• How Phone Service Has (And Hasn’t) Changed

    Phone Service Wars

    It amazes me how easy it is, as a husband and father in my upper 30s, to close my eyes and be transported to a time when life was so much simpler. Times when the most important part of my day was being home from school in time to watch my favorite cartoons, of which ThunderCats and Transformers were the top on the list. The 1980s was a decade where we played outside until we heard Dad’s dinner whistle, we rode our bikes into town to rent video games at Blockbuster for $.99 and our biggest threat was whether or not the wind was going to deliver the stench of the stockyards. Those days with the horrid smell made the walk to and from school nearly unbearable. Some of our biggest laughs, however, came during the evenings while we were all at home. It was nearly every night, during dinner, when MCI would call us and solicit us to change our long distance phone service.

    Phone Service Wars of the 1980s

    I don’t see how they were ever able to make it to every household; they kept calling us every night! My parents were loyal to AT&T and we never switched. We did enjoy those calls, though, as with a last name like ours, no one could ever pronounce it correctly, thus giving us an endless supply of ways to make fun of them. And for those born in the 90s or later, the word that flashed in the bottom left of the screen was “tracking”. And that was the video quality that we had when we fell in love with Star Wars!

    Alas, these are all only memories now. A treat to be pulled to our frontal lobes when the right “Throwback Thursday” post passes across our Facebook news feed. What is not a memory, however, are the phone wars. In reality, they have only escalated. While they aren’t calling our home every evening (thank you “do not call” list!), they are constantly berating us online and in TV commercials. In fact, I am pretty sure if someone ran for president on the platform of “no more phone ads”, they would overtake both Trump and Clinton within a week.

    Phone Service is Still a Hot Commodity

    That said, phone ads are as incessant as they are for a reason. Phone communication is a base necessity in the world today. The phone has become a hot spot for world-wide communication using voice, text, and data. One cell phone can hold an endless number of phone numbers thanks to apps and the voice over IP technology. VoIP service allows us to make calls and connect with people in virtually any way imaginable! Video conferencing, screen and file sharing, and super low costs are just a few of the benefits.

    Phones are still a vitally needed piece of your home and office equipment. Your connection to community is your connection to revenue and profits. Phones still sit on people’s desk for a reason – the problem is, those phones that are sitting there have most likely been there since the 1980s themselves and are little more useful to your business than a paperweight. Phone service (and phone systems) can now be included into your information technology strategy and become working technology that speeds up your business processes. Simple features like voice mail to email turn a stationary phone into a mobile-powered workforce.

    Benefits of VoIP Phone Service

    This just scratches the surface when it comes to business benefits. With the proper phone service, your phone becomes part of your business functionality. Instead of paying extra (we don’t need to name the companies that charge for each of these features; hint, they don’t offer customer service either) for voicemail and an auto-attendant, those types of features are standard in VoIP technology.

    VoIP is certainly not new, either. Internet based phone service entered the market full-scale in 2004 (Wikipedia), but was actually invented in 1973 (VoIP Insights). Since then it has continually been upgraded and improved and it is only recently that it was accepted to be a real, reliable option for use in the business community. Quickly, business have come not only to accept its use, but see the benefits for their increasingly mobile workforce. Want to give your employees a chance to work from home certain days? With VoIP phones, just unplug them, take them home, then plug them back in and it is as if that person never left their desk. Don’t want to use your personal cell phone number for business, but only have 1 cell phone? Use one of the many VoIP apps with your VoIP phone service and set up a second extension on your cell phone that will allow you to make and receive from both personal and business phone numbers.

    The Right Phone Service Can Help You Unplug from the Busy World

    It can often feel like the world is impossible to catch up to, and it becomes a moment of peace when we can close our eyes and go back to the days where the world was slower, quieter and more peaceful. Technology can often feel like it forces you to be constantly connected and running at a whirlwind pace, but what the proper technology for you truly provides is the optimal chance to shut down, disconnect, and know that while you are taking a breather, your work is still moving forward. Give yourself the tools to find peace. For example, with the phone app, if you don’t want to take work calls, all you have to do is hard-close the app. If people call, you know that your voicemail will sit nicely in your email inbox until the point you are ready to listen and respond. No one has to jump at the phone. Let your business revolve around you, not the other way around. Live your life in this moment and cherish the opportunities that technology provides to focus on the people who are right in front of you.

    There is one more thing to be thankful for with newer phone service technology. At least we are not limited to certain call times anymore. Those were a real drag; just ask John Goodman.

    Thank you Fortune for the background image.

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