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General Telephony

How Do Virtual Phone
Systems Work?

October 17th, 2014

How Virtual Phone Systems Work

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology revolutionizes the way users can make phone calls. Replacing traditional landlines lines with a high-speed internet connection is a great way to improve signal reliability and reduce costs for your business.

Digitized Conversations.
VoIP digitizes sounds to transmit calls over fiber optic cables. Once your voice is translated into transferable data, the sending computer separates this information into even smaller packets of data. The packets are then transmitted from your router to the call recipient’s computer through the internet.  Within seconds, the recipient computer receives these data packages and pieces them back together. The reassembled information then instructs the recipient’s phone system how to reproduce your verbal message. All of this allows virtual phone systems to circumvent the use of dedicated copper wires utilized by costly and often outdated traditional phone systems.

Virtual Phone Perks.
This packet-based communication offers several inherent advantages over the dedicated circuit-switch system. Packaging information allows data from multiple conversations to simultaneously transfer across a single fiber optic phone line. The result is a far more efficient strategy for transferring phone calls. Furthermore, data compression allows virtual phone system users access to even more cost-effective services, like digital faxing, enhanced messaging, and sophisticated call routing.

Unique-to-VoIP Features.
Virtual phone systems can also perform the same functions as any traditional private branch exchange (PBX) system. VirtualPBX simplifies this process by hosting powerful servers that transmit calls to its users. Incoming calls are received by either a digital or real-life receptionist. Callers are then prompted for a specific extension, which connects them directly to the branch or employee of their choice. This connection transfer happens digitally and can connect callers to VoIP-capable phones in literally any location – so you no longer need to be in the office to take a business call. VirtualPBX’s Anywhere Plan provides this type of flexibility and is great for companies with workers on the go or at home.

For more traditional brick-and-mortar operations that can also benefit from the freedom of a VoIP system, VirtualPBX also has several Office Plans to choose from.

To decide which plan works best for your business, check out the VirtualPBX Plan Comparison tool or give us a call at 888.825.0800 today!

Firedrill Confirms Business Telephone Strength
October 10th, 2014

Firedrill exposes vulnerability in telephone systems

Today at our corporate headquarters in beautiful downtown San Jose our building underwent a routine fire drill. Okay, short of having to trudge down the 187 steps to the ground floor from our office, we were all really quite fine to get some beautiful Silicon Valley sunshine. That’s because our office calls followed us outside. Our neighbors weren’t all so lucky.

Coincidentally, some of our co-tenants have employed VirtualPBX Office for their business phone needs so our days all kept on rolling without missing a beat thanks to the follow-me calling feature. For both of us it was almost like our professor decided to hold class outside. Business as usual, but with a nicer view.

Once the drill was over and the building cleared for reentry, the scene resembled a crowded commuter train as our neighbors were loading themselves into elevators in a surprisingly frantic hurry to get back to their desks. Turns out, if you don’t have the latest VoIP technology keeping your company connected no matter where they are, you can miss a lot of important work. All kidding aside, it was admittedly pretty nice to be able to continue conducting business on our own schedule, and not on that of the local Fire Inspector.

Right now, new customers to VirtualPBX Office or current VirtualPBX Anywhere customers who upgrade to an Office Plan will get one month of service for free if they buy the NEW Desktop VirtualPBX Softphone. Don’t let life keep you from speaking to your clients. Stay connected with VirtualPBX Office and enjoy all of the flexibility of a customizable, feature-rich phone system without the hassles and costs of a traditional copper wire telephone provider. All of the details of how you can get your first month of VirtualPBX Office are right here.

Thanks, and good luck out there!

3 Tips for Setting Up a Home Office
October 7th, 2014

Three Tips for Setting Up Your Home Office

Today, 26.2 million Americans, nearly 20% of the workforce, telecommute. Since 2012, there has been a 20% increase of telecommuters within the U.S., and the number continues to rise as businesses begin to better understand the benefits and as new technology such as softphones emerge.

There are plenty of benefits of telecommuting. Telecommuters are able to save time and money on commuting, spend more time with family, and work within the comfort of their own home. Still, work needs to be done and making the transition to a home office as seamless as possible takes some consideration. Minimizing distractions, staying connected, and making use of the cloud are just a few things to keep in mind from home.

Minimize Distractions
One of the most difficult parts about working from home is keeping distractions to a minimum. One way to do this is to set yourself up with a legitimate workspace. Stay off the couch, turn the television off, and retreat to a quiet, distraction-free space. While it is okay to take some time from work to take care of household chores, it’s important not to use any excuses to stray from completing your work.

Stay Connected
In order to make the transition from office to home office seamless, it is vital to make sure that lines of communication are kept open and that people can reach you as if you were in the office itself. The best way to do this is to make use of a softphone. A softphone can turn your computer or mobile phone into a VoIP extension. VirtualPBX’s softphones offer all the features of a VoIP phone, plus business caller ID so you can use your cell phone for business without giving out your personal number.

Get access to your office files
It is important to be able to mimic your work atmosphere while you are still at home. One way to do this is to be able to access all the files you’ll need to do work while you are at home. One major benefit of the cloud is that it allows you to access all cloud-hosted files from your computer at any time while streamlining the sharing process.

Learn more by contacting VirtualPBX today at 1-888-825-0800.

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.