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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.

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.

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 QueuesFollow-Me Calling, and DNIS numbers work, check out this useful infographic.

How VoIP Works

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.

The Top 3 Benefits of the VirtualPBX Softphone App
October 2nd, 2014

VirtualPBX’s softphone app for iOS and Android allows users to turn any computer, tablet, or cell phone into a full-featured VoIP extension. Softphone App users can make and receive calls over their mobile device’s wifi or data connections and can make outbound calls associated with their business caller ID rather than a personal number. With our VoIP Anywhere technology, you get all the same, great features of VirtualPBX business phone systems, from centralized voicemail to call recording and beyond. It’s easy; all you have to do is register your softphone as a VoIP device and open the softphone app to begin. Below are the top three benefits of VirtualPBX’s softphone app.

Save Money While Traveling
You can save on roaming charges by making calls through your VirtualPBX Softphone. With VoIP Anywhere, users can get a U.S. dial tone for free by simply using either a wifi connection or your plan’s minutes rather than paying expensive hotel rates or large international roaming expenses on your cell phone.

Mobile Call Interruption
With VirtualPBX Softphone, you don’t need to worry about missing a personal call while using your phone for business. If a personal call comes in while you’re on a business VoIP call, the VoIP call will be put on hold until you answer or decline the personal call.

Little to No Cost
Adding a softphone to an office plan offers users little to not cost, as it operates off of any existing VoIP line – there is no charge for minutes used. VirtualPBX Softphone only uses your VirtualPBX plan’s minutes.

Learn more about the benefits and features of VirtualPBX Softphone or contact us at VirtualPBX today for more information by using the “Chat now” window on this page or by giving us a call at 888-825-0800.

Built on a Foundation of Service
September 18th, 2014

Built on a Foundation of Service

Okay, we can admit, it’s nice to get noticed every now and then. That’s why when VoIP and PBX Industry Analyst, Daniel Harris, of technology review company Software Advice wanted to include VirtualPBX in their suite of product offerings, we were thrilled.

“We wanted to include VirtualPBX here because we were looking for hosted PBXs who lead the pack in innovation and quality of service,” Harris said. “As our readers are mainly small business owners, we were also looking for hosted PBX systems that provide exceptional service for buyers in this niche, and VirtualPBX certainly fits the bill.”

Software Advice professionals consider how well a product’s features are married to high quality customer service when making recommendations to their clients. In that area, we are proud to say we buck the trend of offshoring our support teams and charging extra for their service.

We understand that our success is critically linked to the success of our customers. That’s why we have an entire team, in-house, that is dedicated to helping them maximize their familiarity with and benefit from VirtualPBX’s suite of products.

“One of the features of VirtualPBX that especially impressed me… was the incredibly easy setup–few VoIP providers allow a business to start service with nothing more than traditional analog desk phones,” Harris added. “I was also impressed by VirtualPBX’s disaster recovery options and quality control mechanisms including the dedicated service team which helps to manage customers’ network settings.”

It’s always an incredible honor to receive industry recognition for our customer service, but the best praise we can ever hope for is that from our customers themselves.

  • 85% of our customers recommend VirtualPBX to others
  • 90% of our customers are completely satisfied with VirtualPBX
  • 95% of our customers say they receive great customer service

Thanks for letting us get to do what we love, be your complete business phone solution. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience with VirtualPBX or VoIP in general, please feel free to share your comments with us! The full Software Advice article is available to read here.

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.