An Interview with Gary Cooper, Chief Executive Officer at VoiceNEXTAn Interview with Gary Cooper, Chief Executive Officer at VoiceNEXT https://www.voicenext.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/pexels-sora-shimazaki-5668858.jpg 1280 850 VoiceNEXT | Your Next Phone Company https://www.voicenext.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/pexels-sora-shimazaki-5668858.jpg
Gary Cooper, Chief Executive Officer at VoiceNEXT Answers: Why VoiceNEXT?
Interview conducted by Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor at CEOCFO Magazine, with Gary Cooper, Chief Executive Officer at VoiceNEXT. Published May 8th, 2017.
CEOCFO: Mr. Cooper, what is VoiceNEXT™?
Mr. Cooper: Let me start with “why” VoiceNEXT. VoiceNEXT exists because my partner Michael Galkin and I care. We care as much about our client’s businesses as they do. That is why we started the company. The “what” is that VoiceNEXT is a hosted PBX phone company. What does that mean? In the days before the Internet and the Internet becoming known as the cloud, phone systems were housed in a box, known as a PBX, in a closet somewhere onsite on a customer’s premise, in their offices, and all the phones connected back to it. Then came the development of hosted PBX. That means that box is no longer in the customer’s office; the PBX, the brains of the phone system, are hosted in the cloud on our network. The phone connects to the Internet and connects back to our PBX in the cloud. That is hosted PBX.
CEOCFO: How do businesses and individuals make sense of all the options available, and how can you help them do so?
Mr. Cooper: That is a good question. When Mike and I started this company about 14 years ago, almost no one had ever heard of, much less understood, hosted PBX. Today, hosted PBX may not yet be a household word, but many people understand the concept of hosted PBX. It is our job to show them the what, why, and how they can benefit from this cutting-edge technology.
Hosted PBX systems have many features that traditional phone systems do not. A Hosted PBX system can help businesses increase efficiency and raise productivity because we help businesses communicate more effectively. We tell prospects and clients to manage their businesses and to let us manage their phone systems.
For instance, if a customer loses power or Internet, VoiceNEXT Hosted PBX will still be answering calls, rerouting calls, and recording voicemail messages. This is a standard feature called disaster recovery. So many customers are learning the hard way that if they keep all of their information locally on a server in their office and do not keep a proper backup schedule, they are in big trouble if something goes wrong. Companies that host their networks in the cloud are far less susceptible to simple outages or larger disasters.
CEOCFO: What is it that VoiceNEXT is doing that is not being done now? Are many people still hosting a system on-premise?
Mr. Cooper: Most companies still have what we call legacy, onsite phone systems. The phone system is one of those things that a company tends to not worry about until it breaks! They are also likely paying a maintenance fee in order to keep that phone system running. Eventually, the phone system reaches its end of life, and then they have to go looking for a replacement.
CEOCFO: Are people less afraid to move something to the cloud now? Do you still find some pushback? Do people want to see something physical in front of them?
Mr. Cooper: Yes, people are more and more becoming less afraid of the cloud. Any pushback is quelled to a degree by explaining and demonstrating the benefits of hosted technology. We will analyze their networks for them or work with their IT company to analyze the relationship between the phone company and their IT services that are being provided. We work very closely with those companies which are providing IT and managed services. Once someone hears a phone call in VoiceNEXT’s high definition, any remaining doubts usually fade away. It is as different as old standard television was to HD television. You would think that the person is standing in the room with you!
CEOCFO: How did you know 14 years ago? Why were you sure, or were you?
Mr. Cooper: That is an interesting story! My father had sold the family business. Although large, with a few hundred employees, it was still a very “Mom and Pop” environment. Even with seventy people in the corporate office, my father would come in and walk around to say hello and find out how everybody was doing. It would take him an hour to reach his office. His door was always open, and it was always about the people. That is what I learned. Then, when it became a corporation, it was more about the money and less about the people, so I became very unhappy. My father was having lunch with one of his fraternity brothers, who happens to be my partner’s father, and he said, “Gary is not really happy in the family business anymore.” His fraternity brother said, “Well, my son Michael is looking to do this.” They put us in touch with each other, we got together, and we started the company. One can never be sure when starting a new company, but you can take certain steps to minimize your risk. We got the right advisors, developed both long and short-term business plans, and hired the right people. The rest is just hard work. My father says, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
CEOCFO: What is your geographic range today? Where are your customers?
Mr. Cooper: Our customer base is concentrated here in the New York metro area and expanding. We do have customers throughout the United States because the phone system requires no setup on the customer’s behalf. We pre-program it based on the customer’s needs. The customer needs only phones. We send them out, they plug them in, and they connect back to our hosted PBX. The phones are very easy to use, and we do all the training. We also have international clients. They can extension dial from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world, and there are no charges for those phone calls. Clients are interconnected with each other as if they were all in one building.
CEOCFO: Are people coming to you in addition to the product for the more personalized customer service?
Mr. Cooper: People are coming to us mostly for the personalized service! Again, we started it because we really do care. I did not come from this industry. I was the guy who purchased phone systems for my company. My partner was in the cellular phone industry. He brought the knowledge of telecommunications technology, and I had the point of view from the end user.
Everyone on the VoiceNEXT team cares about our customers’ businesses. My father always said to me, “You and your customers are partners. It is not a vendor/customer relationship; it is a partnership.” That is the way we always value it. We work together. We do not make customers fit the design of the phone system. We design the phone system to fit the way the customer does business. The prospect finds out very early in the process that, “This company really does care!” We take time to understand their business, so we know how to design the phone system. The bottom line is that they are going to pay. But there are no hidden fees and taxes. When it comes to installing and onboarding the customer, we hold their hands all the way through the process. If they have a question, we are always there to answer the phone 24/7/365.
CEOCFO: Is all customer service U.S. based?
Mr. Cooper: Yes. All of our support is U.S. based. That is a great question. Many people naturally get frustrated when they need help and are having trouble understanding the customer support representative. Our support is 100% U.S. based, 24/7/365.
CEOCFO: VoiceNEXT offers a number of customized solutions for different industries. What might be some of the differences that you can put into place depending on the type of business?
Mr. Cooper: That is a tough one to answer because even within a specific industry, every company operates its own way. The features and flexibility of VoiceNEXT’s hosted PBX allow us to custom tailor every system to fit the way our customers run their business.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us a little bit about the range of services you can provide to a customer—what they can pick and choose?
Mr. Cooper: Most people want to make and receive phone calls and record voicemails. Most customers use our voicemail-to-email feature, which allows the customer to listen to their emails even when out of the office. Customers can also send faxes from their email account. We offer call monitoring and recording as well as customizable messages or music on hold. We have auto attendants and web-based administration that allows customers to control and make changes to their PBX from anywhere. We have “follow me” services that allow you to make and receive calls from any device, including smartphones and laptop computers. All upgrades and new features are given to the customer at no additional charge, so they are always on the cutting edge of technology, and their phone system never becomes old or obsolete. There is a myriad of other features too numerous to list.
CEOCFO: Are there services that you offer that people miss? Is there something that you can provide that people seem to ignore?
Mr. Cooper: Yes, absolutely! That is another great question! To me, the biggest thing companies fail to do is have a disaster recovery plan. I think we spoke to it just a little bit. Most companies do not have a disaster recovery plan. However, when they have a VoiceNEXT hosted PBX phone system, the disaster recovery plan is built in and set up during the onboarding process. Again, if a client loses power or Internet, the calls are automatically routed to preset destinations. Even during Super Storm Sandy, our customers were always up and running! Their phones were being answered, voicemails were being taken, and emails and calls were being forwarded to mobile devices. Even if someone has to work from home, they can have their extension with them at all times, be it a second desk phone, smartphone, or computer. Disaster recovery is most ignored and most important.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. Cooper: Business is great these days! We are sales busy, and when it comes to support, we are the Maytag Repair Man. That is because our network is configured to be always up and running. It is locally and geographically redundant. There are multiple servers in one location backing up each other and in other data centers across the country doing the same thing. Each data center has a multitude of carriers along with multiple power sources. The best prospect is a referral from a client. We provide such a great customer experience that referrals are many.
CEOCFO: What is next for VoiceNEXT?
Mr. Cooper: Technology is always changing so rapidly. We have to make sure that we are always at the forefront of technological advancement so that we keep our customers there as well. We are always making sure that we provide our customers with the highest level of security which is an ever-moving target.
You can view the original interview here: CEOCFOInterviews.com
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