Author: Casey Houser
Posted on March 20, 2019 by Casey Houser
At VirtualPBX, we develop a Business Phone System that works across a range of devices. We want you to easily have the ability to make phone calls online.
Our flagship Web Phone lets you make phone calls online through your browser – including Firefox, Chrome, and Opera on desktop and mobile devices. It’s a great option we’re proud to have in our lineup.
What makes our Web Phone especially powerful is its ease-of-use in multiple business cases. The following use cases will show how the Web Phone can:
- Help a remote employee stay connected
- Assist an entrepreneur in the early stages of startup development
- And let an enterprise easily switch to a new cloud-based phone setup.
Remote Employees Can Stay Connected
The situation: Jessica works for a medium-size accounting firm as a remote employee. She works from her home office and uses her laptop for all her business tasks. She doesn’t take many phone calls with clients, but she does collaborate with her team in daily meetings. She must remain connected to her team. However, she prefers to keep her work-life balance clear, so making phone calls online from her laptop web browser is preferrable to her personal mobile phone.
Many businesses take advantage of web-based tools to link their workforces. The accounting firm explained here could easily use Google Docs and Slack like millions of others. In part, these and other tools have become staples of business development because they can help individuals and whole businesses find productivity in the workday.
Like the use of Docs or Slack, part of what makes the VirtualPBX platform so attractive is its simplicity of setup. It uses the internet and cloud computing to give businesses a setup time of minutes – not days or weeks. Remote employees can take advantage of this reality.
Jessica’s need for a company phone would be halted if her employer only had access to physical devices. IP phones make sense in a lot of cases, but they’re inadequate for many remote employees. Likewise, a softphone app on Jessica’s smartphone could keep her connected; yet it would eat into her definition of work-life balance that keeps her motivated and fresh during the workday.
The VirtualPBX Web Phone meets in the middle. It runs well on desktop and mobile browsers, which gives Jessica a choice in devices. She can access in through a single bookmark and receive notifications when calls arrive.
Moreover, its deployment time is quick, so it makes sense for the accounting firm with Jessica’s onboarding and continued employment. She can be running with the Web Phone in minutes and gain access to her personal contacts list, call history, and daily conference calls without any headache on the part of her employer.
Assist the Early Stages of Entrepreneurship
The situation: As an entrepreneur, Mark has faced an uphill battle in establishing his apparel business. He mans a small storefront, alongside a co-owner, that’s open during the weekday. He also works overtime on nights and weekends by calling suppliers and making sure the back-end operations are in order. He has no excess cash to spend on hardware. His laptop and smartphone act as his lifelines to suppliers and customers.
Mark’s position here is nothing unique. Like other startups, his cash and supplies are limited. Any extra expenses could crush the development of his business.
One of the most attractive features of the VirtualPBX Web Phone is that it’s free. All phone plans come with an unlimited set of Web Phone connections.
Business can create a new virtual device for any employee. In Mark’s case, he only needs to set up a virtual phone for himself. This only takes a minute, and then he can return to making phone calls online from his browser of choice. Perhaps his smartphone at the storefront and his laptop when at home.
Breathe New Life Into an Enterprise
The situation: A large, multi-state bank uses an outdated physical private branch exchange (PBX) for its phone system. Its branches have different phone numbers and aren’t connected to one another. The bank’s C-suite has decided to adopt a voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone system to become more flexible and help sales associates better connect with customers. Out of its 100 employees, only 25 will regularly need access to office phones; the other 75 will see occasional use of the phone system.
This bank faces a mix of deployment concerns. It knows that only a handful of its employees will need to regularly use the phone system. However, it’s aware that almost everyone will need to use the phones periodically.
Intent on keeping costs low, the bank can pair desk phones and the Web Phone where appropriate. It can, for instance, supply managers and dedicated sales persons with desk phones, in their personal offices and workspaces. Even an entry-level phone like the Yealink T21P offers features like local 3-way conferencing, call holding, use of a headset, and speakerphone.
The Web Phone can then make an appearance where lighter use is expected. A common office for tellers could host a laptop with the Web Phone on an always-open browser. Individuals in marketing or IT could host a Web Phone on their mobile phones to make phone calls online from any location inside or outside a bank branch.
Making Phone Calls Online Offers Flexibility
What all these situations have in common is their need for a flexible phone system. The VirtualPBX Web Phone shines brightly in that respect because it can work on any device a business brings to the table.
VoIP phone systems are incredible in their ability to offer a range of phones for every business use case. No employee needs to go without access to a phone. The reality of making phone calls online through a browser isn’t just a gimmick or toy, it’s a full-featured virtual portal for keeping in touch with business contacts and customers.
Posted on March 13, 2019 by Casey Houser
The range of options for making workplace phone calls is large: desk phone, conference phone, smartphone, Android/iOS app. These are all good choices, but they might slump in comparison to web phone calls.
A browser-based phone like the VirtualPBX Web Phone makes it possible for you to call from any device that run a modern browser. Whether you use Firefox, Chrome, or Opera on desktop or mobile, it can handle both inbound and outbound calls with the same capability as any other phone you’re used to.
This type of phone scales well. It’s easy to set up. And it reduces your workforce’s dependence on operating system-specific hardware and software. Let’s dig in.
Scaling Your Business
Whether you’re a startup with one employee or a large business with hundreds, it can be difficult to scale your work processes.
Your individual needs as a company may demand more employees for sales, support task, development services, and delivery of physical goods. The people in those positions don’t just need a desk in your office (or their own home office), they need access to phones that let them reach customers and coworkers.
What would happen if you relied on desk phones to accomplish the new hiring of, say, 5 people – two of which are remote?
The largest burden here is cost. Entry-level IP desk phones start between $40 and $80. Therefore, your five hires would ask between $200 and $400 for the lot. Do you have that to spend above their salary and benefits?
The immediate out-of-pocket burden increases linearly with each hire. And while some of your sales persons would need to use their phones all day, others might only need them periodically.
You need to ask yourself whether or not the expense is worth it. Not all companies will come to the same conclusion, especially if there’s a viable alternative.
A Web Phone is Free
The VirtualPBX Web Phone can be that viable alternative. It utilizes all the features of a VirtualPBX Phone System – including calls to company extensions and quick dialing from call history.
Businesses can add the Web Phone to any user for free. Within the phone system, it acts like any other phone by accessing a user’s extension and having ability to be added to Ring Groups and Voicemail Boxes.
Making a web phone call is only different in that you click/tap your screen instead of pushing physical buttons on your hardware. It routes calls through the same network as other phones, and it uses your same plan minutes just like other phones.
Scaling is easy with the Web Phone because it only takes a few clicks to add the device to a user. And it’s affordable because there’s no cost for any employee to use the browser-based phone.
Setting Up Devices
VirtualPBX tries to make its desk phones as easy as possible to install. Its phones automatically provision themselves to a phone system account.
That said, companies must wait to order and have phones shipped to their offices. The process is simple; it just takes time.
Waiting for Delivery, Unboxing
Installation of desk phones and conference phones for a dozen employees would take a few hours, once they’re delivered. The need to be opened, plugged in, and told to reach VirtualPBX servers.
The argument here isn’t that a few hours is a lifetime of agony. It’s only that a few hours lost in a busy office environment could translate to lost sales or marketing opportunities when a company is trying to grow.
What if that installation time could be reduced to a matter of minutes?
The Web Phone is Quick
Like it was noted earlier, adding the Web Phone to a user is only five clicks away.
Repeating the install process for multiple users is simple. Moreover, once the steps are complete, users can begin making calls from any browser that supports WebRTC – the set of computer code that gives rise to full-featured internet phone calls.
Reduce Dependence on Proprietary Hardware
A primary struggle in business, no matter the industry, is the reliance on software and the need to choose a software platform.
Windows or Mac?
Most companies will pick either Windows or Mac computers to run the software they need. At times, they may find cross-over in program support, but a lot of software will work only on one type of operating system.
This extends to phones, too. Android apps don’t have a lot of interplay with iOS apps.
This forces businesses to pick one platform and stick with it. This has also driven the rise of web-based apps that run in web browsers that are cross-platform.
The Rise of Web Apps
Browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera run on the major desktop environments and on mobile. They reach across platforms so web-based applications can take advantage of that universality. When you want to make a phone call from your computer, this is what makes it possible.
Your daily use of Google Docs, for instance, could be much more difficult if that service was a native desktop or mobile application. Google would have to maintain a separate program that worked on Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, and any other platform its users demanded.
Web Browsers do all the leg work of being cross-platform. Google Docs can then worry about creating a users experience that’s consistent from one user to another.
Similarly, VirtualPBX only needs to worry about creating a great user experience. We rest assured that users have access to a modern web browser, so we focus on making the best application we can.
Make A Web Phone Call Today
It’s easy to give the VirtualPBX Web Phone a try. You can make a web phone call in just a few minutes by signing up for our 14-Day Free Trial.
Posted on March 6, 2019 by Casey Houser
The reality for most businesses is that their daily operations heavily utilize web-based services. You can send email, collaboratively edit documents, and even make a phone call from your browser.
Like in much of our blog, we’ll focus on voice calls today. The bent of this article, however, is that we’ll talk about how the addition of a Web Phone to an employee’s repertoire can simplify and streamline their workflow.
You Already Work From the Browser
Your workflow has already been established.
You sign on to your computer and check your Outlook email; finalize a few Google Docs; mock up your latest newsletter in Mailchimp; and discuss the latest company meeting in a Slack chat – all from your browser.
If the browser was removed from your grasp, none of your workday would be possible. There’s a web-based application for nearly everything an office worker wants to do, and the convenience and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing is expected to drive the software-as-a-service market to $85.1 billion in 2019.
The rise of shared computer power looks unstoppable in the present. If you’re already on board, it could make sense to begin making calls from your browser in the same manner in which you perform all your other daily tasks.
The Web Phone will meet you where you’re at.
No Additional App Needed
Having a full-featured phone inside your browser is as easy as opening any other bookmarked tab.
Find your bookmark of the VirtualPBX Web Phone. Click. And your calls become available. Easy.
This can work on your desktop or on your mobile device. It differs from opening a mobile app because it’s not a separate native application; instead, it uses web code to complete calls. Similarly, it differs from a desktop software-based phone because it’s not native to your Windows or Mac operating system; it’s only native to the universal language your browser understands.
Choose Your Browser
What makes web-based apps most appealing is their portability. As stated above, the code that any cloud application uses is native to your browser – not to your computer.
Therefore, since most major browsers support the code those cloud applications use, you can expect to access your mail, document edits, newsletters, and other business collateral from any machine with an internet connection.
In a sense, the browser has become the operating system because of its widespread use and the cloud-based software market that supports it.
Part of this development includes WebRTC, the set of protocols that carry audio and video from one browser to another. WebRTC is established within the Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers, and it can run on both Android and iOS mobile devices. You can call from Firefox or call from Chrome at your desk or in transit from your laptop or phone.
Access to Directory, Call History
From wherever you choose to make a browser phone call, you should expect to have access to all your business assets.
Think about what Google Docs would look like if you couldn’t see the same documents from your laptop and your office computer. The application wouldn’t have much value.
This is why you can expect the Web Phone to have access to your company directory and your call history.
If you need to Mike from Accounting, the link to Mike’s extension is only one click away.
When you reach a customer’s voicemail (or busy signal!), you can always redial that same number by checking your call history.
Notifications from inbound calls are also available as part of your browser phone calls. When your browser tab shows a notification or your desktop displays a separate notification window, there’s an incoming call you need to answer. Clicking on the notification window will also direct you to the Web Phone tab.
Ready to Call From Your Browser?
In large part, the argument for using a Web Phone boils down to three points: It doesn’t change your current workflow. It’s portable between devices. It has access to company contacts and call history, just like your desktop phone would.
Many VoIP companies are looking to the browser as the next frontier of business calling. At VirtualPBX, we’re proud to say that our Web Phone is both a flagship, full-featured product and that it’s free for any customer to use.
If you’re a current VirtualPBX customer, there’s no harm in giving our Web Phone a chance. For all our potential customers, you can give it a whirl within our Free Trial that’s good for 14 days. We hope to see you there soon.
Posted on February 27, 2019 by Casey Houser
Does your business fax internationally? It’s not alone. Many businesses rely on the dependability and predictability of faxes to reach their international partners.
Despite common perception, the global use of fax machines and faxing technologies (including cloud-based services like VirtualPBX Email-to-Fax) has risen in recent years and is expected to continue to rise. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), fax use grew by 27 percent in 2017 and was predicted that year to grow an additional 25 percent through 2019.
The market is booming, yet many businesses are uninformed about why international faxing persists. They may also feel stuck in their current situations where the fees to fax internationally are sky high.
This article will address the nature of faxing and the reasons for its international connective power. It will then offer an argument for the use of email-based faxing in connection with a hosted phone system.
IDC’s Findings and Faxing Proliferation
The IDC study points to three primary factors that drive the use of faxing in workplaces:
- It fits within business workflows
- Fax provides an trail of sending, receipt, and transmission that can be audited for enterprise security compliance
- Fax technology is evolving (such as cloud and email integration)
For its study, IDC surveyed 200 organizations that have at least 500 employees. The statistics echoed in this article are generated from the responses of those organizations.
Fax Fits Within Business Workflows
In large part, faxing comes across as too big to fail. It is so ingrained within business practices that it perpetuates further use.
Businesses know that their customers and suppliers use fax machines, so they err on the side of convenience when they send invoices or accept purchase orders. When those customers and suppliers are overseas, businesses fax internationally to reach them.
This type of back-and-forth certainly includes much modern digital communication like emailing and mobile phone calls. Those modern standards, however, aren’t always auditable in a way that security professionals prefer.
When asked, 28 percent of IDC study respondents said they continued to fax because it fit into their current business processes.
You Can Track and Audit a Fax
For enterprise security purposes, it’s important that transfers of information can be tracked.
Traditional faxing leaves a physical paper trail that can make its way into a future security audit with the names and phone numbers of contacts. This same type of trail is created when digital faxing takes place; the papers, in that case, are just digitized.
Businesses that need to meet those strict regulations would have a hard time eliminating faxing from their daily operations because both faxing and HIPAA prop up each other. HIPAA accepts faxing as a secure method of information transfer, and faxing has remained relatively unchanged at its core, holding its place in the HIPAA list of acceptable communication forms.
The self-perpetuating relationship between those standards gives businesses incentive to continue to fax internationally and domestically.
28 percent of respondents in the IDC study indicated that they continue to fax because it is easily traceable and auditable.
Faxing Has Evolved
Even though faxing is often seen as antiquated, it has experienced much development in recent years.
Business phone system vendors like VirtualPBX offer Electronic Faxing so organizations can go paperless with all their fax communications.
These types of phone systems often run in the cloud. When digital faxing is attached, the faxing becomes a cloud service in its own right.
Desktop fax machines once transitioned from analog to digital signals. By moving fax processes to the cloud, the entire user process is digital because the desktop fax machine is no longer necessary. Faxes can be sent from an email address before reaching a partner’s traditional machine.
This evolution has made it easier for many businesses to keep faxing simple and keep it within their modern workflows. 25 percent of respondents to IDC said they continued to fax because of its developments.
Fax Internationally From Email
Of course, here at VirtualPBX, we have a slight bias for our own Email-to-Fax service. Our bias, however, shouldn’t be enough to convince you that emailing your faxes from here forward is right and proper.
What should be enough is a combination of the IDC’s findings and the capabilities of an email-based faxing setup. Let’s dig deeper.
You Already Have Momentum
Consider your current workplace situation.
Individuals in your workplace may fax internationally and domestically multiple times per week. They do it because your clients overseas accept faxed documents as legally-binding transmissions. Or they do it because, like discussed previously, the business is comfortable with faxing as part of its overall workflow.
Change can be difficult, and it can upset other important business processes. There’s no shame in recognizing the momentum you already have; just don’t be afraid to make small alterations in pursuit of something better.
Make the Process Easy
No amount of momentum or comfort with traditional faxing will make the task less cumbersome.
Leaving your desk to reach the fax machine is both time-consuming and distracting. It’s not an errand that most people look forward to completing.
Email-based faxing changes the situation entirely. With Email-to-Fax, you can stay at your desk, maintain your focus, sign your documents digitally, and never disrupt your workflow.
You make the process easier on yourself by faxing your emails. And if you save your sent and received documents, you maintain the auditable paper trail that’s so important to enterprise security.
The best for last. With the right business phone service, your business can save a lot of money.
It’s no surprise to any global outfit that they spend a lot when they fax internationally. Desktop fax machines tend to work through landlines, which can present outrageous rates for long-distance calls.
On the other hand, a hosted phone system can offer more reasonable rates. Faxing with VirtualPBX uses only the minutes associated with the plan you choose. Then when you fax internationally, it charges only a small per-minute fee based on the length of the fax transmission.
Continue to Fax Internationally, Domestically
If your business uses a fax machine, don’t fight the process. Only change the method in which you do it.
By adopting email-based faxing into your organization, you can continue with the business processes you know. You can keep your customers happy and ease the strain on your employees’ time and attention. Best of all, you can save money with each page you send.
We’re in this together – all global enterprises still faxing and VirtualPBX with its email service.
Posted on February 20, 2019 by Casey Houser
While your desktop fax machine may prove a valuable asset to your business, there are a number of compelling reasons why you should send faxes through email.
This isn’t a pitch for the Email-to-Fax Feature that comes with our Business Phone Plans. Set that notion aside for now; just focus on the following aspects of using email as your faxing hub.
The process of sending faxes through email can help you maintain focus through the workday. It can fit within your existing workflow and give you the opportunity to easily track your digital documents.
Want to learn more? Keep reading.
Maintain Your Focus
Even if you run a small office, it’s unlikely that the fax machine sits on your desk. It probably makes its home in the hallway or a small printing room. Maybe it even knows the water cooler by name.
In any case, when you want to send a fax, you have to stand from your desk and walk to the machine. There’s no way around it. You lose time and focus by being forced to exit your workspace to complete the tasks of filling out a cover sheet and feeding papers into the machine.
When you send faxes through email, you can complete those tasks digitally while remaining at your desk.
Think about how email already fits into your workflow. You probably know which browser tab your email is located in, or in which toolbar of your desktop. With muscle memory, you can find a contact and send them an email in only a few minutes.
Email-to-fax services are no different. They work behind the scenes so all you need to do is attach a document and specify a phone number. You don’t need to break your usual stride, and you certainly don’t need to walk away from your desk, because you already know email so well.
Build Fax Documents Into Your Current Workflow
While you’re certainly comfortable sending emails, you’re probably concerned about the usability of fax cover sheets and other fax-specific issues like signatures. Don’t those require pen and paper?
Fax Cover Sheets
There’s an easy way to build digital fax cover sheets into the digital faxing process.
Whenever you want to send faxes through email, start with a document draft that contains your cover sheet. We offer one for download or for use within Google Docs.
You can edit this template to contain your business name, fax number, and other information you want to include with every fax. Your only responsibility then is to personalize the file when you want to send a fax to a client.
Starting with a cover sheet template is essential because that part of the final faxed document marks the subsequent pages as your own. With your business name, number, etc. already in place, you save yourself a few precious minutes every time you need to email your fax papers.
When you fax important documents like receipts and invoices, they may require signatures. How do you handle those in a digital environment?
You can approach signed digital faxing in a few ways. Remember here that the final step of sending faxes through email is that you attach a PDF doc or TIFF image to your email.
Before you attach the to-be-faxed document to your email, you can sign it with a proprietary service like DocuSign.
You can also sign documents on your laptop’s trackpad with the Preview program on Mac or through various other programs on Windows, iOS, Android, and browser plugins that let you sign by trackpad, stylus, and mouse.
With the appropriate software, you can easily sign any PDF you want to fax.
Save Money and Paper
Consider also that many of your workplace activities are already dedicated to saving money and resources.
Your digital life may include services like online chat software, collaborative document editors, and internet-connected phone systems. These workplace mainstays help save your office money by consolidating your bills and allowing individuals to complete tasks from any location.
They let employees do more work, more quickly, from any location.
Digital faxing is no different in that it immediately saves your company money and resources. You will have one less physical machine to maintain. You’ll use less paper. You can tie an email-to-fax program into your phone service.
From a maintainability and cost-savings standpoint, digital faxing makes sense.
Simple, Effective Tracking
Digital faxing also provides you with the opportunity to better track your sent and received documents. You can do this by using a central location for all your faxed digital papers.
On your desktop, create a folder labeled Faxes. Then, inside that folder, create three subfolders: Sent, Received, and Drafts.
- Drafts: We’ve already discussed what type of documents you’ll store in the Drafts folder. That will be your location for templates that include your fax cover sheet. Your first step when you send faxes through email will be either your Drafts folder or your Google Docs account (or similar online word processor). From there, you can copy the template and work on that draft before sending.
- Sent: When you open your email software and send the fax you just finalized, you can move that PDF draft to the Sent folder. Organize it by title or by further subfolders – whichever works best for you.
- Received: The faxes you receive through an Email-to-Fax service will land in your email’s inbox as attached PDFs. Upon receipt, you can save those attachments to your Received folder.
If you keep up with this process, you won’t ever have to ask yourself, “Did I send that fax?” again.
Send Faxes Through Email
Ditch the desktop fax machine, at least for a little while.
When you begin using a digital faxing system, you can stay focused on important tasks. You can make sure faxing fits within your daily workflow. And you can track all your faxed documents both sent and received.
The only potential loss here is the BREEEP BROPPPPP SQUEEEEEEEEK sound your ancient fax machine makes. Don’t worry, the link above has you covered for any time you need the soothing, scratching sound of a traditional fax.