The Official STL Blog

Supporting Twin Town

Supporting Twin Town

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Brendon Cross and Phil Donigan of STL at Silverstone during Twin Town 16

 

Twin Town was the brain child of STL MD Brendon Cross and not only did STL have a car in the event, it also provided 20 volunteers to help with the organisation over the May bank holiday weekend.

Twin Town Challenge involves cars costing less than £500 driving from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, to Witney’s twin town of Le Touquet. During the weekend they drove around circuits at Silverstone and Abbeville and undertook some fun challenges like blind driving car boxing and car booty as well as a treasure hunt. There were also points for the best-dressed car and team, which provided some amazing decorations and outfits.

STL staff acted as marshals, fundraisers, minibus drivers, mechanics, scorers and generally managed the 500 people taking part in the event, both in the UK and in France.

The STL car, ‘Somewhere Rover the Rainbow’ took part in the challenges and successfully made it back to the UK for the farewell tea party hosted by Abbott Diabetes.

The Twin Town Challenge is on target to reach its £250,000 target following the auction of more than 40 of the Twin Town cars, an online auction and the amazing fund raising completed by the teams.

You can still donate to STL’s Twin Town fundraising page here. Thank you.

STL's MD Brendon Cross speaks to BBC Radio Oxford about Twin Town Challenge 2016

STL’s MD Brendon Cross speaks to BBC Radio Oxford about Twin Town Challenge 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

He might be a little biased, but our sales director Phil Donigan is over the moon with his new Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is ‘strikingly beautiful’ according to STL’s sales director Philip Donigan

Galaxy S6 Edge. As Samsung Platinum Partners, STL staff have always used Samsung mobile handsets but according to Phil, this new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is something different.

Let’s start with looks. According to Phil, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is ‘strikingly beautiful’.  Its sleek lines and dual curved display combine to make it a thing of beauty whatever colour it is. Phil has the silver back, but with the curved edges, the screen seems to spill over, rather like an infinity pool.

It is this edge screen that makes the handset so user friendly to busy business people in particular. The S6 Edge has a small translucent tab at the top of the screen which can be slid out to access the users 5 favourite contacts to call them, send an SMS message or an email. These 5 contacts can be colour coded, so when those contacts call the phone flashes in that particular colour to visually alert the user as to who is calling when the phone is face down. What’s more, if the user is unable to take the call, they just put their finger on the rear heart-rate monitor to send a text message to explain why. Clever!

Finally, the edge screen also doubles as a clock by displaying the time. Even with the phone in sleep mode, a simple swipe will illuminate the edge screen and a digital clock will appear.

So, what is Phil’s verdict?  “I’ve been a user of Samsung phones for many years but this is by far and away the best handset they have produced. I’ve certainly had lots of comments about its sleek styling and I love the way the edge screen lets me know who’s calling when I’m in meetings.”

To find out more about the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, call our mobile sales team on 01993 777120 or email sales@stlcomms.com

The benefits of call logging and call recording for car dealerships

Every day, a busy car dealership will make and receive a large number of telephone calls. The way incoming phone calls are answered and dealt with are essential to providing good customer service and increasing customer satisfaction.

Calls need to be answered quickly, effectively and directed to the correct department first time and often a record of what is said over the phone needs to be kept on file. This is especially so in the case of a car dealership that offers customers financial products.

Call recording for car dealerships is also a powerful training aid. Managers can identify training needs and improve performance by listening to how their staff handle calls. In an industry where customer service is key, it is important for each car dealership to retain customers and impress new contacts by dealing with their calls in the right way. On the other hand, recording a call can help to eliminate miscommunications that can confuse or upset customers or help protect employees from abusive customers. Needless to say, call recording systems need to be PCI compliant when customers give their card details over the phone.

Call logging provides a means of reducing call costs by analysing call records. A business can see who has answered each call, how long it takes them to answer the call and how long they spend on the phone. This helps business owners to have confidence that their staff are handling calls quickly and efficiently, as well as highlighting staffing level requirements across the day. Often the call log is shown on an intelligent wallboard display, constantly monitoring staff effectiveness.

Using a call recording and logging can help car dealerships to drive sales, improve staff performance, win and retain customers, deter fraudsters, and quickly settle customer disputes.

To find out more about call logging and call recording for car dealerships, talk to our team of experts on 01993 777120 or email sales@stlcomms.com

Telephones for medical centres

STL can help medical practices to better manage communication between your patients and healthcare professionals to help your practice become more efficient, more effective and save costs too. This often incudes integration of the CRM system with the telephone system so that patient records pop up on screen when a call comes in, enabling staff to provide a more informed service.

With the increasing popularity of telephone triage, telephone calls often need to be recorded for regulatory compliance as well as for the training and monitoring of staff. Recordings of inbound and outbound calls to prove ‘who said what’ can be automatically tied to the patient’s record in the CRM system.

STL Communications is now listed as a supplier on Practice Index to inform medical practices about the benefits of our specialist services for healthcare. As an active supplier of communications solutions to the medical sector, STL helps a growing number of GP practices and medical centres to find the best telephone solutions for their needs.

Practice Index is a unique website for GP Practice Managers to find reliable and trusted suppliers with reviews and feedback from existing customers. See the STL page here or contact our healthcare team on 01993 777120 or sales@stlcomms.com.

 

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ISDN v SIP: 3 reasons why SIP is better than ISDN

When a business outgrows its current telecommunications solution, it makes sense to review the latest options and technologies. For years, ISDN has been the main form of voice connectivity but STL has found that increasingly small and medium sized business users and multi-site organisations are turning to SIP. Why? Because SIP offers more flexibility, reliability and better value for money than ISDN.

Flexibility
SIP trunking enables a business to easily scale up or reduce the number of channels that they require. This means that rather than having lots of channels to meet peak capacity, businesses can react to fluctuations like seasonal demand or an increase, or decrease, in staff. It is also more flexible in terms of what telephone numbers users can have and where they can have them. Numbers are virtual so stay with a firm or an employee wherever they are making remote working easier.

Reliability
Fact. SIP trunking can greatly improve business continuity because SIP delivers complete independence with regard to location. This offers a robust business continuity service that ensures a business never loses calls even if it cannot access its premises. In addition, SIP is normally delivered over broadband Ethernet, which comes with better service levels than traditional ISDN lines.

Value for money
Compared to ISDN, SIP is cheaper on a per channel basis especially when considered together with the SIP trunking costs for call charges and setup. Multi-site businesses can see significant savings from SIP trunking through internal call cost savings due to calls between branches being on-net. In fact, many suppliers like STL deliver SIP with inclusive call package so businesses can enjoy free calls. The other benefit to multi-site organisations is that they can replace multiple ISDN lines with a centralised SIP trunk and aggregate their SIP channels.

So, ISDN V SIP? If you want to know more about moving from ISDN to SIP and the benefits it can bring to your organisation, call our sales team on 01993 777120 or email sales@stlcomms.com

SME’s benefit from Government’s Connection Vouchers scheme

The Government’s Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme. which was designed to get small businesses (SMEs) moving into a faster digital market and connected to superfast broadband, has helped create more jobs and increase profits for SMEs.

Figures published by the Government* show that more than 55,000 small and medium businesses have taken advantage of the scheme which offered a grant of up to £3000 towards the cost of installing faster broadband. STL Communications was one of the 800 suppliers that participated in the scheme.

The Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme is now closed, having allocated all of the £40m available funding since April 2015.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said “Our Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has been a tremendous success. More than 55,000 small businesses across the UK have taken up the offer, many of which are already seeing significant boosts to their business as a result of improved broadband speeds. We’re transforming the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create new jobs and attract investment to make the UK an enviable business destination.”

According to the Government, businesses that benefited from a broadband connection delivered by the scheme are reporting, on average, a £1,300* per year increase in profits, with a new job being created for every four new connections. This means that for every £1 the UK Government invested in the scheme, more than £5 will be returned to the UK economy.

Some of the benefits small businesses are seeing as a result of a faster connection include:

  • Growing and accessing new markets through better communication with customer and suppliers
  • Increased security through fast secure backup of data
  • Increased productivity and improving customer service through faster upload and download speeds
  • Increased efficiency and employee effectiveness

To find out more about faster broadband for SMEs call 01993 777120 or email sales@stlcomms.com

*Adapted from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/small-businesses-given-big-boost-through-government-broadband-scheme

The Changing Face of Telecoms

This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of B4 magazine. STL Communications’ Sales Director, Philip Donigan, talks about how the latest telecoms technology can help businesses to operate more effectively in this world of agile working.

The world of communications is always changing but the pace of change recently has been exponential in line with the shift in working practices. Just think, how many calls do you make from your land line compared to calls from your mobile? Do your staff work remotely yet still require connection to the server? Is your broadband speed fast enough to cope with your businesses’ voice and data demands?

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The Changing Face of Telecoms article in B4 magazine,

Phil, tell us how the telecoms landscape has changed

Ensuring that your business’ telecoms system is adaptable enough to meet requests for flexible working has never been more important. Traditional telephony is no longer the most effective way to support mobile and flexible working practices due to its rigid nature; in fact, it could be holding some businesses back. In addition, older more traditional technologies are expensive. STL has 20 years’ experience in providing business communications solutions and over that time we have evolved from being a supplier of PBX telephone systems to being a service provider that specialises in facilitating high speed bandwidth pipes into a business and running voice and data services through them.

This necessitates a more consultative approach to ensure that businesses get the solution that best suits their exact requirements. Of course, we haven’t just stopped providing more traditional  solutions, but our focus is firmly on next generation, bandwidth delivered communication services.

Why is traditional ISDN line usage declining?

The number of Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) channels used by UK businesses has declined by 30% in the last 5 years, so if you’re still using ISDN lines then it’s probably time that you considered alternatives like Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking because if you don’t you’ll be missing out on benefits such as significantly lower operating costs, great scalability and stronger resilience. The ISDN standard was developed in the 1980s. Just think of all the advances in technology since then and the way businesses operate today! Since the launch of ISDN, significantly better alternatives have arrived that enable organisations to embrace new technology like IP telephony and the integration of voice and data over broadband or internet connections. Not to mention the growth of mobile technology and the need for businesses to adopt more flexible working practices.

In fact, BT has announced that it will phase out ISDN lines by 2025, so business will be forced to move to alternatives like SIP and hosted telephony in the next few years anyway.

Why are businesses turning to SIP and Hosted?

SIP trunking offers greater flexibility than ISDN, with benefits including instant number diverting and portability, as well as nearly instant scalability (increasing and decreasing numbers of lines). Hosted telephony services offer a genuine alternative to on premise phone systems and are paid for per month per user. It’s also a fast and easy process to add or remove users, offering easier budgeting and cost savings over traditional systems, one being that there is no need to maintain or upgrade an onsite system. For the first time, businesses are able to truly fix their voice communication monthly costs.

Hosted systems also never become obsolete, unlike fixed on premise telephone systems. SIP lines and hosted telephone systems also make it easier to deploy a disaster recovery plan so that an organisation can continue to operate even if people are not actually physically in the office. Changes to the system can be made via an online web portal so that calls can be answered and transferred between extensions just as if people are sat at their desks – customers won’t even know. It gives great peace of mind for those snowy mornings when getting in to the office is not possible. SIP trunks can be configured with automatic fail-over to re-route calls to an alternative destination in the event of a situation where calls cannot be delivered to a company’s site, leaving customer service unaffected.

Finally, SIP and hosted are reliable and resilient services (even compared to more traditional solutions) which is important with the requirement of always on, highly available business-critical applications.

How does SIP and hosted help customer service?

Moving to SIP trunking or hosted telephony offers many benefits that help to enhance the client experience. For example, flexible numbering means that organisations with multiple sites can use the same number across all of them, making it easier for clients to contact them. Employees are also able to manage calls effectively from their handset, desktop or mobile phone to improve communications by call forwarding, call twinning and delivering numbers and profiles on any device, whether in the office or on the road.

By assigning a DDI or single number to an employee which can be diverted to multiple devices, whether it’s a desk phone, mobile or even a computer or tablet, businesses can control call costs, employees work more effectively and customers get an enhanced experience.

So can businesses save money with SIP and hosted telecoms?

Absolutely! There are reduced costs associated with contacting remote workers with free internal calls and no high call forwarding charges to a mobile. We are also able to deliver inclusive call packages with both SIP and hosted, providing a fixed monthly rental for both line rental and calls. It is a good time for business owners to look at future-proofing their organisations by supporting more flexible working practices with updated communications.

Free Communications Audit

For more information on what SIP and hosted communications could mean for your business, including a free communications audit, contact Phil and his team on 01993 777120 or email sales@stlcomms.com

Gamma Ball Rally 2015 DAY 3

DAY3: FRIDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER Wet, wet, wet

We caused chaos in Dam Square for the official photo call – 30 £500 cars and 120 people in fancy dress……not quite what the Dutch normally see on a Friday morning in Amsterdam!

Photo call over, we bundled into the cars and left the city heading for a Sports and Funpark….where we got wet. Very wet. Phil Donigan won the drift go karting challenge but we weren’t as lucky in the zorb football.

Drying off and heading back to the hotel we changed into DJs for the gala dinner where SpecialEffect’s Nick Streeter did a presentation about the charity that had grown men crying, but they dug deep in their pockets for the charity auction of holiday homes and sporting events, signed sporting memorabilia and money can’t buy auction items.

The Gamma Ball Rally 2015 raised a record £140,000, split between SpecialEffect and Action Through Enterprise……and we had a most enjoyable, completely mad 3 days!

We won the drift go karting!

We won the drift go karting!

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Zorb footy

Zorb footy

And the room goes silent for Mr Nick Streeter of SpecialEffect

And the room goes silent for Mr Nick Streeter of SpecialEffect

Phil Donigan with Gamma's Darryl Pile at the Gamma Ball Rally Gala Dinner

Phil Donigan with Gamma’s Darryl Pile at the Gamma Ball Rally Gala Dinner

Gamma Ball Rally 2015 Day 2

DAY2: THURSDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER Bruges to Amsterdam

After rescuing the car from the Police pound – apparently they didn’t like where it had been parked  overnight – the STL Dam Busters set off for Amsterdam, driving along the scenic coastline of Holland to Amsterdam, looking for treasure hunt clues all the way.The STL Dam Busters were flying as we crossed the border into Holland on the Gamma Ball Rally 2015!

Arriving in Amsterdam, we wind our way round the canals, past the clog wearing Dutch and the tulip sellers and to our hotel.

The evening started with a boat cruise along the canals, before we found a Dutch Pancake House for some traditional ‘pannenkoek’…..and some Dutch beer! The Gamma Ball Rally 2015 is all go!

Phil Donigan, Richard Ash and Oliver Oswin in Dam Sqaure

Phil Donigan, Richard Ash and Oliver Oswin in Dam Sqaure

Mending the spoiler

Mending the spoiler

We had to pay 150 euros to get the car out of the pound! At least ours looks in a better state than the other two.

We had to pay 150 euros to get the car out of the pound! At least ours looks in a better state than the other two.

Gamma Ball Rally 2016 DAY 1

WEDNESDAY 16th SEPTEMBER A multi-storey car park in Newbury to Bruges

And they’re off! The Gamma Ball Rally IV is underway, with a £500 cars travelling from Newbury to Dover via Brands Hatch. The STL Dam Busters team is in our trustworthy Rover, fresh from the car wash and covered with new stickers. The ‘squadron’ led by ‘wing commander’ Phil Donigan consists of STL’s Ollie Oswin and Richard Ash with Mick Morris.

First stop is Brands Hatch where the ‘lads’ put the car though its paces on the rack with a bit of rally driving to test their driving skills, then it was off to the ferry and over the Channel before a dash to Bruges to see the sights and enjoy a well earned dinner – and litre of Belgian beer or two!

The Gamma Ball Rally is in aid of SpecialEffect and Action Through Enterprise. You can make a donation for the STL Dam Busters here: https://www.justgiving.com/GammaBallRallyIV

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