Posted on December 1, 2020 by Casey Houser
You can keep texting constrained to your personal devices and send replies in a one-to-one manner with your customers.
Or you can attach inbound text messages to Zapier workflows to automate their receipt and your company notifications, use the VirtualPBX API to return your messages through a third-party program like Airtable, and set up Zapier to ask for feedback through a followup SMS after customers fulfill a goal in your CRM.
The options are legion, which can be great until it becomes overwhelming. That’s why today we wanted to share a complete example that includes as many of those options as possible. Check out the following workflow and accompanying video to see how exactly you would use our Business SMS in an involved, but functional setup that improves your management of texts.
A Text Message From Receipt to Reply
Consider a business that works only through appointments. This might be a computer repair shop that does home visits or a hairstylist who doesn’t take walk-ins. They receive text messages through Business SMS and see those messages sent to their VirtualPBX Softphone.
Everything else shown in this video and described in the sections below expands upon that initial receipt. The video here offers a visual walkthrough of all the steps below.
1. Receive the SMS
Business texting is as straightforward as the personal texting you’re used to. When a customer sends an SMS to your business phone number, you can have it configured to appear on your VirtualPBX Softphone. This example shows the text arriving as a customer’s simple request to set an appointment.
2. Automatic Notifications to Your Web Apps
One of the elements that sets business texting apart from consumer texting is its notification capabilities. You can use the VirtualPBX Zapier Integration, for example, to monitor when your phone number receives a text. When it does, you can have a notification sent automatically to your Slack channel or your Trello board. You don’t need to have your VirtualPBX Softphone active to know you received a text.
3. Sending an Appointment Confirmation Through Airtable
Another helpful part of business texting is the sending of replies. Of course, you can reply to individuals through your softphone on a one-to-one basis. You can also combine logging and sending of messages into a single Airtable setup. Our team can help you get started and build an Airtable setup to your specifications.
4. Followup in Tandem With Your CRM
At VirtualPBX, we use a CRM called Pipedrive to manage our customer contacts. With this and other CRM platforms, you can create deals or contracts inside of the system, essentially marking your customers as having an appointment with your business. When you finish the appointment and close the deal, you can have your Zapier workflow send a followup SMS to your customer, thanking them for their time and possibly asking them to provide a rating about their experience.
Make This Workflow Your Own
Now that you see this workflow in action, take time to think about how a similar setup could help your business. You can easily add or remove one step or another. We’re also happy to help you with that process when you decide to extend your Business SMS to other platforms.
Posted on November 23, 2020 by Casey Houser
It’s not uncommon for businesses to provide goods and services to a wide range of populations. Even if your small business is local to a U.S. city state, it may still have a need for multilingual support to match the communities it serves.
One benefit of our new Multiple Auto Attendants feature is the ease with which you can address multiple languages for your inbound callers. You have certainly heard “For English, press one; para español, marque dos” or a similar phrase when calling customer support for a business; now you can replicate that same inbound call flow at your own company.
How Our Multiple Auto Attendants Are Applied
All our Unlimited Minutes Plans offer Multiple Auto Attendants. The addition of multiple attendants compliments our Auto Attendant that comes with every VirtualPBX Plan.
Think of the Auto Attendant as a feature that applies only to your Main Number. Your plan will come with several phone numbers, and one of those numbers will be used as your Main Number. Customers that call that number can be sent to your Auto Attendant where they will hear your custom greeting and can select their choices for reaching your company (“Press one for Sales, Press two for Customer Support…”).
Now think of Multiple Auto Attendants as a feature that can apply to any phone number in your plan. A recent blog post of ours explains more about how you can attach one of these attendants to a Direct Inward Dial (DID) number or use a specific number for a new marketing campaign – each with their own unique greeting.
Multilingual Support by Nesting Attendants
Your Main Number attendant and your Multiple Auto Attendants can work together to help you provide multilingual support.
When combining these features, you may want to consider your Main Number as the default location that most customers will reach. It could be the number posted on your website, business card, billboards, and online advertisements. It might also say nothing more than “Welcome to XYZ Corp. For English, Press one. Para español, marque dos.”
This message might seem short, but by having the dialed one and two each reach their own sub-attendant, it opens up your business to route customers according to their language needs. Those needs are met by the other attendants you customize for them. Moreover, the transition between attendants will be invisible to callers, so their experiences should be helpful and without any indication that your phone system has moved them from one attendant to another.
Multilingual Support With Direct Phone Numbers
Although using your Main Number attendant with the Multiple Auto Attendants feature can be extremely useful when setting up multilingual support, you can achieve a similar effect by using Multiple Auto Attendants on its own.
Our Essentials, Advanced, and Enterprise Plans give you 5, 10, and 15 phone numbers, respectively, to use however you wish. One of those numbers should play the role as your Main Number. The others can be used creatively, and it’s possible you may want to use one or many of them for multilingual support services.
You can have any of your numbers point to one of your multiple auto attendants, which of course can then provide a greeting and call routing as you see fit. Used this way, customers would not have to sit through an initial menu just to pick their language.
This same logic could apply to phone numbers you use in a range of other countries. If your headquarters is in the U.S., it would be appropriate to have callers reach an English-based attendant through your Main Number. Your other plan phone numbers, however, may be specific to Mexico, France, and Italy, as just three examples, and an auto attendant could be created for each one.
This type of setup would be specific to your business’s situation and the countries or communities it reaches. Multilingual support would extend to those populations with ease, and you could reconfigure their attendant menus quickly with changes in products, services, or the type of outreach your company completes.
Setting Up Nested Auto Attendants
The configuration of attendants from your Multiple Auto Attendants feature is found in the “Auto Attendants” menu on the left-hand side of your VirtualPBX Dashboard. After clicking that button, you will see a listing of your existing attendants and a button for “Add Attendant” to create a new one.
After creating an attendant, you can click its name to open up a configuration menu. This configuration will contain a button that reads “Available in Main Menu.” This is how you make any of your multiple attendants available as a sub-attendant for any other attendant. It’s how you allow customers to press one and be routed immediately to the English-appropriate menu.
You can tell your attendants to reach a nested attendant in two ways. Your Main Number attendant is reachable through the dashboard’s Main Number menu and then through the Incoming Call Handling drop-down menu. It looks like the following image, and clicking “Virtual Receptionist” will let you change your routing options.
For any one of your multiple attendants, you can access the same “Virtual Receptionist” text through their individual Settings menu, which is shown with a wrench icon in your Auto Attendants list of attendants you have created.
In your routing options, you will see the dropdown menus for the button to press and the path it should take. Shown here, any of your multiple attendants marked with the “Available in Main Menu” will be selectable.
Get Started With Our Help
If you need assistance setting up the Multiple Auto Attendants feature for multilingual support or any other task, start a chat with us today. We’re happy to help you navigate the system and test your configurations so your customers will have a great experience every time they interact with your company.
Posted on November 19, 2020 by Casey Houser
All users of our Unlimited Minutes Plans and VirtualPBX 1000 Plans will now receive voicemail-to-text transcription as part of their system reminder emails.
Your users have always had the ability to receive alerts about new voicemail messages through brief emails. Now those alerts have been expanded to include Voicemail Transcription, which offers computer-generated text that matches the messages callers have left to the voicemail box associated with those users.
Transcriptions are included at the close of each reminder email. They can be useful for reviewing your messages without needing to interrupt a meeting or a quiet room.
New Reminder Email Structure
The primary difference between the past and current email reminders comes at the close of each email. A simple example is shown in the screenshot here, which can be seen at full size by clicking on the image.
Transcription starts near the bottom of the email. All other necessary information about the call is there as it was in the previous form of our email reminders, including the identification (name and phone number) of the caller and the time and date when the message was created.
Those brief pieces of information are necessary when deciding how and when to reach the caller. Now the addition of voicemail-to-text transcript will expand how you can use that data and use emails as part of your daily workflow.
Voicemail-to-Text Benefits to Users
What you get with Voicemail Transcription is an extension of how voicemail has existed for years. It simply moves audio information into a text format. This can be useful for a range of situations.
Process Voicemail Messages More Quickly
Why not complete more than one task at time? With voicemail-to-text capability, you can check your email and read your voicemail messages together.
It will continue to be possible to log in to your VirtualPBX dashboard to manage your voicemails. There, you can listen to individual messages, download them to your computer or phone, and delete them. The process of deciding which messages to keep and which to discard can begin with a quick check of your email inbox.
Improved Search Capability
Audio playback doesn’t lend itself well to a search. You can label downloaded messages with accurate filenames, but an entire transcript could improve further the labeling and sorting process.
If you can complete a text search in your email software, you can begin to search for important voicemail messages. Voicemail-to-text, therefore, creates a record of information that is more beneficial to future information gathering – especially if you have a large volume of messages in your inbox every day.
The management and processing of transcriptions can also be automated for an entire company.
Using our Webhooks feature, you can capture the text of a voicemail when it is left in an email inbox. Webhooks can be created within seconds from the online VirtualPBX Dashboard. In this case, selecting the “Notifications Webhook” type will get the text output you need.
Information that’s available with the output of “Notifications Webhook” will include information about the user in your system who received the voicemail message and the caller ID of the person who completed the call. Because of that, you can filter for the name of a voicemail box or the inbound phone number when using Zapier to send notifications to your other web apps.
A Zapier setup with webhooks will provide you with a URL to enter into the VirtualPBX system. That URL captures the relevant call data so you can use Zapier to filter for what you need and send messages and logs to Slack, Airtable, Trello, Google Sheets, and more.
Voicemail-to-text ability in our Voicemail feature can also assist users who are hearing impaired in some way.
For anyone who has difficulty hearing or may be deaf, a traditional voicemail setup may not work well on its own. A secondary service may need to be used to process audio and transform it into text. The VirtualPBX system can now cut out that middleman by providing the translation action on its own.
Getting Started With Voicemail-to-Text
The only setup necessary for your plan users to get started with Voicemail Transcription is to enable the “Send Voicemail to Email” option in their user portals. A quick sign in at dash.virtualpbx.com will let them select the Settings & Devices menu option, click the “Send Voicemail to Email” checkbox, and save the email address they prefer to use.
From that point forward, Voicemail Transcription will automatically provide notification emails for all received emails. Transcripts will be provided at the bottom of each notification email.
Posted on November 17, 2020 by Casey Houser
The release of many new features for the VirtualPBX Softphone for mobile and desktop include the capability to send SMS text messages and participate in video conferences. Moreover, Android 11 updates and iOS 14 updates give our mobile softphones a number of new actions not found in previous builds.
What you receive as a VirtualPBX customer is an improved user experience that helps make the use of our Business SMS and Video Conferencing features even better. Small adjustments such as how your phone’s contacts are managed can make it easier for your business to function, so we’ll discuss those updates here as they coincide with the development of our own business phone platform.
New VirtualPBX Features
The newest features of the VirtualPBX Phone System are Business SMS and Video Conferencing. We’re thrilled to be promoting them now because our customers have been requesting their addition to employees across our company.
As just a quick recap: If you haven’t done so already, head on over to our Business SMS feature page to see how you can use texting on your VirtualPBX Plan.
This feature allows users to send unlimited texts between coworkers and outbound to customers. For companies that work remotely, it can help employees stay connected in an informal way. Then when marketing campaigns are in full swing, SMS messages can help you highlight new products and seasonal promotions.
Automated capture of inbound texts is also possible through our Zapier Integration, use of our Webhooks feature, and through database services like Airtable. You can read more about the confluence of those features in our blog about building an SMS Airtable template.
Our latest softphone update also includes a number of settings for sending messages to individuals and groups. You can complete one-to-one chats with contacts, and you can easily create groups with as many contacts as you need. A user can create a group and easily manage room settings like its description and topic; members can also be added, removed, and re-sent their invitations.
Additionally, you will want to check out our Video Conferencing feature page to read about how video works in your plan. You can complete 1:1 video chats with colleagues and customers, and video conferences can be created with dozens of participants – mixing both video and audio-only callers.
Attend your weekly meetings on the VirtualPBX Softphone and share your participation in HD video and audio. The interface is as familiar as any web-based video service you have used before. Now all your communications tasks are possible in a single platform.
Android 11 Updates
Android 11 updates include:
- A new picture-in-picture mode where a small window can be pinned to the corner of your phone’s screen
- Updates to the face-down mute function where, when your phone is places face down (and automatically mutes your audio, announcements can still be played
- And a change in default behavior when creating a contact that creates a new Main number instead of a Softphone when you add a user from a call log
The benefits to these three updates have an impact on use of the VirtualPBX Softphone and its new capabilities. Picture-in-picture mode, of course, could be used to allow you to multitask while in a video conference.
Meanwhile, you can rely on alerts still being effective on your phone when you need to mute your device for any reason. Then any time you receive an SMS from a new contact – potentially as part of your new inbound sales campaign – you can easily add that contact to your address book and have their number be displayed as their primary device.
iOS 14 Updates
Additions to iOS 14 also impact use of our softphone. Here’s a notable list of iOS 14 updates:
- Like with Android, a new face-down mute setting can be enabled (in iOS, it’s found in Settings > Preferences > Mute When Face Down)
- The mute notification is also improved to correctly display your audio status if you unmute your phone while in the lock screen
- And a typing indicator is now visible to show when users are actively composing messages in both public and private chat rooms
Both mute functions listed above should help individuals better understand and manage what’s taking place in their conversations. They will have an accurate reading of whether or not they’re muted, and instant access to mute (by simply turning the phone on its face) can make changes in status more streamlined.
Team collaboration should also benefit from improvements to mute handling. In addition, SMS texting will become less of a “black box” by showing what’s happening with other users during a conversation. The pacing of any conversation, and a potential lack of unnecessary interruptions, can be expected by giving users feedback about when messages are being typed.
Mac and Windows Desktop Softphone Updates
While we don’t have any platform (Mac and Windows) updates to report here, this is a great time to point out some new features of the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone related to its SMS and video functionality.
Softphone Interface Changes
The latest version of the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone includes several changes to its visual interface that assist with sending SMS messages and starting video calls.
In your contact list – which you can upload from your online dashboard to your softphone – you will see several icons next to a contact when they’re clicked on.
- The phone icon lets you quickly start a call
- The speech bubble icon starts an instant message between desktop softphone, so you can chat with your team
- The smartphone icon lets you start a one-to-one SMS chat with any phone that supports texting
You can also begin voice and video calls from within an existing SMS chat. In the upper-right corner of a chat, click the ellipses icon to see a menu that gives you immediate access to those options.
iOS 14 and Android 11 Updates Improve Daily Workflow
Although we’re not directly involved in Android 11 updates and iOS 14 updates, the VirtualPBX Softphone benefits from their effects, and we’re happy to take full advantage of their capabilities. As a result, your daily workflow can benefit from their additions because they are built into the native functioning of our softphone.
Small improvements in contact creation to large, long-awaited features like picture-in-picture add levels of usability and simplicity to casual and advanced usage of our softphone.
We hope the additions to these platforms make use of daily calls and texts a welcome task at your organization. Visit our VirtualPBX Softphone page to find links to our mobile and desktop softphone hosts so you can upgrade the software on your devices to take advantage of all these new features.
Posted on November 12, 2020 by Casey Houser
One of the most important capabilities we can note about Business SMS is that it can be used externally to contact customers and internally to keep your team connected. Use cases for your organization will fall into one camp or the other, and by preparing your staff with the VirtualPBX Softphone, either style of use can be made easy from the start.
Reaching Out and Responding to Customers
Consider that your business has a sales team that wants reach out to a subset of your existing customers by sending them direct SMS messages. How would you use the VirtualPBX Softphone on your desktops to send your promotions or brand updates?
An Office With Desktop Softphones
Our Softphone App runs on multiple desktop environments, including Mac and Windows 8 and 10. Businesses that wish to manage a large SMS campaign can do so easily without modifying their existing hardware.
An install of the VirtualPBX Softphone can be completed for one or multiple computers. Therefore, no matter the size of your team, you can have each of their desktops run a softphone that’s capable of handling calls and SMS texts throughout the workday.
This type of situation would lead to relationships being built between individual team members and the customers they have contacted. It’s no different than what your employees would experience when completing phone calls because VoIP texting works fundamentally the same as voice calls.
All VoIP texting that’s handled inside your Advanced or Enterprise Plan takes the same route as your voice calls and video calls. Texting on these plans is unlimited, so your team can reach out and respond to as many contacts as they have.
Keeping Your Team Connected With Texts
The unlimited sending of individual SMS messages extends to internal communications between your team members. VoIP texting isn’t limited to chats between you and your leads; it’s also a helpful way of allowing remote teams to stay in touch. Consider what use of the VirtualPBX Softphone for mobile devices would look like for your distributed workforce.
Working From Home, Connected Through Mobile Softphones
Our Softphone App operates on a number of platforms in the mobile world, too. We have downloads in the Google Play Store for Android and in the App Store for iOS devices. All your employees with personal or company smartphones can download their appropriate apps for free and log in with their existing VirtualPBX credentials.
This ease of distribution and use can have your entire staff connected to each other within minutes. With SMS messages, your employees and management can freely connect with one another throughout the day:
- Complete daily check-ins to team leads
- Announce wins of new clients
- Reach co-workers for help with a task
- Send quick status updates like “Heads down in outreach” or “Lunchtime!”
VoIP texting allows you business to gain the benefit of immediate outreach within the organization. SMS messages are great for letting people keep in touch without worrying about the recipient’s current status, so you can send messages at any time and know that, when your boss or co-worker is able, they will see what you’ve sent.
In times when your conversations are active, text messages can also provide an unobtrusive way of asking for information like a contact’s phone number or getting reminders about an upcoming meeting. VoIP texting has all the benefits we know from using texts in our personal lives. Now your business’s private phone network can realize those same gains.
How Will You Use VoIP Texting?
By no means is it necessary to limit your business to only using Business SMS within or outside of your company. However, how you reach out to customers and how your team members keep in touch will be unique.
Your number of employees, customer base, existing outreach campaigns, and many other factors will all shape how you use VoIP texting each day. Want to see it in action before you commit? Start a conversation with our sales team and sign up for a Free Demo.