Vertical Wave At Onega

Onega have been working with the Vertical Wave phone system since its introduction into the UK, in around 2002, and are one of the most experienced organisations in the country at planning, installing, managing and supporting the Wave PBX / voice switch.

When it was originally launched, the product was called TeleVantage and Vertical were then called Artisoft (they renamed themselves as they purchased other US telecoms firms and consolidated upon the final brand name). If anyone has a long memory of computing you may recall that Artisoft's original product was called Lantastic, which predated Microsoft's Windows for Workgroups and allowed MS-DOS or Windows 3.1 PCs to communicate and share files with each other in a simple peer-to-peer network. At the time, back in the late 80s and early 90s, this was cutting-edge stuff and the same combination of in-depth technical know-how and ease of use follow through from the earliest products to the fantastic phone systems the company produces today.  Some of Onega's current staff installed these early products for clients.

Today Vertical is the fifth largest telecoms vendor in the world and, whilst TeleVantage was a software-only PBX using Intel Dialogic telephony processing boards and HMP software for IP processing, now the company produces both the hardware and the software in the Wave platform. Being able to provide both software and hardware means that the company has control of the whole environment. Previously, on a TeleVantage server, you had: a Microsoft Windows Server OS; server machine from Dell / IBM / HP / Fujitsu etc. ; the ISDN / analogue / IP / station (phone) cards from Intel or Dialogic and the actual phones from Aastra / Vertical / BT / Whoever you liked. This all worked very well but now that Vertical can provide the whole solution, the time to install a new system is greatly reduced and there is end-to-end support from a single source with no risk of 'passing the buck' (not that this was ever an issue with Vertical).

So much for history – what does Wave offer today? For an organisation, be it a business or not-for-profit organisation, Wave is a comprehensive, feature-rich and future-proof communications platform (telephony is part of what Wave does) that represents a wise investment to make you as efficient as possible and streamline your operations.

Do I need Wave?

Good question – there are many phone systems out there. Wave is a comprehensive, fully-featured phone system (see the next section for some examples of its features). If you spend a lot of time on the phone selling, negotiating or doing business, then Wave makes the whole telephony experience as good as it can be. If you just need to take and make calls then there are other simpler phone systems, like the Aastra 400 Series PBX that we also sell, that may well do all you want at a lower cost. Vertical Wave is excellent value for all it does; if you took the traditional route of buying a separate box for each function that is built into Wave, then you'd end up spending several times the cost of the Wave system on your overall solution and have a less well integrated solution.

What makes Wave so great?

It's best you ask us for a demonstration to see for yourself how user-friendly Wave is – and we'd encourage you to talk to a reference site as well so that you don't just have to take our word for it.

A few things to love in Wave:

  • The user interface is second to none – just as you would use Outlook for email access, Vertical Wave has Viewpoint to allow you to handle calls through a simple GUI (Graphical User Interface). Tasks like transferring calls and making conference calls are as easy as dragging and dropping, or right-clicking and choosing an option. You also instantly get to see the status of your co-workers in the instant live phone directory. You can of course do everything on the phone itself, but doing it all on the computer is very quick and easy.

  • The system includes voicemail – including visual voicemail via Viewpoint. This allows you to control playback of voicemail via your PC screen. Have you ever had a long phone message where someone says 'Hello this is Joe Blogs from XXX, calling you back regarding YYY etc. blah blah.... please call me back on {then ever so quickly} 228 422543' so that you have to listen to the whole long message three times to get the number down? With Viewpoint you can not only instantly see the phone number, as long as it is not withheld, and just double click the message to dial back, but you can pause and rewind parts of the message to replay a particular part if you like.

  • If you want to record some or all of your calls, then you can as standard, without needing any other licences or equipment (on most systems this is an extra, on Wave it is standard). At Onega our own Wave phone system has paid for itself now many times over because of just this one feature. We often order equipment from suppliers over the phone and sometimes the invoice that comes differs from the recorded quotation. Where before there would follow a 'he said, she said' debate, now we just find the call recording and we have the facts. One click and it is emailed over to the supplier as a WAV or MP3 attachment and 60 minutes later we normally get an email from the other end apologising for the administrative error!

  • Exchange integration is also standard – your voicemail can automatically forward to email, so that you don't have to dial into the phone system to check for messages – they come to you and if you are out of the office then you can play a message back directly from a Smartphone (Android / iPhone / Blackberry / Windows Mobile etc.)

  • While we're on the subject of Smartphones, as part of Wave's constant development, in 2012 they introduced a smartphone client.  This allows your mobile phone to become an extension of your desk phone via VOIP / Wifi / 3G (and to roam from a GSM / 3G network to Wifi and back again). If you travel on business or work from home, or anywhere like a coffee shop with a Wifi Internet connection, then your desk extension can be where you are. Wherever in the world you are, colleagues and clients can easily contact you; at no cost on Wifi or inclusive data packages.

  • Wave also has many of the features of traditional 'enterprise' systems that cost several times the price. Examples include: Auto Attendants (Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Accounts etc.); Full Call Logging (normally another box on many systems); Call Recording; Multiway Conference Calling; Dial by Name Directories; etc.

  • The system includes a powerful internal instant messaging system – if a colleague is on the phone, then you can send a text message to save time on your internal secure system.

  • Call Centre functionality in Wave is particularly strong and the system makes it easy to manage teams and calls for incoming and outgoing desks, with the ability for call centre managers to monitor, coach or join calls in real time. It also provides full stats, with graphical and textual reports available to manage a helpdesk and sales force alike. The system can support wall boards and prioritise key clients so they go to the front of the queue to talk to an agent or divert callers who are behind in their bills to your accounts department. All this is very clever, but it is also very straightforward with Wave.

  • More than a phone system, Wave can be a business tool.  To quote an old adage: 'Half of all advertising is wasted; it is just that no one knows which half.'  With Wave, in less than ten minutes you could set up two different phone numbers to be routed to a sales team, so that you can tell which number clients called and thus which advert or marketing activity they are responding to.

  • For all the clever features of the phone system, both day-to-day use as a member of your office staff, and back end administration are very straightforward; being carried out via web and Windows interfaces. For regular tasks like moving extensions, creating new users as staff are recruited etc., the chances are that you'll be able to do this administration yourself. Therefore the cost of ownership of the system is also minimised. If your company has someone who can create Windows network accounts, then we're confident they'll have no problem administering Wave. If not then Onega will happily do the admin for you under a standard maintenance agreement.

  • Wave can be customised with programming of add-ins, or custom database reports if needed. Each call is logged in an SQL database so there is nearly no limit to what you can do if you want to go to town (your budget and imagination being the only limits). There are a number of add-ins available that have already been developed by Vertical as well as third party developers. These include tools to integrate with your CRM system so that the two can work as one. TAPI support as standard allows you to click to dial from many applications like Outlook so that you save time and reduce the risk of dialing a wrong number.

  • If you have multiple offices, then they can be linked seamlessly over WaveNet which allows you free communications over VOIP between offices and makes working with remote offices as easy as it is within your main office.

  • If your company has Skype accounts, then we can also integrate these into the Wave phone system, so that clients can call you in Skype, and these calls can be routed into your office, answered, transferred, logged, recorded and handled like any other call. For call centres, this also means that you can offer Skype connected clients the option of calling you for free on Skype with the call also delivered free into your office without tying up any of your ISDN lines.

Case studies:

Onega have a good number of Wave installs under our belt and also use the system as our own telephony platform, so are well versed in use and administration of the system.

Here are a couple of installs we've done on the system as examples:

A Boutique City Fund Manager:  Based in London's West End, one of Onega's clients runs a fund investing in emerging Greentech companies. When their legacy phone system finally gave up (having given maybe 15 years of service), we replaced this with a small Wave install. This included the Wave 500 base unit (which supports up to 50 users), connectivity with the outside world via ISDN30 and internal IP telephony with around 15 phones, consisting of a combination of Aastra 6757i and Vertical 5000 8 button phones, many of which have Plantronics cordless headsets. The new system takes up 2U of rack space where the old system took a quarter of a rack. They now have a giant leap forward in connectivity; with voicemail for the first time, Exchange integration, ability to dial from Outlook, and also for staff who work in offices in different countries to join in communications via IP with remote phones as if they were in the same office (and at no extra cost). The complete system was installed on a Friday afternoon, ready for 'go live' and user training on the Monday morning.

High Volume Call Centre:  Located in Newham in East London, Onega have installed and continue to maintain the call centre phone systems (running with TeleVantage and now a fresh new Wave system) of a high volume call centre. This serves many clients and offers out of hours maintenance services for housing associations, landlords, and councils across the country. With call volumes of up to ten thousand calls a week, each call has to be answered in the client's name, handled efficiently and logged and recorded for quality and training purposes. Each agent in the call centre has the Viewpoint software on their computers so that they can easily handle calls, which is good for callers who are efficiently dealt with and good for the call centre. Viewpoint is so easy to use, the training for new call centre staff is quick with a rapid learning curve.

How Can Onega Help You?

If you think that Wave could benefit your business, then please don't hesitate to contact Onega. We'd be happy to discuss the options and provide a comprehensive quote for your needs.

Installations – Onega can install and configure Wave. Much of the time we can preconfigure the unit so that much of the work is done off site, making physical installation a much shorter process.

Training – Either during an install, or separately, we can show you how to use the system and how to perform common administration tasks. When a new system goes live we are also on hand to 'floor walk' and help people quickly get to grips with what the system can do.

Upgrades – if you have an older TeleVantage system that you'd like to upgrade to Wave, or another phone system that you would like to migrate from, then we can help with that. TeleVantage licences (be they for 3.5, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7.5 or 8) can often be converted to Wave licences on very preferential terms, especially if you have a current or recent subscription for updates with Vertical.

Support, Management & Maintenance – Unlike a computer system, phone systems have a much longer working life. Where a PC or server might have three years of working life before obsolescence and replacement, a phone system will usually last much longer; ten to fifteen years often being normal time frames. One of the good things about Wave is the ability to keep it up to date, and as such, if you'd purchased a TeleVantage system back in late 90's it would still be cutting edge now with the upgrade path that ensures you're keeping up with the Jones's (actually they'll be struggling to keep up with you).

Onega can offer fixed price or pay-as-you-go support on all Vertical Phone systems. This includes advance replacement warranty cover on the hardware and full user and programming support. We can often remotely maintain the systems so that if you need a change made we can connect securely over the Internet to your PBX and make the changes in less time than it would for an engineer to come to site.

Most customers choose from one of our comprehensive fixed price maintenance agreements so that they have the level of support they need with easy budgeting and the assurance of no surprises as well as the reassurance of strict SLA response times.

If you'd rather pay as you go, then we can do this as either a break-fix service charging a competitive hourly rate (and as we know what we're doing we minimise time needed), or we can do a hybrid approach where we do scheduled planned maintenance at regular intervals.

One of the key differences between a fully managed (contract maintained) system and pay-as-you-go support is that on a system we manage actively under contract, we will take full responsibility for the smooth and reliable running of the system, including maintaining offsite backups of configurations should they ever be needed. With a fully managed system the buck stops at Onega and we'll do whatever it takes to ensure you get the best service from your system. Wave is a very reliable system, but with something as important as a phone system, it is best not to leave things to luck.

With clients including 24/7 call centres, we are used to providing support around the clock; whenever there is a problem, we are only a call away.

Emergency Support & DR services.

If you don't currently have a support contract with Onega and you have an outage on your Wave or TeleVantage phone system, please don't hesitate to call our Helpdesk on 020 7536 6350 (Option 2 for Support). We can normally set you up straight away after we've taken a few basic details and then get on with fixing your problem.

For contract clients, we also offer a range of DR services. These include intelligent call rerouting in case of emergency, call handling on your behalf, emergency diverts, message taking and even use of alternate call centre facilities if you need to make our office yours for a short amount of time. With some advance planning, we can help you create a rational, sensible and cost efficient DR plan for if and when it is needed.

Over the years we've come to learn that it is often not the technology that causes a phone system to fail but often external factors. Be it workmen in the street digging holes through cables, copper thieves stealing BT's lines, fires, floods, power cuts, riots or bomb scares which prevent you getting to your building, we usually have a plan that covers the circumstances and keeps you in business as closely as possible to normal operation.

Adjacent Related Communication Services:

We don't just sell and support Wave, but rather offer a complete service where we can provide (or take over existing) ISDN or SIP trunks, Internet connectivity (Leased line, wireless, ADSL or Fibre), with very competitive Wholesale Line Rental rates and Least Cost Routing to save you significant amounts on your call spend. Where Onega provides the phone lines and the phone system this also avoids any question of debate over whether a problem is on the phone system or the lines – either way it's our problem and we'll fix it. NB: if you have a combination of SIP (IP telephony) trunks and ISDN, then even if your main phone line drops, calls can be rerouted through the alternate connection so that what would otherwise be a serious problem becomes a minor issue.

Inbound Routing – Onega have an advanced 'Inbound' platform which you can control via a simple drag and drop web interface. This allows you to intelligently route calls coming into your office at the network level (i.e. before they come to your lines) and switch, by time of day, manually or automatically to different lines if a call can't be taken directly. This also gives stats on where your calls are coming from geographically and complements the comprehensive stats and reports that Wave's Call Centre Reporter module produce.

Geographic and Non Geographic Numbers – Onega can provide you (often in conjunction with Inbound Routing), numbers including 0800, 0845, 0844, 0870, 0871 or 09 low cost, national or Premium rate numbers for use in your business so as to offer the most appropriate calling options to your clients. If you want to appear local in locations where you don't have a physical presence then you may be interested to know that we now offer a service whereby you can have local numbers from any region routed through to your main number at no extra cost. So, if you are based in Birmingham and want to look like you have an office in Belfast, London or Edinburgh (or Aberdeen to Ulster and everywhere between and beyond), then we can help you do this at very minimal cost.

Internet Connectivity – The Internet is now an essential platform for business, with email, web and other services being integral to the day-to-day operations of many businesses – as witnessed by the lack of productivity in an office if and when the Internet is down for a while. Onega can help provide fast, reliable and economic connections that are in line with your business needs. Our business connections have SLAs and can have redundancy or backup lines if needed. If your current Internet connection has been in place for more than two years then it's worth asking us to review what is available in your area – we may well be able to provide you with a quicker and more reliable service for less money than you are paying now.