Author: Casey Houser
Posted on May 21, 2019 by Casey Houser
The past several months at VirtualPBX have been alight with activity as we’ve refined our new Dash Plans.
Now the day has arrived, and we’re excited to offer a new set of Business Phone Plans: Basic, Essentials, Advanced, Enterprise, and Ultimate.
This change, from three plans to five, better matches our business customers to calling features. All our new clients can expect to pay only for the features they need, whether they’re a single entrepreneur or global enterprise.
Included Features for All Businesses
Our primary goal with this move is to better address business needs. Therefore, while our set of available options may have changed, we still offer a collection of stock features that are included with every plan.
VirtualPBX CEO Paul Hammond explained that “every customer will continue to receive the same standard of 24/7 customer service and professional care we place behind all the work we do. Each plan begins with a free 14-day trial with no obligation to buy.”
Well-known features like Unlimited VoIP Minutes between system users, Ring Groups, Auto Attendant, Voicemail, Audio Conferencing, and use of the VirtualPBX Web Phone will come standard with every plan. All customers will also get at least one phone number with their signup.
The New Breakdown
“Our new Basic and Essentials packages reach the smallest of businesses, including startups and entrepreneurs,” Hammond continued. “Advanced, Enterprise, and Ultimate give more expansive options to midsize outfits and enterprises.”
Our new breakdown of plans offers its respective feature sets as follows:
- Basic starts customers with 500 minutes of U.S. calling and support for any desk phone or smartphone they wish to use on an account.
- Essentials includes unlimited U.S. calling, 500 toll-free minutes for use with an 800 number, and access to Digital Faxing.
- Advanced upgrades customers to 1,000 toll-free minutes and adds access to ACD Queues, Call Recording, and Webhooks.
- Enterprise’s 2,500 toll-free minutes stands alongside Private Storage for call recordings, access to the VirtualPBX API, and use of VirtualPBX Servers for dual use of Dash and VirtualPBX SIP Trunking.
- Ultimate joins 10,000 toll-free minutes with CRM Integration and access to Priority Customer Support.
Building Upon Each Other
Together, the new plans work like stair steps. Each successive plan uses the VirtualPBX feature set to build upon the last.
Basic provides the foundation with all the included base features. Then Essentials includes every feature Basic offers while increasing its toll-free minutes.
Advanced includes everything in Essentials. Enterprise includes everything in Advanced. And Ultimate includes everything in Enterprise.
Customers can expect to find plans that are priced better to fit their needs as organizations. While many enterprises will want access to the API offered in the Enterprise plan, entrepreneurs can do well with base features and a set collection of calling minutes.
We hope every size business can get what it’s looking for. Our new plans mean to work better for everyone, and we look forward to feedback on this company-wide change.
Posted on May 8, 2019 by Casey Houser
The size of your business comes secondary to the power of multiple business phone numbers.
Slim startups can boost their marketing efforts by using more than one number in their campaigns. Expanding enterprises can make their global ambitions more feasible with a handful of numbers at their disposal.
Keep reading for a deeper look at those situations and how your own business can benefit from using multiple phone numbers as part of a VirtualPBX account.
Starting Small, Marketing Big
Startups eventually reach the point where marketing becomes a pivotal activity in their development.
To attract customers, startups can take advantage of online and offline advertising in places like Google Ads and industry magazines.
The process of creating advertisements is straightforward enough. You create sensible ad copy, release it in the right location (online or printed publication), track the results, make changes, and complete a subsequent round.
Where this becomes most complicated is within the “track the results” phase. You need to know how and why your customers are reacting to your ads; otherwise, you won’t know how to improve them when the campaign has come to a close.
Multiple business phone numbers can help this process by segmenting differing campaigns from one another. For instance, if you have a single Google Ads campaign and a printed ad in Wired, and each one sports a separate phone number, you can tell which ad the caller reacted to.
Let’s say you scale your marketing to 20 online campaigns and 5 print ads. Great! Attaching phone numbers to every single campaign, or at least to groups of campaigns within the online and print subsets, can work wonders when you’re receiving dozens or hundreds of calls a day.
Enterprise Across the Globe
Likewise, many enterprises will also reach a tipping point. The sizes of their individual departments can dwarf other whole businesses.
Enterprises have hundreds to thousands of employees, so their departments can become enormous. An accounting department that’s 100 employees deep may be split into its own sections that deal with new contracts, global connections, and taxes, just to name a few areas of focus.
If an individual needed to contact that accounting department but only had one line into a central part of the business, it could become a mess. A single Automated Attendant could route the caller correctly, but it would be a messy experience for that person.
A direct line to the department could make routing much simpler. In fact, separate lines for accounting, marketing, HR, sales, and other departments would make contact to those places easier for everyone involved.
Callers wouldn’t have to navigate deep auto attendant mazes. Businesses could publish their individual departments’ numbers and let the subsections of those departments easily delineate themselves by extensions.
Multiple Business Phone Numbers in Your Market
How do you currently shape your growing business? If you haven’t tried organizing your marketing efforts or company growth with a set of business phone numbers, it could be time to start.
Adding numbers to a VirtualPBX Business Phone System account is easy and cost-effective. Numbers can be used at your discretion and routed anywhere you like, even in complex arrangements that would require a custom voice system setup.
Posted on May 2, 2019 by Casey Houser
If your business has expanded across national borders, you’ll want to begin using phone numbers local to those countries. In tandem, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the international number formats each new number will copy.
Not every country uses the same type of spacing and digit count found in the U.S. (XXX-XXX-XXXX). Your knowledge of phone number formats outside the States can help your professionalism as a business owner, and it can help your business’s expansion move smoothly with a VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans in the future.
Here’s a starter list you can use to begin your education.
The U.K. presents a challenge: Depending on the location they address, its phone number area codes can have lengths of 4 (the most common), 3, 2, and 5 (the least common).
The 4-digit codes precede a subscriber number (the equivalent to the final XXX-XXXX in U.S. numbers) length of 5 or 6. The 3-digit codes precede number lengths of 7. The 2-digit codes precede numbers of length 8. And 5-digit codes precede numbers with lengths of either 4 or 5.
London phone number format, therefore, is (020)XXXX-XXXX. The leading 0 here is the national trunk code, so it doesn’t count toward the aforementioned digit tallies.
Less well-known Brampton presents a number of (0169 77)XXXX.
VirtualPBX can use any of those international phone numbers, whether you’ve moved office to the capital or rural town.
Germany’s phone number format regulations are a bit tighter.
You’ll still find area codes that range in length from 2 to 5 digits – not including the trunk code, of course. Its standard subscriber number length, however, is now set to 11 digits, including the area code.
Prior to 2010, Germany used to allow phone numbers at variable lengths. You might have found phone numbers as short as two digits.
Today, though, you can expect to get a local number that’s 11 digits, or 10 if it’s local to a major metropolitan area like Berlin.
India uses what are known as Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD) codes for its phone number format. Similar to area codes, they precede a subscriber’s phone number and can range from 2 to 8 digits.
Shorter STD codes apply to larger cities. New Delhi uses 11 as its STD. Jaipur uses 141.
Phone numbers always combine with the STD to reach a total of 10 digits. Therefore, a New Delhi number would look like 11-XXXXXXXX, and a Jaipur number would look like 141-XXXXXXX.
Phone Number Format Primer
While we can’t cover all the phone number formats in this article, this is a good place to get started.
Know, at least, that not all countries subscribe to the same format the U.S. uses. Make yourself familiar with the types of conventions out there. Most of all, don’t expect that a standard set of digits or conventions will always apply in every situation.
VirtualPBX can make use of local numbers in any country where we offer service. In addition to our phone number coverage in the U.S., we can help you reach across the globe but remain a local presence in your countries of choice.
Good luck in your expansion efforts.
Posted on April 30, 2019 by Casey Houser
You’ve already done the hard work of expanding across the U.S. Now it’s time to think about using a vanity toll-free number with your VirtualPBX Phone Plan.
More than just a communication lifeline, a toll-free number can be a representative for your business. The use of a vanity number in this context lets your personality and intention slip into customers’ memories – all with a few letters/digits.
Let’s discuss, for a few minutes, the influence you can gain by adopting a number that speaks for you.
Grab Customers’ Attention
Which one stands out more? The regular toll-free number, or the vanity toll-free number?
Unless you have a penchant for digits, the option above that spells out “cycling” is much more attention-grabbing than its counterpart.
The digits in the first option above spell out “cycling” – you just can’t see it at first glance.
If you owned a bicycle or motorcycle shop, you could use 1-800-CYCLING in print and digital ads to immediately grab customers’ attention. Customers could then more easily remember your phone number since the word “cycling” is familiar, whereas 292-5464 is not.
Solidify Brand Identity
You can take this one step further by giving your phone number a feeling.
If you were a vacation company, 1-800-CHILLIN could evoke an emotional response in customers before they even call.
Using the word “chillin” is memorable. Its use as slang (the abbreviation of “chilling” or “chilling out”) also gives the number a casual air about it.
Customers would see 1-800-CHILLIN as a representation of the vacation company’s brand style: Casual and playful, and responsible enough to create a phone number easy to remember, which adds professionalism to the image.
Be on the Lookout
Not every vanity toll-free number will be available for you to use. In fact, 1-800-CYCLING and 1-800-CHILLIN are already taken.
You can improve your chances of getting a relevant number by using different prefixes (like 866 instead of 800) and being creative with your slogan.
A few minutes of brainstorming should be enough to get started.
Find Your Own Vanity Toll-Free Number
Check our partner TollFreeNumbers.com to see what’s available. You can use any of the numbers available there with any VirtualPBX Phone Plan.
Remember that your number doesn’t need to match your business name exactly. Once you have a few options, type them into TollFreeNumbers to get a list of numbers and suggestions for alternatives.
Before you know it, you’ll be impressing customers with your creativity and hopefully seeing a boost in call traffic for your efforts.
Posted on April 22, 2019 by Casey Houser
When it comes to the process of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, every effort counts. You can leave your mark this Earth Day by making electronics recycling a part of your work day.
Many business throw out their old phones. This increases landfill waste and can put hazardous materials into our environment.
This isn’t necessary. Your business can do its part this year by e-cycling the hardware it no longer needs.
You can visit the Environmental Protection Agency and the E-Cycling Central for recycling resources and to find out where to recycle your used hardware. Keep reading this blog for a brief look at our take on the matter.
Why Recycle Your Electronics
Two primary effects happen when you recycle rather than throw away goods and materials: You can reuse parts of the recycled material, and you can limit the creation of new materials that would replace those parts.
The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle slogan places “recycle” at the end of the list. However, recycling can lead to both re-use of materials and reduction of processes like mining.
After you take your old phones to an electronics recycler (see the E-Cycling Central link above), your local recycling center can make sure the components of your hardware are taken apart.
The EPA notes in its recycling information page: “For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.”
The individual desk phone or smartphone you recycle will contribute to that total. Those materials can be reused in the creation of new products.
Moreover, the EPA says, you can visit local retailers like Best Buy and Staples or contact brands such as HP, Spring, LG, Vizio, Samsung, Sony, Xerox, and TCL to recycle your phones. These businesses may partner with e-cycle shops or could find avenues to reuse the devices directly.
Broken devices can make their way to a recycling center, while used or unwanted (but operational) devices could be picked up by other individuals and businesses happy to use older hardware. You can even contact local thrift stores like Goodwill to connect buyers with used hardware.
At VirtualPBX, we do our part by promoting the use of refurbished hardware. For businesses on a tight budget, a pickup of discounted used phones supports their needs as an office while both supporting our virtual phone system business and reducing the demand for new, equally effective hardware.
When hardware is reused, it reduces the need to create new goods and develop new materials.
Your electronics recycling efforts, for example, can impact the mining industry by limiting consumption of products that require specific materials.
The EPA’s statistics regarding savings of copper, silver, gold, and palladium mean that those pounds of materials don’t need to be mined. This impacts manpower, machinery fuel, and time lost when old materials are simply buried – requiring that additional resources be used to dig for more.
Get Involved in Electronics Recycling
The ideas we’ve covered in this article simply recycle what environmentalists have been saying for years.
It’s easy to get involved. Every efforts helps.
Electronics recycling is as simple as finding a local recycling center, electronics business, or used goods store and delivering your unwanted devices. You can find further tips and recycling locations for your state in our Hardware Recycling Guide.
Take one hour out of your work day this Earth Day. Recycle those phones and routers that sit in your storage room. It will feel good, and you’ll make a positive impact on the environment.