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General Telephony

Benefits of Telecommuting
September 23rd, 2014

The modern workplace is changing, and in many ways, for the better. Today more Americans telecommute than ever before, saving millions of dollars, tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and untold amounts of stress by exercising this simple option for work. This is all made possible thanks to advances in telecommunications technology, notably the use of VoIP softphones like the Desktop VirtualPBX Softphone. By switching from traditional utility providers to a VirtualPBX service, you can take your office with you anywhere you need to work.

Do you already benefit from working from home? Could you? What about your employees? Take a look at this simple infographic, and feel free to compare your current phone system to any of the VirtualPBX options.

The Benefits of Telecommuting by the Numbers

BYOD: Understanding the Benefits of “Bring Your Own Device” as the Market Grows
September 15th, 2014

Bring Your Own Device

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) refers to the action of allowing employees to use their own personal mobile devices or computers for their work, with access to company information and applications. BYOD is expected to increase in popularity over the next few years – 82% of people expect smartphones to play a critical role in business productivity in two years, according to IBM. And globally, the BYOD market is expected to grow to $181.39 billion by 2017, according to Markets and Markets. BYOD offers a variety of benefits for both employers and employees, including improved employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and cost savings.

Employee satisfaction – Employees are typically happier using their own devices that they’ve chosen based on their personal preferences. Users can avoid carrying multiple devices around, such as a work cell phone and a personal cell phone by integrating the two.

Increased productivity – Oftentimes, it is cumbersome to make the transition back and forth from a personal computer to a work computer, as they’re usually two completely different setups. By allowing employees to bring their own devices, more time is spent working on the actual task rather than working on technological details. Personal devices also tend to be updated more frequently by the user and offer more cutting-edge features.

Cost savings – BYOD can help save businesses money by shifting costs to the user. Rather than the business using money to purchase company laptops and cell phones, employees pay for their own devices.

Before implementing BYOD, it’s important to keep in mind that BYOD must be managed safely in order to protect your business’ privacy and assets. As the telecommuting trend grows, BYOD is expected to grow as well, with softphone technology leading the way. Contact VirtualPBX to learn more about softphone technology and how you can integrate it into your BYOD plan today.

How to Create a Smart
Vanity Number

September 4th, 2014

Create Smart Vanity Numbers: How to

A vanity number is a must-have for businesses looking to increase their bottom line, particularly those who advertise through print, radio, or television. Studies show that a vanity number can increase word of mouth advertising by as much as 200%, as well as increase the percentage of return customers. Expecting rushed viewers or listeners to remember a random 10 digit number is unreasonable and unreliable. However, not all vanity numbers are created equally. While any vanity number is preferable to a traditional phone number, creating one can prove to be challenging without taking proper precautions.

Below are a few tips and examples from VirtualPBX on choosing a vanity number for your business.

  • Avoid alpha-numeric numbers such as, “C4R5” for “cars” – while it’s unique, it’s too difficult for users to remember.
  • Stay away from hybrid numbers such as 1.800.593.PETS. While “PETS” is easy enough to remember, 593 is less than ideal in terms of choosing a memorable vanity number.
  • Repetition is good. 1.888.555.YARN is a great example of a memorable number that uses repetition to its advantage.
  • Using a business name within your number is good only if it is reflective of the business or is a well-known brand, e.g., 1.800.555.FORD or 1.888.HAIRCUT are both good examples. However, 1.877.MICHAEL for Michael’s Flower Depot wouldn’t be memorable, as consumers are unlikely to associate “MICHAEL” with flowers.
  • Sometimes one extra letter is okay; for example 1.800.DISCOVER is the number for Discover Card.
  • Use simple, unmistakable spelling. Consider how your vanity number will sound when repeated in conversation, radio, or television. Avoid slang words with variations in spelling.

When chosen properly, your viewers and listeners will be able to associate your phone number with your business. In turn, your bottom line should increase as you provide customers a convenient, memorable way to reach you.

VirtualPBX offers vanity toll-free numbers, as well as 800 numbers to improve your business’ line of communication with customers, vendors, partners, and more. Contact us today for more information at 888.825.0800.

Michigan Landline Phone Legislation Continues to Garner Controversy
September 2nd, 2014

Michigan Landline Phone Legislation Controversy

According to a recent article by GovTech.com, legislators are currently trying to modify the Michigan Telecommunications Act in order to make it easier for telecommunications companies to stop offering landline phone service in Michigan. The bill, currently passed through the Michigan Senate, would restructure the process companies must go through in order to discontinue their basic local exchange or toll service. If the amendment is successful at restructuring the bill, the new rules will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

According to the article, the bill is sponsored by Senator Mike Nofs and is believed to have the authority to protect landlines for those that need them while giving companies the ability to transition to cellular-based platforms of service or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems. Nofs and others believe that companies shouldn’t be required to continue investing in outdated technology.

“The Internet has changed the way the world works, and it has already changed how millions of people talk on the phone. This bill ensures our constituents are protected while delivering new and improved technology. It’s the best of both worlds,” Nofs said.

In a recent study by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), data specifies that the number of landline customers in Michigan dropped from 6.7 million to 2.6 million over the course of 12 years (from 2000 to 2012), giving further indication that it’s time to move forward with other services, such as VoIP PBX. AARP of Michigan along with The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, however, oppose the bill, expressing concern for older generations who depend on landlines for communication. Michigan will join a large group of states that have already condensed or even completely eradicated all state authority in terms of telecommunications if the bill is passed.

It’s imperative that state laws reflect newer, streamlined technology and residents and businesses have the opportunity to make use of this better, updated technology as well. With the passing of this bill, providers will be able to offer customers new forms of telecommunications services through other types of technology, such as VoIP. Currently, lawmakers are taking their time to look closely into this issue.

What are your thoughts on enabling service providers to eliminate landline phone services?

Hosted PBX vs. Standard PBX: Which Is Right for You?
August 12th, 2014

is Hosted PBX or Standard PBX right for your business

Choosing a hosted PBX service vs. a standard PBX service depends greatly on the needs of your business. But how do you know which is right for you? Sometimes the choice is easy – for example, a hosted PBX service would make the most sense for a company with employees who work outside the main office; a company where all employees are located at the same office location may find that a standard PBX system is more beneficial. Below are more details to help you decide which service is best for you and your business.

A standard PBX system makes sense when:

  • All employees are located at the same office
  • The company doesn’t mind high up-front costs in order to receive the lowest possible monthly costs
  • The company wants the cheapest solution available and capabilities are unimportant
  • The business is larger
  • Customers won’t benefit from a toll-free service
  • The company is not likely to change in size

A hosted PBX service is the best choice when:

  • Not all employees are located at the same location – some telecommute, work away from the main location, or need to be available outside of regular hours
  • There is not a brick-and-mortar location – the company is virtual
  • The business wants low up-front costs
  • Customers would benefit from a toll-free service
  • The business is smaller
  • The company is likely to increase in size
  • The business experiences a high number of incoming calls
  • System reliability and fault tolerance are important
  • The business would like to avoid dedicating employees to outsourcing for PBX support
  • The business would like a complete set of features

A PBX service helps save your business money, as well as offers additional features that simply can’t be had with a traditional phone system. Still not sure which is right for you? Call VirtualPBX today at 1-888-825-0800 for more information on our hosted PBX service. We can help you decide what’s most beneficial for your business.

Tips for an Effective Business Meeting and the Benefits
July 23rd, 2014

Tips and Benefits for Meetings

Meetings are a necessity in almost every industry and they provide a myriad of benefits for the participants. Some benefits are more obvious than others – the evident goal being to ensure alignment and clarify meaning through voice interaction, as opposed to spending numerous hours reading through email chains. When you need innovative concepts to come to a solution, a brainstorming meeting might be the key to success. One final obvious benefit is education. Meetings are often the best solution to educate individuals; questions can be asked and a more personal approach can be taken. Teleconferencing is a great option due to its ease of use and convenience for all parties involved, and flexibility in terms of location, timing, and the number of potential participants.

In addition, there are some less obvious benefits for meetings:

  • Socialization – The brief socializing before and after the meeting can be an important factor for employee engagement and team building – especially when those involved work remotely and may not get the chance to speak to each other often.
  • Awareness – As opposed to written communications, issues or risks associated with a plan or solution are more likely to be brought up during a verbal dialogue.
  • Development – Professional development occurs as individuals are challenged to speak up amongst their peers. This is where character, quick thinking, and communication skills are often developed.

Four tips to follow for a great meeting:

  1. Keep it short, simple, and to-the-point.
    Consider how long the meeting will take and schedule that amount of time to stay on track. Keep everything short and to-the-point to ensure unnecessary banter and off-topic conversations.
  2. Create an agenda prior to the meeting.
    This will help keep the meeting on track, as well as allow others to prepare and set expectations. A brief list of topics goes long way.
  3. Ensure accountability.
    Ensure expectations and accountability by clarifying what’s expected of everyone before and after the meeting, particularly if this is a team effort. One easy way to do this is by taking meeting notes and capturing action items in bold along with the designated person for the task.
  4. Go virtual.
    To increase convenience, more and more business are going virtual with VoIP conferencing. Phone conferencing is easy to use and is perfect for meetings between those in the company or outside customers, vendors, and more. Conferencing via telephone offers flexibility and convenience for all parties involved.

Learn more about the benefits of conferencing from VirtualPBX and how it can aid in an effective business meeting

Optimize the Way Your Business Operates with Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS)
June 12th, 2014

There are a variety of ways to track the progress of your business and create strong business opportunities. However, are you doing everything you can to ensure your business is successful?

Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) is a tool that allows your employees to capture useful data from your callers, while offering the opportunity to uniquely answer calls. DNIS offers your business the ability to track and categorize the calls you receive so you can uniquely answer each individual call. From the moment your employees see the number from which the customer is calling, the employee can immediately address their needs. This enables you to create a more personalized experience for callers, whether they’re customers, clients, or potential partners while also saving time.

There are a myriad of options when setting up your DNIS telephone numbers:

  • You can set up toll-free numbers that are specific to individual products.
  • Have dedicated lines that can be created for multilingual customers.
  • For larger clients, you are able to set up “VIP numbers” which directs them quickly to their destination.
  • You can now monitor the frequency and volume of calls a specific sector of your business receives.

So how can you get started?

DNIS numbers include local, toll-free, and international numbers and are able to be added to your current VirtualPBX system at any time. Interested in seeing exactly how DNIS can benefit your business? Call VirtualPBX at 888.825.0800 ext. 2 to learn more.

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?

FLAT-RATE PLANS

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:

Plan Overview

  • 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

Best for:

  • Most companies with typical phone use
  • Employees who work in offices or home offices with broadband internet

USAGE-BASED PLANS

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.

Plan Overview

  • 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

Best for:

  • Companies with low phone use
  • Employees on cell phones or land lines

PLAN CALCULATOR

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.

Panasonic Cordless Phones Deliver Business Quality
April 11th, 2012

Home and office phone systems have come a long way in the past few years. Numerous upgrades have made all types of phones more accessible, including cordless phones.

One of the more notable cordless phones available today is from Panasonic, one of the leading names in telecommunications. The Panasonic TGP500B is a feature rich desk phone replacement with outstanding voice quality and a range of productivity-boosting options.  Integrated with SIP based technology, this cordless phone uses Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT) to improve call quality and support multiple handsets. Users can add up to 6 DECT cordless handsets to one base.

The Panasonic TGP500B uses new frequencies and digital technology virtually eliminating interference to provide you crystal clear communications. DECT 6.0 ensures there is no interference with wireless networks. With the convenient cordless design, you can have static-free conversations away from the base. The large range is perfect for today’s busy lifestyle, allowing you to escape the confines of the base station and freely walk around you home or office or even outside.

Features of the Panasonic  include:

  • Expandable Cordless Phone System with
    Base Station and 1 cordless handset
  • DECT radio technology
  • 2.1 inch backlit LCD display on handset
  • Includes power supply
  • Wall-mountable base unit
  • Add 5 additional cordless handsets

Overall, the Panasonic TGP500B VoIP Phone is easy to use and deploy, convenient and expandable.  Virtual PBX is proud to announce the addition of this technology to its product line.  The TGP500B model includes both the base station and one handset.  Additional handsets can be ordered under the model number TPA50B.

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.