Author: Dan Quick

Transfers, Forwards, and Call Parking, Oh My!

difference between transfers and forwardsEvery industry is plagued with some of the same types of problems. For many technologies, one of those problems is the proliferation of wonky, confusing jargon, and the telecom industry is certainly no exception. With such an advanced set of features and functions increasingly available to employees through the advances in the telecom engineering infrastructure, surely there will be some terms and phrases that are a little more hardcore than the average person is able to comprehend. This doesn’t have to be the case. However, because it’s not an uncommon issue, today we wanted to take a moment to review the differences between two commonly confused terms that aren’t interchangeable and represent distinctly different functions for a telephone system. Specifically, today we’re discussing the difference between transfers and forwards in relation to our award-winning Dash Plans.

Difference Between Transfers and Forwards: Transfers

Call transfers are unique in that they can only occur once a call has been connected. Transferring calls refers to the moment when an employee is on a call, and the caller on the other end needs to speak with another employee. That can be for any one of a variety of issues, but the specific definitive facet of what makes a transfer unique to a forward is that it’s always an on-going call. You can actually execute an Advanced Transfer from your Dash VoIP plan in a variety of ways. One of the most popular, and possibly the fastest, methods is to use the transfer Feature Codes directly from your dial pad. However you choose to send a caller to a different member of your team or to a different department, when you are sending caller to continue a conversation with someone else inside your organization, you know you’re transferring them.

Difference Between Transfers and Forwards: Forwarding

Call forwarding is a similar, though entirely different function in telephony. One of the first things to consider when you want to know the difference between transfers and forwards is when the call is received. Like we just discussed, the transfer is when you transition a conversation from one employee to another after the conversation has begun. A forward is different because it can occur either during the conversation using a Feature Code, or more commonly, it is a directive that occurs before a call is answered. Call forwarding is when a caller dials a number but the conversation is sent to a different 10-digit number. This may sound deceptive or confusing, but it’s actually both common and wildly helpful for thousands of businesses. One of the most popular ways to utilize call forwarding is the Follow Me Calling feature on Dash. This is when an employee knows he or she will be moving around in and out of their office throughout the day but still needs to be taking calls. By entering a series of telephone numbers to all of the different devices that employee could be reached at, the Follow Me Calling feature will ring them (either concurrently or in succession per the employee’s preference) until the caller reaches their desired party or the call is sent to voicemail. This is just one of a variety of forwarding methods, but again, the key differentiator is that forwarding can, and often does, occur before a call is answered.

Difference Between Transfers and Forwards: The Grey Area

A variety of of call forwards and call transfers are always included for free into every Dash Account, and they are useful for an ever increasing number of scenarios. There exists, however, two other areas that are similar to, though wholly different from, both transferring and forwarding. First is VirtualPBX Valet Call Parking which is a technique used to put a call on hold in a place where anyone in the organization can answer it. There is also the much larger category of call routing that encompasses a massive amount of variables involved in routing callers to individuals or departments as part of a complex network of extensions at the point of reception. The possible routing options are so vast that it warrants its own blog later, but they can be either automated by factors predetermined by the company being contacted or they can be prompted by a caller inputting information from his or her dial pad.

While the difference between transfers and forwards can seem nuanced at first, as you can see, it refers to a distinctly different set of functions for a hosted business telephone system. You can call it jargon if you want, but no matter how you label it, if you ever need help working through the features of a Dash plan, you can rest assured we’ll be there to help you through the process. In fact, we’re here 24/7/365 for you on both our Customer Support channels and on social media as well. Plus, because there seems to be an entirely different set of nomenclature for both Twitter and Facebook, you can rest assured we’ll be able to help decode your message there, too.

VirtualPBX Tech Talks- Linda And the Virtual Receptionist

VirtualPBX Tech Talks virtual receptionistWe’ve been around for a long time and have collected some of the best minds from across several industries, and we think it’s high time they got their day in the spotlight. In this series of blogs we’ll be unearthing some of the technology and talent that power our hosted communications platform.

Ensuring that the thousands of new companies that switch to VirtualPBX every year have a smooth and seamless transition is a responsibility that we take quite seriously. For the vast majority of them, setting-up their new Dash VoIP plan is simple and they can be up and running in about five minutes. We also have a category of customer that includes far more complex organizational needs and, for them, we offer a high-touch onboarding and system management service aptly named our VirtualPBX Concierge Service. Linda Freitas is one of our most experienced and capable Onboarding Specialists who has seen just about every possible configuration of business phone system imaginable. Also, never one to take the fact that we’re a global company too lightly, Linda is one of the most worldly and well-traveled people you’ll ever meet. In fact, last year she visited a total of 6 new countries but we happened to catch her while she was here in California to sit down for this installment of VirtualPBX Tech Talks.

So Linda, what is the first thing that most companies encounter or ask about when they start setting-up their Dash account?
That really depends on if the company is a new enterprise or if they’re coming to VirtualPBX from a different business phone service. For folks with an existing phone plan and their own telephone numbers, we can port
in their numbers so they never have to worry about losing their current number. For other companies that don’t yet have a telephone number, they just have to pick one from our number bank. This is actually fun for a lot of people because all of the Dash Plans come with at least one number included and we have literally hundreds of thousands of numbers, from local numbers to international numbers to toll-free numbers, to choose from. The sheer amount of options can get a bit overwhelming for some folks so I always remind them that they can add new numbers for just a few dollars whenever they want, that generally helps them be comfortable with the decision.

Great, so once they have their number situated, what is the next thing people will typically look to accomplish?
Easily the biggest thing that people get excited about is setting up the incoming call strategies for their phone system. Honestly, it doesn’t sound that jazzy on the surface, but once admins begin realizing the extent to which they can control everything about the path of an inbound call, it makes sense why they love the Virtual Receptionist. There are a few major templates on how to route the inbound call, and easily the most popular is direct to the Virtual Receptionist. That’s because businesses generally enjoy being able to put the power of choosing where to go right into the hands of their callers, and they can do that without having to tie-up any of their employees in the process.

Other than the few major tracks that you mentioned people can choose to direct inbound call traffic, what makes the Virtual Receptionist really all that special when it comes to customizations?
Again, there are a bunch of nuanced edits that can be made to really fine-tune the experience for any business, but for the sake of time, I can talk about two of the big ones. First is the way people can customize the audio message of the Virtual Receptionist itself. This is a big deal for basically everyone because a franchise that doesn’t own all of its locations would still want a uniform message for the company and even a smaller mom and pop shop would want to keep the message as authentic as possible as to not alienate anyone who has come to expect a certain level of personal attention from a neighborhood business. The audio can be recorded to your computer and uploaded, we can have our professional audio partner Snap Recordings record it for you, or you can even use the automatic text-to-speech feature where you just type in what you want the receptionist to say. The other big feature for most people is the programmable business hours. In just a few clicks you can arrange for the opening and closing hours, lunch hours if necessary, and even holidays for the entire year to be determined so you don’t ever have to worry about if you set up voicemail for a long weekend ever again. Plus, once you’ve set the hours, you also have the option to tailor the inbound call experience to cater to the fact that nobody is around to answer the call with additional audio messages and even unique routing options. Again, once people get to tinkering around with the Greetings Manager, they realize how much better it is than they ever expected.

Let’s go back to the audio options you mentioned just now, what is the text to speech feature all about? Is that something people can reliably trust to sound relatively human?
Absolutely! This new text to speech platform is an advanced system that sounds terrific. There are some nuances to all automatic speech programs that need to be understood, but once you’re aware of them it’s a pretty easy process to navigate.

What types of things should users be aware of when they’re getting started with text to speech?
It really boils down to pacing. You want these messages to have the same pace and cadence of a normal conversation, and the best way to ensure that is adding punctuation strategically. For example, just tossing a comma or a period in whenever you would normally be taking a breath is always a good way to make sure the message comes out in a comfortable, natural fashion. Plus, you can preview the message whenever you want simply by dialing your number and listening right there over the phone.

virtual receptionist and tapasOkay one more thing, what are your next big travel plans for 2018?
Well, to be honest, I always have a million different places to go, but so far I think I’ll be staying relatively close by with a trip to the Caribbean somewhere. I know that’s already pretty great, but I always like to get a new stamp in my passport, so if it does happen, I’d hope it’s Spain so I can get some tapas!

No matter where Linda or the other members of her team will be, you can rest assured that you’ll get the award-winning Customer Support that VirtualPBX is known for at any point in your onboarding process. Plus, because we’re one of the only companies to include our Support Team at no extra charge, you can use their expertise any time you want. And because we’re also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we really mean it when we say any time! So what are you waiting for? Get started with your new Dash Plan today, and we’ll be sure to be here if you want some help getting on-boarded. In the meantime, let us know where you’d go visit if you could pick anywhere in the world by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and for the record, I’d go see the Northern Lights in Iceland before the season is voer!

Temporary Business Phone Service From the Cloud

Temporary Business PhoneWe’re a global company with workers who collaborate from literally all over the world. We like it that way and that’s just one of the reasons that we pour so much of ourselves into developing the best and most reliable cloud phone systems. Plus, when you have workers who play a pivotal role on a variety of teams who hail from different corners of the earth, you have to ensure that the barriers to entry for using such a phone system are few, and really quite low. We’ve accomplished that with our award-winning Dash Plans, and our global community can continue collaborating and working together with ease. However, today’s blog is about something far more local than that. In spite of our global footprint, we have a few office locations like our HQ here in San Jose, California, where a concentration of our team lives. And not unlike many of the areas in Silicon Valley that are experiencing increases in growth and development, our business community here is growing like a weed. Our building, in particular, has seen a spike of activity as it undergoes a complete renovation. During this construction, we’ve had occasion to meet many new arriving and transitional companies to our address, many of which have been in need of temporary phone service during or immediately following their move. If you can’t see where this is going yet, let me clue you in on the fact that we happen to know some folks who specialized in permanent or temporary business phone service, all powered by the cutting edge in cloud technologies.

Temporary Business Phone Service in the Blink of an Eye

Probably the biggest driver in what motivates some companies to seek out a temporary business phone system isn’t lack of technology or in-house resources. Rather than needing the right people in place to assemble and configure a cloud phone system, these companies need to have more time to do that. Unsurprisingly, time is the most valuable resource for most organizations, and because we built Dash to be up and running in only minutes from the time a business signs up, the gap between when a company moves and when their phones are ringing in their new office is virtually nonexistent. Plus, because Dash has more features than are typically associated with a traditional business phone system like Follow Me Calling that will ring a series of numbers that help to track down employees no matter if you’re unpacking into your new space or picking up pizza for the movers. A side note should be that, regardless of the composition of a moving team, pizza is never a bad idea. Additionally, no matter how long it takes to get settled into a new office, your customers should never have to wait to get in touch.

Keep Temporary Circumstances from Becoming Permanent Problems

A periodic inconvenience of relocating or displacing due to renovations can be a hassle, for sure. But without proper telephone service continuation, that temporary inconvenience can balloon into a long-term loss of income. Establishing simple, effective, affordable, and most importantly fast continuations of all of your communications with a cloud-based temporary business phone system from VirtualPBX will ensure that everything will go smoothly as you endure a move. Even if your coworker forgets to bubble wrap the office coffee mugs. Dang it, Johnson…

No matter when you tackle the task of schlepping everything into your new digs and begin to settle in and make the new space your own, we’ll be there for you. Our dedicated 24/7 Support Team is widely recognized in the industry as one of the best, and they’re included with every Dash Plan, too. You never know, you may find out that saving money on your temporary business phone system and getting a whole bunch more out of it in the process is actually a good long-term play for your company, too. And with reliability and operational up-time that leads the industry, too, you really can’t go wrong with a new Dash Plan. Give us a call today to see how we can get you set-up with a temporary business phone service or with a permanent solution today, because we know how much it helps to have a hand during a move.

Li-Fi – Possibilities of an Emerging Technology for Telecommunication Apps

For our Partner Blog Series we like to highlight the relationships we have with our peers and business partners from across all areas of the telecommunications industry. We know that when it comes to relationships, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why we want to share with you the wisdom, experience, and perspective of the companies we work with.

For this edition of the Partner Blog Series, we’ve called on Fueled, the groundbreaking app developers with offices in New York City, Chicago, and London. Today, we hear from Micheal Kordvani, a lifelong technology lover and Computer Sciences graduate of Queens College, as he examines the impact of an emerging technology on the future of telecommunications apps.

li-fiThe web is packed with humorous memes about poor connectivity. People don’t like wasting time and money on cut-off video connections and half-finished conversations. Telecommunication companies deliberately work on making the internet safer and faster or on new technologies that could solve the frustrating problem of speed, safety, and cost during data transfers. Unfortunately,  App developers tirelessly create new telecommunication apps. While one solves team communication and it’s painfully slow, another one is super-effective for fast connectivity, but costs way more than is acceptable.

It’s not easy to meet all criteria at once. The intriguing Li-Fi (short of Light Fidelity) is opening new doors. It’s still young, but a number of supporters are working to make it a viable solution for solving some of the current data transfer problems.

In a way similar to Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is a wireless data transfer option. However, as it uses VLC (visible light communication), Ultraviolet and Infrared waves instead of radio frequencies, it provides a variety of ways to deal with the notoriously insecure Wi-Fi connections. If you’ve by now thought that Li-Fi creates new problems while solving old ones, you’re partially true. Consequently, it may not be the perfect all-in-one solution for improving communication, but it definitely carries a lot of potentials for mobile developers to play with it’s developing functions for telecommunication apps.

Overcoming Wi-Fi Shortcomings with Li-Fi

While Wi-Fi is predominantly operational within a full building when you need to transfer data with light, walls do create a problem. On the other hand, as Li-Fi offers much bigger bandwidth, efficiency and security, it solves radio interference issues for a low cost. The world of data communication is jam-packed and with smart connectivity, the volume is only getting bigger. We all know the frustration of slow Wi-Fi when multiple devices are connected to a network. The number of connected devices grows by billions. Despite Wi-Fi’s current optimal performance for confined spaces, the fixed bandwidth makes high data transfer a problem. Since Li-Fi works well with LED and lighting units, there are plenty of options for developing the medium. At least one area where Li-Fi has exciting possibilities is smart automation. In this sense, telecommunication app developers can start thinking well out of the extent of Slack, Skype, Zoom or other mobile apps that are now solving business communication problems.

Li-Fi supported devices which are based on a larger part of the electromagnetic spectrum provide endless possibilities for data transfer by light in smart homes. This doesn’t mean that we will get rid of the communication over the internet as it is now. Maybe we won’t leave Ethernet cables or Wi-fi routers to the history yet, but this new telecommunication technology can change the way we stream videos, send emails or access the web.

Majority of standard office operations in the foreseeable future could be managed via a Li-fi based telecommunication app. Your smartphone will be the tool to turn on the LED lights, set the room temperature, organize clock alarms, arrange an HD video streaming calendar or print your meeting agenda. And yes – hold a meeting on a plane! Cost and security work extremely well with Li-Fi.

The extensive growth in the use of LEDs for illumination provides a rich opportunity for integration of the technology. If we consider the shortcomings of Li-Fi, such as the necessity of an immediate access to a light source, the short-range reach of Li-Fi and the limitations posed by natural sunlight or physical obstacles, as well as the high costs of mass-scale adoption, it’s still early age to predict the full application. At the same time, it’s a fertile moment to test its potential for inventive telecommunication apps that can make our lives easier at smart homes and automated offices.

Future Areas for Development of Li-Fi Telecommunication Apps

What are the areas for developing profitable software products that can solve more problems than creating ones? Future applications of the Li-Fi technology could make educational institutions work better due to faster internet. When Wi-Fi is backed up by Li-Fi, medical equipment that suffers from Wi-Fi interferences can be made much safer. Although Li-Fi is not without its own drawbacks in terms of penetrating dense environments (for example, underwater), when Wi-Fi fails, light data transfers can take over to support underwater exploration.

For sensitive industries, such as energy providers (power plants), Li-Fi is a safe connectivity solution that can be easily monitored. Where other less secure technologies – Bluetooth or NFC are forbidden, Li-Fi short-range networks are a viable replacement solution. In the end, the technology can offer effective connectivity for smartphones or laptops on-the-go, or strengthen the safety of traffic via car LED lights.

Areas with ample LED light are Li-Fi friendly and, no doubt, carry a vast creative capacity for testing telecommunication apps that bring all these technologies together. When the technology becomes commercially successful, cleaner environments and improved health are irreplaceable benefits to be gained. The impetus is on. It’s up to developers to find ways and turn researchers’ results into business products.

So what do you think? Will Li-Fi be the technology of the future and become as familiar, ubiquitous, and necessary as Wi-Fi? You can let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to give a shout out to Fueled while you’re at it for this thorough review. Also, no matter what core technology your business network operates over, if you ever have any challenges now or in the future, you can garantee our VirtualPBX Customer Support will be there to help you through it!

The All New Move Feature Gives You Unprecedented Mobility

Move Feature on DashWe often discuss how Dash Plans were designed to boost simplicity for all employees, regardless of their job function. Fortunately, our intention of democratizing the abilities of a true telephone engineer’s function by enabling everyone to harness the power of cloud-based business telephone systems is being realized for thousands of workers every day. But Dash is more than simply just a manageable interface for a complex technology. We’ve added so much more to the platform that enhances usability even further inspired by the real-life needs of our customers as they share feature requests and beta program feedback on our public facing VirtualPBX Product Roadmap. One of the newest additions to the Dash feature lineup that has come from exactly that process is the inclusion of our all-new Move Feature to our popular list of Feature Codes for intra-call management.

The Move Feature & Dash Feature Codes Explained

Feature Codes are a clever way to execute some of the Dash interface functions directly from your telephone dial pad. Though the Dash interface has won all manner of industry accolades for its groundbreaking simplicity and usability, there are times when inputting a quick command on the phone itself is faster and more convenient. With that in mind, we’ve spent a fair amount of time promoting Dash Feature Codes to our users and their adoption of them has skyrocketed. During this increase in their popularity, however, we’ve been fortunate to receive some useful feedback from some of our power users that sparked an idea for an inclusion to the existing family of codes. Specifically, the Move Feature is one that enables live calls to be sent to and from different devices with just quick touch of the dial pad. Unlike call transfers that are to totally different users or extensions, however, the Move Feature is a way to transition your own conversation between your own devices without interruption. Say you are on a call at your desk that is running long and rather than end it because you need to walk over to another appointment, you can simply press “6683” on your desktop phone and then the call will begin ringing on your mobile device. Once you answer there, the call is automatically transferred to your smartphone and disconnected from your desktop one. Alternatively, you could be on a call on your way into the office on your smartphone and, upon arrival, you need to save the battery on your handheld so you again enter “6683” and then answer the ring that is sent to your desktop phone. It’s as simple as that. Plus, because this is a feature on Dash, it comes to you with the same limitless customization that you’ve come to expect from all of our cloud-based communications. That means that assigning the devices and that work best for you (or for each separate employee) is simple and personal so that everyone has the device sequence that works best for him or herself.

Move Feature Now, New Feature Next

Adding types of functions like the Move Feature isn’t easy, or else everyone would already be able to do it on their existing phone system. But because we’ve got one of the best and most experienced engineering teams in the industry behind us, we can take ideas from the suggestion phase to shipping them to users faster and more effectively than most. With that in mind, what would you like to see added next? While we can’t promise that every feature suggestion will make it to market or will skip to the front of the schedule (we have to draw line somewhere, after all), we’d be thrilled ot hear what you’d like to see added to your phone system. Participating in the discussion on our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap is free and takes nothing more than an idea, so give it a shot if there’s something you’d like to see included moving forward. We’d love to hear from you. If not, you can still always join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook and let us know about your first time using the Move Feature and how you felt about it. We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon and in the meanwhile, enjoy the all new Move Feature and all of the existing Dash Feature Codes!

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