of words. Numbers or initials are usually a bad choice.

Avoid putting a place in your company name because if you need to expand to another place or country, it wouldn’t make sense, would it? Another food for thought is expanding your product or service line. What if you want to offer more than just bags?

The difference

Descriptive names tell something about what you do, where you are located, etc. Suggestive names focus on what the business is about.

               Fast check:

  • Choose an appealing name that attracts the kind of customers you want
  • Choose a comforting name that evokes pleasant memories so customers can respond to you on an emotional level.
  • Steer clear of long and confusing names and especially puns that no one understands.
  • “Inc.” or “Ltd” should only be used if your company is really incorporated.


Get creative


Coining a name can be a good way to go but it can also be too hard for a naming newbie. If you have a hard time doing this, why not just change the spelling of an existing word? This is what NameLab did to name Compaq. The company was offering a new portable computer so NameLab came up with Compaq which was less generic and more noticeable.

At the end of the day, your company name should be memorable, easy to pronounce and has a special meaning to you.

Test your name

He didn't even remember signing up for the taste test.

After you have a few names on your hand (three to five), do a trademark search. As long as your government gives you the go-ahead with a name, you don’t necessarily need to have it trademarked. You should consider seeking the help of a trademark search firm to make sure that your name does not infringe on another company’s trademark. Trademark infringement cases cost a lot of money and can leave your new company bankrupt so do the extra legwork and spend money if needed to avoid a potential problem in the future.

Look at your name from all angles. Think about how it will fit into your daily operations. How will others think and feel about it? Make sure you are aware of all the possible connotations that may influence how your business will be perceived not only by your customers but by other people in other cultures especially if you plan to expand your business internationally. Some words may have a totally different meaning in another language.

You should also ask the opinion of your friends, family, colleagues and even potential customers. Ask for their initial impressions and if they have any suggestions.

Check the competition

Make a list of your competitors’ names so that you can develop a name that really stands out from the crowd.

Think about your customers

Like we said, you want your business name to resonate with your target customers. Research your target market thoroughly so that you can give your business a relevant name. They should be intrigued by your name so that it will be memorable.

Market research dept: '67% out to lunch.'

Market research dept: ‘67% out to lunch.’

Visualize the whole brand

Your company name will be carried in your banners, brochures, websites and other marketing materials. Visualize how it will look like in different media and how it will sound like.

Use online tools

There are online tools that you can use to get inspiration. Just search for ‘company name generator’ and pick from the list.

Sleep on it


Put your list of names aside for a day or two and then go back to it with a fresh perspective. You may not like a name you previously loved. You may also have new ideas to improve your list.

Final Decision

So how do you make a decision? Recall your criteria:

  • What is your objective?
  • Is it relatable?
  • Is it memorable?
  • Is it easy to pronounce?
  • Does it hold a special meaning?

Some entrepreneurs go with their gut feel to decide. Some take the scientific route and do customer research and focus groups. You can also just read the names aloud and pay attention to how they sound. Imagine how they will sound over the radio or TV. Try writing your company name on a piece of stationery or business card to see how it will look.

Take your time before deciding. Some professional naming companies take months to come up with a final decision. You probably won’t spend that much time but it’s still a good idea to spend at least a few weeks before deciding.

When you have decided, start building it. Your name and company identity will carry your business for many years to come.


Small Business Feel the Sting Of the New Dividend Reforms


From April 2016, the old system of issuing a tax credit on dividends will be abolished and dividend tax rate will be increased to 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers after an allowance of £5000. For higher rate taxpayers, the rate will be 32.5% (the current rate is 25%) and for additional rate taxpayers, the number is 38.1% (the current rate is 30.56%).

Actually despite a system that most business directors rely on, Osborne seems to think it is not going to affect 85% of businesses


These changes will affect the operating of practically every small business as a limited company. Many owners of small limited companies choose to be paid through a combination of minimum wages and dividends to minimize both income tax and national insurance contributions. Also many UK limited owner directors that currently live in the EU take advantage of the reciprocal tax agreements that gives a credit on the dividends that can be offset in their country of residents.

The Budget changes mean that the current dividend/wages strategy of many businesses may no longer be the most efficient way of extracting money from the business and it will most likely force them to look to other ways to save tax.

Furthermore, from April 2016, if the director is the sole employee of the company, he will no longer be able to claim the NIC employment allowance.


Personal service companies will no longer be an attractive one-person business model. Some business owners, especially those who pay at the top 45% income tax rate are likely to dispose of their business before the rules are implemented.

One expert commented that trading through a company medium is now less attractive and business owners may want to consider taking accelerated dividends before the change comes.

Scraping the dividend tax credit was perhaps for some a change waiting to happen. The “imaginary” credit which is neither paid or rein-burst is a confusing system.


The existing dividend tax credit is to be replaced with a tax-free dividend allowance of GBP5,000/year for all taxpayers. The new dividend tax model is simpler and taxing dividends will be much more transparent.

This move is expected to raise an extra GBP6.8 billion for the Exchequer, coming mostly from top-rate taxpayers’ contributions. If you are an investor with a modest portfolio, you will not pay any extra tax.

According to Chancellor George Osborne, this change is intended to deter small businesses from incorporating for tax reasons. This is a prerequisite for a planned further corporation tax reduction to 19% in 2017 and 18% in 2020.

Pay yourself in dividends

Let’s talk about the new dividend policy further. This new policy would really affect the amount of cash entrepreneurs take home. The Dividend Tax Credit will no longer be in effect starting April 2016. It will be replaced with a new tax-free Dividend Allowance of £5,000 a year for all taxpayers as stated above.

Some entrepreneurs may pay less tax but top rate taxpayers, who currently have the option of growing their company and paying themselves dividend income at a 30.6pc tax rate will find that the top rate of dividend income tax will rise to 38pc.

This could encourage small business owners to sell their existing business to take advantage of the much lower capital gains tax which remains at 28 pc.

This may be a good change but for sure, it will involve a big adjustment for some founders. As we all know, tax planning is a very complicated subject and with this change, the financial advisers will profit the most.

Tax-motivated incorporation

Many people incorporated their businesses at the time of the 0% corporation tax band. The new changes are intended to discourage individuals from incorporating purely to obtain tax advantages.

The computations for this setup is not yet clear as we do not yet know what the National Insurance bands are for next year.

Let’s take this as an example. The advantage of incorporation is much of the income could be received as a tax-free dividend. If a business earns £30,000, about £20,000 could be taken as dividend. Next year, the £20,000 will create an additional tax of £1,125 making it a significant increase. On the other hand, the self-employed will see little change. Additional tax at that level makes incorporation less attractive.

Winners and losers

So who wins in this new scheme? Those people whose dividend income is below £5,000 will not pay any tax at all on their dividend income, but they didn’t on the previous scheme either.

If you are a professional with no additional income and you currently receive around £38,000 of tax-free dividend income, you face a tax bill of £1,700 starting April 2016.

The new rules create the very real possibility of discouraging entrepreneurism and will make sole traders think twice about making their company into a limited one. Many people are preparing for the negative effect these new rules bring.

'What are your thoughts on forming a limited company ?'

‘What are your thoughts on forming a limited company ?’

Other changes

There is a decision to withdraw the employment allowance for one-person companies. Another review of the IR35 provisions is also on the agenda that aims to find a solution that improves fairness in the system and protects the Exchequer.

Many business owners say that these changes on the design of the tax system are for different purposes that are all crashing together on the small businesses which are the lifeblood of the economy. This results to complexity and administrative burdens.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur and are still unsure of your tax position following the Summer Budget 2015, seek professional advice from an accountant on finding the best tax plan for your company to ensure your tax affairs are structured to suit your needs in the most efficient way. Your accountant will be able to give you a rough idea on the impact of the dividend taxation reform on your bill.

How to Make Your Call Centre Shine


Most people have a negative image of call centres. When they hear the words “call centre” they immediately think about long holds, agents who cannot speak proper English and just plain frustration. In spite of this, there are still many call centres thriving around the world. If you are operating a call centre, you need to shine in order to get noticed. You need to get ahead of your competition. Here are a few ways you can stand out.

Do what you say

Do not go making big promises you cannot keep. You will surely get angry customers. If you tell a customer that you will call back, do it. If you promise a resolution within 24 hours, you better deliver.

Empower your agents

Get rid of the long queues in your office. Empower your agents to solve problems on their own. Eliminate the need for a supervisor’s help. Provide tools and information to your agents which they can readily use when needed.

 Go local

Utilize local suppliers. Open jobs in your community. Hire people locally. Get partners locally. By doing this, you are being socially and environmentally responsible. Now those are positive points you can put in your website.

Help your agents succeed

Aside from empowering your agents to solve customer problems on their own, you can also open opportunities for them to advance their careers. Give them trainings and other resources that will help them level up. Hire internally if there are openings in upper management. By doing this, you save money on training and you can be sure about an employee’s capabilities and skills. You are assured that he or she will be able to perform as expected because you trained them. You also boost employee morale. Inspiring your agents to get better in their jobs with result to great customer service and ultimately, happy customers.

Share examples of great customer service

You can share examples of great customer service done by different people in your company. You can also inspire your agents by teaching them about great customer service from successful brands.

 Just do it

Don’t make a bunch of promises. Just deliver. Just do what you are supposed to do. You can change people’s perception of you one customer at a time.

Create and encourage customer feedback channels

There are many ways you can reach out to your customers. After a call, your agents can ask 1 or 2 questions about the service they have experienced. They can rate a problem resolution from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) and say if they were satisfied with the solution they have been given.

You can also open your social media channels to feedback. Do not be afraid of negative criticism. Handle them professionally and assure the client that you are working towards making the issue better.

Do not neglect your website. Most people go to a company’s website first in order to give feedback. Make it easy for your clients to reach you. Provide a comments box and a user-friendly navigations system in your website.

Customer service

 Opting out of a queue

Allow your customers the option to get out of a queue and just offer them a call back when the next agent becomes available. This will save a lot of time on both parties. It will also lessen your customer’s frustration. Don’t leave them on-hold for a long time. Be sure to give your client a call back. Never ever forget about a client.

Fix your business

The call centre should be there to support you. You shouldn’t be running a call centre if you are doing an amazing job. But, let’s face it. Nobody is perfect so once in a while, a few problems will arise with your products and services. Your call centre should only be composed of a few people dealing with minor problems. If you put up a call centre because of the overwhelming complaints you are getting from your customers, then it’s high time you examine your business.

Give customers what they want

Listen to your customers. Most of their suggestions make sense. Give them the services they want.

 Offer simple IVR menus

Need we say more? Simplifying the call process helps your clients resolve their issues quickly.


Invest in different areas of your business – technology, virtual call centres, training and people. Constantly striving to become a better company is a good attitude that your employees and customers will appreciate. Ensure your telephone system is working  with you, you can save a lot of time with automated calling and headsets. If you need an upgrade it is worth shopping around for quotes to save even more on your telephone system, a comparison site like makes this easy.

Set standards

Set high quality standards in your office. Promote best practice. Strive for industry qualifications.

Set realistic targets

Sure, you need to set high standards but that does not equate to unrealistic targets. You should also examine what your people are capable of. You should set achievable performance levels and sales targets.

Choose your target market wisely

People don’t want to hear salesmen selling products or services they don’t have any use for. Be careful if you are operating an outbound call center. Instead of sales, you might get angry customers on the line.

Recruit the right people

During training, you will immediately see which persons can mesh with your company culture. You can see which ones believe in your vision/mission. Immediately let go of someone who is not a good fit. They will just be causing problems in the long run.

 Examine your company for weaknesses

Every call centre has a fault or a weakness. Try to pinpoint the problem areas then build an action plan on how to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Know when the most convenient time to call

The best way to know this is by asking your customers what the best time to call them is. You don’t want to be calling an evening person in the morning and vice versa.

Some customers don’t want to be contacted thru phone so be sure to ask if they prefer email or SMS instead.

 Offer better security

Avoid fraud and stolen customer data by beefing up your security protocols. You don’t want to lose your customers because they don’t trust you to handle their confidential information. If you are handling debit or credit card information, be sure that they are safe and secure.

Keep a professional environment

Even though you don’t talk to your customers face to face, you should still maintain a professional environment by eliminating unnecessary noise. Your customers should not hear other conversations going on in the background.

Train employees well

Your agents should be polite, understanding and helpful at all times, period.


How to Make Your Call Centre Agents Happy


In the call centre industry, employee turnover is high. Most call centre owners struggle to keep their employees longer than 6 months. The secret to keeping your agents is to make them happy. Their jobs are already very stressful so you should do your best to make their working environment happy. Here are a few tips.

Lead by example


Once in a while, you should join your agents and pick up the phone. Show them that you can do their jobs and achieve great results. Your agents will surely love it. This simple act will make them respect you more as a manager or as the owner of the company because they can see (and prove) that you can do it too.

By sitting with them, you will also be able to observe them. You can correct mistakes immediately. You can give them tips. You can demonstrate the right way of doing things. This practice will benefit both the company and the agents.

Listen to your agents

a basset hound with his ears flying away

Your agents may not directly tell you how they feel but you can certainly listen to office “gossip”. Check out what people are saying when they’re in the drinking station or in the cafeteria. You can also ask their team leaders and supervisors. But, the best way to know how they feel is to ask them directly. You can hold a meeting with every team and ask them about their jobs, schedules, tasks, etc. You can also put an employee suggestion box in the pantry or any area that is frequented by your agents. Get your agents involved in company activities and even rule making so that they can feel that they are part of the company.

Set realistic schedules and workloads


Call centre agents are already burdened with calls from different kinds of customers day in and day out. Some customers are calling because they have a problem. Some are frustrated or angry. If your agents need to do some paperwork or other work aside from being on the phones, make sure that you give them realistic call centre performance targets. A heavy workload on top of a very stressful day will prevent your agents from giving the best service to your customers. They will end up just doing the job for the sake of it or for the salary and not because they want to do it or they want to excel in it. They will not go the extra mile for your customers.

Another thing to do is to set realistic schedules. Do not schedule your employees to work on a Monday night then take half of Tuesday off then expect them to be back after just 12 or 16 hours of rest. They need at least a full 24 hours of day off so that they can function well. You also have to remember that they have lives outside the call centre, families to take care of and they also need to unwind.

Set clear expectations

Aside from setting realistic schedules and workloads, you should also make it clear to your agents what you expect from them. They need to know their targets so that they can work towards them.

Really care about your agents

One way to show that you care about your agents is by knowing them personally. Take the time to develop relationships with them. Remember their names. Addressing them by their first names will make them feel good. Treat them as people, as individuals and not as nameless employees at a desk. They will surely want to do well.

Emphasize customer satisfaction

Some call centres assess their agents by the length of the call. Some contact centres want to keep the calls as short as possible but that does not always result to a satisfied customer. Also, timing your agents will just make them more pressured. Allow your agents to have plenty of time to make the customer satisfied. Supply them with resources to make this possible. Not only will you increase customer satisfaction but agent satisfaction as well.

Reward good performance

If you haven’t been doing this, well, have you been living under a rock? You should reward your agents when they perform well. The top performing agents should be rewarded for all their hard work. The reward can be money, an extra day off, a choice of their schedule, less workload for a day, some gift cards, a plaque on the wall with their photo or anything else that you can think of that will motivate your employees to always do their best.

Provide good equipment


Get rid of obsolete equipment. Your agents won’t be able to perform their job well if they are using outdated equipment. Provide them with the right technology so that they can do their jobs quickly and easily.

Ask your customers for feedback

At the end of every call, encourage your agents to ask their customer if they were happy with the resolution they have been given. Happy customers will result to happy agents.

Test new protocols

If you are planning to implement new protocols, rules or training, test them out first by running a pilot session with a select team. Ask for their feedback. Ask what makes the new protocol effective or not. What are the key strengths and key weaknesses of the new program? If your agents are part of the change, they will not be threatened to take on a new protocol just because management said so. They will feel more involved this way and won’t be hesitant to change.

Appoint an agent to be team leader for a day

Assign a new team leader for the day once in a while. This will allow everyone in the team to experience what it’s like to lead a team. They will also experience the responsibilities that come with it. The chosen agent will surely have a greater sense of purpose and will strive to get the best numbers because he or she is in-charge.


How to Manage Background Noise in Your Call Centre


Maybe you are already used to the noise in your call centre but it’s a different story with your customers. Background noise over the phone can be very irritating to your callers. It can also be distracting.

If you want to know how much background noise can be heard during a call, make a test call yourself. Listen if you will be able to hear an agent wearing or removing his headset. Listen for background chatter. Listen if there are desk fans causing excess noise.

If you want to reduce the background noise in your contact centre, here some helpful tips.


In the workplace


Install acoustic ceiling tiles

 Ask your engineer if they can install acoustic tiles or get some advice from engineers who build a recording studio. They will be able to advise you on the best way to reduce noise in your office. The acoustic tiles will make a big difference. There are several materials that can be used to reduce sound in your office.

Install an adjustable white noise system

 Like the acoustic tiles, a white noise system can also diminish noise. Choose one that can be adjusted based on the call volume your call centre receives.


Padded cubicles

 Put your agents in padded cubicles so they are more isolated from the rest of the team. A higher front panel will also absorb sound.

Glass cubicles

If you really can’t control office chatter, setup glass cubicles or partitions so that each agent is completely isolated.


Intelligent planning

 The architecture of your office will greatly help in reducing sound. Doors and corridors can be very helpful. You can close off work areas from public areas such as lounges, break rooms and lifts.


Take a cue from nature and install water features and plants around the office. The soothing sound of water will help give a relaxed environment. Both the water features and the plants will absorb the excess sound. If your customers should hear a sound, the sound of water is a much better alternative than ringing phones or conversations.



 Nature and art go hand in hand especially in a call centre. Artwork canvasses hung on walls and fabric screens also reduce background noise. They add both form and function to your office.



 Keep agent voices down

 The best way to reduce noise is to train your agents to keep their voices down. They should be aware and respectful of other agents who are talking on the phone. Train them to have a level tone of voice.

Strictly no discussions in the work area

 Tell your agents not to hold discussions or small talk behind or in front of an agent who is currently engaged in a call. If the customer hears this chatter, he or she will have the impression that your company is not professional.

Discourage agents from talking about their personal lives in the work area. Save that for the break room.


 Assign a break room

 When an agent goes on break, he should not be loitering or staying in the work area. All agents on break must go to the break room. They should leave their desks – no eating, texting or chatting in their cubicles. To encourage your agents to go to the break room, set up a snack bar. You can fill it up with juice, coffee, tea, sweets, fruits, cereals, energy bars, etc. The energy boost will help your agents be refreshed and ready to go back to their shift.

Seat same-shift agents together

People tend to be a bit noisy when they come in or leave for a shift so seating agents who have the same schedules together will reduce noise. They can talk all they want after their shift without disturbing the other agents.


 If an agent is noisy or too loud, it might be a good idea to play a recording of his own voice to him. This recording will help him realize how much he is disrupting the workplace. It also distracts the other agents who are on the phone.




 Encourage agents to chat online instead of shouting from across the room or getting up to talk to a supervisor. Set up an internal webchat system so your employees won’t be tempted to chat with other contacts in their social networking sites.


 If you are still worried about installing a webchat system because it might encourage personal conversations during work hours, just use the good old emailing system to talk to each other.

No phones


 Restrict smartphones from the work area. This will keep personal conversations out of the office. It will eliminate extra noise such as ringing and text alerts.

Invest in good quality headphones

 There is a reason why some headphones are way more expensive than others. They have a built-in noise reduction system. The materials used are also designed to keep noise out. Your clients will also have a better call experience with the right phone system.

Turn up the volume of the agent’s own voice feedback

 By turning up the volume of the agent’s own voice feedback in his headset will help lower his voice volume.


 There are several reasons why customers hate calling or receiving a call from a call centre and one of them is the background noise. Who wants to hear other people’s conversations while you are currently having one yourself? Also, if your customer can hear another agent’s conversation then you might be committing a breach of their privacy. There are strict regulations regarding a customer’s personal details and if you are not careful, some of those confidential information might be leaked due to poor call and noise management.

Assess the noise level in your office. If you can, call in the professionals to fix it. Fixing your office to reduce background noise is a good investment. You will sound professional over the phone and your customers will thank you for it. They will also trust you that you are handling their concerns and personal details well.

9 Ways to Motivate Your Call Centre Employees

Running a call centre can be hard work especially during holidays or peak seasons. But, no matter what the day or season is, your employees must always stay motivated in order to do a good job. By staying motivated, they can keep productivity levels stable or even make them higher. A motivated employee is a good reflection of the company. Your clients will also be able to notice it. If your employees are happy, your clients are happy. Here are nine ways to keep your staff happy and motivated.

Free snacks
Do not underestimate the power of free snacks. Snacks such as crackers, soda, juice, chocolate, granola bars, energy bars or even cereal are a great mood booster. Your employees will appreciate the free food because they no longer have to worry about bringing these things or going out the office to buy them. This ensures that they are well fed throughout the day. A full employee has more focus and greater understanding than an employee who has a grumbling stomach.

Room for growth
Give your agents room to grow. Ask them what areas in their jobs they want to improve. Ask if they want to improve on a specific skill. Provide training. A motivated employee will always want to level up. This is good not only for his career but for the whole company as well. You will have a group of employees who are constantly striving to improve themselves, constantly striving for excellence. By upgrading their skill set, they are able to cover a wide range of jobs thus benefiting the company.

Free massages
Being on the phone, seated in front of a desk the whole day or night can take a toll on the human body. There are several problems that can arise because of this. One is poor circulation. Combat this problem by offering free massages to your employees. Some call centres hire massage therapists once a month to give their agents free neck and back massages. This will keep their blood going and help prevent stiff and tired muscles.

Get to know them
Try to spend a few minutes every day with some of your agents. Ask them casual questions. Ask them about their families. Ask them if they have comments or complaints regarding their jobs. Ask for their opinions on how to improve daily processes in the office. They might have some useful input.
Also, knowing that they can talk to the boss will give them peace of mind that you care about them. It will encourage them to speak up and become more creative and think of ways to improve your services.

Prevent stress
Stress is the number one enemy of call centre agents and for good reason. Being on the phone for long hours, talking to different people who are mostly complaining is just plain stressful. If you start seeing signs of stress, eliminate it right away. Stress can make your staff cranky. It can make them lose focus. It can make them frustrated or easily irritated. You don’t want your clients speaking to an angry customer service rep, do you? You can offer free tea and coffee. These two drinks are found to successfully enhance a person’s mood. They have anti-oxidants that fight stress.
Encourage your agents to do some exercises in their cubicles. You can also have team building activities or any activity that will make their hearts pumping and blood going.
Ask them if their workload is too much then make adjustments accordingly.

Set realistic schedules for offline tasks
Some companies give their agents a very tight schedule. For example, the first 2 hours of the day are spent on calls then 30 minutes to write a report then back to calls. Some just give 2 minutes of bathroom break then their agents get reprimanded if they go over this time frame. This is not realistic. Your agents are human beings, not robots. You can’t expect them to run to the restroom and go back to taking calls. Give them sufficient time to have some breaks, get a few stretches and maybe have a cup of coffee or something to eat.
Also, you may want to let your agent finish taking calls without any other interruptions and then set aside some time later to do reports, hold meetings, etc. Set one task at a time. You will see that productivity will be better this way.

Show a report on your agent’s performance
Every day, show your agents a report about their productivity. Let them know what they achieved the previous day. Make it as detailed as possible like how many calls they have taken, how well they’ve done on each one, their satisfaction scores and any problems they have encountered. This will encourage them to be better today and improve any weak spots.

Always remind your agents about your company values
In training, you teach your agents the core values of your company. People who can identify with these values are a good fit for the company. See which agents can bond with management and which ones who do not share the same values. Let them go because they will only be a burden to the company. Only hire people who are a good fit. From time to time, remind your people what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Set competitions
Let your employees compete with each other. At the end of the day, see who gets the top calls or the highest satisfaction scores. Award these agents accordingly. It does not always have to be a monetary prize. A pizza certificate or movie tickets are good prizes. You can also give the top agents more flexibility in terms of offline tasks. You can give them a paid holiday. You can hang a plaque on the wall with the top agents’ photos. You can also send them to seminars and trainings that would enhance their skills allowing them to have opportunities for promotions.
There are many simple things that you can do to motivate your staff. Just be creative with your approach so your staff will always stay happy.

VoIP – The Things You Need to Know

You must have a reliable Internet Connection

It is absolutely necessary for you to get a reliable Internet connection. You need speed and stability so that’s what you should look for when shopping for a vendor. A good connection will allow your VoIP to work properly. You avoid dropped calls with a good DSL.


VoIP providers usually offer unlimited minutes for a fixed monthly fee. But, you must also take other costs into consideration such as hardware installation. Depending on your office needs, installation can range from a simple telephone adaptor or more sophisticated hardware for a big office network. Some systems are even so simple to install that you can do it yourself. It is important though to consult an expert when looking to install a VoIP system so you don’t waste money and you can utilize your equipment for many years to come.


Since you rely on an Internet connection, you will be affected when there are power outages. Power interruptions don’t normally affect traditional phone lines because telephone companies have back-up generators. VoIP uses broadband modems and other equipment that require the use of electricity. To be on the safe side, ask your vendor about contingency plans when there’s a power outage.


Inquire about encryption to protect your lines from eavesdroppers and to provide security for all your staff.

Caller ID

Caller ID availability varies by provider. Having this feature can be a waste at times because some providers allow a caller to make it appear as if they are calling from a different number. There are also equipment available that make it easy to modify caller ID information.

Emergency Calls

Emergency calls cannot be easily routed to a nearby help center because it cannot locate users geographically.


Business phone system costs have a wide range. Basically, the costs for the cabinet, wiring, installation and telephone units are all included in the fee. Other optional features such as music on-hold, CTI, etc. are also usually included in the monthly service fee.


Different types of business telephone systems have different price averages. Adding extra features and the number of employees that require a line can add to the overall cost.


Average Costs


The average cost of a system is usually based on the total cost per user. Here is a quick rundown.




These systems can cost anywhere between £200 to £600 per employee. This also depends on the features that you need.




This type is usually the least expensive among the systems available in the market. Your only actual costs are the phones themselves plus setup and installation. This type can cost anywhere from £60 to £150 per phone. You should also consider your time and maintenance plus any additional wiring.




This type starts at £500 per employee. The average price is £600 per employee. If you have 100 or more employees, the cost per employee is significantly reduced because of scaling. That is why this is used by most large businesses.




This is a very popular system because of its cost. It is comparable to KSU-less systems. As a matter of fact, many KSU-less systems can be used for a business Internet phone system. However, you need a router so this increases your one-time cost a little. It costs £60 to £150 on average.


Factors that affect the cost of your chosen business telephone system


Here are some things that can affect the total cost of your system.




In many cases, installation costs are the same price as the entire telephone system. Key and PBX systems require a complex setup so you really don’t have a choice if you are installing either system. Expect a hefty sum for installation and wiring. If your current wiring is incompatible or is inadequate for your new business phone system, you will be charged and extra fee for wire replacement.



Maintenance fees are usually already included in the quoted price but if you want some extra perks, you may likely be charged more. If you fear high costs associated with phone system problems, better ask your vendor for a good maintenance plan.




This is where everything happens. This is the central operations unit for your entire telephone system so it is no surprise that it is also expensive. It can run anywhere from £600 to £6000. The price depends on the size and complexity of the system that you need. This is a significant part of your overall cost.




The telephones themselves are another factor. Panasonic units are usually more expensive than the ones from Samsung, NEC, Linksys and AT&T. A phone’s price depends on its features and functionalities. A phone that is capable of a loud speaker, hold, hands-free, etc. is more expensive.


However, if you don’t need these high end phones, you can buy cheap phones in bulk for less than £60.


Features and other Functionalities


Your phone system comes with basic features. If you need more, they cost extra. Music on-hold, voicemail and computer telephone integration are some of these extra features. Remember, they cost money. If you have a limited cash flow, take some time to really think about whether you can utilize a feature fully now and in the future. Make sure that a feature will help you on your ROI.


Some vendors offer a free trial period. Take advantage of this so you can test a feature out and determine whether it is useful for your company or not. Most of the time, the features included in a phone system are enough for a small company. Also, many features that were once only available to large companies are now available to small businesses at a fraction of the cost. These features can make your company more impressive and more professional in the eyes of your clients.