Posted on January 14, 2021 by Casey Houser
One of the most important aspects of VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans is what features come included with a customer’s purchase. Free audio conferencing is a feature we’re happy to bundle with every Unlimited Minutes and Unlimited Users plan we offer.
The Features Our Plans Include
You can click the link above to view our plan features in a side-by-side grid format and view our Features page for a comprehensive listing sorted by business function.
That said, here’s a quick look at the most prominent features we include in every VirtualPBX Plan:
- Audio Conferencing
- Auto Attendant
- Ring Groups
- Zapier Integration
- Included Phone Numbers (ranging from two to 15)
- Feature Codes
- Call Forwarding / Transferring
What This Means for Your Business
We include these features in our plans so you can be confident your business won’t run into a common situation you can’t handle.
Our inclusion free Audio Conferencing has helped thousands of businesses stay connected during the pandemic. We have long understood that it’s necessary for businesses to speak to one another from any location, and Audio Conferencing is part of what makes that possible.
Additionally, consider how Auto Attendant appropriately handles all your inbound traffic with custom greetings and instant call routing. That something important to nearly every call you receive at a main business phone number.
Then think about how your included phone numbers let you expand your business through multiple marketing campaigns or through DID numbers – which is another feature included with your plan. Voicemail lets you capture important messages after your business hours have closed for the day. Call Forwarding helps you accept calls on any device you prefer to use.
We cover all the bases.
Free Audio Conferencing in Remote Work
Now more than ever, we hear about how businesses want to work remotely. Many people want to stay safe during the pandemic, and that group and others simply like the flexibility that working from home allows.
A free Audio Conferencing feature in your plan is one of the core pieces to effective remote work. Businesses can’t function well if their employees aren’t able to reach each other.
Although there are many methods of outreach, a quick conference call is among the simplest. Audio Conferencing offers high-definition audio and can accept hundreds of participants in a single call.
You can assign conference rooms to team leads so they can host daily or weekly group meetings. We also accept instant three-way group calls with a quick press of the button on your VoIP desk phone. Conferences work on any phone registered in your account, including the VirtualPBX Softphone that has helped businesses like 1st Classic Transportation keep their operations running during the most intense parts of the economic volatility we’ve all experienced in the past year.
Make Our Features Your Own
Signing up for one of our phone plans doesn’t mean just placing an order; it means that you can make the system fit your needs as a business.
Start a quick web chat with our team to discuss your options, or schedule a Free Demo so we can show you in a live demonstration how features like Audio Conferencing work and how easy they are to set up.
Posted on January 12, 2021 by Casey Houser
The previous year was a struggle for many businesses because of the need to switch to work-from-home policies. Even many businesses deemed “essential” considered their options to allow employees to work remotely. What this showed phone system providers like ours is that VoIP calling features for 2021 need to revolve around a remote-first attitude.
In short, we want to help businesses work from any location – whether all their employees work in the pajamas (from home, of course) or in more formal wear (at an office) or change their workspace from day to day.
What are the top VoIP features for 2021 that help make work more effective? Voice, video, and texting all have a role to play.
Top 2021 VoIP Voice Feature
We feel like Multiple Auto Attendants should take the top spot in this category. What makes Multiple Auto Attendants special is that every phone number on your plan can have its own call routing scheme.
Our regular Auto Attendant comes with every VirtualPBX Plan and can route calls to individuals and groups on their desk phones and personal smartphones. You can think of Multiple Auto Attendants as a duplication of the base-level attendant: any phone number can accepts calls through its own phone tree, and you can nest attendants, for instance, to handle multiple languages or distinct departments.
Multiple Auto Attendants in Remote Work
One use case for Multiple Auto Attendants in a remote work setting is to give all your sales persons their own direct (DID) phone numbers. Each person can record their own personal greeting, state their own working hours, and make it clear how to reach them either through continuing the phone call, perhaps stating their email address, or routing callers to their voicemail box.
Multiple Auto Attendants can also be used to bolster customer support, especially if part of your 2021 roadmap is to expand or better manage multi-lingual support tiers. With this feature you can have your primary phone number route normally to your main auto attendant and have its greeting simply ask callers to pick an option based on their language preference – maybe one option for English and a second for Spanish.
The choice here would route callers smoothly to a secondary attendant with its own greeting spoken in the customer’s chosen language. Furthermore, the routing scheme of each secondary attendant could be programmed to reach your employees’ phones at an office or at home so no employee will have trouble receiving the calls they mean to field.
Top 2021 Video Feature
Though we don’t want to be redundant with our names and titles here, the winner of the VoIP calling feature for video is Video Conferencing. You can complete video calls between multiple users exactly like you would with audio-only calls.
Our Softphone App for mobile and desktop handles one-to-one video calls, conferences, and calls between video and non-video participants. You can also use select desk phones for this purpose.
Video Conferencing in Remote Work
Where Video Conferencing shines most is with internal collaboration. Your team members, no matter where they’re located, can conduct all their meetings in ways you may be used to with Zoom, Google Meet, Jitsi, and other video meeting tools.
The rise of these competitor tools and others, and the creation of our own Video Conferencing feature, shows that there is a high demand for visual calls in this growth of remote work. It also puts into perspective, however, the reality that working remotely can present challenges to individual employees regarding the lack of camaraderie found in traditional offices. Video helps to bring people closer together.
We support conferences with groups as large as 100 members. Both the audio and video in your streams will be high-definition, and because Video Conferencing is offered in select Unlimited Minutes Plan, there’s no cap for how many minutes you can spend each month in your calls.
Top 2021 Texting Feature
We were so excited this past year to have released our Business SMS feature. It has been widely accepted and celebrated by many of our customers.
Business SMS gives you the ability to send and receive messages with customers and co-workers from your desk phones and from the VirtualPBX Softphone.
Business SMS in Remote Work
Business SMS makes a home for itself in both internal and external communications. You can use it to communicate with team members and just as easily reach out to customers.
Remote teams may find it useful for sending short status messages to team leads and other associates. A quick “heading to lunch” is often all that’s necessary to alert a team to your status. Let Video Conferencing work for longer meetings, and have Business SMS fill the gaps in between.
Meanwhile, communication with customers can take place through SMS for similar purposes. We like this VoIP feature for 2021 because it fits well with the culture. Many business leaders are open to communicating through short messages to arrange appointments and check product statuses. Your remote employees, whether they’re in a sales or customer service department, will have an easy time addressing these situations from their devices in an office or at home.
Getting Started With Your 2021 VoIP Features
We’ve built our Business Phone Plans to include features that cater to the needs of businesses of all sizes. Check out our Plan Comparison to see what features are offered alongside the audio, video, and texting options listed above. You’re bound to find something that fits your remote organization well.
Posted on January 7, 2021 by Casey Houser
Throughout much of 2020 and into the early days of 2021, teachers have relied on remote learning to connect with their students, and they’re consistently looking for new resources for remote learning to make this process easier within a society still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At VirtualPBX, our role in this process has been to assist educational facilities by providing them with the tools necessary to keep their school systems running. This can result in educational advisory groups like Collaborative Learning Solutions (CLS) using our phone system to keep their staff connected while they work remotely and while that staff works remotely and on-site with schools and educational departments.
We’re happy to continue to provide groups like CLS with effective communications tools that keep their operations running smoothly through changes in the workplace. As the state of education further takes shape across the U.S. and globally, we’re refining our services to match the needs of all businesses in this group.
Remote Learning, or Reentering the Classroom?
School closures, and initialization of remote learning, began in earnest in the U.S. in March and April 2020 when COVID-19 exposure started to spread worldwide. Since that time, many schools have remained fully closed or have moved to partial online learning for students.
The beginning of the spring semester in 2021 shows much of that same picture – states and counties divided on how to proceed but hopeful that traditional classroom learning will return before the end of the school year.
- KDVR in Colorado reports that some districts in the state have already brought students back to the classroom. Many districts support hybrid models that either stagger in-person student attendance (for instance, Monday/Wednesday for half of students and Tuesday/Thursday for the remaining half) or bring students back to classrooms in phases (such as elementary students returning one week and high school the following week). Some districts combine staggering and phases, and most appear to plan for a combination of virtual and on-site instruction for the foreseeable future.
- Proposals in California, reports Calmatters, suggest that some students may return to schools in late January and early February. It prioritizes the youngest and most vulnerable children as those who would return first; then other populations are expected to follow in subsequent weeks.
- Fox19 explains that Ohio governor Mike DeWine hopes all children in the state can return to full in-person learning by March 1. Meanwhile, KYMA reports that school districts in Arizona are proceeding with distance learning for the first couple weeks of January and will reassess that strategy in county school board meetings throughout the month.
Mixed Approaches to Education, and VirtualPBX’s Response
What’s clear from the approaches of all school districts is that they value the health and safety of students and teachers above all else. Teachers are also clear about their need for resources for remote learning as they show hesitation to begin in-person learning, in full, while COVID-19 cases have hit their highest daily totals since the pandemic began.
VirtualPBX’s work with CLS shows a similar pattern at the level of education administration. CLS works with school boards throughout California and the U.S. to coach teachers and develop curricula, and it has been that organization’s plan to listen to the needs of individual school boards as they work with those educators. This includes concerns about COVID-19.
Nearly all the staff members at CLS work from a different location because they visit a range of school districts. VirtualPBX allows callers to reach those individual staff members as they work from any location, and it helps CLS remain flexible as the needs of its own staff and its clients change. Employees have the option to use their extensions to accept inbound calls, and they can complete outbound calls just as easily to complete appointments and match the schedules of school boards in their areas.
New VirtualPBX Features for Remote Work
We accomplished a lot in 2020. It was a big year for new features and product releases, including:
- Video Conferencing
- Business SMS
- Multiple Auto Attendants
- Zapier Integration
Both Video Conferencing and Business SMS, in particular, were given priority not just because of wide-ranging appeal, but because they make great additions to the communications capabilities of any company that has remote workers.
Our Video Conferencing feature works as a direct replacement for established competition like Google Meet and Zoom, and our Business SMS feature gives employees the opportunity to keep in touch with brief messages, which are often all that’s needed to report a status or get a co-worker’s attention.
Not all companies will have a need for all our new features, but those that do, especially those that are working remotely, will find a lot of utility in these capabilities.
Flexible Work in a Changing World
It makes sense that a world experiencing considerable, rapid change requires a communications system capable of supporting those changes. We do our best to assist educators by providing them and their supporting businesses with resources for remote learning and remote engagement.
Not all school district have the same plans in place for resuming traditional learning. Virtual classrooms will continue in most places at least into spring. This means that companies like CLS will have a lot on their plate for handling a variety of shifting education concerns and handling tasks as simple as in-person meetings with the sensitivity that those situations require.
Business phone plans help keep organizations connected so they can address these issues. We hope our assistance helps educators stay on track and school systems remain safe to keep children learning both inside and outside the classroom.
Posted on January 5, 2021 by Casey Houser
Experienced businesses know that January, February, and March often arrive alongside a downturn in sales because they follow the largest spending season of the year. Paradoxically, this “post-holiday lull” may present an excellent time for a business’s call log history to take center stage.
The Inside Retail news site notes that reading the market and putting the right strategies in place can help businesses weather this seasonal downturn. To avoid a huge impact on performance, it’s best to prepare early, but there’s still time if you’re just now getting started.
VirtualPBX offers multiple ways you can check your business call log history to spot calling trends, reach out to missed contacts, and make the most of every call that comes to your business throughout the lull.
Basic Reporting With Call Logs
The VirtualPBX Dashboard provides you with an overview of all the latest calls that have entered or exited your phone plan. It has filters for today, this week, this month, and custom so you can search for calls within a specific time period. The web-based interface shows you the date of the call and other details the like the caller’s ID and the call duration.
Furthermore, downloads are available for your logs so you can see additional information like the system ID for the call and so you can examine the output in a spreadsheet (CSV) format. Viewing your business call log history here can easily get you started with an examination of your holiday call traffic.
Call logs are created without any advance setup. You can access them in your Dashboard at any time and download the logs as you see fit. You may also wish to use our Zapier integration alongside these logs to see notifications immediately as calls arrive at your business.
Using Logs for Post-Holiday Metrics
It will be easy to see how many calls you have received and completed throughout the weeks and months of the post-holiday lull. It can also show you the locations from which inbound calls have come – helping you get a comprehensive picture of the traffic associated with your sales and marketing campaigns.
What’s most important during this time is figuring out how you can best serve the calls that are coming your way. If your holiday sales and marketing campaigns are still running and are driving calls to you campaign phone numbers, you will be able to see that activity in your logs. Your examination of where calls are coming from can inform whether or not you continue to use existing campaigns and where you share new campaigns.
Extended Reporting With Advanced Call Reports
The VirtualPBX feature Advanced Call Reports steps up reporting by offering customized analytics on a range of KPIs not found in our basic call logs.
Advanced Call Reports lets you create custom reports that may be viewed in a dashboard or emailed on a schedule to your inbox. It gathers information about time-based data like hold time and ring time for calls and performance-based data like the number of lost calls in a given period. Your use of ACD Queues is also logged within this system.
Advanced Call Reports Metrics
Advanced Call Reports also has commonalities with Call Logs by showing the same KPIs like the duration and timestamp of calls. You can also see important data like inbound/outbound designation and the phone numbers customers dialed to reach you.
You can use either system to track your business call log history in meaningful ways. During the post-holiday season, Advanced Call Reports can take you further toward understanding how your call traffic takes shape, especially if you have a larger business that takes advantage of ACD Queues to field calls.
In addition to tracking your campaigns, like you can with Call Logs, Advanced Call Reports can show you detailed information about how a customer traveled through your phone system, including which department they reached (through a direct line or through your Automated Attendant) and what their experience was like after reaching a call queue. You can infer detail from call duration, for example, and then speak to the agents that handled any specific call. From there, you can tailor additional promotions and customer outreach because it was easy to match a customer’s concerns to your employees who spoke to that individual.
Keep also in mind that you can filter any data point to narrow down your reports. For example, you can create a report that produces a report about a single phone number and one group of ACD queue agents who answer calls from that number. This makes sure you can see relevant data for the phone numbers you’re interested in examining without having to sift through extraneous information.
Examining Holiday Call Traffic
Think about how, as the link in the header of this article points out, your market has been affected by the lull in shopping. Nearly every industry will take a hit in the first months of the year; what matters for you is how your industry sees that affect and how it reacts to it.
Now more than ever, you may see that the interaction you have with customers is more focused because the calls you do receive aren’t powered primarily by holiday sales or promotions. Yet it could be worth your while to see which promotions worked well during the holidays to test if those same deals fare well with customers after the holidays.
Assistance from our team is always available through 24/7 web chat that can help you with call log downloads and access to information in your dashboard. We hope your look at logs will help propel you well through the lull and into an expanded market come spring.
Posted on December 29, 2020 by Casey Houser
It has been a big year at VirtualPBX, and we’d like to share our 2020 Year in Review with you. See how we’re listening to customers and setting VoIP trends that will push the communications industry forward.
Our release of major phone plan features like Video Conferencing and Business SMS have been a long time coming. All our departments have worked hard in 2020 to help business make the most out of their evolving work situations — including the common switch to remote work. Moreover, you can see in all our feature releases this year that we have followed the advice of our customers by making it easier than ever to use VirtualPBX Phone Plans for all business communications.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur just getting started or a multinational enterprise, our developments this year have kept you in mind. Don’t forget to take advantage of our year-end Snap Recordings promotion for 20% off your next audio recordings, and look below for a brief overview of our 2020 collection of feature releases.
Video Conferencing is arguably our most substantial feature release of 2020. The use of video adds another dimension to our phone plans by giving customers the option to complete video calls with their co-workers and stakeholders. Video callers can pair with other video callers, or they can speak to audio-only callers, all by way of select desktop phones and through the VirtualPBX Softphone on desktop and mobile.
Business SMS also adds an important facet to our service, and of all the VoIP trends represented here, it may be the most popular of this holiday season. Now you can use mobile and desktop devices on your VirtualPBX Plans to send and receive texts to your team and to your customers. It’s a great option for remote workers who want to stay connected throughout the work day. It also makes one-to-one customer outreach efforts easier by meeting customers where they spend much of their time: on their mobile devices.
Multiple Auto Attendants is the long-waited extension to our popular Auto Attendants feature. Now your business can assign an automated attendant to any one of its phone numbers. Our Essentials, Advanced, and Enterprise Plans give you five, 10, and 15 phone numbers, respectively, to use with no additional cost. All those numbers can be used as a primary business number, a DID number for individual employees, or a number directed toward a specific group of employees. Multiple Auto Attendants gives all those individuals and groups the opportunity for a custom inbound greeting and custom call routing.
Speaking of upgrades, our ACD Queues Pro feature expands on the ACD Queues system we have long offered with many of our plans. The upgrade to Pro gives businesses more control over their inbound calls. It provides administrators with capabilities like Whisper and Barge, and it allows you to create custom Hold Treatments that present information like position and wait time announcements. We have also expanded the capability of reporting in ACD Queues Pro, allowing you to view reports live and download them for later review.
Dynamic Caller ID helps businesses cater their Caller ID to the phone numbers they call. You can match any outbound dialed number to an area code or local code and present your business phone number that matches the location. Employees can also use their own feature codes to present a related phone number. VoIP trends are driven by features that allow business to better connect with their customers; Dynamic Caller ID helps you establish a local presence to establish a rapport with anyone you call.
DISA (Direct Inward System Access) makes sure you have direct access to your phone system from any phone. You may find yourself in a situation where you can’t make a business call from a VirtualPBX device. With DISA, you simply call your main business number, dial your DISA extension, and enter the customer phone number you want to call. Your call will route through your business phone system and out to the caller. It preserves your caller ID so you can keep your business identity intact.
Our Zapier Integration was released this year to give you better automation capability. We have retained the ability for you to use webhooks to transfer call data from one location to another, but with our Zapier App, it’s even easier to select options like Inbound Call or Voicemail to track those events in other web apps. You can log all your inbound calls to a Google Sheet or notify your team in Slack when a voicemail reaches a company inbox.
Often overlooked as an important feature, the VoIP trend of referral programs can play an integral part in building a community. Our Referral Program was created to help business communications professionals outside our organization help their own followers find a reliable service provider. Now we provide even more incentive to partner with us, starting with a $25 bonus for any referral to our Unlimited Minutes Plans. The monetary bonus increases with the size of the plan purchase, all the way up to $600.
We’ll See You in 2021!
Keep an eye on these VoIP trends and everything else listed on our Product Roadmap that will guide our efforts in the coming year.
We hope to make 2021 as successful as this year. We also hope your business can succeed in the months ahead and conquer any roadblocks in your way.