Infographic: How VoIP Works
October 30th, 2014
Voice over internet protocol, or VoIP, has increasingly become the ideal way for businesses to cut costs while at the same time improve the benefits and reliability of their phone systems. But while many businesses understand the many reasons to switch to a virtual phone system, there are still some people who don’t know how VoIP works. If you’re not sure how VoIP works or if you’re just interested in how great features like skills-based routing with TrueACD Queues, Follow-Me Calling, and DNIS numbers work, check out this useful infographic.
Which VirtualPBX Plan
is Better for Me?
April 30th, 2014
With VirtualPBX, you’re not forced into a payment plan that doesn’t match your business. Most companies will find our flat rate plans will provide the most savings, and give the peace of mind that comes from knowing how much your bill will be each month, regardless of usage. Other businesses, usually those that don’t use the phone a lot, will benefit more from our usage based plans – why pay for unlimited use when your needs are low?
This is what most companies market as “unlimited”. There is never any such thing as “unlimited” in the telecom industry. Let’s just get this straight right up front. Carriers charge each other on a price per minute basis when they hand calls off to one another, so at some point in time that cost makes it down to the consumer. However, VirtualPBX doesn’t really push the “unlimited” as much as they push flat-rate. It’s a flat rate under normal business usage. Here’s what the flat-rate plan comes with:
- Anywhere from $39.99/mo down to $19.99/mo per user, depending on how many extensions are needed
- Unlimited free minutes for typical business use
- No charge for long distance any where in the continental US or Canada
- 1,000 minutes of toll-free included in every plan
- Most companies with typical phone use
- Employees who work in offices or home offices with broadband internet
Usage-based plans basically means you pay for only the minutes you use. This can be extremely useful if you don’t have that many inbound calls or make many outbound calls. You don’t need to pay a higher flat rate per extension because your overall usage is low compared to the average office.
- Prices start at just $9.99 per month
- Pay only for minutes used
- Unlimited users
- Same system features as the flat-rate plans because it’s the same system
- Toll-free is built into the plan minutes
- Companies with low phone use
- Employees on cell phones or land lines
Still not sure which plan is best for you? Not a problem. To help make it a little easier, we’ve put together a little calculator where you input the number of users that need an extension and the rough amount of minutes that they use each month for inbound and outbound calls.
Please click to learn more about the plan calculator.
So, bottom line is that VirtualPBX has the right plan for you. And even better is no matter which plan you choose, you can use the hardware VoIP phones with them, allowing you to cut all ties with your land line and traditional carriers. This could save you a lot of money. And that’s why VirtualPBX is doing what they’re doing.
Save Money with GeoRoute®
March 21st, 2012
Many companies are not taking full advantage of the advanced technology available in telecom today. When used, this technology can greatly improve operations, and help you to provide better customer service.
Virtual PBX® offers the most complete and sophisticated hosted solution available today. One great example of this is our unique GeoRoute® feature, which can forward calls automatically to the right employee, ACD queue, or business location before you even answer the phone – based on the location of the originating number.
Here is an example: Let’s say you want to have calls from the western United States go to one sales agent, and those from the eastern part of the country go to someone else. With GeoRoute from Virtual PBX, we’ll monitor the caller ID of incoming calls and automatically route the calls based on area code.
Want another example? Imagine a franchise operation that wants to publish one national toll-free number but wants calls automatically routed to the franchise closest to the caller. GeoRoute will direct incoming customer calls to the appropriate franchise based on the geographic boundaries you create. This way, you can make sure the right franchise gets the call with no human intervention. In addition, as the calls complete at the franchise locations, the franchise headquarters don’t incur any expense from these calls.
Furthermore, with GeoRoute, there is no need for a central receptionist, and call charges don’t start until you answer the call, so expenses stay low.
There are a number of ways to implement GeoRoute. You can route calls based on just the area code, the area code and exchange, or the entire number. In addition, you may route calls the following ways:
- Inside the answering system, transferring the call to an employee extension or ACD queue.
- To a completely different phone system, such as a remote branch office or a different business.
Our telecom expertise, combined with unmatched flexibility and excellent customer service, allow us to solve your call routing challenges to help you build business and save money.
Save Money and Increase Productivity with SelectRoute™
March 2nd, 2012
Virtual PBX® pioneered ACD queuing for virtual phone systems, and is still way ahead of the competition. ACD queues are used when the caller wants to reach a business function, such as sales or customer service, instead of an individual. Usually, these callers won’t have a name, they just have a need.
However, some businesses want to route calls to an extension or ACD queue that is not a standard business function. This is where SelectRoute™ comes in.
SelectRoute offers call routing capabilities beyond the standard routing features offered by ACD queues. Instead of simply routing the call to the next available agent or a generic queue, SelectRoute routes the call based on direct user input that specifies how the call is to be handled so the call is routed to the correct agent.
Our SelectRoute option lets you route calls automatically based on a wide set of user inputs up to nine digits in length. Ask the user to spell out a product name, a company name, or an account number. The possibilities are limitless with Virtual PBX.
Below are common types of instructions that SelectRoute can support:
- Route calls by geography: Area code & zip code– Route calls by NPA (Area Code), NPA-NXX (Area and Exchange Codes), Zip Code.Have multiple store locations or franchises seamlessly route calls to a single phone number by area code or zip code to the nearest location.
- Menu Routing – Route calls by menu selection
- Custom Routing – Route calls according to your own defined needs. We’ve had clients route to different queues or extension based on the caller entering a model number or a product name.
You can even combine these call routing types to form customized routing to provide the best customer service and to enable your business to operate at optimum efficiency. They can also improve your businesses cost performance by increasing agent utilization and productivity.
A typical business often handles a variety of call types, each requiring a specific skill. The traditional method of reassigning agents with multiple skills to different queues at different times of the day in order make best use of their skills is inefficient.
Virtual PBX and SelectRoute alleviate this problem and enables your business to automatically route calls to the right agents, at the right time regardless of where the agents are located.
With SelectRoute you can even have custom greetings such as “To find the store nearest you, please enter your 5 digit zip code now”. Your caller enters their zip code, and your Virtual PBX system will route them to the appropriate extension or queue. It’s that easy.
But what if the caller enters the wrong information? Don’t worry. We have that covered. In this case, SelectRoute will route the call anywhere you choose, so your caller still gets help even on a bad data entry.
SelectRoute by Virtual PBX will help you create the best custom call routing system designed to fit your needs and send your callers to the right people quickly and easily every time. For more information, please contact our Support team, or call us at 888-825-0800.
sauna works transitions to voip with virtual pbx
July 15th, 2011
Company Heats Up and Increases Outbound Calls with Virtual PBX Complete
Great customer service is the lifeline of every business. It is an essential part of maintaining your existing customers as well as winning new ones. The foundation of great customer service is forming a relationship with customers. But how do you go about forming such a relationship? One of the best ways is to make sure you are always available and in touch with your customers.
Customer satisfaction is the No. 1 priority for the employees of Sauna Works, a company specializing in infrared saunas. Sauna Works has been in the business of manufacturing and selling infrared saunas for over 14 years and have learned quite a bit about customer service and ensuring customer satisfaction. Their motivation and dedication to provide excellent customer service drove the company’s move to VirtualPBX five years ago to allow employees to stay in constant touch with customers through landline, mobile, and VoIP phones.
In 2006, the company was managing a showroom in San Francisco and many of their employees were working remotely. Vice President Andy Kaps knew using a feature-rich PBX solution was the only way to monitor and keep on top of sales and service calls. When providing great customer service, it is so important to be able to communicate with customers from any location. You need to be reachable no matter where you are.
Kaps explains, “As a former executive at a company within in the telecommunications field, I knew we needed a solution that would provide us with ACD queuing features which allowed us to stay connected with users no matter where we are. I was initially attracted to Virtual PBX because of its deep feature set and the web-based flexibility the company provides.”
In addition to keeping people connected around the world, Virtual PBX’s TrueACD™ Queues allows callers to contact anyone in the company without having to know their direct extension. Furthermore, managers need not waste time entering or changing phone numbers as employee shifts change since TrueACD queues include presence management and employees log themselves in and out as needed. Best of all, customer service is improved by reducing customer wait times and increasing customer satisfaction.
Sauna Works was able to increase customer satisfaction even further by switching to VoIP. 70 percent of Sauna Works’ employees using Virtual PBX made the transition to VoIP after the release of Virtual PBX’s new VoIP system, Virtual PBX Complete. Since the transition, employees have not only significantly reduced overall phone costs, but also doubled the number of outbound calls made to clients.
Blending traditional analog telephony with VoIP technology, Virtual PBX’s Virtual PBX Complete solution allows clients to mix and match as needed as well as work from any location. Virtual PBX Complete also embraces open standards, which spares customers from being locked into proprietary technologies.
“A majority of our customers are looking for a flexible solution,” said Greg Brashier, COO of Virtual PBX. “With our commitment to both VoIP and analog technologies, we give customers like Sauna Works the ability to have low upfront costs, eliminate expensive analog phones lines when VoIP is appropriate, and improve service to their clients.”
Is Your Business Changing? Virtual PBX Can Change With You
June 28th, 2011
Virtual PBX’s hosted phone service is flexible and quickly adapts to the changing needs of your growing business. Easily scalable and constantly updated with new features, Virtual PBX will keep up with your business no matter how fast you change.
With traditional PBX’s, everything must be installed and maintained by on-site IT staff and for a growing business this can get very expensive, both in terms of dollars and time.
With Virtual PBX you can easily add or remove extensions and ACD Queues, switch plans, add Voip phones and make many other changes whenever you need to – and for a fraction of the price! Everything is in your control.
Virtual PBX also makes it easy for customers to configure the system to meet their changing needs with a simple user interface. Add a new phone number for that new ad you’re placing in the new magazine, update your main greeting with your new business hours, or route calls to a new employee, all with the click of a button.
Monitor and train new employees with Virtual PBX’s real-time web monitors and call recording. Keep an eye on when they are logged in and out of ACD queues, when they are receiving calls, as well as when they are marked unavailable. Also, ensure they are giving the best phone customer service by using free call recording. You can also use the call recording feature to train new employees.
Use free conference minutes to communicate with employees and customers virtually anywhere in the world. For ultimate flexibility, each extension owner can have a conference call going on at the same time.
With Virtual PBX you will always have multiple ways to connect with employees, customers, and vendors whenever and wherever your business takes you.
Virtual PBX and PrintsMadeEasy Fight Confusion From Joplin Devastation With Volunteer Support Line
June 2nd, 2011
Volunteers Field Calls for Victims Using the Joplin Tornado Info Facebook Page
24 minutes is all the warning the residents of Joplin received to prepare for the F5 tornado that would completely flatten three miles of this small city in Missouri. The devastating tornado has been declared the most deadly in years, leaving in its path at least 139 victims and over 100 missing people.
Surrounded by the mayhem left by the tornado, PrintsMadeEasy (http://www.printsmadeeasy.com) saw first hand that communicating reliable information was nearly impossible and quickly becoming a critical issue. They were determined to help the people of Joplin stay connected by setting-up a support line for the victims and volunteers. Susie Matthews, online operations director at PrintsMadeEasy, quickly contacted Virtual PBX (http://www.virtualpbx.com/), enlisting their support.
As a longtime customer of Virtual PBX, Susie knew the hosted phone service would be the perfect solution, allowing volunteers to answer questions about drop-off sites for donations, locations of volunteers and hospitals, and to take down missing-person updates.
Virtual PBX responded by providing PrintsMadeEasy with additional phone lines, a local number and automatic call distribution (ACD) queues to help manage the increase in inbound calls. This support line fields calls for the Joplin Tornado Info Facebook page created by PrintsMadeEasy to help the people of Joplin stay connected.
“Because we’re so close to the disaster in Joplin, we did not want to just sit back and watch, especially since most of us are familiar with the places that were hit,” says Matthews. “Virtual PBX has been great by donating its hosted phone system, which has worked well for us in the past, along with a local number for people to call. We encourage anyone interested in joining us in our efforts to give us a call.”
As PrintsMadeEasy donates their free time to taking calls and updating the Joplin Tornado Info Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/joplintornadoinfo), they may soon need more volunteers. With Virtual PBX, Matthews can quickly and easily create additional extensions for volunteers. PrintsMadeEasy and other volunteers can even make and receive calls on-the-go, as Virtual PBX can allow calls to be directed to any phones anywhere. Volunteers currently working outside the affected area can now provide immediate response.
Such an influx of support and aid required organization, and Virtual PBX was glad to be able to offer some much needed assistance.
“When a longtime customer calls asking for practical help to provide a vital service like their support line, the only reasonable response is ‘yes,'” says Paul Hammond, CEO of Virtual PBX. “After viewing the devastation, it’s heartening to know that we can provide assistance that makes a difference, and we’re grateful to Susie and her team for their hard work. We’re glad we could help.”
To follow along on Facebook about any needs you may have regarding the Joplin disaster please visit http://www.facebook.com/joplintornadoinfo for more information.
Virtual PBX Adds VoIP Phones and New Flat-Rate Plans!
February 25th, 2011
Virtual PBX Adds Hardware VoIP Phone Support
The time has come — Virtual PBX, provider of the no-compromise business phone system, announced support for hardware VoIP Phones along with new flat-rate plans, fortifying their lineup of industry-leading plans and services. With this, Virtual PBX now controls the phone call from the inbound phone number ALL the way down to the phone on the desktop. You can now have a truly complete phone system integrating phone numbers, free long distance and IP phones into one cost-effective solution.
We now offer two award winning plans from which you, the customer, can choose: the new flat-rate plans and the original usage-based plans. Even better, you don’t have to be on the flat-rate plans to use the VoIP phones – we’ve set up the system to support the phones on either plan. So feel free to pick the plan that works best for you and your business, and also decide how you would like the system to reach you. You can be contacted through the VoIP phone(s) and/or contact phone numbers via a landline or cell phone. The freedom to choose is in your hands.
We also offer you the freedom to save! With Virtual PBX you can simplify your life and your budget by cutting the ties with your landline carrier. There is really no need for a landline anymore seeing as how you can make and receive phone calls using a VoIP phone and your Virtual PBX service. So go on ahead and save that money each month with Virtual PBX Complete. With our phone service you can enjoy a savings of anywhere from 40-80% in traditional phone system and landline costs – that is a huge savings! Given that telecom costs are a major expense in everyday business, Virtual PBX provides business communication that is affordable, easy and accessible from wherever you need to be with a low monthly fee and no contracts or setup costs!
Please see the plan details below and save money with the plan suited for you:
These are your traditional “unlimited” plans that so many companies try to market. However, Virtual PBX does it right as there is a fair-use policy in place (much like every other VoIP phone service out there) that allows 5,000 minutes of inbound minutes per extension, aggregated at the account level. So a 5-user system would include upwards of 25,000 inbound local minutes. That’s amazing. Most companies won’t touch that. Yet, they can have this system for around $150 per month, and that already includes the e911 fees, Federal and FCC taxes. The flat-rate plans are as follows:
- 1-User: $39.99/mo
- 4-User: $23.99/mo/ext
- 10-User: $21.99/mo/ext
- 20-User: $19.99/mo/ext
- 50-User: $19.99/mo/ext
- Extra Extensions: $24.99/mo
These plans are what Virtual PBX used to pioneer the hosted phone service market. On these original plans you only pay for the minutes used each month. As the plans go up, you receive a larger block of free minutes and the price for additional minutes becomes cheaper. These plans come with unlimited users and all the same features as the flat-rate plans. Virtual PBX has the following usage-based plans:
- VPBX-5: $9.99/mo (300 minutes, extra minutes are 6.5 cents/min)
- VPBX-10: $24.99/mo (600 minutes, extra minutes are 5.8 cents/min)
- VPBX-20: $44.99/mo (1,000 minutes, extra minutes are 4.7 cents/min)
- VPBX-50: $94.99/mo (2,500 minutes, extra minutes are 4.4 cents/min
Virtual PBX now supports hardware VoIP phones connected to the service. This is a superb addition as now you can make phone calls and show your Virtual PBX caller ID on every outbound call. And you don’t have to use a cellphone or landline to make that outbound call. All you need is an Internet connection. Virtual PBX sells the following phones that arrive pre-configured and ready for use:
- Polycom SoundPoint IP 321: $99.99 (single ethernet port)
- Polycom SoundPoint IP 335: $139.99 (ethernet pass-through port; backlit display)
- Polycom SoundStation IP 5000: $599.99 (conference phone)
With Virtual PBX there is no need to get phones from one provider, calling plans from another, and features from somewhere else. Get it all in one place. If you are looking for a complete, no-compromise business VoIP solution for your business, Virtual PBX is the answer.
5 Things to Look for in a Telecom Disaster Recovery Provider
June 24th, 2010
A 2009 study from the Business Research Institute revealed that of all the recovery points necessary in the event of a disaster (data loss, employee management, notifications, etc.), 65 percent of businesses surveyed said telecommunications was the weakest link. Given the importance of phones to a business, this is a surprising statistic. In the event of catastrophic system failure, or because a fire alarm went off and your employees have to exit the building, you’re going to need a backup plan for handling phone calls. This is not a hard process, but it is an important one. For that reason, you need to make sure that the company you’re working with to handle your telecommunications failover can connect all your employees and all your callers as effectively as possible.
In the event of a disaster, a company’s local and toll-free provider can re-route, or forward, the inbound calls to a different location. But where? To another phone system at some dark site? That is an immense amount of capital being spent on something that may never be used. The better way is to have the calls forwarded to a virtual phone system – a phone system in the cloud, if you will. A virtual phone system can have the Fortune 500 sound, features and reliability without any hardware on site. But while there are many virtual phone system providers in the market, not all of them make good telecom disaster recovery providers. Here are four things to look for in a telecom disaster recovery provider:
1. Highly Reliable
There are a lot of virtual phone system providers that have built their networks on open source software running on standard computers. This is fine for simple call control, but when it comes down to it, having specialized, reliable hardware built specifically for high call traffic is key to reliability. Also, the vendor should be located in a data center that is on the national backbone so it stays up and running even in the event of a natural or national disaster. Also, competent support staff with strong technical expertise is crucial. This cannot be accomplished with an outsourced support center but rather with their own employees who have an in-depth knowledge of their network and capabilities.
2. Highly Redundant
As a telecom disaster recovery provider faces the same problems as you – fire, hacking, power loss, etc. – they need to have a disaster recovery plan of their own, with redundancies and failovers in place for electrical, inbound, and outbound local and toll-free carriers, as well as network and hardware component redundancies. A reputable telecom DR provider has no planned downtime of their own. They should be able to switch between multiple carriers for your call (in case entire networks of phones go down) and repair and replace components without you ever knowing or needing to know.
3. Full Customization
Whether you want to appear as though nothing’s interrupted your business, or if you need emergency messages and directions only, or just an employee emergency hotline, a reputable telecom disaster recovery provider’s virtual phone system should have the features and customization capabilities as well as the support staff willing to work with you to put a system in place that meets your telecom DR needs. As an example, the service should allow you to create a bank of recorded messages that can be fluidly managed, as well as multiple fallback contact numbers for each of your employees based on what kind of communication is still available to you at the time of the disaster.
4. Full Control
When disaster strikes, it’s going to be unexpected, it’s going to be complicated, and you’re going to need to respond directly to the type of problem that has occurred. A single generic response or scripted recovery plan may not account for the number of variables in a disaster situation. At times you may not have access to computers. At other times you may not have access to phones. You’ll need a telecom DR system that can be accessed and managed several different ways, such as through a self-managed Web port as well as through the phone. But beyond that, you’ll need to have a system that can provide several options for routing calls to employees, depending on what resources are available to them during the disaster. Ideally, each employee has a phone and Web login to the telecom DR system, with access dependent on the rights given to them by the system administrator.
5. Always On
A common process in the disaster recovery world is when a disaster occurs you need to “declare a disaster” with your DR vendors so they can start working with you during that disaster. However, in the telecom world, there’s no time for that. Calls are going to keep coming in and you need a place to send them. A telecom DR provider should always be on, in hot standby, waiting for calls to come to it. You may need to declare a disaster with your local and toll-free providers so they know to reroute calls to your telecom DR provider. But you can work with them ahead of time to make sure those routes are saved in their switches, ready for when needed.
Virtual PBX is one of the only telecom disaster recovery and business continuity service providers with our PBX Parachute service. This customizable service can completely mirror your phone system, only cover your inbound call center, act as your employee emergency hotline, and provide a conference bridge for your disaster recovery team — all in the same system, all at the same time. Give us a call at 888-825-0800, option 1, and ask any of our Sales personnel about this very important service.
Don’t be a part of the 65 percent of companies whose disaster recovery plan does not include your phones. Phone calls mean money, and finding a reputable telecom disaster recovery service provider that uses a hosted phone service is key to making sure you continue to make money with those inbound phone calls, even in the event of a disaster.
5 Reasons Why You Need Telephone Disaster Recovery
June 15th, 2010
When disasters occur, a company has a lot to deal with. Protecting your employees and assets is important, but can still leave you paralyzed. It’s one thing to protect your data and network, but what about ongoing customer interaction? It may seem old-school, but a company’s telephone number is a primary customer-interaction channel. During a disaster, without some method of continuing to carry on customer interaction, you’ll be dead in the water and hemorrhaging clients. A lot of companies have disaster recovery plans in place. But unfortunately, a lot of those same companies don’t include telecom in the DR plan. Here are five reasons to not put off your telecom disaster recovery plan.
1. There’s Too Much at Stake
People insure their health, their cars, and sometimes even their mail. But many overlook the need to protect their company’s primary customer interaction channel – their phones. They might think it’s expensive, or they might think they don’t have the time. But if your phone lines fail, or your people cannot get to those lines, then what’s at risk isn’t just current business being lost – it’s a permanent blow to the reputation and credibility of the company. Busy lines, emergency signals, hold time, disorganization, and lack of status updates will severely damage your corporate image. Even if you’re willing to risk the days or weeks it takes to repair the damage, it can be months or years before your image is restored.
2. 43 Percent of Companies Have Had a Major Disaster
Power loss, office loss, or even damaged power or phone lines can and do occur. There’s no reason to not protect your business against disaster. Almost half of all businesses suffer extreme loss of data and communications. Considering how much each client is worth to your company – how much is at stake on every call – how many calls are you willing to risk on a flip of the coin?
3. Even a Minor Disaster Can Cost Major Amounts
Total loss means losing every client until your phone system can be repaired, which could take days or weeks. This will ruin a business. But even minor problems like equipment malfunction, temporary electrical outages, or roads going out mean that you put a lot of stress on the rest of your business to try to make up for it. Having a fall-back plan isn’t just for hurricanes, fires and terrorism: It’s for anything else that may arise, even if it’s seemingly mundane. A good plan can and will keep you from losing your clients and your reputation.
4. 65 Percent of Businesses Have Weak Telecommunication Continuity Plans
A 2009 study from the Business Research Institute revealed that of all the recovery points necessary in the event of a disaster (data loss, employee management, notifications, etc.), 65 percent of businesses surveyed said telecommunications was the weakest link. Given the importance of the phones to a business, this is a surprising statistic. That’s a significant majority of businesses that lose big whenever any kind of disaster occurs. Even a small investment of time and money to establish some sort of telecom disaster recovery plan will go a long way toward protecting your company.
5. It Doesn’t Cost Much Money or Take Much Time to Protect Your Company
A good telecommunications disaster recovery plan can be put together in a matter of hours, not days, and the costs are trivial compared to the risks. This isn’t the business of comparing the price to the value of what’s being protected. Figuring ROI on disaster recovery investments is extremely hard to determine. The better question: What is a client worth to the company? Typically, the cost of a telecommunications disaster recovery service is a mere fraction of the cost of a lost client. That alone should be a major decision-making factor in putting together a proper telecommunications disaster recovery plan.
Why is Virtual PBX talking about this? Because a by-product of using our service is automatic telecom disaster recovery — your phone calls are being handled by an off-site service. With Follow Me Calling, you don’t have to be in the office to take your calls. Even if you have a hardware phone system that you’re not intending to do away with, protect it and those inbound calls using our PBX Parachute service — a virtual phone service for disaster recovery purposes.
Bottom line is that too many companies leave their main asset – their phones – unprotected. A disaster or even a small phone line outage could cost a company significantly, both in customer revenue as well as a hard-earned reputation. With a bit of effort, some good research, and a simple telecom disaster recovery plan, a company can weather the storms of small mundane outages as well as the large natural disasters. And best of all, their customers may not even know it.