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General Telephony

Techno Jargon – Nobody Actually Buys Widgets
November 26th, 2014

Jargon Even Looks WeirdAh yes, the mighty widget. The widget has been an integral part of committee meeting proposals and cocktail napkin doodles alike. Widgets as surrogates for actual products are necessary to navigate business school scenarios of cost benefit analysis, supply chain management, and inventory management, too. But when mythical product placeholders and obscure industry terminology begin to leave the classroom and boardroom, people tend to get confused. And if there is one thing that seems to be universally true in business, it’s that assailing your prospects with technobabble is rarely rewarded with buying questions.

Nobody Likes to Feel Talked Down To

A recent study of over 4,000 people by Daniel Harris from Software Advice, an online software selection service, found compelling arguments against overusing jargon in sales and marketing communications, especially in emerging or unfamiliar technologies. The study chose to use VoIP as a key area to focus on due to the hosted phone service industry’s tendency to overuse unfamiliar, overly technical language.

Jargon that is unfamiliar to an audience makes them feel uninformed, and in a business setting, that can be a pretty exposed feeling. Not terribly surprising, though fairly conclusive, was the fact that when people don’t understand the terminology used to describe something, they are measurably disinclined to make a purchase. What makes this revelation more interesting, though, is that this phenomenon seems to apply to technologies that the participant was already familiar with, but had been presented in an unfamiliar way. Using email as a topic, researchers saw a significant difference in reported familiarity based on the terminology they used to pose their questions.

Know When You’ve Transitioned From Familiar to Far Out

Have you ever sent an email?Respondents were confused when asked if they had ever sent an email using obscure, technical language

Another point that this study brings up is relevant to a recent Federal Communications Commission report that cited that, while VoIP subscription has steadily grown for residential use, the adoption rate for business has not reflected similar increases. In light of what we know about jargon and how it impacts buying decisions, the fact that residential phone systems need fewer lines and features than a business begins to make sense. When a residential hosted phone subscriber is shopping for what is comparatively a simple service, VoIP providers are able to keep the terminology simple and direct. A problem arises, though, for the business owner who is blind sighted with the technical explanations for extension routing, advanced queues, and business failover. If the business owner has even a basic understanding of VoIP technology’s benefits beforehand, when confronted with technobabble, he or she is still likely to continue suffering through an expensive and antagonistic relationship with their traditional copper phone line provider rather than trudge through the new terminology.

Focus on Benefits, Not on Features

Would you switch to SIP Trunking?Respondents who were already familiar with the technology were less inclined to save money on a VoIP system when the question used too much jargon

One set of results from the study that highlights this fact was when researchers posed questions about saving money on a VoIP phone system. Regardless of the current level of knowledge about hosted phone service technology the respondent had, their answers were severely impacted when the questions were more technical in nature.

“Even when respondents understood that SIP trunking would somehow save them money on their phone bills, they were still far less likely to consider the service when we employed a technical rather than a functional definition.” Harris added in his synopsis.

Many conclusions can be drawn from a study, but the accuracy with which this one seems to capture what we’ve all already known is pretty remarkable. People don’t go online shopping for a new SIP (session initiation protocol) or DNIS (dialed number identification service). All they want is a telephone service that gives them the features they need at a price that works for their budget. VirtualPBX can offer businesses of any size just that. Widgets included at no extra charge.

Your Business Twin – Be in Two Places at Once
November 24th, 2014

Is There Enough Time?Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be in two places at once? If you have children or run a business (which can be strikingly similar) then you probably have considered it plenty of times. For those of you with both the title of parent and employer, perhaps two places at once still isn’t enough!

Even when things are going smoothly, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete everything that requires your attention. There are a host of services out there to help keep you organized, and we even outlined a few ways people can use technology to work around their schedules recently., All of these tactics help get us through the day-to-day grind., but what happens when the train leaves the tracks and you can’t share your attention anymore?

If your company has a Business Continuity Plan you’re probably perfectly aware of what happens next, because you’ve invested the time to plan for any contingency. What may not be included in that plan, however, is where exactly your energy will be required to help your organization get out of a jam quickly, safely, and without losing any of the momentum that it has worked so hard to build up.

But if you’re there, who’s answering your phone?

PBX Parachute is your doppelgänger, your twin, your surrogate for all of the business calls you would normally be handling while you’re off saving the day. The award-winning automatic business telephone failover system can let you stay focused on the critical tasks of navigating a disaster or disruption in service by-

  • Duplicating your on-site phone system, keeping extensions and voicemail lines active
  • Forwarding each extensions calls to up to four different devices
  • Speaking for you, literally, by launching a pre-recorded emergency hotline for your employees

We have all tried to juggle too many things at once, sometimes it works out and sometimes things fall to the ground. Don’t take that chance during a period of emergency when your company needs you the most. PBX Parachute can’t duplicate you so you can be in two places at once, but it can allow you to be in the one place that really matters in an emergency, which is the next best thing.

Get in touch with one of the expert VirtualPBX business consultants today to see how you can multiply yourself in an emergency.

DNIS – The Carpool Lane for Phone Calls
November 21st, 2014

Ever wonder what it would be like if you could bypass the seemingly endless list of extensions on most telephone systems and get directed right to exactly the person you need to speak with? So do your customers. With an advanced Direct Number Identification System, or DNIS, your callers are treated to a much sleeker and quicker on-hold experience. VirtualPBX has a full library of toll-free, local, and international numbers for you to choose from to generate dedicated phone numbers for anything from a promotion or product line to an exclusive VIP line that, when dialed, automatically reaches the members of your team who are ready for those specific callers. Plus, using DNIS numbers also sorts through otherwise unorganized call data so that your team can learn and grow to create stronger, more profitably customer experiences using a litany of call reports and data. All of this while keeping you free to pay attention to the things that really matter. Check out this handy infographic to get a better understanding, and get in touch with one of our DNIS experts if your business could benefit from an improved call-waiting experience.

DNIS Explained

Pennywise and Pound Foolish
November 18th, 2014

Stacks of CashYou may have heard this one before. It makes sense, though, we shouldn’t sacrifice our long-term opportunities at the expense of saving a few extra bucks here or there on things that we ultimately need to invest in.

Sometimes doing this means shelling-out for that killer software or computer that is outside of your typical onboarding package to make sure your new hire can help elevate your game. Or, maybe you’re just starting out and you are putting some of your salary dollars right back into your business. No matter what the case may be, the simple fact is that there will always be expenses that will come back as revenue even if it’s not as soon as we may prefer. Sometimes, though, our investments are immediately calculable.

Just like switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle will result in immediately realized gains at the gas pump, and retrofitting facilities with water-saving devices or LED lighting will positively impact utility bills, there will always be opportunities to gain from an appropriate amount of prudent investment.

Enlisting the service of an off-site telephone failover system like PBX Parachute allows you to mirror your existing system as we discussed recently. What you may not have known, however, is how you can realize gains from employing PBX Parachute even without a system failure or emergency.

There comes a point for every business where you can no longer divert valuable time and energy into certain tasks, and so finding economical ways to outsource them becomes paramount. Kara Taylor, VP of IS at Qualstar Credit Union in Redmond, Washington, was in such a position when her company of about 100 employees enlisted PBX Parachute to cover their nearly 100,000 inbound calls a month. Her savings were immediately realized. “The solution allowed us to greatly reduce our communications disaster recovery time from potentially hours to less than minutes and in so doing, virtually removed IS from managing another system in a recovery situation.”

You can read the entire case study from Qualstar and learn more about PBX Parachute from one of our experts in San Jose, but one thing you can’t do, however, is let your Information Security team off of the hook without PBX Parachute.

This is a Test, This is Only a Test
November 11th, 2014

RCA Indian Head Test PatternShould this have been a real emergency we probably wouldn’t be sitting around chatting, would we? We all recognize this phrase, and for some of us, it may not represent much more than a slight nuisance during our favorite TV or radio programs. The truth is that these periodic tests of the Emergency Alert System (formerly the Emergency Broadcast System) are designed to maintain a nationwide communications network should there ever be the need for delivering critical messages on a massive scale. While that’s a rather bleak notion, it’s also emblematic of something that is equally critical for businesses to consider implementing.

In a recent blog, we stressed the importance of designing, testing, and adopting a Business Continuity Plan and many of our subscribers have since begun that process. That’s a fantastic way to keep your doors open for business during an emergency. Furthermore, it prevents customers and prospects from guessing whether or not you are available or, worse yet, moving on to a competitor. It’s great that you can set your business up for success under any circumstance, but what about the wellbeing of your employees? How do you address their needs if their safety is in question? PBX Parachute can provide access to messages for your workforce in addition to keeping the lines of communication open to the public.

With a few very simple steps, you can prerecord any type of general emergency instructions for your employees and program them to be available on a special hotline as soon as the automatic failover system springs into action. That hotline number can be shared with your employees beforehand but it becomes available when the failover system is activated, thus eliminating the possibility for false alarms. And seeing as how PBX Parachute replicates your primary phone system and can also forward calls to extensions, your employees can both access the emergency hotline and get their inbound calls from a remote location away from any danger. Furthermore, from the convenience of your vConsole, you can also record situation-specific instructions and update the message in real time, making sure your team always has the most important and time-critical information right when they need it.

You’ve put too much into developing your team to put them in harm’s way. Get in touch with our business continuity experts to see how PBX Parachute can help you protect your most important investment- your employees. PBX Parachute helps you do that, test pattern not required.

We’ve Got your Back – VirtualPBX Business Phone Protection
November 7th, 2014

We're In It For The Long HaulYou know that one person in your circle of friends who everyone can always rely on? You know, the gal who will always be there to help you move, the guy who never hesitates to be designated driver, the person who is just rock-solid reliable? The point is that we have occasion to encounter people along the way that can always be trusted to be there in the clutch. Heck, maybe you’re that person, even. If so, you’d know how great it feels to lend a helping hand. We do, too.

While we can’t exactly commit to helping you move, and seeing as how we keep thousands of telephone numbers up and running 24 hours a day, we might not be the best option to hitch a ride in the middle of the night. However, we are there for you whenever you have an emergency at work.

If you subscribe to any of our Office or Anywhere Plans, you always have the peace of mind knowing that your business lines will be up and running no matter what unfolds. Weather, political, social, animal, vegetable or mineral- no matter what type of emergency comes knocking to your doorstep, your customers will never know the difference unless you want them to. That’s right, with a cloud-based telephone service from VirtualPBX, whenever disaster strikes, your telephone service continues as if nothing has happened and customers are sent to voicemail, or you can quickly change the inbound greeting to reflect any special instructions or updates should you require them. All of this can be managed in real time and wherever you can get online to your vConsole, your complete VirtualPBX phone system control panel. Through the vConsle you can also make lightening-fast changes to call routing by diverting traffic instantly to your cellphone or softphone. This intuitive platform can also be programed to intelligently cascade down a list of phones as you provide them, ex- desk phone, soft phone, mobile, etc.

Don’t have VirtualPBX telephone service yet? No problem, we’ve got you covered, too. With PBX Parachute, you can benefit from all of the same security and peace of mind as our complete phone service subscribers. Very much in the same way as we do with our Office and Anywhere Plans, with PBX Parachute we replicate your entire phone system so that, should you get hit with a system-downing emergency at your facility, PBX Parachute will deploy instantly after your primary system goes down. Also, you can prepare custom messages for inbound callers and information hotlines for your employees. This way you can immediately share critical information to the people who matter to you most, as soon as it is necessary.

No matter where you are or how you get your business phone service, VirtualPBX can be your wingman, your knight in shining armor, your go-to. What can we say? It just feels good knowing that people can rely on us. Reach out to one of our VoIP experts and see how we can help your business stay in the game, no matter what.

Business Continuity Plan – Make the Weather Less Frightful
November 5th, 2014

Winter StormIt seems premature to be talking about holiday music just a few days removed from Halloween, but this isn’t about Black Friday or eggnog, don’t worry. Instead, we’d like to focus on the fact that severe weather really can be frightful and, with the recent fall back into Daylight Savings Time, the worst of it is also right around the corner.

An excerpt from Fox News’ coverage of the recently-released UN report on climate change stated, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has answered the most important question on global warming — whether humans are causing it — with 95 percent certainty: Yes.”

Regardless of your position on the matter, however, one thing about weather is irrefutable- when Mother Nature shows us her less-than-gentle side, nothing can stand in her way. So where does that leave your business? If you were like the 7.9 million homes and businesses without power following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, your business would have ground to a stop until the utilities had been reinstated. The risk of an indefinite cessation of operations is something businesses can’t afford to be exposed to. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare and protect your business from these and other types of emergencies.

Obviously, having proper insurance coverage is critical for any organization, but that only helps to repair after an emergency has taken place. To keep your business up and running, it’s best to have a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place. This simple exercise is unfortunately one that too many people overlook until it’s too late, but there are plenty of easy-to-follow guides on how to implement a BCP available online.

Several areas identified in every BCP guide as critical for consideration in a comprehensive strategy can be addressed with a single tool. Having an off-sight business telephone failover system in place automatically creates:

  • A hotline for your employees to receive potentially life-saving information
  • A mirror of your entire telephone system so inbound calls remain completely unaffected, or
  • Should you prefer, an automated message to all inbound callers indicating extenuating circumstances and whatever service delay notifications you should choose to include

These types of reassurances and more are available with the right platform. PBX Parachute is the award-winning business telephone failover system from VirtualPBX that puts to rest any concerns over whether or not you can reach your employees, or if your customers can reach you. Contact one of the VirtualPBX Business Failover Experts today to see how this service can be a part of your BCP and begin weatherproofing your business right away.

Technology That Fits Your Business
October 28th, 2014

Do you remember the first time you had email sent to your phone? If you’re like many of us, that will forever mark both the beginning of a new era of personal technological advancement and also the termination of the, “I haven’t seen that yet,” excuse for work. But we take the good with the bad, right?

We live at a different pace these days, a fact most likely attributable to more deeply integrating mobile communications into our lives. With this higher dimension of connectivity we have the ability to consume entertainment and news from anywhere in the world, check in with our personal lives via mobile social networking, or simply have clearer, more reliable cellular connection in a wider range of locations than ever before. But with that omnipresent connection comes a lot of added work and scheduling that sometimes can be a bit much to manage.

The intersection of information access and time management is exactly where today’s top developers are working to literally improve our lives. Organizational tools such as Evernote or David Allen’s Getting Things Done are useful for staying focused in this often frantic, fast-paced lifestyle. These types of time and task management apps are widely available now because developers have recognized that the way people live and work is changing, and they’ve got the opportunity to help us get where we’re going. Though we used to conduct business around the limitations of our technology, people are now designing technology that fits for the way we want to conduct business.

That’s exactly why VirtualPBX business telephone plans have unique features like Follow-Me Calling that allow you to work how you need to and where you want to. Additionally, there’s a brand new twist on the popular Call Recording option that now lets you save and retrieve recorded call data just as conveniently. Going forward, businesses can now save calls with a single click from their vConsole directly to a Dropbox account. Dropbox is a virtual data storage management service that has a clever platform where you can access, review, and even share via email all of your saved calls from any mobile device or computer.

How do you want to work? Do you get to use technology to accommodate your schedule, or do you have to change plans to fit into the construct of your current business tools? Take a peek at the VirtualPBX Plan Comparison to see which one, and which features like Call Recording or Follow-Me Calling, can support the type of business you want to have.

True Toll-Free 800 Numbers Boost Performance
October 25th, 2014

Using toll-free numbers for your business is a great way to elevate your company’s image, establish a national presence, and ultimately boost overall performance. Clients can call from anywhere in the country with no charge, and your number can be listed in a nationwide directory of toll-free businesses.

Since their introduction, it was immediately clear that people preferred the convenience and cost-savings of doing business with firms that employed toll-free 800 numbers. Developed in the late 1960’s as an alternative to collect calling, toll-free numbers have only become increasingly popular ever since. The original 800 numbers’ value steadily increased as they were quickly claimed as more companies realized the importance of toll-free calling for business.

In fact, the advantages of having an 800 toll-free number are quantifiable as indicated by numerous consumer studies, as well.

  • A 2011 consumer research study by 800connect found that 97% of consumers recognize 1-800 numbers as being toll-free but were far less likely to make the same association with newer toll-free exchanges like 888, 877 and 866
  • The Institute of Direct & Digital Marketing in the UK found that providing an 800 number in advertisements that previously didn’t have one listed can increase their response rate by 180%
  • That same study found that, when considering two otherwise equal advertisements, consumers were significantly more likely to engage with the one with an 800 number listed than the one without

The ubiquity of toll-free calling today is great for consumers but it has left companies without a clear source for providing the service. That is until now. VirtualPBX owns a bank of the original 800 numbers that can distinguish businesses from those that rely on the lesser-known toll-free prefixes such as 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844.

Obtaining one of the emblematic 800 numbers is as powerful of a confidence-builder for your customer base as it is easy to accomplish. You can claim one of these numbers for as long as they are available and, if you’re curious about making a custom, vanity toll-free number, here are some useful hints on how to begin.

Call Recording is your Steel Trap for Business
October 21st, 2014

We’ve all been there. Those times when you’re in a relationship with someone who remembers every little detail and nuance of your conversations. Sometimes we may THINK we recall the details, but this person never fails to blow our mind, or to blow away any argument we may be crafting with their uncanny memory, that is. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the same pinpoint accuracy and flawless recall? You can.

Truth be told, you’re on your own with any nifty mnemonic technics that will help you track all of your relationship conversations, but with call recording from VirtualPBX, we can do that for your business.

VirtualPBX Call Recording is a feature available on all Anywhere and Office Plans we provide. Which is good, because call recording is a regulatory necessity for some industries and an added benefit that provides a competitive advantage for the rest. VirtualPBX’s call recording feature has a wide range of applications and features and is used for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Quality control of customer service or support departments’ conversations.
  • Training new hires and continuing education of existing employees.
  • Recording, cataloguing, sorting, and storing recorded calls as an augmentation to your accounts payable and accounts receivable departments’ bookkeeping
  • Or just sharing your team’s successes and learning to strengthen their skillset and also empower them by giving them a stake in the greater team’s success.

Don’t let the opportunity to make meaningful improvements to your business pass you by. Call recording is way easier than you may have thought, it can be automated for any or all phone lines, and it can be initiated anytime mid-call with a simple command on your dial pad. Beginning a comprehensive call recording strategy will give your business a steel trap of a mind, and it’s way less unsettling than trying to do this in the personal realm.