Since 2008, the BandSource Company has been a one-stop resource for professional wind instrument musicians in Chicago's celebrated jazz and classical music scene. Top saxophone, trumpet, flute, clarinet, and other brass and woodwind players trust BandSource for expert repair and a complete line of new instruments, music, and accessories.
"Many of our clients are studio musicians and performers who make their living playing jazz and classical music in the city," says Peter Biedron, one of the company's founders. Over the past 15 years, Biedron's partners in the business, Jarod Bufe and Matt Johnson, have built a reputation for the flawless repair of woodwinds and brass winds. "When we first opened our own showroom and repair shop, their relationships in the community generated much of our business," says Biedron.
Because most professional musicians teach privately or at the university level, BandSource also serves wind instrument students. The company also works with select Chicago area high schools, selling and repairing wind instruments and providing sheet music and supplies.
The right voice
When it came to choosing a business phone system for BandSource, Biedron, who handles the company's sales and marketing functions, knew exactly what he wanted. "I had previously worked in the telecommunications industry and was familiar with PBXs, ACDs, call directory centers, call processing, and voice-overs. As a new business, we weren't interested in anything expensive or difficult to maintain. At the same time, it was very important to us that we had the right voice for our company—and that our customers had a phone experience consistent with our branding."
After evaluating a number of options, BandSource selected webFones PBX, a hosted VoIP system with advanced call handling features. With webFones PBX, BandSource could deliver the call experience they wanted at an affordable price—without having to house and maintain complex equipment onsite.
"webFones was super flexible in working with us to tailor our phone system so that it matched our business," says Biedron. "We were able to customize even the minutest details."
Live and in-person
Rather than engage in the common practice of using an automated menu to direct incoming calls, BandSource wants its customers to immediately reach a live person when they call.
"We believe strongly in the power of the personal touch in all aspects of communicating with our customers," says Biedron. "For us, there's just no substitute to getting a live person on the phone, so we designed our call flow with rings up front."
About 98 percent of the time, one of the owners or customer service staff answers these ringing calls promptly. "We set up auto-direction as backup, to handle calls if we're really busy, if someone is on hold, or if someone calls after hours," says Biedron. In those instances, callers are presented with automated menu choices that guide the caller to route their call to the appropriate voice mail.
Custom voice and music
Typically, webFones works with professional talent to produce the custom voice greetings and menu prompts that webFones customers need—while also offering a wide range of pre-produced on-hold music options that customers can choose from. BandSource, however, wanted to hire its own local talent to script and record its greetings and prompts and to supply its own on-hold music.
"webFones was willing to accommodate us and provided us with a plug-and-play solution in which we can use our own audio files," says Biedron. "It's worked out really well."
"Follow me" and Voicemail via Email
One feature that Biedron especially appreciates in the BandSource webFones PBX system is the "follow-me" function that transparently forwards calls from his office extension to his Apple iPhone. "If I'm out at a school or on the road I don't have to worry about missing an important phone call," he says.
Because webFones can automatically ring another extension, landline, or cell phone—there's no need for BandSource to give customers and suppliers multiple phone numbers. They can simply dial the main number and be assured of having their call forwarded appropriately.
"We set it up so that callers can choose to leave a voicemail message, or opt to try to reach me using the follow-me route," says Biedron. "Either way, when someone leaves a voicemail, a WAV file of their message is sent to my email as an attachment. I can listen to the WAV file when I check my email and decide whether to respond immediately or to wait until I get back to the store." If Biedron feels a customer issue is better handled by someone else, he can type his message in an email and then attach the WAV file so the recipient can hear exactly what the caller said.
The fact that webFones integrates with thei Apple computers and devices was another plus for BandSource. "We're entirely Mac-based," says Biedron. "We use iPhones and iMacs and our POS system runs on Mac."
"It's simpler for us when everything is unified, with a single platform for our computers and our phones," says Biedron. For example, integration between the store's Mac-based Lightspeed point-of-sale (POS) system and webFones PBX enables BandSource staff to dial customers or suppliers directly from their front-counter register or backroom POS system with a single click.
Anywhere, anytime web access and control
As the person responsible for managing the phone system, Biedron is able to access the system and make changes anywhere, anytime using a standard web browser. "The webFones website and interface are self-explanatory and very easy-to-use," he says. "It's nice being able to look at your phone system through on the web and see what's going on, and to have a record of things like incoming and outgoing call logs, for example, and other reports."
What to look for in VoIP
Biedron has some advice for companies considering a VoIP-based phone system: Make sure you can rely on your service providers.
"Companies get nervous about VoIP and I understand that—because if you are going to depend on the Internet for your phone service, you really are putting all your eggs in one basket. If you go into the VoIP world, you need service providers with high service-level standards—both your phone system and ISP provider. You don't want to have a problem with your business phones only to find that you're one in a long queue with a case number."
Early on, BandSource called webFones to complain about the quality of calls, says Biedron. "webFones was very responsive. I'm not a technology person. As the owner of a growing business, I don't have time to be an IT guy, too, so I rely on vendors like webFones for answers, even when the issue is not their product."
"webFones researched the problem and ran tests on our T1 line that showed that we were getting less than half the upload speed that we were paying for," says Biedron. "But they didn't stop there. They also researched and then recommended a new service provider. Since moving to the new provider, our call quality and reliability has been all you could ask for."
After three years of relying the webFones PBX system, Biedron says, "Today we have our phone system set up exactly the way we want it. It works really well. webFones is a great product backed by responsive, personalized support. I've recommended it to other people starting new businesses."