Author: Dan Quick
Posted on June 7, 2018 by Dan Quick
A live receptionist is often the first line of contact for a business with its customers, and needs to possess a wide range of institutional knowledge to field calls, answer questions, and direct topics to their best possible outcome. The importance of having the right person in this role underscores the commonly held notion that a business’s greatest assets are the people who work there. Certainly, we’ve had a lot of fun investing in our human capital, ourselves, because we also attribute our growth and success to the hard work and irreplaceable personalities that make VirtualPBX who we are. Combine that idea with the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and you’ve got a situation whereby the front lines employees are staggeringly important to the success of an organization. Many of our customers are small, scrappy, and resourceful entrepreneurs who handle every aspect, from the front of the house to the back, on their own. But other companies with a few more employees make one of their first hires an administrator who can handle the logistics of an office. This person ends up with plenty of responsibilities, and more often than not those include acting as the live receptionist for all inbound calls. There is really no replacement for the personality that some of my favorite administrators have and how that, in turn, elevates the brand they represent.
That’s why many organizations also have anxiety over bringing in an advanced business telephone service like feature-rich hosted VoIP for fear of them losing the need for a live receptionist altogether. Even though some businesses enjoy employing an Auto Attendant in lieu of a live receptionist, mandating that never has to be the case. Over the course of this post we’ll illustrate how a live receptionist and an Auto Attendant are not mutually exclusive and can, in fact, complement each other quite nicely. There are several compositions this can take, too, each of which provides specific support for live receptionists only, exclusive use of Auto Attendants, and any number of hybridizations of the two.
Having A VoIP Plan With a Live Receptionist
We aren’t going to deny that one of the most consistently popular features on any of our VirtualPBX cloud phone systems is the Auto Attendant. An Auto Attendant can route calls, forward to groups or individuals, be programmed to adapt to time changes and holiday schedules, and even field questions or direct to voicemail. With all of that ability packed into a free Auto Attendant, it’s easy to see why companies without the capital to hire new administrators find it to be such a helpful feature. That said, there is no need to use this feature to replace a live receptionist. When properly executed, an Auto Attendant can actually serve as an assistant and enhancement to the operations of any live receptionist. Here are a few of the ways a live receptionist can benefit from an Auto Attendant:
- Added Coverage Being able to field multiple lines of call traffic is one of the most important duties of a live receptionist, but it may also prematurely interrupt the conversation he or she is currently on. With an Auto Attendant, you can arrange to have those alternate calls be answered by the phone system if the main line is busy.
- Specific Design for Live Receptionists Fielding calls within an organization is much easier when live receptionists can use Advanced Transfers to ensure swift and accurate call transfers. Plus, for critical conversations that need to put on hold, calls can be parked and this and a host of other useful features can be accessed right from a handset with Feature Codes, too.
- Pinch Hitter Being able to call in a back-up to bat for a team member is a great advantage in baseball, and the same can be said for a live receptionist, too. Fielding phone calls is easier when you don’t have to be stationary at a desk, so if a cordless VoIP office phone isn’t available, knowing that an Auto Attendant will answer calls in your absence is a huge relief when you need a moment of, well, relief.
- Professional Representation As we’ve mentioned, the best live receptionist can do more than just act as an operator, he or she can also be the company’s best brand ambassador, too. Fortunately, a virtual receptionist can do the same thing. By being able to customize everything from on-hold music to automatic and professionally recorded messages that dynamically change for holidays or promotions, a live receptionist never has to worry that a virtual replacement isn’t pulling their weight.
- Infinitely Expandable The only real threshold that even the most capable and competent employee encounters is that of scalability. Because an Auto Attendant never needs to take a lunch break and can handle multiple concurrent calls without any attrition to the quality and polish of each one, there’s no need worry about overloading the system. Plus, because all of VoIP Phone Plan features are hosted in the cloud, they can be scaled up or down as needed to grow with a company with just a few clicks, too.
Auto Attendant is Just One Way to help a Live Receptionist
The above list barely scratches the surface of the examples on how an Auto Attendant can help any live receptionist be better and more agile at work. The ways a live receptionist can benefit from a VoIP plan are as many and as creative as the administrators thereon. Because companies can add dozens of recording options, add department groups at will, and have infinitely customizable voicemail, faxmail, and greeting options, this literally is just the tip of the iceberg. Plus, add into the fact that all of those presets can be dynamically programmed to act differently for night/day hours and holidays, too, and you’re left with a system that is almost as dynamic as your live receptionist. Of course, no program will replace him or her, but this one sure does come close.
To see first-hand how Auto Attendant works, you can sign up for a Free Demo right now, or just hit us up on Twitter and Facebook with your questions. Also, if you already have your Dash Plan and Auto Attendant and need a little help setting it up, we have online call handling support available and you can even call us right from those resources if you want, as well. If you do, don’t be surprised if you are wildly impressed with our combination of automated and live receptionist skills, either.
Posted on June 5, 2018 by Dan Quick
Arguably, there are some promotional deals that are more attractive than others. Some of us at VirtualPBX are keen on Taco Bell’s “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” promo. This is where the entire country (you read that correctly) can get a free taco at participating Taco Bell locations if the visiting team “steals” a base during the World Series. The attraction to free tacos is palpable, obviously, but the problem with this is that free crunchy goodness doesn’t come your way unless a group of athletes halfway across the country out-preform another group of talented athletes. And herein lies the problem. Whether it’s free-ish tacos or massive “savings” on airline baggage fees with the purchase of a subscription package, companies rarely offer premium features or products for anything short of, well, a premium. Rarely, that is. Because VirtualPBX hosted business phone plans are some of the longest-running and most comprehensive unified communications options available on the market, they boast an array of premium features that are included with even the most affordable VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans. Because there are literally dozens of features that other service providers would charge extra for that would take too long to go over one-by-one, we’ll focus one of the most popular of all, the totally free Auto Attendant.
There Really Is Such a Thing as a Free Auto Attendant!
As we mentioned, every VirtualPBX Phone Plan comes with a host of valuable and time-saving features. And though some premium offerings like Salesforce CRM Integrations and ACD Queues are available, no VirtualPBX service comes without at least a free Auto Attendant. The Auto Attendant is one of the perennial favorites among our customers and has been for ages. In fact, early versions of the free Auto Attendant came on legacy business VoIP platforms that we operated years ago and it was an immediate success from the start. Since then, and like all of our products and services, the Auto Attendant has received successions of updates and improvements, all of which have combined to bring it to companies in its most advanced state yet. And in spite of all of the award-winning advancements the VirtualPBX engineers have applied to and all of the other features along the way, Auto Attendant has stayed (and will remain) completely free and included in every VirtualPBX account.
What’s so Special About a Free Auto Attendant?
Well, other than the obvious, “free,” part of that question, there really is a lot a company can do with an Auto Attendant that makes it so popular. Any virtual receptionist can answer a call and shoot the caller to voicemail, but the free Auto Attendant from VirtualPBX can perform any one of a litany of Call Answering Services. Being able to customize the inbound caller’s journey with specific greetings, audio of your choosing (including professional greetings and on-hold music), send callers to any department or individual, and the ability even change all of those aspects to accommodate night/day or office hours is all just a fraction of the functions that can be performed by an Auto Attendant. And sure, Auto Attendant is included for free in the native feature set of a VirtualPBX Business Phone Plan, there’s no way you can get into one of those for free, right? Wrong! In fact, between our 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee, and the chance to preview our Phone System for free, you really can try it before you buy it. It may not be as tasty, but try doing that with a taco!
Posted on May 29, 2018 by Dan Quick
You’ve got questions, KP’s got answers. Kevin Peyton is, on the surface, the Vice President of Sales at VirtualPBX, but digging a little deeper reveals so much more. An expert in everything from hosted telecom to competitive roller-skating (seriously) and everything between, Kevin fields whatever we throw at him, so we thought we’d let you have a shot. The gauntlet has been thrown, welcome to KP360!
One of my favorite sayings is, “It’s always easy when you know.” This is true for many things, a new smartphone, a new car, a new washing machine. They all have features and functions that we know nothing about when we first encounter them. This can be very frustrating until we have mastered the basics of these new items. Soon after becoming familiar with new technology, however, we find ourselves more reliant on it than we ever thought possible. The same can be said for a new phone system. Business telephone systems are no different, and in fact, can seemingly be even more daunting to become proficient with. The good news is that modern cloud phone systems are much easier to setup and manage than you may think. To help understanding how modern phone systems work, I’d like to break it down into three fundamental components.
Historically referred to as “lines” due to the need for an additional phone number for each concurrent call you may need (ie: rollover lines). Think of phone numbers like your email address in that it’s how you’re found and contacted over the telephone network. Also, just like when someone sends an email to the correct address, the call comes to you. In the VoIP world, the need for rollover lines is no longer what it once was. In fact, a single number can support dozens of concurrent phone calls whereas older technology had much lower traffic thresholds. Alternatively, adding individual numbers can replace navigating through an automated attendant by being designated as direct inward dial (DID) numbers where a caller may call directly to a person or department. There are many other uses too, like marketing campaigns or having a local presence where you may not have offices. This can be easily accomplished by adding phone numbers with whatever area code you need.
Features & Functions
This is the fun part and where all the magic happens. Many of these features used to require an expensive investment in a hardware PBX (private branch exchange), a PRI (primary rate interface), annual licensing fees, and IT staff to manage and maintain it. Other features on a modern VoIP plan may not have been available at all, even with all of that added hardware. The good news is that because hosted telephone systems all live in the cloud, they’re easily set-up and managed through a simple web browser. You never have to worry about capacity, or any confusing telephone people jargon, either. You can simply add the users that you need and can add or remove them at any time as your business needs evolve. A lot happens behind the scenes to make all of the features of a VoIP platform work, but the complexity of it all is hidden with an intuitive user interface that lets you simply point, click, or drag-and-drop to get the behavior you want from your phone system. In addition to ease of use, when you need more help our award-winning Training Team can walk you through it for free, too.
Phones & Devices
An IP or VoIP phone is the only thing installed at your location. There are many choices of phones and this can sometimes be the most confusing part of getting a new phone system. I try to break it down to a few fundamentals that will narrow down the choices. Will you use “Soft Phones” or “Desk Phones?” Both of these are VoIP Phones, one made of software and the other made of plastic. Second is budget, how much do you want to spend? The price range is dramatic with some phones starting as low as below $50 upwards to $1,500 for the most powerful and cutting-edge technology. Third is features like mobility in that would you need a simple desk phone or maybe a cordless phone? Color touch screens with lots of programmable features? Will it be used in a conference room for conference calls? Do you prefer more elegant phones for executives and if you have a receptionist answering all incoming calls, that person will need a useful phone to manage the call traffic. With phones, it’s important to keep in mind what is the most productive phone features for specific roles in your business. Whatever phone you happen to choose, however, the good news is that once you get them plugged into the internet and power and they just work.
Posted on May 22, 2018 by Dan Quick
Placing a phone call is pretty straightforward and something that most people probably don’t think twice about. With the advent of the digital age, placing an internet phone call is becoming more common and, although the end result is the exact same as with a traditional call, many people question the mechanics behind how this works. And because plenty of our readers have asked us on either Facebook or Twitter exactly what an internet phone call is and how it works, we’ve decided to address the topic in this latest edition of VirtualPBX Answers.
What is an Internet Phone Call?
In its most simplistic terms, an internet phone call can refer to any type of voice communications that don’t rely on traditional copper-wired telephone line infrastructure. This means that an internet phone call is a voice connection that relies on data connections over the world wide web to connect two parties. This is where it gets a bit nuanced, but there’s a difference between an internet phone call and other voice connections. Connections that link parties via actual phone numbers require a particular set of technologies, and this blog will focus on those. Conversations that occur between phone numbers will always need to interact with the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) regardless of if they are antiquated wired phone calls or modern internet phone calls. Picturing the PSTN as a massive switchboard that directs traffic to all known telephone numbers may be a bit difficult to conceptualize, but it’s an accurate summation of what it does. Older analog telephone calls route through wires into PBX’s (Private Branch Exchange) that are like sub-stations for the PSTN and can be either on-site (for corporations, perhaps) or installed as intermediaries by a telephone company (in neighborhoods or apartment complexes, for example). The call is then routed from the PBX to wherever the destination is located via a series of wires and PBX locations along the way. An internet phone call does something identical in result with a fraction of the logistics.
How Does an Internet Phone Call Work?
An internet phone call relies on converting the audio of a phone call into packets of digital information that it will transmit over data connections. These packets travel into a virtual PBX, which is a digital facsimile of the aforementioned PBX, but it is entirely hosted in the cloud. The audio is then ushered to its destination form the hosted PBX to the PSTN and thereby the internet phone call is connected to the desired telephone number. The name for voice connections that use this method is Voice Over Internet Protocol, commonly referred to simply as VoIP.
What is the Advantage of an Internet Phone Call?
There are a variety of benefits for using VoIP and internet phone calls over traditional means, most of which are immediately apparent in a monthly telephone bill. The cost savings of VoIP over a traditional phone service can be staggering, too, when organizations with more complex needs like call routing, ACD queues, and call recording are present. However, even simple phone plans for individuals are routinely more affordable over VoIP, as well. Additionally, the fact that internet phone calls require no physical equipment or on-site engineering know-how to operate makes their flexibility, adaptability, customization options, and scalability the hands down winner over older, copper-wire telephone options. Not to mention the fact that with advanced WebRTC (Web-based real-time communications) options becoming more popular, there are even free web phones that operate perfectly from any modern web browser, too. To find out how much your business would benefit from a new VoIP service, simply compare your telephone bill with one of these Award-Winning VoIP Plans from VirtualPBX.
Posted on May 17, 2018 by Dan Quick
Trying to stretch a dollar to its maximum impact is nothing new. For as long as Americans have dealt with a shift from a production to a consumption-based economy, venturing to get more for less has been just a way of life. But in a recent study, it was determined that nearly half of American families can’t afford basic costs of living like rent, food, and child or health care. While many of these families were involved in service roles that require an in-person presence to perform the functions of the job, others are able to execute on the expectations of their jobs from almost anywhere. This is why remote working could help families live better lives if they are able to relocate to more affordable areas without the burdens of commuting or the high costs of living associated with more densely populated areas.
How Remote Working Could Help Families Live Better Lives
The crux of the issue about affordability struggles in the face of an unemployment rate below 4% is that wage increases have been notoriously lagging behind those of costs of goods and inflation. This has been infamously the trend since back in the 1970’s but, in light of these near-historic unemployment rates, takes a new place in the public conversation. The way that many American families have been choosing to deal with the issue is by participating in the gig-economy of picking up side jobs or simply going without vacations in an effort to keep their productivity at a high level. From a health and productivity standpoint, taking time off from work cannot be overstated in its importance, but alas, this is the choice many Americans make. It doesn’t have to be that way. By leveraging the advanced, cloud-based communications tools and techniques available to the nearly 40% of the workforce cited in this study that doesn’t rely on physical tasks to complete their jobs, there is a better solution. Remote working isn’t just a convenient way for business travelers to remain productive and connected while on the road, it’s also a viable option for many workers to beat the affordability curve and live truly better lives.
Find the Right Location and Go There
At the risk of oversimplifying what is obviously a complex and emotionally charged topic, the benefits of relocating to less expensive areas and conducting more work from there is an immediate way to make income go further. With the increased access to high-speed internet access across the country becoming more common in more places, there isn’t much else a modern worker would need to contribute right from the comfort of his or her own home. Plus, with cutting edge technology like the free VirtualPBX Web Phone increasing accessibility for cloud-based communications, the barriers to entry into a remote working lifestyle are virtually nonexistent. Plus, there are hosts of resources available for companies that are new to remote working policies on how to manage remote teams that will help smooth the transition into a more distributed workforce. So what are you waiting for? Hop on the web and start picking the hometown of your dreams and maybe you’ll find that your expenses won’t be as great of a percentage of your income before you know it. If you need any help on tips or tricks on how to proceed, feel free to ask us on Facebook or Twitter and we can help point you in the right direction, wherever that may be. And before long, you can see why remote working can help your family live a better life!