Archives: October2018

How Circuit Switching Helps You Reach Customers

Telephone Pole - Circuit SwitchingIf you have the chance right now, take a look outside. You’ll probably find a few telephone poles on the nearest street. Those are the most salient example of circuit switching you will probably ever see.

Those poles and copper wires form the basis of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Despite its age, the PSTN and its circuits remain a relevant part of communications for both homes and businesses. You probably couldn’t function effectively in the office for more than a few minutes without them.

Our Dash Business Phone System uses digital networks and packet switching primarily to initiate calls, but it makes heavy use of circuit switching along the way, like we discuss at length in our What is VoIP? guide.

Let’s consider one example to make circuit switching a more relatable topic: You make several calls from an IP phone connected to your Dash account.

Initiating a Call With Your IP Phone

How does your phone make the call? It first sends digital signals through the internet to VirtualPBX servers, which route the call to its destination. The hardware you use — including your IP phone, local network, and internet architecture — makes use of digital communication tactics rather than analog tactics.

VirtualPBX does a lot more here than just route your call. The particulars of this situation, however, all revolve around the fact that your IP phone acts like a computer. It sends packets of information just like a computer does.

Reaching Another IP Phone

Your desk or conference phone, when it sends your digital voice packets, can continue to use an all-digital, all-packet switched network to reach another IP phone.

Consider that your call reaches a business across town that uses a competitor’s VoIP service. Both Dash and the competitor’s plan all take advantage of the same underlying principles, so your call will likely continue to use packets throughout the entire journey from one phone to another.

Going Analog: Reaching a Home Phone

It’s easy, though, to jump out of the digital network and into the world of analog.

Consider that your next call reaches a customer’s home phone. If they use an analog phone service, a switching center will transform your digital packets into analog signals that the customer’s phone can understand.

Circuit switching occur at this point because the customer’s phone service must complete a steady circuit to hold a call.

The PSTN will make sure that your outgoing voice packets run through a circuit that’s completed within the copper cables outside the customer’s home. It will also make sure the reverse process happens when the customer speaks to you.

Circuit Switching is Here to Stay

Many of the calls you make to other businesses and to smartphones will have the chance to remain entirely digital. The PSTN has gone through a transformation where most of its switching centers and much of its hardware now uses digital signals to reach each other.

On the other hand, home phone users – which may represent a large portion of your customer base – will continue to make circuit switching a necessary element of the PSTN. No matter how digitally-focused the rest of the world becomes, the copper wires that line our streets will stay indispensable.

Packet Switching Plays a Key Role in Your Business

Packet switchingWhether or not you realize it, packet switching forms the backbone of business communications.

Packet switching – the aggregate process of sending and receiving groups of packets over a digital network – plays a prominent role when you:

  • Make a call on your Dash Business Phone Network
  • Use the internet to view a website
  • Send an email to a colleague
  • Watch a YouTube video on your phone

Packets act as the building blocks of every digital communications tool you use throughout the workday. Below, we’ll look at the ways in which packet switching exists in those tools.

For a deeper look at the technical aspects of VoIP and packet switching, check out our “What is VoIP?” guide.

What are Packets?

Digital networks – including your local computer network and the World Wide Web – use packets to transfer information. Packets are the small pieces of data that a digital network uses to move information from one device to another.

Briefly stated, packets exist as the pieces that comprise whole files. A bricklayer (the network) uses individual bricks (packets) to build a wall (the resulting file).

Each packet contains enough extra information to tell sending and receiving devices where the packet has been, where it should be sent, and in which order the device should assembled it with respect to the other packets.

A computer might not always receive packets as A, B, C and use them in that order to create a whole file. But it will know that A should be placed before B, and B before C, to create a readable result.

Packet switching is the aggregate process of sending and receiving groups of packets over a digital network.

Make a VoIP Phone Call

Business phone systems that use Voice Over IP (VoIP) to manage calls depend on underlying digital networks. Such systems use the Internet Protocol (hence, voice over IP) to send calls within a business’s local phone network and outbound to the public telephone network.

Your desk phones and conference phones send packets that contain voice information. They capture the sounds you make when you speak and convert those sounds into digital information that is eventually converted back into sounds on the receiving end.

VoIP phone system providers have to battle side effects of packet switching, including jitter and packet loss, that can affect the quality of voice calls. Providers use Quality of Service techniques to make their voice networks clear and reliable.

Viewing Websites and Sending Email Messages

When you view a webpage, you use packet switching to download packets from a central server onto your computer or phone.

Those files may be retrieved from the server in an abstract order. Your computer, however, knows from the information contained in the packets and the instructions provided by the website how to display the resulting page in your browser.

You also take advantage of packet switching when you send emails. The text you write in your Gmail or Outlook account will be broken down into small bits of information that are reassembled for your recipient so they can read your message as you intended.

Watching a YouTube Video

That business presentation (or cat video) you just watched on your phone’s data network also relies on packets.

The same processes described above apply to the data you send and receive on your 4G connection. Before you’re able to understand the audio and see the visuals, the digital network breaks down, sends, and pieces together your video in the same way it does to your website, email, and voice call.

Appreciate Packet Switching

The next time you use your computer or phone, try to remember the complex process that moves behind the scenes of all your tasks.

It should help you better appreciate the complexity of the internet and the VoIP phone system you use every day.

Advanced VoIP Phone Options Can Save Precious Seconds

VoIP Phone Plans Offer Routing OptionsAt VirtualPBX, we build our VoIP phone service to match the needs of both basic and advanced users.

Power users would tell you that adopting advanced features like ACD Queues can make communications within your organization much more efficient. They’d also tell you that saving even a few seconds with each customer interaction can lead to serious gains in sales and improved customer engagement.

Using Dash ACD Queues and Auto Attendant as examples, let’s dig deeper into the time savings you can expect to realize when utilizing the advanced features of our Dash Business Phone System.

What’s an ACD Queue Anyway?

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) Queuing is an add-on for Dash that lets you route calls intelligently.

You set queues when you know that an inbound call will address an entire department. For instance, if a caller dials ‘5’ in your Automated Attendant to reach your Sales department, the ACD Queue would choose which individual in that department should receive the call.

The Dash ACD Queues feature can select individuals in a group either randomly or based on one of the following criteria:

  • Who has had the least number of calls offered to them
  • Who has answered the least number of calls
  • Or who has been idle the longest

By using an intelligent queue to select the appropriate individual in a department, you can reduce a caller’s introduction to your business from minutes to seconds.

The Role of an Auto Attendant

Your Dash Automated Attendant could allow any caller the option to press ‘5’ to reach your Sales department.

This is standard fare for any medium or large business with a VoIP phone system, but neither the enterprise nor the individual caller probably considers how much time this single key press saves them.

Ask yourself as a business manager: What if callers had to always start at the same position with a live operator? Callers would speak to a central representative who would have to determine each person’s purpose and who they needed to speak to.

An individual who wants to reach your Sales department would then have to speak to – at minimum – a central operator and a sales representative. The caller would have to sit through more than 30 seconds of unnecessary conversation and wait for the operator to place them on hold before the caller would need to tell their story a second time to the sales rep.

That’s inefficient and unproductive.

The same caller who makes their way through a well-designed Automated Attendant can reach the Sales department in much less time. Furthermore, when they finally reach Sales, their patience will not be worn thin before having the conversation about which product to purchase.

What Role Does the ACD Queue Play?

An ACD Queue takes over for the Automated Attendant when the caller is first presented to a group of Sales representatives. When the call wants to reach the group, the Queue determines who should receive the call. Then it routes the caller appropriately.

The Queue does its work quickly and behind the scenes. It’s much faster than any human attendant could ever be.

How Much Time Can This Save Me?

In any case, your business will save time and reduce frustration by relying on the Auto Attendant and the Queue’s settings in its VoIP phone system options.

When compared to a live operator, the ACD Queue can potentially save minutes of a caller’s time because it allows the caller to decide for themselves which path (pressing ‘5’ for Sales) to take.

You can also shave precious seconds off an individual’s transfer time by assembling an Auto Attendant menu that’s intuitive. If you give callers a quick rundown of your five departments and then allow the Queue to make micro-decisions about routing, your setup should work well.

Adopting Advanced VoIP Phone Features

If you run a medium-size or larger business, ACD Queues might be a great Dash feature to pick up. And no matter the size of your operation, using your Automated Attendant wisely can make the customer journey much smoother.

When your VoIP phone system can save your customers time, you can save them from frustration with your staff and your product.

Remember that saving even a few seconds can make or break a potential sale. If you haven’t already, set up or optimize your Auto Attendant, and consider ACD Queues as the next investment in your company.

Transferring Phone Calls: 5 Steps to Good Business Phone Etiquette

Phone EtiquetteThe importance of proper business phone etiquette cannot be stressed enough, as it can leave either a positive or a negative impression on your callers and potential customers. The way you treat callers on the phone reflects directly upon the image your business portrays. Put in the extra effort to be polite and you will ensure that your customer feels valued.

With advanced features from VirtualPBX you can rest assured that your business phone system won’t get in the way of proper phone etiquette and a smooth customer service experience.

Read More About: Dash Business Phone Plans

5 Steps to Professionally Transfer a Phone Call for Good Phone Etiquette

  1. Explain to the caller why their call needs to be transferred.
    Whether they’ve reached the wrong person or department, or you simply do not have the resources or authority to answer their questions; be sure to explain why you must transfer them.
  2. Give the caller your information before transferring the call.
    It’s important that the caller has access to your information in case of a dropped call or disconnection. This will also make the caller feel important knowing that while you couldn’t help them further, you are personally concerned about their situation.
  3. Ask the caller for permission to initiate the transfer.
    Asking a customer for permission to transfer their call gives them the opportunity to ask any additional questions. It also gives them a sense of control over the situation.
  4. Speak to the party whom the caller is being transferred to first.
    Speaking to the next party to relieves the caller from having to re-explain their situation. It will also give the other person time to prepare for the call. Now is also the time to pass any “insider” information that might expedite the situation.
  5. Introduce the caller to the individual or department you are transferring them to.
    First, make the introduction to the new contact. Next, ask if there is anything else you can do to help the caller, and thank them for their patience.

Dash Feature: Advanced Transfers

Treating your customers right over the phone is just as important as how you treat them in person. A simple phone call can make or break a business relationship.

VirtualPBX offers Advanced Transfers to ensure that all the tools you need for successful call transferring are at your fingertips. You can transfer calls to anywhere in the system — whether it’s to another employee, the operator, an outside number, or an ACD queue.

Call VirtualPBX today at 888-825-0800 or visit our Dash Plan Features page to learn more about Call Routing and other options for small businesses to enterprises.

VoIP Phone Service Benefits for Small Businesses

VoIP phone serviceIf you’re running a small business, adopting a VoIP phone service could save you money and improve the consistency of your brand image.

Unlike traditional phone lines that run directly to your storefront or mobile service that only works on your smartphones, you can run a Voice Over IP (VoIP) systems on all the devices your company uses. Options like our Dash Business Phone Plans give you a flexibility and reliability not found on other communications platforms.

For further consideration, here’s a quick breakdown of three primary benefits you can gain from a VoIP phone service.

Cost Savings

Small businesses often run on a shoestring budget. Like others, you may be running extremely lean just to make ends meet. You don’t need your phone system stressing your budget even further.

A VoIP phone service can be an affordable alternative to traditional phone lines because it packs so many features into a single base price.

Starting at $12.99 a month, Dash offers professional features like Conferencing and Call Recording, Voicemail, Auto Attendant, and Follow Me Calling. With all the Dash Features in mind, compare that low price against what you pay for your office phone and cell phone each month, and we’re sure you’ll come out ahead.

Multiple Devices

Speaking of your office phone and cell phone: Do you have multiple numbers associated with your office and personal smartphone? Are your customers unsure about which number to use when they need to reach you?

You can clear the confusion by running a VoIP service on all your devices at once. For the same low cost, you can run the Dash Web Phone on your work desktop, use dedicated VoIP phones in the front lobby and back office, and take calls in the VirtualPBX Softphone mobile app – all from the same number.

Your customers will be pleased to have only one phone number associated with your business. The consistency you provide them with something as simple as contact information will make you look more professional in all respects.

Overall Brand Consistency

Beyond your public-facing phone number, a VoIP phone service can improve your overall brand consistency in the way it interacts with customers. The professional options you receive in Dash afford you a lot of flexibility.

Follow Me Calling: When someone calls your office at midday, it can route your call to the front desk, and your receptionist (even if that’s you, CEO!) will pick up. Or it can ring first to your smartphone or office desktop – it’s your choice. You can even chain your front desk, desktop, and smartphone to ring in that order.

Office Hours: You pick the time of day when your office is open, so why shouldn’t your VoIP phone service know about it? It can use your office hours to determine where to route calls and which options your Auto Attendant offers to callers.

Auto Attendant: Before the customer reaches you, a nice greeting in your phone system can lead them to your personal phone extension or to the front office. You determine what the greeting says and what options the system presents. You can even take advantage of professional recordings for personalized messages and hold music.

Make the VoIP Phone Service Your Own

If you’re not yet convinced that a VoIP phone service is right for you, then give one a spin for free. That’s right; you can try Dash for free for as long as two weeks.

Give our Dash trial a try. We know you’ll be impressed.

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