Author: Casey Houser
Posted on July 29, 2021 by Casey Houser
We are happy to announce this month that we have made some important changes to our VoIP plans. Our 2021 Business Phone Plans lineup now includes a new plan called Spark, and we have made more high-level features available to all our customers.
This review will show you an overview of the updates we have made. We would be happy to speak to you live to answer more detailed questions about how we can help your business.
Spark Plan for Unlimited Users
The way we will offer an unlimited users plan will now be through Spark, which was created to give smaller businesses an affordable opportunity to gain important team features like Audio Conferencing and Video Conferencing.
When choosing Spark, we start your business with three phone numbers that you can use for any combination of local and toll-free inbound and outbound calling. Regional outfits may want to keep their numbers local while nationally expanding companies can choose to add toll-free numbers to their lineup.
Your 1000 calling minutes with this plan give your customers room to reach you and give your team enough space to keep in touch with one another. You can route calls through your Auto Attendant, split up your departments with Ring Groups, and automate your calling processes with our Zapier Integration, which can help you log inbound calls or track your voicemails in
a Trello board or Slack channel.
Know also that Spark allows you to complete unlimited calling between system users. Your minutes are tracked when speaking to customers outside your organization, but you have no limit when using video conferences between your teams. This lets Spark keep your team connected throughout the workday without having to worry about overages.
This plan works well for companies that have a lot of users but which have a low call volume. Small businesses, entrepreneurs, online shops with a robust chat platform, and non-profits that complete outreach primarily through email are a few examples of spaces where Spark will make a good fit.
Changes to Unlimited Minutes Plans
The titles of our Unlimited Minutes Plans – Flex, Essentials, Advanced, and Enterprise – all remain the same in this 2021 business phone plans lineup.
Their feature sets, however, have been upgraded. Each plan includes all the features shown above in Spark, expands that feature set to cater to larger businesses, and allows for unlimited inbound and outbound calling.
Our Flex Plan now starts with three phone numbers that you can use for both local and toll-free. This will help smaller and remote businesses (which are the key demographic for Flex) better organize their use of numbers around the existing structure of their businesses.
Digital Faxing now comes with Flex so you can send and receive faxes through your email inbox. Moreover, we now allow Flex users to add ACD Queues agents for improved management of large volumes of inbound calls.
Call Recording now comes standard with our Essentials Plan. We start you with 125 GB of storage so you can keep track of important conversations that take place with customers.
Advanced and Enterprise
The biggest changes for our Advanced and Enterprise Plans are that they, along with all other Unlimited Minutes Plans, are categorized to better fit the size of your business.
Our pricing tiers are as follows for all Unlimited Minutes Plans:
- 1-10 Users
- 11-50 Users
- 51-100 Users
- 100+ Users
We took a look at our existing customer base to find out which sizes of businesses were using the various types of plans we offer. This grouping fits much better with the preferences of our customer base and with the features we offer at all levels of plans.
Keep in mind that all accounts starting with 10 or more users or devices receive full 30-Day Rollout Support from our onboarding team to make sure your users and devices work well across one or multiple sites.
Learn More About Our 2021 Business Phone Plans
Our 2021 Business Phone Plans offer something for businesses of all sizes at a price they can appreciate. We back up every plan with 24/7 customer support, and you can see how helpful it is by getting in touch with our team to inquire about a new plan today.
We are excited to begin Spark and to make these important updates to the rest of our plan lineup. We hope to speak to you soon.
Posted on July 22, 2021 by Casey Houser
The latest update to our VirtualPBX Zapier Integration allows you to send a VirtualPBX SMS from Zapier. You can send texts to your customers to keep connected with them through a medium they’re comfortable with, and you can send notification texts to your colleagues to update them with important events happening with your business.
We’ll show you a detailed example today of how you can use Zapier in tandem with your CRM. First, we’ll link an event in the Pipedrive CRM (the creation of a customer account) to the sending of a text message through the VirtualPBX Send SMS action. We’ll also customize that message to the customer’s account.
Finally, we will describe how to reach your own team with the good news that a new customer account was created. You can congratulate your salesperson for their success and keep your team notified about the event.
1. Set Up Your CRM
This step will vary depending on the brand of CRM you use, but the steps here should be generalized enough to give you an idea of how to proceed. At VirtualPBX we use Pipedrive, so we’ll set up a filter here to collect all our business customers into a single list.
Our list is called Current Customers and looks for all the businesses in our CRM that have the “Customer” label attached to them.
This gives us the necessary information to proceed with creating a new zap. Our Pipedrive filter will send an update to our zap every time a new customer is added to that list, so our zap can respond with a text message to the customer when they are entered into our database.
This method also ignores leads, partners, and other types of businesses that enter our CRM. By being exact with our setup criteria, we can perform more meaningful actions inside our zap.
Other CRM Options
With the Salesforce Zapier app, choosing the Updated Field on Record trigger could be a good choice here so you can trigger your zap when a lead is marked in your CRM as becoming a customer.
Similarly in Hubspot, you could use the New Company Property Changed or the Company Recently Created or Updated triggers for the first part of your zap.
In any case where the inbound information is ambiguous, you can use a Filter by Zapier step to look for specific data in the payload. The screenshot here shows that you can look for a “Customer” label before the rest of your zap will proceed.
2. Set Up Your Zap
Now that we have created our filter in Pipedrive, we can establish the Pipedrive app in Zapier as our zap trigger.
The trigger looks for our filter called Current Customers and will fire whenever that filter is updated within our Pipedrive account. Then that trigger will activate any actions we place after it within the zap. In our case, the next step is to send an SMS to the customer that recently started their service with our company.
As you can see in the screenshot above, you can get creative with your messages by adding in their customer names and other information stored in your CRM. Think about how you could mention their company name, number of users, plan type, or your account manager. You can also include different phone numbers for your staff members such as a direct line to the manager of a customer’s account.
3. Notify Your Team
While everything so far is straightforward – we’re reacting to a single CRM event with a single text message to a customer – you can get more creative if you desire. You can send a VirtualPBX SMS from Zapier to your team to keep them abreast of progress on accounts.
Remote teams don’t have the opportunity for workplace chatter outside of message boards like Trello and chat software like Slack. You might want to consider sending brief SMS messages to your distributed team informing them of the successes their coworkers have made during the day.
A quick text will do the trick:
Update Teams in Your Message Boards
Of course, sending an SMS with every account win isn’t the best move for all teams. You can just as easily add a step in your zap to reach your team in Slack.
The Send Channel Message action in the Slack app in Zapier can inform all the members of a channel about the recent wins your team members have made.
Send a VirtualPBX SMS From Zapier Today
Getting started with Zapier is quick and can benefit your business immediately. If you’re looking for an easy way to keep in touch with your customers and automate some of your business processes, give Zapier a try and see how it links with your CRM.
We know of course that we can’t cover all the possible paths you can take when building a zap. You can use the tutorial here for ideas and follow our Zapier Integration page to get started with several zap templates and advanced tutorials. Or reach out to our team to ask a specific question about how to implement a particular part of your zap.
Posted on July 20, 2021 by Casey Houser
Since we released our Business SMS feature, our Zapier Integration has allowed to you to receive SMS messages and act on them, such as by saving your messages in a spreadsheet or database. Our latest update lets you send Zapier SMS messages as an action.
If you have our Business SMS feature active on your account, you can now respond automatically to other inbound triggers within your Zapier account. You could reply instantly to individuals who left a voicemail on your VirtualPBX account. Or you could wait for when a contact is added to your Salesforce CRM and send the recipient a thank-you message through text for being your newest customer.
Text messages are an easy and convenient way to keep in touch with your customers. Today we’ll take a brief look at how you can access the Send SMS action in your VirtualPBX Zapier Integration, and we’ll show how the above examples can be completed easily in your Zapier account.
Using Zapier and VirtualPBX Send SMS
Zapier works by a system of triggers and actions. You create zaps that listen for events (triggers) and then respond to those events with a specific task (action). Each zap can respond to one trigger with multiple actions.
Among the triggers available in the VirtualPBX Zapier Integration are Call Answered, New Voicemail, and Receive SMS Message. You can see in this screenshot how a trigger is selected when you first create a zap and select the VirtualPBX app.
Our Send SMS action is the first one we have introduced. Similar to the trigger, you select the VirtualPBX app and then choose the action you want to use.
There are a number of fields you must fill out in order to make the action work properly, including the recipient’s phone number and the message you want to send. All in all, it’s a straightforward process that can have you dreaming up new connections with your existing web apps so your customers are better informed about your business.
A Few Quick Examples
Since you can connect any trigger with any other action, there are many possibilities for how you build your zaps. This blog will keep things simple and show you a few helpful connections to get you started.
Linking VirtualPBX Trigger to VirtualPBX Action
You might want to keep your Zapier SMS messages contained to customers’ dealings with your phone system. For instance, you can use the Voicemail Received trigger in your VirtualPBX app to listen for any voicemails a caller has left on your account. Then you can send a reply assuring them that you will respond to their message right away.
The first step, of course, is setting the trigger for Voicemail Received.
Then you can use the information from that trigger to send an immediate reply to your customer.
Salesforce CRM – Thanking Your Newest Customer
You can also use your Salesforce CRM (or any other CRM available in Zapier) to great effect when pairing it with the VirtualPBX Send SMS action
First, have your zap wait for a contact to be added to your Salesforce database.
Then reply with a nice message to your newest customer, thanking them for becoming part of the team.
Get Started With Zapier
Our Zapier Integration is available on all our Business Phone Plans. Check out our plans and prices at this link to see all the features available to your business when you get started.
Sending a Zapier SMS, and using this automation tool, has improved the way that VirtualPBX and many of its customers do business. Start a plan with us today to streamline how your business completes its daily tasks and keeps in touch with its customers.
Posted on July 15, 2021 by Casey Houser
The Advanced Call Reports feature of the VirtualPBX Phone System allows you to gather detailed information about your usage of calls, texts, and video conferences. Our Advanced Call Reports update for July 2021 brings you several more report types and new filter options to customize how you use that tool.
Today’s blog highlights the number of new ways in which you can sort your reports by phone number type, agent status, and recorded calls and how you can better filter for inbound and outbound call types and isolate results by using negative search criteria.
New Report Types
Before you can have Advanced Call Reports automatically send information to your email inbox, you have to create the reports it will send. There are many report templates you can choose, and with the Advanced Call Reports update for July 2021, we’ve added four new templates to the list.
Calls By Number Type
To find any report template, look in the Reports section of your dashboard. Then click the Find a Report button at the top-right of your screen. This report is listed in the Caller ID & DID Reports section of your templates list.
What you will receive with this report template includes information about the types of outbound calls your team has made. You will see each outbound call broken down by type (local, national, and international) alongside other important data like the user who completed the call and the number that was dialed.
This choice of report can be useful for monitoring the patterns your business uses when completing calls, such as finding a percentage of international versus national calls. It can also help you monitor costs by identifying when you are calling outside of a local or national area.
Agent Status Detail and Agent Status Summary
Both these templates are found in the Agent Reports section of the report types you select when clicking the Create Report button on your dashboard.
Agent Status Detail is a good choice for when you want to know when your customer service or sales team members have transitioned from one state to another – such as from active to away. This is particularly helpful when keeping tabs on a remote workforce that could be stationed across the country.
With Agent Status Summary, you can see even more detail about any agent’s status, including how long they have been logged in and how long they have been active and taking calls. This also works well for teams that are distributed and working from both homes and offices. It also helps managers get a weekly or monthly overview of the actions their agents have taken during their shifts.
Call List (Recorded Calls)
This report now included from our Advanced Call Reports update for July 2021 shows a list of calls with a call recording associated with them.
Although many reports are helpful when receiving them on a cadence in your email inbox – such as on a weekly or monthly basis – this report is one that can work well for immediate retrieval. It could help you find a specific call for which you need to hear a recording, making it easier to search through your recorded calls log.
It may also prove a worthwhile report if you want to test whether or not call recording is working as expected for specific users or phone numbers. Here, you can see the report of all recorded calls, and you can click in the report for playback of your files.
New Filter Controls
You can apply filters to any of your reports to segment the report for specific data. Our Advanced Call Reports update for July 2021 expands the filters available to you by giving you more control over inbound and outbound calls and by letting you use negative search criteria.
Now the option for Call Direction is available to use with most of your reports. When creating a filter, you will determine the types of conditions you want the filter to use. The first criteria, your field type, now includes Call Direction which you can select from the drop-down menu.
After selecting Call Direction, you can then choose its parameters, including Internal, Incoming, Outgoing, and Both.
This type of filter will control what type of information your report shows. If the report includes data about the direction of the calls it displays, it will sort according to the parameters you input in your filter.
“Doesn’t Contain” Filter Option
Advanced Call Reports asks for how exact of a search you want to complete with many of your field choices. As one example, if you had chosen to filter for a Phone Number, it would allow you to select the Contains or Starts With options so you could see any phone numbers that contained the last four digits “1234”.
The Advanced Call Reports update for July 2021 expands this matching criteria by including negative search criteria like Doesn’t Contain, Doesn’t Start With, and Doesn’t End With.
These work similarly to how you would use positive search criteria. You select an Area Code, for example, and select Doesn’t Contain so you could filter out all phone numbers with a “555” area code. This type of selection is excellent for eliminating outliers from your data.
Explore Advanced Call Reports Today
Take a look at what we have included with our Advanced Call Reports update for July 2021. These updates will make your reports more exacting and more useful both in the immediate term and in the months to come.
Start a quick chat with our helpful staff members to schedule a Free Demo and see Advanced Call Reports in action today.
Posted on July 13, 2021 by Casey Houser
Even if you’re not aware of the term hybrid work, you’re probably aware of how it manifests in business.
Hybrid work is the joining of at-home, remote work, and on-site work. We’re seeing this type of model become a popular choice for our customers and in the broader business world as our Business Phone Plans get put to use.
Let’s take a quick look at how it may take shape at your business if you haven’t already started a hybrid work structure of your own.
The Demand For Flexible Employment
The COVID-19 pandemic started a recent surge in remote work and has changed many aspects of our lives in the past year and a half.
We saw in April 2020 that many businesses closed their office doors or were forced to do so because of government regulations. Then, when businesses started opening up again, many took the route of remote work because it was easier and safer for their employees.
As we enter the second summer of the pandemic, many regulations have been lifted, and companies are eager to get back to normal. However, they can’t remove themselves from the circumstance that remote work put them in – for better or for worse, both managers and employees saw that remote work was possible.
Hybrid Work as a Compromise
When business leaders think of normalcy, they most likely consider a time before COVID-19 was ever-present. They think of employees coming into the office and not working from home.
Yet we know that the flexibility of working from home has had some positive impacts on the lives of employees and on the operations of businesses overall. Consider our customer 1st Classic Limos that used its phone system to stay operation during the worst struggles of the pandemic.
Business leaders know they can’t remove the positive experiences of working from home, so many have begun to start a compromise in what we’re discussing today: hybrid work.
Hybrid work is the mixing of work from home and work in the office, and in the best of times, it can allow businesses to complete all their operational tasks without sacrificing employee happiness. The handling of physical materials can happen in a central location, for instance, while sales and marketing efforts can take place from remote locations.
Still, the use of the hybrid work model is not without its controversy.
Ups and Downs in Hybrid Work
One of the most high-profile controversies surrounding hybrid work at present concerns Apple, which The Verge reported began with Apple CEO sending a notice to employees that they would need to return to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
Deirdre O’Brien, the senior vice president of retail and people at Apple, backed up this announcement by stating that his company believes “in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future.”
Apple employees pushed back with their own letter – citing the inclusivity and flexibility that fully remote work offers – but were ultimately denied for a broad request to continue full-time remote work. Instead, Apple will reportedly handle all upcoming remote work requests on an individual basis.
Crafting Your Own Hybrid Work Model
The controversy surrounding Apple may put the concept of hybrid work in a bad light. There are probably good points to both sides of the argument about whether fully remote work is appropriate in the long term at Apple. You will need to have a discussion at your own company about which type of work model fits best.
A CNBC article points to three important elements of any hybrid work plan.
First, you will want to create clear expectations so everyone knows how to proceed in the future. Although not everyone will agree with a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday approach like at Apple, it’s still important to draw clear lines to create a standard of work.
Next, it is essential for managers to spend time with their employees. CNBC recommends one-on-one meetings between managers and employees at least once a week. This can help bridge the gap between what’s getting done at the office and at home, and it can allow managers to see how a hybrid work is affecting their work-life balance.
Last, both employees and managers should remain accountable for their work no matter the location in which it’s completed. Employees should expect to complete their objectives when they’re at home the same way they would when they’re at the office. Managers, CNBC notes, can be held accountable when work isn’t completed because they are responsible for providing training and development as the workplace evolves.
Beginning Your Own Hybrid Work Plan?
VirtualPBX can help you put your best foot forward when establishing a hybrid work model at your own business. Tools like Business SMS and Video Conferencing available on many of our plans can keep your entire team connected from any location.
We have helped many companies stay steady throughout the switch to remote work. We’re primed to keep you steady while having employees venture back to the office a few days a week.