Infographic – PBX Parachute
December 9th, 2014
Business Continuity Planning, Disaster Recovery, Automatic Business Failover; these phrases can all begin to sound pretty scary when you think about how important they can be to the life of your company. But even the scariest, darkest paths are easily navigated when you use the right tools. Let PBX Parachute be the torch to shine your way down the road of planning for the future. You’ll find though this simple infographic that PBX Parachute functions as a lifeline to both your coworkers and your customers so you can stay connected no matter what happens.
Network Health Check – What Affects VoIP Call Quality
December 8th, 2014
Today, the most successful businesses rely heavily on their network to get through daily operations. At VirtualPBX, we work with you to ensure that your network is performing at its best, which is why we offer a VoIP speed test to assess your network before you switch to VoIP, along with a ProSIP Network Health Check if you experience issues as your business and the strain on your network grows. ProSIP Network Health Checks are professional grade network analyses specifically focused on your network’s Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Essentially, SIP is the method by which all media data is sent and received online. This is the portion of your network responsible for your VoIP data and the focus of the ProSIP Network Health Check. While most businesses experience little to no problems with their network or VoIP quality, there are times when they may find their VoIP quality impacted. The three most common things that impact VoIP call quality are:
- Bandwidth delivered by your ISP
- Capacity of your network
- Performance of your network
What Affects My VoIP Quality?
While there are three top culprits of diminished VoIP call quality, as mentioned above, other factors could include your ISP failing to deliver what you pay for. With the rise of content streaming and social networking, congestion has become another cause of poor VoIP call quality. Mobile devices are a factor as well, as mobile devices continue to create new and unexpected demands from your VoIP phone system’s network.
ProSIP Network Health Check
Unsure what is affecting your call quality? When you sign up for VirtualPBX’s ProSIP Network Health Check, you can expect an intensive, weeklong analysis of your network. With this check, we can help determine exactly what is happening on your network and how that is impacting your network’s performance – from there, we will send you a plan and help you make the needed improvements.
It’s our goal to ensure that your VirtualPBX phone systems are running smoothly. If you feel that you’re not getting the best quality from your network, let us know so we can help identify the problem! Sign up for a Network Health Check here.
Your Business Twin – Be in Two Places at Once
November 24th, 2014
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
You 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
Should 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
You 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
It 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.
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.
How to Create a Smart
September 4th, 2014
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.
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.