Posted on March 29, 2018 by Dan Quick
Like we’ve discussed in the past, sports often impact how Americans choose to work, or more commonly, not work. That’s why today, in recognition of the official opening of the Major League Baseball regular season, we’re focusing on the latest technology that fuels remote working, VirtualPBX’s new Mobile for Business feature. Specifically, we’ll be discussing the three most important reasons to use Mobile for Business on opening day, or any day afterward.
The 3 Reasons to Use Mobile for Business on Opening Day
While most, if not all, advances in telecommunications were likely not born out of need to spend more time goofing off at sporting events or sports bars, Mobile for Business on the award-winning Dash Service Plans from VirtualPBX may as well have been. That said, take a moment to realize that although these are uniquely advantageous benefits insofar as enjoying America’s pastime is concerned, they’re actually far more useful in the course of a regular workday, too. But without any further ado, because the first pitch won’t wait for anyone, here are the three reasons to use Mobile for Business.
- Caller ID Options By being able to toggle whatever number is displayed when you’re using a VirtualPBX enabled mobile phone, you can effectively show your whereabouts as anywhere you choose. That means if you wanted to hide the mobile number associated with your device and have all outgoing calls show your office number, you can do that. This is useful if you happen to be, say, in the concourse between innings making a call to an important client. Hypothetically, of course.
- Pooled Minutes All Mobile for Business phones on a Dash service plan will share the same pool of minutes that the overall organization is allotted. At first glance, that may seem pretty straightforward but it also means that your excessive ballpark business activities won’t show a spike in your mobile minutes when you bring in an expense report. All of the Mobile for Business phones on VirtualPBX will show the same type of use as any other device would have. It’s all about covering your tracks, after all, right?
- Nationwide 4G LTE Coverage Is your home team traveling on their opening day? Want to schedule your sales roadshow to coincide with an away-game series? No problem! Because VirtualPBX operates the only 4G LTE nationwide network specifically for your Mobile for Business needs, that means that you can go anywhere and still have the same, crystal-clear coverage that you expect from all of our VoIP products. Heck, you can even go down to some of the Single-A League games and be connected there, too!
Even More Reasons to Use Mobile for Business
The baseball season is long, so don’t overdo your time away from the office just yet. Plus, after the boys of summer are done and provided you haven’t burnt too many bridges along the course of the season, you’ll be able to use the entire array of Mobile for Business features well into next year’s Spring Training, too. The three reasons to use Mobile for Business we’ve listed above are helpful in a pinch(hitter), but they’re also just the tip of the iceberg. You can get the inside(baseball) on the other reasons to use Mobile for Business anytime, too. And remember that posting your Opening Day shenanigans on social media where all of your coworkers can see them is a total rookie mistake that you should avoid making. Instead, why don’t you share where you’re watching the game with us on our own social pages on Facebook and Twitter? We promise we won’t tell as long as you promise to bring us back a chili dog and garlic fries.
Posted on March 27, 2018 by Dan Quick
We’ve been around for a long time and have collected some of the best minds from across several industries, and we think it’s high time they got their day in the spotlight. In this series of blogs we’ll be unearthing some of the technology and talent that power our hosted communications platform.
If you’re here reading this and have ever encountered even the smallest bit of VirtualPBX content out in the world, then you already know the work of our next Tech Talks guest. Rachel Anderson is our Vice President of Design and Marketing and among her many responsibilities is the curating and oversight of all of our brand guidelines and content. Basically, if it’s ever been printed, published, or prepared by our many different channels and departments, she’s had a hand in making sure it’s as good as it can be. Despite what may initially appear to be a clear slant away from our traditional tech-heavy conversation, Rachel also has some heady insight into how digital marketers can get more campaign and conversion data by using a clever feature available on any Dash service plan. And because data rules most of the decision-making processes in marketing and operations circles now more than ever, this definitely warrants a walk through the steps on how to do it yourself. That’s why today we’re taking our Tech Talks over to the Marketing Department to discuss how DID Numbers shed new light on the impact of your marketing budgets like never before. Plus, seeing as how she’s VirtualPBX to the core in that she has worked from all over the world thanks to our flexible remote work policies, we need to have as many conversations with her while we can when she’s in town!
Rachel, thanks for joining us today for Tech Talks and let’s jump right in. For starters, what is the headline about what exactly a DID number is?
A DID number stands for Direct Inward Dialing and it means that people who dial a specific number designated as a DID will be directed to whatever internal department or extension that an admin wants. See what I did there? Anyway, this means that even though a company may have a Virtual Receptionist or any other prescribed inbound call process, dialing a DID number will bypass that and send the caller to whatever specific destination you like.
Okay, clever. All of this makes sense, but how is that helpful from a marketing perspective?
It all started with looking at the ROI from our various advertising channels. We’re able to capture a ton of behavioral information through the analytics thereof, but there were still some aspects of what constituted a non-sales conversion that we didn’t have visibility on. That means that when we have ads that guide prospects to fill out forms to learn more about a product or service, we could learn all about the impressions the ad gained, its click-through rate, and info about how frequently the form was completed and by whom. However, when that ad led to a phone call with sales, determining the quality of the conversation and the outcome of the call wasn’t something we could quantify. This meant that establishing the ROI of a particular venture was partially incomplete.
Well how do the DID numbers solve that? It’s not like you ended up fielding all the calls yourself or anything, right?
No, our Sales Department is an expert group of people that doesn’t need my help with that! Plus, we wanted to get quantitative data over qualitative so I needed something that was scalable. What we did was assign three key areas for our digital marketing specific DID numbers as part of either our advertising or contact/profile information. For this exercise, we chose Google Ads, Bing, and Consumer Affairs. Then, by tracking the ads we could see the conversions, cross reference those figures with our call traffic, and then gain added insight to the nature and quality of the phone conversation from what we learned by doing that.
Wow, there’s kind of a lot to unpack there. This all sounds good enough but it also sounds like a lot of work. What all is involved in getting from placing an ad to gaining those types of insights on the calls themselves?
First we had to acquire numbers to our Dash account. And as a shameless plug for our massive bank of local, toll-free, and international business telephone numbers to choose from, let me tell you, that part was easy!
Groan. Okay, noted, please continue.
Anyway, after we got the numbers we did the following for each one; assign them directly to sales because we knew the callers wouldn’t be existing customers with a support or billing query, give them each a prepend message specific to their source (ie, Inbound Call from Bing, Mobile for Business) to notify the sales team in advance of answering, and then just sit back and let the data populate. Then, after we had a statistically significant amount of information to begin digging through, we put our data scientist lab coats on and went to work.
Wait a second, data scientists? I hope the process of learning from the data wasn’t too involved.
Not at all! Our Dash Call Log is great for capturing and filtering out vital information. Plus for folks who are more comfortable with spreadsheets, the data can all be exported from Dash, as well. Once we had the expanded call history, we could look for indicators that highlighted exactly what we were looking for. For example, we could look at call length and determine quality through how long they stayed on the line, we could cross-reference the contact information through our Salesforce information to see that all pertinent info had been documented, and we could even spot anomalies that help us to refine our ad strategy.
What kind of call information did you consider an anomaly and how did it help you create better ads?
One of the most impactful improvements we were able to make was with what appeared to be dropped calls or calls that had durations less than 3 seconds. We know that with our industry-leading 99.999% operational uptime, it would’ve been impossible to have drop rates that matched the amount of these calls we noticed. After a further review into the time of day that these calls occurred, we immediately recognized that they were placed after 5:00 PM Pacific when our Sales queue goes to voicemail. And because we had this DID number bypass our general inbound call process that meant they also bypassed the Customer Support team who is here and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. What we did to improve the ad is leverage the dynamic advertising options that some platforms have whereby we could stop showing the ad with our DID number on it after a certain time of day and then begin again when the Sales folks were in the office. This action simultaneously saved us money, didn’t leave customers without anyone to talk to, and also resulted in more sales and fewer missed opportunities.
That’s awesome, but what about all of that filtering and cross-referencing with Salesforce? That sounded like a lot of busy work to me.
It definitely would have been too labor intensive to conduct this exercise at scale, but we have a handy workaround for that, too. By leveraging Webhooks by Zapier we can automate the process of exporting call log data from Dash directly into another system, and in this case that was Slack. Webhooks let users integrate their Dash telephone system with any one of hundreds of different business tools, so it’s really a matter of defining your needs and then connecting the software to address them.
Well, this is a lot of great info about how to leverage DID numbers to benefit marketing efforts, thanks for taking the time to join us on Tech Talks, Rachel! One last thing before we go, though, because you’re so hard to nail down to one zip code for very long, I have to know, where is the next exotic place you’ll be working from?
Ha, well it’s more appropriate to ask which exotic places I’ll be working from. That’s because in May I’ll be leaving for an extended working vacation through about a dozen countries in and around the Mediterranean including Europe and Africa. This has been a trip we’ve been planning at home for a while and I’m excited to finally have it on the horizon. Of course, I’ll be in touch the whole while thanks to my, ahem, stellar business communications tools and integrations, namely my Dash Service Plan.
No matter where Rachel happens to be calling home she’ll be able to take the lessons she’s learned from the DID number exercises she described above and apply them to continually improve the impact of the VirtualPBX Marketing Department. Would your business benefit from greater insight into how your investments are panning out? Is having specific, actionable data that measures your marketing ROI important to your business? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then make sure to stay tuned to the VirtualPBX Blog by signing up for our newsletter. Also, if there are topics you want discussed about your business telephone service in future Tech Talks, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll be sure to include it in our series. Until then, thanks for listening to another Tech Talks and we’ll be back with more, soon!
Posted on March 23, 2018 by Charlie Galaviz
April Fool’s Day is a great opportunity to humanize your brand with a funny prank. Like any well thought out campaign, it takes a considerable amount of planning and organization to land a hoax that moves the needle. What’s the best way to turn likes and shares into ROI this April 1st? By getting the phones ringing, of course. With VirtualPBX, your April Fools’ campaign can reach unprecedented heights by assigning it a DID (Direct Inward Dial) number. DID numbers allow you to fully commit to the joke by giving your customers and prospects a direct line to the office prankster, a ring group, device, or voicemail box. In addition, DID numbers allow you to divide call traffic to gauge which campaigns performed best. When it comes to landing the perfect spoof, VirtualPBX has the best material to make your joke a hit. Without further ado, here are 5 steps for success with your April Fool’s Day campaign.
Posted on March 21, 2018 by Dan Quick
When weighing the merits of a landline phone service versus VoIP, there are a lot of variables to consider. With the exception of both systems being the basic method by which people can place and receive phone calls, these options couldn’t be more different. Choosing between landline phones and VoIP service is even more nuanced when the consideration is for what type of phones service to get for an office telephone. Business phone services introduce a variety of needs and limitations that make the weighing landlines versus VoIP phones even more important. Over the next few sections, the differences between VoIP and traditional landline phones will become clear, and especially in the context of choosing the right business phone, you should have all the information you need, beginning with defining their core technology.
Landline Versus VoIP: How They Work
The landline telephones that everyone has relied on for decades are built on networks of copper wires, switches, and branch exchanges. Basically, think of the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) in a similar way to the Eisenhower Interstate System. There are millions of miles of physical pathways, some larger than others, with complex interchanges that cost a great deal of money to install, are disruptive and difficult to make changes to, and that are also generally too expensive to manage by anything other than the largest or organizations. Conversely, the way VoIP operates is by the same theoretical principles behind facilitating conversations through a network of connections, but unlike landlines, these connections occur over the infinitely expandable internet. Even the name, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), is a delivery of a promise that communications over this method will be inline with the expectations that one would have with any cloud-based system. You can read more into a complete explanation of the smaller details behind the inner workings of both landline and VoIP telephone PBXs (Private Branch Exchanges), but recognizing the physical and cloud-based differences is all that’s needed for the general weighing of options between a landline and VoIP phone.
Landline Versus VoIP: Features and Scalability
The first thing many companies will consider when choosing between a landline and a VoIP business phone is price, and while we will get into that shortly, that shouldn’t be where the search begins. That’s because features, functionality, and scalability should are often the gating items for businesses when it comes down to choosing a phone service. And considering that many, but not all, of these can be accomplished with both landlines and VoIP phones, it’s important to know if there are things that can or cannot be done by each option. Also, some businesses will have needs specific to their industry that will require the inclusion of certain features as well. For example, a law firm may need to ensure that their service comes with inbound call recording. A medical office may need to send and receive digital faxes. These are the types of features that a company needs to know about before they begin their considerations over price.
Features and scalability are two areas where VoIP has a distinct advantage over landline phones. Because the telephone service of a VoIP service plan is based in the cloud, there is no hardware to install or manipulate in order to make changes to the system. If you want to add or remove telephone numbers, extensions, create groups or departmental ACD queues, or just simply manage numbers for automatically forwarding calls when you’re not at your desk or even make basic hours of operations automation, anything like this would require the work of an on-site technician for a landline phone system. Conversely, all of these advanced business telephone features and many more are easily managed from the palm of one’s hand on a VoIP telephone system. Because VoIP is all operated off of hosted software that is managed and maintained by the engineers behind the company that provides the service, all the end user needs to do is access whatever online portal they are provided to make any of these types of changes.
Landline Versus VoIP: Costs
Despite the clear advantage that presents itself after comparing landline phone service to VoIP insofar as their respective features are concerned, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pricing through growth is an area where landline phones will never be able to compete on a level playing field against hosted business phone services. As soon as a company begins to look at current pricing for advanced hosted business telephone systems, it’s quickly evident that VoIP plans just tend to cost less. Up-front costs for VoIP are virtually nonexistent because there is no hardware to buy or install. Plus, engineers at secured server locations handle all of the relevant VoIP software maintenance, as well. Building a landline phone operation for business can be relatively easy for unsophisticated systems, however, as soon as the company needs to have extensions or departmental queues of any of the features above, the cost skyrockets. That’s because all of those functions are impossible without a telephone company engineer installing complex, bulky, and very expensive switching equipment and hardware on-site. Not only does that come at a high cost at the onset of the service, but then even the most basic management of that system (say you want to add or remove employees, for example) requires more service calls by the telephone company. The costs of paying for these visits adds up quickly, but even more costly is the time value of money in that is lost each time a business needs to wait for a third party to conduct relatively simple changes. VoIP system management happens as quickly as an admin makes the respective changes from his or her online portal. These disparities only become more pronounced with every new feature and function that is added to the system, thus making choosing a business phone system on price alone a clear-cut victory for VoIP.
Landline Versus VoIP: Updating and Obsolescence
The final area to consider when weighing the benefits of a landline phone system versus VoIP for a business phone is less clear cut than the simple costs of one over the other. Nobody can say what communications technology will look like in the coming years, but there are some trends that provide a good indication. Unified communications is definitely one such trend by which more businesses are integrating their total communications technology array into a single platform. Advanced VoIP phone systems are beginning to integrate everything from Salesforce CRM software to digital faxes in a move to accomplish just that. Additionally, the most developed VoIP platforms also are leveraging Webhooks from Zapier to integrate even proprietary and internal systems that cover systems like inventory management and order fulfillment. While many of the initial features businesses use on their phone systems that were discussed above are actual possibilities on both landline and hosted versions, these types of integrations are exclusive to VoIP platforms. Choosing the right business telephone system based on a desire for future-proofing it against becoming obsolete makes VoIP a more attractive option.
Landline Versus VoIP: The Verdict
There are clearly some differences between VoIP and landline business telephone systems that will sway companies one way or another. Ultimately, though, it’s important to remember that they each is essential for a business because there is no replacement for being able to have voice connections with customers and partners. And while this comparison of the two platforms covers many meaningful contrasts between the two, the choice of which platform is right is an individual one best made by and employees using it. For more information on VoIP, and for an opportunity to try VoIP for free, you can contact VirtualPBX 24 hours a day.
Posted on March 15, 2018 by Dan Quick
It’s that time of the year again! Today, the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament begins on the auspicious day of the Ides of March. For many, this is about as appropriate as it can be because they could care less about the circus surrounding the single-elimination tourney. But for others, many others in fact, this compact and very busy basketball schedule represents one of their favorite times of year. How many others feel this way? As we reported on last year, according to ESPN there are at least 50 million brackets completed on their website alone. Sure there will be people who submit multiple brackets to hedge their bets, so to speak, but no matter how way you cut it, that’s a massive engagement on the behalf of the public. So much so, that the estimated productivity loss to businesses as employees focus on the games and not on their work responsibilities can likely top $2 billion this year. That number is staggering when you consider how quickly the tournament is here and gone, but it doesn’t have to be that big of an impact if you plan to adjust your work schedule accordingly.
Don’t Let March Madness Win
In order to get the most out of employees, regardless of what sports events happen to be ongoing at the moment, it’s essential to ensure they have access to the best communications tools available. Being able to use features like Mobile for Business that leverages a nationwide 4G LTE network just for business ensures that they are capable to work around the events in life that are bound to arise from time to time. Everything from home life demands, to illness, to simply scheduling conflicts that arise in the course of doing business can impact an employee’s availability in the office. This plus the reality that we have wide network of high-speed internet access that can fuel advanced unified communications means there’s no reason to be as tethered to a traditional 9-5 work schedule as businesses in the past. In fact, just keeping people tethered to their own desk isn’t even required anymore with features like Hot Desking and Follow Me Calling. Keeping an open mind and a flexible attitude about the whereabouts of employees has also been proven to boost autonomy and thereby engagement, both which have an overall positive impact on the job performance and retention of employees. Having these types of attitudes in place as evergreen approaches to work/life balance helps to navigate situations like March Madness when there may be a spike in distractions for even the most engaged employees.
While March Madness is Here, Though…
Seeing as how you follow the VirtualPBX Blog and, as a result, you already take advantage of the latest developments in business communications tools, you’re probably well-positioned to handle March Madness with ease. That’s why I’d like to invite you to take a peek at
my own bracket on Yahoo! Sports and challenge you to a friendly competition. Even though the games have already begun, you can still complete your brackets online. Plus, even if you wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with my own picks, there are dozens and dozens of options for picking winners on a round-by-round basis. No matter how you participate in the March Madness tournament, though, remember that you still have a job to do at work. In fact, so do I, so it’s time to get back to it!
If you want to share your picks, thoughts, and any creative remote working strategies you have for the tourney, hit us up on social media. We’re always around on Facebook and Twitter and would love to hear from you!