These Kids Today – Millennials Use Texting Over Calling More Than Ever
January 20th, 2015
Here’s a news flash for you, kids these days aren’t doing it right. I’m pretty sure that ever since the first human communities came out of caves to live in the light of day they’ve been complaining how their children, “have it so easy,” and they, “don’t know what it was like to grow up in the caves.” Sure, the youth can seem annoying, unappreciative, even downright reckless, but they also end up being responsible for coming-up with some great contributions, too.
Rock and Roll, AirBnB, the Free Speech Movement, Sallie Mae, and even Pop Tarts (obviously important) all developed directly from or for a younger generation that was behaving in a way that was different than those before it. Whether it was the growing amount of dually-employed parents needing faster, easier ways to provide breakfast, or a bunch of college students in Berkeley standing-up against things they thought weren’t right, youth impacts our development more than some might think. Young Americans are, in fact, the largest contributor to the economy by a long shot, and spend about 87% of their income, which doesn’t account for gifts and dispersals from family. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I understand the whole fascination with the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus any more than I did before, but at least it puts youth behavior into the context of how it contributes to disruptive change and shaping our society, regardless of whether or not we can recognize it at the time.
One of the unique developments from the current crop of the nation’s youngest members, however, isn’t a new musical genre or tasty breakfast treat; in fact it isn’t even a development at all. Yet.
More Connection, Less Conversation
Millennials use their phones more than any other demographic, but in spite of that frequency, they use phones to actually place telephone calls less than anyone else as well. It is believed the trend of texting over calling stems from the popularization of instant messaging platforms like AIM and MSN Messenger, but regardless of its origin, this trend is becoming more and more pronounced.
Cited as a major factor in the reasons for telephone call abandonment by many young smartphone owners is the speed with which other forms of communication offer over that of traditional phone calls. Texting, Facebook messaging, and other popular message apps like WhatsApp, and Apple’s iMessenger are wildly preferred for their immediacy. In fact, many outgoing voicemail messages for young people no longer include requests for pertinent details to be left in the voicemail, but rather offer suggestions to text or email for quicker replies.
Radio Silence Effects Service
Early in 2014, the New York Times reported on how voicemail usage, and even initial voicemail activation and set-up, is dropping by 8-14% a year for many mobile service providers. This, in combination with an overall drop in voice minutes in general, is a major contributor to mobile companies offering more unlimited minutes as a feature in their service plans. To differentiate themselves, many major carriers are now offering Visual Voicemail to their service plans, in response to their customers’ unlikeliness to utilize traditional voicemail features. And in somewhat of a gambit by going against the constricting policies on data plans, some carriers are revisiting versions of unlimited or banked data plans again. T-Mobile has a new “rollover” plan where unrealized data usage gets carried over into the following month and AT&T has been quick to follow suit. All of these changes, some of which are rather risky for the companies involved, are all directly linked to the grossly disproportionate use of messaging over voice communications.
We don’t necessarily need to look far beyond the changes in mobile service plans to see how these behaviors are changing communications. One particularly popular method for young people to communicate by is ephemeral messaging. Originally vilified for its impermanence as being the channel through which young people would send inappropriate messages to one another, ephemeral messaging is gaining popularity in other demographics. Found to be an effective way to add security to business communications, ephemeral messaging is evolving to become more appealing to users who value data security as much as whimsical, impermanent messaging.
The final effects of the declination of voice services are obviously yet to be fully realized, but it is clear that this behavioral shift is substantially impacting the telecommunications industry. While that future remains uncertain, I am clear on at least one issue; I still haven’t set-up my own voicemail from a number I got in August, maybe you should try and text me instead.
Visual Voicemail – Untangling a Web of Messages
January 15th, 2015
Sometimes we are on another line, out of the office, or just plain have to send a particular caller to voicemail, it happens. Heck, even Gwen Stefani has been walking into spiderwebs, so leave a message and she’ll call you back. What, then, are you to do if you didn’t have time to take a call but need to quickly check and see what the message was about? Visual Voicemail is the quick way to do just that.
Visual Voicemail refers to both voice-to-text transcription of voice messages to be delivered to you via text or email, and it also refers to archiving voicemail into more easily managed interfaces. Both are, of course, great improvements over the tape-recorded messages of yesteryear, though.
Today, there are a host of ways that you can get even more out of your voicemail by making it easier to collect, scan, and listen to your messages. Two apps in particular that are worth checking out are briefly reviewed below-
HulloMail – Get your voicemails converted into audio files to be delivered to your email or access them from the HulloMail web portal, dictate messages from your phone or the same web access, and even designate personal greetings for each of your contacts along with a lot more. This app is great for two reasons, first being that the basic version (which is still rather robust) is free. The second reason is that there is a business subscription that gets you access to additional options (including the voice transcription of voicemails themselves) plus unlimited cloud-based storage.
Google Voice – This service from the online giant is really compelling for folks who don’t mind turning their contact lists over to the mothership. The fact that Google offers voice to text transcription free of charge has been enough for many people to stick with the reliable service. However, in spite of the intelligent and progressively accurate voice recognition software that Google Voice uses, this author must suffer a terrible case of mush mouth because transcriptions of my messages are nothing short of hilarious.
In addition to going with a third-party app, there are options for visual voicemail available through most major mobile service providers, too. T-Mobile and Sprint have basic services similar to what is available with the free version of HulloMail as part of their basic array of features. Verizon offers actual transcription for a $2.99/month premium and you can get similar service from AT&T, but only on their Android phones. Of course, there is also a variety of ways to get voicemail messages through VoIP service, too, which are included as part of VirtualPBX’s award-winning Office Plan.
For more on modern voicemail features, you may want to check out the following reads:
Out of Office: Can Your Business Keep Up With You?
January 12th, 2015
What are your Out Of Office Options?
I love alliteration, especially when I can get the oft mentioned, “OOO,” for Out of Office to include a fourth O-word. But that’s beside the point because you’re a busy professional and you are always on the go, right? Right. So what are you going to do when you have to leave the office at a moment’s notice and haven’t planned to forward calls or even update your voicemail message? First you’re going to make sure you’ve signed-up for the VirtualPBX RSS Feed so you can finish reading this from anywhere, next you’re going to take into account how you can keep in touch with your customers and important calls while you’re out. Fortunately, with VirtualPBX Business VoIP plans, you have a couple of compelling options for how you can do that.
I’m going to assume that most people are familiar with what voicemail is as a technology. Now that’s settled, let me invite you to throw everything you know right out of the window. VirtualPBX has developed a slew of options for your voicemail on our hosted telephone lines that will give you reason to reacquaint yourself with the often overlooked service.
- Never Full Mailbox – First off, how about never having to miss an important call because they couldn’t leave a message? That’s now a thing of the past. With the virtual mailbox, callers can keep leaving messages without you fretting that it’s about to suddenly shut down.
- Automatic Callback – It may as well be throwback calling, because this feature is as good as the old *69 of yesteryear. If you get a message but the caller doesn’t leave a number, Automatic Callback connects you to where the call originated.
- Smart Notifications – You can rely on your never full mailbox to get the messages you need, but what if an urgent call comes through when you’re not at your phone? With notification preferences including notes to your email, vConsole, and even as text messages to any mobile phone, you’ll be back in touch with important calls as quickly as if you received them yourself.
- Smart Message Access – Taking notifications one step further, you can retrieve your messages by calling your extension from any touchtone phone, through your vConsole web portal, or delivered to your email as a .WAV file.
Voicemail not really your bag? No problem. Follow-Me Calling is a little bit call forwarding, and a little bit spy satellite in that, if you choose, you can always be found. With Follow-Me Calling, you can preprogram up to four different numbers to be cascaded through for each extension. This way, a call going to the phone on your desk that isn’t answered can cycle through to your mobile phone, then your home phone, or any other number you want to include until the call reaches you. You can also specify the amount of time allotted for each number in the sequence so that your caller isn’t on the line for ages before they reach you, either. The best part about Follow-Me calling is that, when combined with a VirtualPBX Softphone and Softphone App for smartphones, you never have to give out a personal number again. Your business number will be all that your callers need to find you anywhere along the line of the devices that you choose to include. This advanced call-forwarding system is a little eerie in just how well it can keep you connected. There is no need to worry, though, because like all of the great features from VirtualPBX, you can customize it however you like, including switching it back to Voicemail once your day is done.
Which is Right for Me?
That depends on your needs. If you are mobile and absolutely can’t miss a call, Follow-Me Calling is the way to go, whereas if you just prefer to not keep people waiting long after leaving a message, you can really create a nice and efficient Voicemail experience for your callers, too. However you decide, though, with these solutions at your disposal you shouldn’t have any problem being there when your callers need you the most.
Whether it’s with a clever and specific series of voicemail messages or always being ready to get that important call no matter where you are. Your time and schedule don’t need to operate around your phone system, make your phone system operate around you. If you are interested in learning more about your Voicemail and Follow-Me Calling settings, or if you have any more questions, please get in touch and he’d be happy to help.
How To Set Up Voicemail
January 7th, 2015
Please leave a message, if I can figure out how to set up voicemail, that is.
By the completion of 2014, it was estimated that there were 1.75 billion smartphones in use around the world, and that number is estimated to continue rising quickly. Yes, that’s billion with a, “b.” What I am curious to learn, though, is how many of those people actually use their phones to the maximum extent of their capabilities. Because I do not. Not remotely.
This is a somewhat common malady in these times of ever-increasing technological advancement. It seems like the moment a particular device is mastered (or rather IF it is mastered), there is a new update, expansion, or replacement already hitting the shelves. There are some basic, fundamental features of any communications device, however, that are routinely used and very helpful to know your way around.
Here is a pair of guides of VirtualPBX Voicemail features that fit that category-
- Guide to automating Voicemail Day/Night functions. This feature is ideal when a caller selects a particular queue after normal business hours and no representatives are in the queue. When activated, a caller is returned to a customizable message that can read standard business hours or redirect them to other extensions before giving the option to leave a voicemail.
- Guide to activating Voicemail Text Notifications. This feature is important for employees on the move. Voicemail notifications can be programmed to your email, or users can elect to have that notification sent via SMS text message to their mobile phones.
We have a variety of how-to and tutorial services available for all of our hosted business phone services. We are one of the last companies to provide our award-winning, US-based support free of charge, and are always standing by to see how we can help you maximize your benefit from VoIP. Give us a call and find out, today!
From the Desk of the CEO: The Year in Review
December 30th, 2014
Well this is it, the last few days of 2014 are at hand and we here at VirtualPBX are thrilled with how the year has passed. Not only have our customers contributed to a stellar year of growth for us as a business, we have grown our team to a new height to accommodate all of our new functions, as well. We’ve been happy to welcome in so many new faces from across the world to across the hallway, and before we look forward to what’s next, I think it’s good to remember how we got here today.
Your Feedback, Your Features
We pride ourselves on service and part of that is listening to what many of you have mentioned would be helpful to you in your daily work. In response to your desire for even more control over your business communications universe from the ease of your vConsoles, we introduced one-click Dropbox integration for all of your recorded call storage needs.
Peace of Mind
Also, we’ve been proud to help many new companies protect themselves from the uncertain with our award-winning PBX Parachute, a service that mirrors on-site phone systems and deploys virtual reproductions of them in the event of a system failure.
Because VoIP is the foundation of all of our products, though, improving the quality of service for all hosted telecom users is of paramount importance to us. With the battery of thorough analysis that comes with our weeklong ProSIP Network Health Check, we are sure to be able to continue offering the most complete business telephone solutions possible.
However, our current state is only as good as our commitment to the future. Therefore, insofar as progress and growth are concerned, our greatest advances may not be immediately evident to you, our valued customers. We have been hard at work developing some really exciting and disruptive technology that we’re thrilled to begin rolling out in the coming year.
We are excited with where we are going and proud of where we have been. I hope during this time of year you too can all look back with similar pride and enthusiasm for what is coming next at your company, knowing that we’ve got your communications needs covered no matter what direction you’re heading.
Thank you for another great year and I hope you all enjoy a safe and wonderful New Year’s celebration.
Holiday Call Forwarding
December 23rd, 2014
It’s difficult to keep a business running at full speed through this time of year. Sometimes, offices look an awful lot like ghost towns during these couple of weeks when people are hosting family, on vacation, or visiting loved ones out of town. There are a lot of moving parts and often times, too many PTO and time off requests to keep track of. In fact, some larger companies like LinkedIn have even been known to completely shut down their offices for an entire week just to account for the massive amounts of people not on their regular schedule. But what if you didn’t have to write a whole week off? With some of the brilliant call forwarding strategies from VirtualPBX, you really don’t have to.
Simply put, softphones get at the heart of what we do. Essentially, they make an entire phone system virtual, eliminating wires, hardware, maintenance, and more. By keeping your phone system in the cloud, you can make any phone or device with an internet connection your phone location. The VirtualPBX Softphone App allows you the ability to toggle from work calls using your business extension and private calls with your personal number.
Unlike traditional call-forwarding that can be costly and is limited in how and where you can forward calls, Follow-Me Calling is simple and flexible. Because, let’s face it, the last thing you and your employees need during the holidays is any added stress. The way it works is that you can preprogram several numbers to be cascaded through so that incoming calls always reach you. For example, if your office line rings and you don’t answer, that call can next be routed to your mobile and, should you still not be available, to your home line as well. This is something that can be tailored to fit particular employees anytime of the year, but it is also an easy way to keep business moving at the end of the year.
This time of year is a blast, don’t let the problem of reduced productivity drag you down. By employing a few, simple call forwarding technologies you can keep your workforce happy and with their families and still not have to worry about being short-staffed this holiday season.
Whatever route you go for your business telephone system, please, from all of us at VirtualPBX, have a safe and happy holiday!
Sounds of the Season – Holiday On-Hold Music
December 18th, 2014
It’s that time of year again! Well, to be fair, some stores play holiday music hours after Thanksgiving or even Halloween so I suppose it has been, “that time,” for a while now. Be that as it may, did you know that VirtualPBX can give your business phone system a complete holiday makeover, no matter what the season? There are nearly 500 songs on the VirtualPBX jukebox that you can select from for on-hold music, including some familiar holiday favorites, that are already included as part of your phone service.
We are constantly looking to add to the library and have made great progress to produce such a variety of fully licensed titles for your use. To find the list and begin customizing your customers’ hold experience, simply head to the Auto-Attendant tab in your vConsole and follow the instructions from the On-Hold Music link.
Let’s say you’d like to include a custom message or voice recording to your callers along with the holiday on-hold music. Sure, that’s no problem, either. Like most of the VirtualPBX services, there are virtually limitless ways to tailor your system to your liking. For on-hold music and greetings, you can set what callers listen to immediately from the call being received, to anything in a specific queue or department, all the way down to individual extensions recording personalized holiday messages for phone mail. At any point in the process you can elect to play all music, a recorded greeting, or a looped music and greeting combination. You can always add messages yourself through the vConsole, or you can contact one of our expert Customer Support members who would be happy to assist you through the process.
Whatever your preferences, VirtualPBX makes it easy to tailor the right amount of holiday recognition for your business. We all hope this is a productive, safe, and enjoyable season for you and if you ever have any questions, please never hesitate to reach out. Happy Holidays!
Infographic – Dropbox Integration
December 15th, 2014
Call recording is something that a multitude of businesses can benefit from as a quality control measure, teaching aide, or compliance and regulatory requirement. But like any busy company, you probably have an awful lot of valuable conversations to keep track of. Now with Dropbox Integration as a part of your VirtualPBX business telephone service, rapidly and logically saving and storing all of those calls is easier than ever.
Quality of Service – QoS, not PoS
December 12th, 2014
At first glance, the term, “Quality of Service,” seems pretty straightforward. Though not immediately apparent that this is a telephony or computer network term, quality of service is more than just a measurement of how good something is. A little bit of research will yield that QoS is a rating based on a cadre of complex and technical metrics that cover everything from ping rates to echo and everything between.
If you happen to be like one of our awesome engineers or support team folks, then navigating through various metrics like error rates and throughput is second nature. Or you could be like the rest of us and, though, you don’t know exactly how the internet works, you know when it isn’t working. When that happens, we can easily confuse a complication with one of the metrics in the QoS for the belief that we have a network that is a PoS. If that’s the case, perhaps you could benefit from the ProSIP Network Health Check.
ProSIP Network Health Checks are weeklong, exhaustive examinations of your network’s performance that are easy to conduct because it requires no work on your end. When you have a health check performed for your business, our team of network analysts track and monitor your network remotely from our headquarters in San Jose. From there they can capture all of the relevant data to determine exactly your network’s strengths, weaknesses, and identify both potential vulnerabilities and unrealized opportunities, as well.
Of course, having the complete diagnostic profile of your network doesn’t do you any good if that’s where you stop. That’s why once all of the data is collected our expert technicians will also recommend and employ whatever fixes are required to bring your network up to speed. Following a ProSIP Network Health Check, you can be assured that the systems most vital to your business will keep humming. So there’s no more need to call your network names.
For Data Security, Faxing is King
November 14th, 2014
No, this is not a headline from a breaking news story straight out of the mid 1960’s, we’re serious. The convenience and speed of subsequent telecommunication methods have definitely contributed to the gradual decline in fax machine usage. Obviously, when you can send and receive emails from the palm of your hand, the notion of walking over to the copier/scanner/fax/vacuum/espresso machine to send a fax is a little daunting. Don’t worry. This happened to us all with the TV remote control, too.
Conducting business has become more accessible and adaptable thanks to the introduction of everything from cellular data and wireless internet to email and social networks. Our basic suite of business tools have increasingly accelerated in function, feature, and feasibility but have left the once undisputed king of document transfer, the fax machine, untouched, right? Wrong.
Because of its unparalleled data security, faxing is still the only, non-physical document delivery method permissible by organizations like The American Bar Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These entities and countless others that deal with privacy concerns and confidentiality rely exclusively on faxes on a daily basis. The reason why governments, health organizations, and even financial institutions are adamant that they keep faxes for document transfer is that faxing remains the most secure transmission option available short of personally handing off paperwork.
T.30 protocol is the pivotal technology upon which faxing is based and, ultimately, it also provides the foundation for faxing’s inherent security. As a point-to-point communications system, should any malicious attempt to alter or intercept the fax be made, the transmission will fail, as it cannot be routed to a third location. This is why faxed contracts retain the same legally binding status as hand-signed ones but emailed documents, which are easily intercepted, do not. The unparalleled security of faxes plus their worldwide ubiquity, even in developing countries, is what makes the fax a critical communication vehicle for any enterprise.
Faxing’s important role in business is why forward thinking companies like VirtualPBX have devised ways to bring faxing up to modern expectations for convenience while maintaining all of the security that keeps faxing relevant. Now with Online Faxing, subscribes to VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans can send and receive faxes from a desktop computer over their existing cloud-based phone line. Faxes on this system do not require additional cumbersome and costly machinery to send and receive faxes, saving space, money, and energy. Faxes can even be sent and received over a VoIP telephone line from VirtualPBX, so businesses no longer need multiple telephone numbers to fax.
Elevating the safety of faxing to the standards of flexibility and mobility that modernity has conditioned businesses to expect from their technology is only one example of the solutions that VirtualPBX is know for. Get Online Faxing for your business to keep your data secure and to share documents with confidence. Faxing, long reign the King.