Posted on July 19, 2018 by Rachel Anderson
Our very first customers came on board more than 20 years ago as our business was just getting off the ground. As many businesses may recall from their early days, or perhaps are experiencing right now, those first customers come with lessons that in-turn shape your objectives, processes, and often your product or service itself. Being receptive to these lessons can be the defining factor in whether a business makes it past their first year, but can’t be forgotten just because things are going well. This is exactly why today, Get to Know Your Customers Day, actually occurs four times each year. As Kristin Smaby puts it, “When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better.”
Beyond Get to Know Your Customers Day: Regularly Solicit Feedback
While a few customers may offer their opinion without being prompted, it’s certainly not the norm and in most cases leaves out customers who feel less passionate – whether that be for positive or negative reasons. To incorporate customer feedback in your business discussions, the best place to start is by soliciting feedback regularly. While many companies do this on an annual or biannual cadence, we’ve found that asking for feedback after an engagement with our team returns a higher percentage of responses. These responses typically include greater detail since the experience the customer had is still fresh in their mind. There are many services that can help to automate this process, like AskNicely which can trigger an email after a ticket is closed in your CRM. You may also consider soliciting customers for reviews on public sites like Consumer Affairs which will give potential customers comparing their options a glimpse into what their experience with you will be like. Here are some examples, taken from our own Consumer Affairs Profile:
Make Followups Personal by Calling Your Customers
Now for the most important part: consume all of the feedback you’ve received and remember to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Not only did they purchase your product or service, but they took the time to share their thoughts. If anything in their response is unclear, there is a matter that is unsettled, or they are upset, reach out and call them right away. You may even consider getting a special phone number for customer feedback only. Not only will you be able to get to the bottom of the issue, but your fast response time and personal approach will let the customer know what you truly care about their experience – and not just because it’s Get to Know Your Customers Day. But don’t just respond to the negative reviews! Be sure to thank customers who have reviewed you and reach out to learn more. Digging into positive reviews may also help you build a library of testimonials or case studies.
Posted on July 11, 2018 by Rachel Anderson
The VirtualPBX Web Phone – our newest feature which was only introduced three months ago – is already the winner of a prestigious WebRTC award! TMC, a thought-leader and educational resource for the VoIP market has granted the VirtualPBX Web Phone a 2018 WebRTC Product of the Year Award.
In previous blogs, we’ve discussed the driving technology behind our VirtualPBX Web Phone – WebRTC (or Web Real Time Communications) – which makes it possible to deliver safer and less expensive technology using open source technology available in modern browsers. While this technology has been in development for a number of years, its adoption has recently been picking up steam fast. Transparency Market Research reports the worth of the WebRTC market to grow to $81.52 billion USD by 2025. WebRTC is just getting started and so are we.
We don’t spend much time resting on our laurels here at VirtualPBX and our team of designers and engineers who have produced the VirtualPBX Web Phone haven’t rested when it comes to advances in this feature now decorated as a WebRTC Product of the Year. Today, the Web Phone delivers crystal clear calls through a customer’s web browser and offers features like Call History, a Company Directory, and in-call functions like transferring, holding, or adjusting audio settings. In the future, customers can expect a click to call browser extension, quick access to other VirtualPBX features, and a number of other added functionalities that we’re keeping under wraps for now.
If you’re already a Dash user, the VirtualPBX Web Phone is already available to you – no matter which business phone plan you are on. Simply login to your account, add the Web Phone to your user, and you’ll be able to sign into the VirtualPBX Web Phone using your Dash credentials. We’ve also created a step-by-step guide with visuals to help you get started.
Posted on July 10, 2018 by Rachel Anderson
Today’s guest blog comes from 2600hz, whose flagship offering, Kazoo, gives telecom providers modern user interfaces, advanced carrier management, and all of the benefits that come with a team of highly trained telecom engineers. VirtualPBX works closely with 2600hz to deliver solutions to their range of customers across the U.S. and around the world.
By definition VoIP fraud is the unauthorized use of paid communications services, charged to someone without their knowledge, whether it be service provider or customer. VoIP system providers take extensive measures to protect your business from various forms of data breach, but there are still gaps in security that make your business vulnerable to those searching for a way in. A single fraud event can cost a business anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000+, and often occurs more than once claiming thousands of stolen dollars. Stopping an attack from happening requires securing your system using a proactive approach.
Examples of VoIP Fraud:
There are several ways that your business may be affected. Some schemes are more simple, such as device fraud. Others require an “Oceans 11” type heist skill that involves creating fake companies, manipulating contracts, and Pulitzer prize like storytelling.
Device & Call Fraud
Device Fraud is the most simple and most popular form of VoIP fraud. An automation is set up to scan for vulnerable endpoints. Vulnerable endpoints are those still using their default usernames and passwords making them the easiest to access for an intruder. Most UI’s change this automatically on set up, but in the occurrence of a error, that end point becomes a means to pump calls to a secondary account and gives the intruder full control of those devices.
Call Fraud gets a bit more creative. Call forwarding fraud involves tricking a person into dialing *72, which is the most common call forwarding activation key, this gives access to accept third party and collect calls while diverting all calls actually indented for the end user and sending the bill to that business. The attacker in these cases would usually auto dial until an end users picks up, and then spin a story such as “I was just in an accident, my phone is dying, please contact my wife, boss, lawyer, etc… the number is *72 XXX-XXX-XXXX” until they find a person that agrees to help.
Another call feature that can be used against you is voicemail callback. For this, an intruder scans for default VM passwords and changes the recording to “Yes, I accept the charges” or a similar phrase to send collect calls to the system and collect the charges made to your account. A complete hack of the system can be done as well if the intruder knows what they are doing. They would then program your call forwarding feature to send all calls to international numbers owned by them and bill your service provider for the charges.
To protect your company from device and call fraud, always encourage employees to change default passwords on devices, accounts, and voicemail inboxes if it is not done automatically or by you. It is advised to use a combination of words such as Correct Horse Battery Staple instead of the standard: Pa55word!?, 6aseb@ll, Qweasd123. Turn off all features that are not in use, such as call forwarding, voicemail callback, and blocking of international calls, as those idle features are easiest to target.
Set Limitations and Access to Carriers
As a VoIP Provider, picking the right carrier is as important as the phone system itself. The best carriers provide analytics monitoring, alerts and logging. Since you are ultimately responsible for the traffic generated by your system, delegating fraud detection and mitigation to your upstream is not the wisest course of action. It’s important to know how to set limitations and access to carriers and know how to monitor carrier utilization.
Examples of explicit inbound/outbound rules:
- Block inbound network traffic you do not want
- Route high-rate calls via alternate more fraud-enhanced routes
- KAZOO blocks high rate areas by default
- Limit number of simultaneous calls
- Select backup routes which come into effect when other routes fail
- Choose carrier priorities for all outbound services or by service individually
- Select different set of routes, depending on the type of number being dialed
- Limit the types of call the account can make, for example: US Toll Free, US Toll, Emergency Dispatcher, International, US DID, Carribean
Prepay can be effective in preventing the possible consequences of unlimited network access. By setting an amount limit, in case of an attack, an intruder can only gain the amount you have prepaid, stopping them from draining your account and causing bottomless damages. Careful when setting up an account, automatic recharge is convenient, but does not prevent the account from continuing to be drained once the original pre-paid amount is exhausted.
Other Fraud Schemes
Even if you use all the methods listed above to try and protect your business, there are still companies that are in the business of ripping people off. In every industry, where there is a will there’s a way, and new forms of commiting fraud are invented every day. Some are more amusing than other, like in this case, where a woman continues to get strange phone calls that find her eavesdropping on the life of complete strangers.
Fake companies are often formed to deceit business into using their service. The most popular tactic involves creating a faux business resembling the name of a well known company, making the difference hard to spot for unsuspecting users. Those persons will often go as far as creating fake bank receipts and offer you fake IP addresses, as well as simply using your services under a fake business name and never paying.
It cannot be stressed enough to do your research on any company you do business with. Reviews and information can be found on almost any business with a quick search of the internet. When working with contracts, always have a lawyer look over the details and when in doubt, don’t hesitate to get professional help. There are also several community websites such as VoIP Fraud that help the conversation of fraud going and warn people of known businesses/people who are a risk.
With the advancements in technology, your business is more at risk than ever. In 2016, 1 in every 937th call made was fraudulent, and increase from 1 in 2000 just the year before. Instead of a reactive approach, which inevitably will cost you money, following and taking the smallest safety precautions could save you thousands of dollars and the reputation of your business. Work with a company that keeps their platform updated, frequently monitor your account, and stay up to date on emerging technologies and safety tactics, to be a step ahead of fraud.
Posted on July 5, 2018 by Rachel Anderson
Whether you’re recovering from Independence Day festivities yesterday or are still managing your productive hours around this year’s rollercoaster World Cup (or tougher yet, trying to avoid your coworker Johnson’s game spoilers), it’s likely your voicemail is a little more full than normal. Just like the most successful soccer teams, having a solid game plan before major events can make all the difference. An overflowing voicemail box can be avoided with careful consideration in how you set up voicemail from the beginning.
Set Up Voicemail to Email – One of My Favorite Features
According to a Udemy survey, 70% of workers feel distracted on the job. While this includes chatty coworkers, social media, and a variety of other factors, any disruption to your current task can add significant time onto its completion. While we can’t provide a solution for every disruption, we can at least help you manage and prioritize your call traffic to maximize your productivity and minimize your interactions with offers and inquiries that only slow you down. Enter voicemail to email.
Voicemail on VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans comes with a variety of features that allow you to use and manage voicemail in the way that best suits you. Today I want to focus on my favorite feature – voicemail to email. As you set up voicemail, one of the advanced options – “Recipients” – will allow you to add as many email addresses as you’d like to receive voicemails for that particular phone number, extension, or departmental group. This will send the voicemail as an email attachment, allowing you to put voicemails into your “Inbox Zero” mailbox strategy. It also lets you screen offers you are not interested in and delegate tasks by forwarding that voicemail on. When you set up voicemail to email forwarding, you can also elect to delete voicemails on your system as they’re sent to your email. Consider this a “de-duping” process that lets you maintain Voicemail Zero as well as Inbox Zero.
Even More Voicemail Features at Your Fingertips
Whether it be for Fourth of July festivities, your World Cup watch schedule, or any other number of distractions or particularly busy days, voicemails have a way of building up. The best way to manage them is to set up voicemail for success right at the start. You may also consider changing your voicemail greeting or requiring a PIN to listen to voicemails. Of course, flexibility extends to the ways in which you may listen to voicemails. While my favorite method is by email, you may prefer to listen to them from the admin or user portal Voicemail Manager, by provisioned VoIP phone, or even by dialing in from a cell phone or landline not provisioned on your system. For more detail on configuring these options and instructions to set up voicemail, read our Voicemail Support Guide.
Posted on July 3, 2018 by Rachel Anderson
With the 4th of July holiday coming in hot this coming Wednesday, businesses everywhere will have to consider their out of office plans as they stare down a day of inactivity in the middle of the week. Many times, this holiday is continently placed at the beginning or end of a week, but being smack dab in the middle of the week makes it less likely that everyone will be taking time off at the same moment. For example, of the employees here who are taking time off, half of them are doing so at the beginning of the week and the other half are going on the back end. This type of unpredictability on who will be where makes ensuring the continuity of operations that much more difficult, and also that much more critical to get it right. Fortunately, with the simple automations that abound throughout VirtualPBX VoIP platforms, ensuring that inbound callers are treated with the same high levels of service that they’d expect any other (non-holiday) time of the year is almost too easy! In fact, this is exactly why we built out the Holiday and Business Hours to be so intuitive and customizable in the award-winning Dash Business Phone System.
Out of Office is the Only 4th of July Office Hours Option
Wow, that’s pretty wordy, huh? The point is that this is one of those few holidays that, at least for offices that don’t work directly in services or carnivals or BBQ industries and the like, you should probably just take the day off. We all want to be able to celebrate in peace and not have to worry about customers’ needs going unmet, that’s why all VirtualPBX Dash Plans come with a few handy ways to manage that with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Business and Holiday Hours Being able to make a few clicks and know that your business will have a recording made and call traffic routed accordingly over the 4th of July holiday makes being out of office that much easier. Plus, setting your business hours for the 5th, 6th, and every other day of July (and all the months, actually) is easy, too. Using this feature to set your holiday schedule each calendar year allows you to confidently leave the office whenever your company has an observed holiday coming up. Or, you know, a weekend.
- Follow Me Calling We understand that not all of the team can get fully away during the holidays each time. For them, establishing a series of telephone numbers to ring either concurrently or in succession is a handy way to ensure that no matter where they’re at on the 4th of July, they can be gotten in touch with. Of course, we’d never advocate doing this, but because users can choose how long each number rings, they could hypothetically make it ring so long that the caller eventually hangs up, too. Don’t get any ideas, though.
- Mobile for Business And for those folks who don’t want to architect their ways out of having to speak to customers (wise choice, FYI), they can even opt to use the only 4G LTE nationwide mobile network available to VoIP users with our Mobile for Business feature. This way there’s no need to change a sequence of forwarding numbers or pretend you can’t be reached. Because, you know, customer conversations are a good thing.
The Best Way to Get Out of the Office this 4th of July
All of the suggestions above are a good idea to use this, and every, holiday, but there’s one more consideration for any organization that isn’t a 24 hour, around the clock outfit. Specifically, and frankly even for a 24 hour firm, using an Auto Attendant is the best way to compliment or replace any live receptionist duties a company may have. Everything from intelligent call routing, to personalized greetings, and voicemail-only extensions can all be managed at scale by the Auto Attendant. The best thing about this feature is that it comes standard on every single Dash Plan at no extra charge, too. So what are you waiting for? Get your Auto Attendant set-up, schedule your business and holiday hours, and go make some BBQ plans to be out of office on this 4th of July!