How Bandwidth Can
Negatively Impact VoIP Quality
…and How to Improve It
August 24th, 2014
It’s widely-known that business VoIP phones rely heavily on your Internet speed. A High-speed Internet connection provides VoIP with clear, high-quality calls and is a necessity in any business with an implemented VoIP phone system. However, what most people don’t know is that network bandwidth plays a large role as well. VoIP needs a certain amount of bandwidth to be usable. Businesses rely on a number of other Internet activities and while you might have enough bandwidth for VoIP to remain clear, when traffic spikes in one area of your network, your VoIP call suffer a loss in sound quality, resulting in static… or even drop completely.
So how do I determine if I have enough bandwidth?
While there are a number of network speed and bandwidth tests available online, it can be difficult to determine the right amount of bandwidth to meet your specific business needs. Because of this, you may want to contact the experts.
How do I find the right network bandwidth provider?
Once you’ve determined what amount of bandwidth is required to meet your business needs, it’s important to shop around for a reputable provider. VirtualPBX makes it easier to shop around and takes the search out of your hands. Simply request a quote, and VirtualPBX will search your local providers for you in order to provide you with the best quote for the bandwidth that you need.
Preparing your phone system for a storm
November 1st, 2012
As an assist to clients affected by hurricane Sandy this week, we posted information about how to prepare for a big storm and keep communication flowing during the storm. We’re posting it here for reference, since winter is nearly upon us. We hope it will be helpful to any of you that may experience storms in the coming months.
There are some important things you can do to make sure your Virtual PBX phone system keeps your business connected during a storm. Virtual PBX systems are in a hardened co-location facility that is part of the national infrastructure. It has multiple sources of power and connection, coming in through different feeds, and is unlikely to be affected by any storm, no matter how severe. We’ll take your calls as long as the phone companies are still delivering them. The issue is making sure you have some place for us to send them.Whether you’re using our standard Virtual PBX Service or our disaster recovery product, PBX Parachute, we recommend that you do the following:
- Figure out which extensions in your system are the most important for uninterrupted phone calls. This may be all of your extensions.
- Talk with the extension owners for those extensions and get alternative phone numbers where they can be reached during the storm. Suggestions include cellular phones (many cell phones will work even if power is down), home phones if they are staying in town, or phone numbers of relatives they will visit if they are leaving the storm area.
- Change the Call Routing for each of these extensions to include the alternate phone numbers. If there is a specific number they want to be tried first, make that the “Default” number. You can exclude office phone numbers if you are sure the employees won’t be at their office phones.
- Be sure that employees know how to update their Call Routing list as things change. This can be done through any browser or from your smartphone via one of our free apps. Just download the Virtual PBX app from the iPhone App Store or Google Play. If your employees need to learn how to do this, they should run our short Extension Owner QuickStart training.
- Let all of your employees make sure they know how to reach someone in charge if things go wrong, whether it’s related to the phone system, or not. Most companies could benefit from an emergency contact list, that can be used to let people know what’s going on, status of the office, and information about other workers. The best way to do this is to decide which Virtual PBX extensions people should call.
Most important of all, please be safe. We sincerely hope that all goes well with your people, as well as your business. Our thoughts are with you.
The VirtualPBX Team
Ensure Business Continuity with PBX Parachute
February 17th, 2012
In the event of a disaster, what is your business phone system disaster recovery plan? If your customers, partners and employees can’t reach you, how much business will you lose?
At VirtualPBX, we understand your office phone system is vital to your business. Many companies have business continuity in place for their data and network systems, but business continuation for phones is usually much more immediately important, but unfortunately often not included in the overall disaster recovery plan. Not being available to take calls can mean lost revenue, your customers losing confidence in your company, and in some cases, going out of business.
Don’t be unprepared in the event of a phone system outage. VirtualPBX has made it quick and easy for anyone to set up a disaster recovery system for their phones and ensure business continuity around-the-clock. No matter what type of phone system you have, including inbound and outbound call centers, PBX Parachute by Virtual PBX can protect your company.
Acting as a hot standby phone system, PBX Parachute can mirror your primary phone system and take over if your on-site PBX fails or if your place of business is not accessible because of fire, flood, or electrical outage. There is no hardware to boot, no software to run, and no data to move. PBX Parachute simply waits in the background until needed, making it automatic and practically instantaneous. In addition, you have the option to route calls to alternate phones in any location, such as cellular phones, home phones, alternate branch office phones, or other hardware VoIP phones or softphones. Callers may not even know there has been an outage.
PBX Parachute can act as a backup phone system as part of an overall business continuity plan, or it can simply act as an employee emergency hotline so employees have a place to call and check in during a disaster. For more information, please visit our phone system business continuation and phone system disaster recovery pages.
With plans starting as low as $400 per year, PBX Parachute by VirtualPBX will allow you to deliver uninterrupted business communication anytime, anywhere, allowing you to continue to take inbound phone calls no matter what the situation. Recover your business voice with PBX Parachute by Virtual PBX.
True 800 Numbers Available
February 3rd, 2012
Since their development in the late 1960’s as an alternative to collect calling, toll free numbers have become increasingly popular. Not long after their release, companies began to notice people preferred to do business with firms that had 800 numbers.
Over time, the original toll free numbers, those beginning with the digits “800” started becoming rare as more companies realized their importance in establishing a strong businesses presence. Additional toll free numbers starting with the prefixes 888, 877, 866, and 855 have been made available, but the original 800 numbers have become hard to get, and if you actually find one, they can be quite expensive. Now, however, Virtual PBX has acquired a large block of these hard-to-get true 800 numbers, and we’re making them available at a very low cost.
Marketing Advantages of Having an 800 Number
- Studies indicate companies receive more business advertising with an 800 number over any other phone number, no matter the type of business or the target market. An ad with a toll free 800 number almost always out performs the exact same ad without a toll free number. It is almost expected that a business will have a toll free number and businesses without one are potentially missing out on tons of sales opportunities.
- An 800 prefix number is going to be a solid foundation for all your advertising. That “8-0-0″ gives your company an instant lift in trust, a more professional appearance, and virtually eliminates customer misdials. It’s rare in the business world that you find something that costs so little and provides so much in return.
- The IDM institute of direct marketing discloses that having a toll free phone number for your customers to call can increase your response rate by 180%, another good reason to seriously think about using a 1- 800 number.
- All the advertising in the world won’t make your phones ring if your audience can’t remember your phone number. 800 numbers are much more memorable and should be a critical part of your marketing effort.
- Many people still wonder whether numbers other than true 8-0-0 numbers are toll free.A 2011 consumer research study found that 97% of consumers recognize the 800 exchange as toll-free, but few connected with the newer toll-free exchanges like 888, 877 and 866.
Credibility and Enhanced Corporate Image
- A 1-800 number can improve your company’s image. It can help you establish a large, trustworthy presence with your client and prospects. Using toll free numbers will tell your customers that you are stable, professional, and serious. Even if you work out of your home, consumers often assume a toll-free 800 number is associated with a large company.
- Moreover, toll free numbers expand your territorial reach encouraging people to call you from across the country or the world. Get an 800 number and put you company on a par with large corporations.
Here at Virtual PBX we recognize the benefits of allowing clients to call you for free, and have made it easy and affordable for anyone to get their own toll free number. And we now have more true 800 numbers available than ever before. We’re offering these numbers to clients at a reduced price for a limited time. Contact us today to get yours.
Virtual PBX Reduces International Dialing Rates
December 8th, 2011
Making international calls has often been an expensive proposition for small and medium businesses. If you have clients living overseas or live abroad yourself, you know keeping in touch with people around the world can be extremely expensive.
Just in time for the busy holiday season, Virtual PBX is making it easier than ever to stay connected by lowering their international dialing rates. With Virtual PBX, you no longer need to purchase an international calling card or waste time searching for lower rates. Virtual PBX is excited to announce new international rates, with some cut by as much as 80%.
Virtual PBX worked hard with its carriers to push rates lower while maintaining high quality, crystal clear calls, and they are passing all the saving onto you. Call land lines in London or Buenos Aires, or mobile phones in Hong Kong for as low as 1.9 cents per minute. So stop watching the minutes on the phone when you are calling abroad and enjoy the savings.
Virtual PBX also offers two other great ways to save big for global phone calls. If you have employees in other countries, you can set them up with an extension that incorporates a VoIP phone or softphone. Then, calls to their extensions can be free.
If your client base is international, Virtual PBX can get you a local phone number in thousands of cities around the globe for a low monthly rate. Your clients can call in at little or no cost because the number is local to them, and you get no extra per-minute fees for the inbound calls. .
These discounted international options give excellent value and are part of the many reasons Virtual PBX is an easy choice for companies with global interests. With Virtual PBX You can be sure that you’re getting the best value for your dollar no matter who or where you call.
Specific rate information can be found on our website at www.virtualpbx.com.
Why Vanity Numbers are worth their Weight in Gold
December 1st, 2011
In today’s world, vanity numbers have become extremely common among business owners. Once only associated with big corporations, vanity numbers are now readily available to anyone who wants them.
A vanity number is an alpha-numeric telephone number containing a word or phrase which is memorable and usually defines their corporate identity. Some companies such as 1-800-FlOWERS and 1-800-PET-MEDS build their company around their business defining vanity number.
But what are the benefits of owning a vanity number and does your business need one?
One of the main benefits to having a vanity number is they are super easy to remember. All the advertising in the world won’t get your phones ringing unless your audience can remember your phone number. When you try to remember a phone number, you are using your short-term memory. The human brain can only keep so many things in short-term memory and that information is only stored for a few seconds to several minutes before it is gone forever. The best way to transfer incoming information into long-term memory is to link, associate or connect the incoming information with something in your memory which is meaningful. Switching a phone number from random numbers to words allows people to make memorable connections with that phone number and your business, therefore increasing the chance it will remain in their long-term memory.
Aside from the connection, you are reducing the amount of data prospective clients have to process from seven digits to a single word or phrase. This makes memorizing the number quick and easy and thus people are much more likely to call that number when they need that service.
In addition, memorable vanity numbers will help you generate more business by increasing effective word of mouth advertising and the potential to reach tons of people you would otherwise never reach. Studies show that a good vanity number can increase word of mouth advertising by as much as 200% and the percentage of return customers is higher.
Furthermore, a great vanity number will establish your brand and leave a lasting impression with current and future customers. Therefore, it is important to obtain vanity numbers that reflect both your industry and business name. Vanity numbers were once only associated with established national corporations thus people perceive a company with a vanity number as bigger and stronger.
Overall, if you are interested in increasing your potential customer base, securing your reputation and letting people know you are a true professional, consider getting a vanity number for your business.
For more information on vanity numbers please click here: http://www.virtualpbx.com/learn-more/phone-numbers/toll-free-phone-numbers/
Telecom Disaster Recovery with PBX Parachute
July 21st, 2010
In previous blogs we covered the importance of telecom disaster recovery and what to look for in a telecom disaster recovery service provider. The industry has published many studies and surveys about how crippling a telecom disaster can be as well as how unprepared most companies really are when it comes to recovering from a phone system outage of any sort. Like the 2009 study from the Business Research Institute which 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.
The planning behind a telecom disaster recovery service should not just take national or natural disasters into account. What about the mundane and non-disasters such as planned downtime? What about simple things like a false fire alarm? There are multiple reasons why a company’s employees may not be able to answer their own phones in their own office. Why not be prepared? This is not a hard process, but it is an important one.
Virtual PBX has made the process very simple with our telecom disaster recovery service PBX Parachute. Here’s what you get:
Hot-standby PBX with Automatic Failover
PBX Parachute waits in the background until it is needed. When called upon, there is no hardware to boot, no software to run, and no data to move. As a hot standby PBX it is ready to go. Failover can be automatic and almost instantaneous, or you can bypass automatic failover and manage the transition on your own. Calls can be routed to alternate phones in any location, such as cellular phones, phones in branch offices, or home phones.
Scale to Any Level
PBX Parachute is so complete, with so many important features, that it can usually directly mirror your primary PBX. Any size company can use the service, and it can provide phone system business continuity for all workers, or just for the most critical business functions.
Employee Emergency Hotline
Even if your business is prepared for an emergency, that’s not always true of your employees. An emergency hotline that is ready to provide instructions for how they should handle any given situation is a lot easier to remember than how the system is wired to deliver calls outside in the event of a fire in the building.
Complete Architectural Assistance
While the way in which you want calls handled is up to you, building and maintaining your disaster recovery should not cut into your time. When you create a PBX Parachute account, you just let us know how the calls need to get handled and we carry it from there. Need to update your plans or messages? Just send us an email, we’ll get any recordings or routing taken care of for you.
Knowledge research firms like Basex, Inc., have estimated that a standard 500-person company would lose over $90,000/day from loss of phone service. Says Cheryl Arscott of Reservation Services International, “Had I not completed and signed up for the Virtual PBX Parachute program we would have been out of business for 10 days. With the PBX Parachute, our company was able to stay in contact with our customers by phone when our normal phone system was down during hurricane Wilma”.
Given the amount at stake and the ease of creating and maintaining an automatic fail-over phone service through Virtual PBX’s PBX Parachute service, we strongly urge any company who has not already prepared for disaster to give us a call. 1-888-825-0800, option 1, and you can acquire phone system readiness for whatever storms may come your way. As we say here at Virtual PBX — don’t get caught with your phones down!
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.
Using Multiple Virtual Numbers to Make AND Save Money
May 19th, 2010
Lots of information flows through your business’s phone lines. Potential customers who don’t leave contact information could still be reached if you had access to their caller ID. Marketing spending results could be tracked precisely if you could find out exactly how your call volume has been affected. Managers could confirm the movement of calls, showing that they’re processing leads and their staff is working properly.
But just having a plethora of raw call information is difficult to manage and hard to decipher. So here at Virtual PBX, we give your organization the ability to host an unlimited amount of phone numbers and forward those to all kinds of different destinations, while still tracking all the information and processing it into a set of easily manageable reports. Each phone number can further be specialized by having its own greeting as well as directing callers to specific destinations within the Virtual PBX.
Basically, any company trying to track caller response to advertisements, promotions, campaigns, find out about missed sales or prove proper call management needs to be able to get the records that show those pieces of information organized based on the phone numbers dialed. And anyone trying to direct calls to dedicated sales teams, handle multiple businesses, provide access to multiple retail locations, or give VIP access to special clients would benefit from being able to have individual numbers for each of those possible purposes.
So there are many reasons to use extra phone numbers — and every reason is very specialized. Using extra numbers to support a franchise is going to be completely different from tracking marketing information from inbound callers. The Marketing group is going to want one or more phone numbers for each advertisement, promotion, or campaign. By doing this, they can measure their advertisement effectiveness, and thus optimize their advertisement costs. This is accomplished by tracking all call detail such as caller ID, date and time of the call, call duration, and destination of the call – even on missed calls and, in most cases, callers who have blocked their caller ID. Franchisors, on the other hand, may want to track similar information, but at the same time they need to get the calls directed down to their franchisees and regional offices as fast as possible.
Regardless of the needs of your business — from individuals, to home offices and small businesses, to large enterprises — you only pay for what you need, with no wasted resources or dollars. With the ability to track and route a company’s inbound calls like no other call forwarding, call tracking, or virtual phone system in this market, the Virtual PBX service is the best choice for companies serious about measuring and optimizing the flow of information and budgets.