VirtualPBX Blog

March Madness Returns, and With It Comes Time Away From Work

march-madness-2018It’s that time of the year again! Today, the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament begins on the auspicious day of the Ides of March. For many, this is about as appropriate as it can be because they could care less about the circus surrounding the single-elimination tourney. But for others, many others in fact, this compact and very busy basketball schedule represents one of their favorite times of year. How many others feel this way? As we reported on last year, according to ESPN there are at least 50 million brackets completed on their website alone. Sure there will be people who submit multiple brackets to hedge their bets, so to speak, but no matter how way you cut it, that’s a massive engagement on the behalf of the public. So much so, that the estimated productivity loss to businesses as employees focus on the games and not on their work responsibilities can likely top $2 billion this year. That number is staggering when you consider how quickly the tournament is here and gone, but it doesn’t have to be that big of an impact if you plan to adjust your work schedule accordingly.

Don’t Let March Madness Win

In order to get the most out of employees, regardless of what sports events happen to be ongoing at the moment, it’s essential to ensure they have access to the best communications tools available. Being able to use features like Mobile for Business that leverages a nationwide 4G LTE network just for business ensures that they are capable to work around the events in life that are bound to arise from time to time. Everything from home life demands, to illness, to simply scheduling conflicts that arise in the course of doing business can impact an employee’s availability in the office. This plus the reality that we have wide network of high-speed internet access that can fuel advanced unified communications means there’s no reason to be as tethered to a traditional 9-5 work schedule as businesses in the past. In fact, just keeping people tethered to their own desk isn’t even required anymore with features like Hot Desking and Follow Me Calling. Keeping an open mind and a flexible attitude about the whereabouts of employees has also been proven to boost autonomy and thereby engagement, both which have an overall positive impact on the job performance and retention of employees. Having these types of attitudes in place as evergreen approaches to work/life balance helps to navigate situations like March Madness when there may be a spike in distractions for even the most engaged employees.

While March Madness is Here, Though…

Seeing as how you follow the VirtualPBX Blog and, as a result, you already take advantage of the latest developments in business communications tools, you’re probably well-positioned to handle March Madness with ease. That’s why I’d like to invite you to take a peek at
my own bracket on Yahoo! Sports
and challenge you to a friendly competition. Even though the games have already begun, you can still complete your brackets online. Plus, even if you wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with my own picks, there are dozens and dozens of options for picking winners on a round-by-round basis. No matter how you participate in the March Madness tournament, though, remember that you still have a job to do at work. In fact, so do I, so it’s time to get back to it!

If you want to share your picks, thoughts, and any creative remote working strategies you have for the tourney, hit us up on social media. We’re always around on Facebook and Twitter and would love to hear from you!

Dash Wins Back-to-Back with 2018 Internet Telephony Product of the Year Award!

2018 Internet Telephony Product of the YearThe news is in and last week, TMC presented the 2018 Internet Telephony Awards to the industry’s best and brightest stars. This is always an occasion for excitement for companies that have products and services being reviewed, but for us, it was a more subdued feeling. That’s because last year we won the prestigious 2017 Internet Telephony Product of the Year Award and, frankly, we’ve never seen anyone win it two years in a row. Well, now we’ve seen a whole lot more than we bargained for because TMC just announced that Dash Business Phone Service Plans were once again the recipient of the 2018 Internet Telephony Product of the Year!

Same Award, Totally Different Service

To say that the VirtualPBX business VoIP service plan, Dash, has won the same award two years in a row is entirely correct. However, to assume that the service itself is the same isn’t as accurate. Sure, we still offer the industry’s leading 99.999% operational uptime that keeps customers talking, and Dash still comes with the around-the-clock, 24-hour Customer Support that ensures they’ve got help anytime they need it, too. But as formidable as these and all of Dash’s other features are, it was going to take a whole lot more than that to wow the panelists at TMC and earn a second shot at the title of Product of the Year. Fortunately, a whole lot more is exactly what we’ve added to Dash over the past year, too.

What Made Dash A Winner

By just taking a moment’s glance over the past and current developments on the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap, it’s quite plain to see that there is always a lot going on in the way of product and feature development. Dash has been one of the biggest focuses of that growth over the past year, and Dash customers have had several key areas of improvement that convinced the judges to award it the 2018 Internet Telephony Product of the Year for a second year running. First was the integration of the popular Salesforce CRM software into the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone. This allows users to seamlessly integrate both of arguably the most important sales tools in any organization with ease, all while improving the experience of each in the process. The second largest development for Dash that tipped the scales for the award was the introduction of Webhooks powered by Zapier. By supporting the use of Webhooks, VirtualPBX has allowed businesses to pick and choose among over 750 of the world’s most popular business applications to integrate with their business telephone service. Additionally, this also allows for organizations that have proprietary or internal operational systems covering anything from inventory management to order fulfillment to create custom integrations for their software into Dash, as well. And although this news broke after the TMC panel closed their window for submissions and began deliberation, VirtualPBX now even supports a Mobile for Business feature on Dash service plans, as well.

Even without this groundbreaking nationwide 4G LTE mobile feature for businesses, the overall growth of the Dash service plan feature set combined with its still unique design and reliability was enough for the industry experts at TMC to have seen enough. That’s why we’re proudly announcing the back-to-back wins for Dash as it takes home the 2018 Internet Telephony Product of the Year Award and we welcome you all to try Dash today for all of your business communications needs! Sign up now to get your free demo today!

Have You Signed Up for the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business Beta Yet?

Sign-Up-For-VirtualPBX-Mobile-for-Business-BetaUnless you were hiding under a rock, or perhaps you were out traversing the glaciers of Iceland, you probably heard about the big news we had the other week. By launching the open beta period for our new Mobile for Business, we’ve begun an entirely new epoch in business communications. Because, until now, businesses haven’t had the option to keep their employees’ mobile phones up and running without including a cumbersome reimbursement program into their business communications plan. But now that there is a truly mobile feature available that’s native to your existing business phone plan, all of that is a thing of the past. Now, the only question left isn’t, are you ready to streamline your business mobile phone use, it’s rather, have you signed up for the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business beta yet?

The Time To Sign Up For the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business Beta is Now

One of the key things to remember is that, sure, this is a beta of a late-stage product feature. That means that we’re far enough down the Product Roadmap to introduce a fully-functioning mobile phone feature to our customers. However, because there is always a small window for some final tweaks and refinements, this is your chance to participate in that last stage of development. That said, maybe there is an insight you can offer or a perspective we haven’t considered that will be valuable to your employees and to users all over the world. In order to bring the absolute best experience to the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business feature, we’d love to have your input. However, as much as your two cents would be worth their weight in gold (too many currency metaphors?), we have to inform you the window of opportunity is closing very soon. We’ve gotten a great response to the beta period for Mobile for Business and have a few more slots to hand out, but they’re not going to last much longer. So unless you’ve already signed up for the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business beta, your last chance to do so is in the next two days.

What You Need to Know About the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business Beta

Everything about how the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business feature works is available on the beta sign-up page, but we wanted to underscore some aspects of it again here. First and foremost is the fact that this is a mobile data opportunity for your employees that is operated across the lightning-fast nationwide 4G LTE network that you’ve probably already relied on for your personal use. What’s different is that all data and service are provided by VirtualPBX so your use, be it over VoIP or mobile, is all managed under one roof. That means that all of the same device and extension management that you’ve come to expect from your Dash phone plan is going to extend to the mobile phones you can add through this feature. Second is that you’re going to have the same type of freedom in device selection that you can expect from most modern personal mobile phone plans including the opportunity to begin using texting for business as well. This means that basically any unlocked phone from the past two years will be compatible with the Mobile for Business feature. And finally and perhaps most impactful for the purposes of your business, this is not anything like a personal mobile phone service. That’s because this is a business-first and business-only mobile phone system. As a result, there will be no throttling or battery drain due to running over the top applications like a softphone because the phone service operates directly over the 4G LTE network and so isn’t sapping data just to make a phone call.

That should be enough to whet your appetites for a mobile feature on your business phone plan, but if you still want to know more, you can head over to the VirtualPBX Mobile for Business beta sign-up page. Also, while you’re there, ahem, you can also sign-up. All kidding aside, though, the chance to participate in the beta and put your mark on the biggest thing in business telephone service since the first cloud-based telephone service won’t be here forever. So sign up now, and let us know what you think!

How to Prepare Your Business Phone System For International Travel

Prepare-Your-Business-Phone-System-For-International-TravelIt’s that time of the year again! It’s the time that I generally like to take a trip to somewhere that would otherwise not be a bad place to visit, should it be during a wildly different time on the calendar. This time, I’ll be traveling to Iceland where you may know, there are massive glaciers that exist in the Summer months! What can I say? I’m a contrarian at heart, I guess. Or, perhaps more accurately, I just like the cost benefits of traveling out of the peak tourist season. That and I have a bunch of great cold weather adventuring gear I don’t often get to use in the routinely mild climate of Silicon Valley. All that aside, I’ve seen a lot of questions on Facebook, Twitter, and on our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap that all seem to be perfectly addressed with this off-schedule travel arraignment. Specifically, people often want to know how to prepare your business phone system for international travel. Wonder no more! Because this time around we’ll address the most important steps to take to prepare your business phone system for international travel.

How to Prepare Your Business Phone System For International Travel First Steps

Update Follow Me Calling

It should go without saying at this point that the best way to go about managing remote presences via a business phone system is to first be using a VoIP business phone system like Dash. I’m a little biased, of course, but the reality is that a cloud-based phone system like Dash is infinitely more adjustable and manageable than even the most advanced, on-site PBX systems can compare to. Anyway, provided you’re on Dash, the steps to prepare your business phone system for international travel are pretty simple. To get started, let’s begin with forwarding your calls using Follow Me Calling.

Follow Me Calling

  1. Log into Dash and Select “Users” on the left hand menu.
  2. Next, look to the right and click on “User Features.”
  3. In the next view, select “Follow Me Calling.”
  4. Toggle the enabled/disabled slider to the “enabled” setting.
  5. Then, using the ensuing slider menu, you can elect to have as many different numbers ring sequentially or concurrently as you please. You can also choose how long the rings last and their sequence.

This above scenario is great for people who are traveling internationally but want to still be in contact with their operations. For folks who are on a vacation, however, and want to completely disconnect, they can follow the above steps but then select “Call Forwarding” once they reach step #3 and proceed from there.

Update Business Hours

Next, if you haven’t already established the hours of operation for your business, right before you leave the country is a great time to do so. This is especially important for smaller organizations with less contingent coverage when somebody is out of the office, and essential for entrepreneurs who are running their entire business by themselves. These are all reasons why the next important step to prepare your business phone system for international travel is to update your business hours in Dash.

Holiday Hours

  1. Log into Dash and Select “Hours” in the upper right hand of the dashboard page.
  2. Next, to edit your hours select “Custom Office Hours,” or else your phones will ring and route the same way during all 24 hours of the day.
  3. Then, it’s just as simple as selecting the days you are open, and assigning the times that you expect to be in the office.
  4. Clicking in the box at the bottom that asks if you’re closed for lunch will allow you to do the same thing for your lunch breaks, too. You don’t have to manage lunch hours unless you check this box.
  5. Then, you can return to the dashboard, select “Main Number” in the left-hand menu, and proceed to “Incoming Call Handling” if you have decided to manage the inbound calls differently during your lunch or after hours windows.

Again, it’s not required to input hours of operation into your Dash business telephone system. However, in the instances when you’re not going to be around or that you’ll be on the other side of the globe, it’s definitely a good idea to do so. This is especially true if you’re a smaller organization and definitely if you aren’t interested in taking the phone calls with you on your travels. Because, remember, without these office hours and incoming call handling protocols in place, you could be getting woken up halfway around the world while the person on the other end of the line simply thinks he’s trying to call you at a convenient time.

One Last Thing to Remember Before You Leave Town

I know the title of this blog is how to prepare your business phone system before traveling, but there’s one last element of the overall business communications spectrum that is critical to remember. Specifically, I’m talking about your email. Creating an out of office auto response is simple and only takes a second to complete. The frustration that can be avoided by doing this well in advance of leaving is another great reason to make sure to remember to do it, too. The steps are different across all of the various email client services but accomplishing it on any one of the major options is very easy. If you’re not sure where to begin, however, a quick search online will yield an easy tutorial, I’m sure. Also, if there’s anything else you’d need to get done before leaving for your next big trip or any other time for that matter, we’re always just a click or call away. Contact our Customer Support anytime, day or night, and we’d be happy to help you through all of your preparations be they for across the world, or just across town.

The All-New Dash Mobile Goes Live with Beta Testing Period

new dash mobile featureWe have some pretty big news, and it might be best if you were sitting down for the moment. Actually, because you’re reading this online, there’s a good chance that you are seated, but it’s best to make sure. Anyway, today we’re launching the all-new Dash Mobile Feature for our popular Dash Business VoIP Plans! This is a massive step forward that we announced online this morning and one that represents a culmination of a mountain of work on the behalf of everyone at VirtualPBX from the engineering teams to the operations and legal teams. Because this is the beta testing period of the all-new Dash Mobile Feature, in this blog we’ll take a high-level look at the bigger implications of what this development means.

How the New Dash Mobile Fits Into Dash

Answering this question is very much in-line with some of the most compelling benefits of the new Dash Mobile Feature. First is to understand that we are the sole operators of the mobile platform over the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) radio transmitter network. That means that we will be providing and selling the data access to the mobile phones on the network and that they will all be managed under a single Dash account. Because we’re now able to operate a purely mobile experience as part of the overall functions of a Dash VoIP Plan, we can treat it very much like any other premium option like Salesforce CRM Integrations or Inbound Call Recording. No matter how any one of our customers’ accounts is comprised, they only ever have to worry about one single, clearly itemized monthly statement rather than fussing around with expense reports and reimbursements for employees who use a personal cellular network. Plus, considering we’ve always valued employee freedom when it comes to device selection, we’re employing a simple SIM card system for importing new mobile phones into the service. There are some slight restrictions like the phone needs to be paid off and manufactured within the past couple of years, but they’re also common to what a person expects when they want to transition their mobile phone across different providers. We’re also going to be providing mobile phones directly to our customers as a compliment to our list of recommended hardware, but those items won’t be available until after the beta testing period is closed. For a complete list of the device restrictions and needs, you can look at the entire run-down on our Dash Mobile Feature page.

What Does New Dash Mobile Mean For Users?

Um, is it too broad to answer with the reply, “Everything?” because that’s really what will change for the better when companies decide to move forward with a mobile strategy directly from VirtualPBX. All kidding aside, there are several key advantages to adopting a mobile phone plan from Dash.

  • Data Security One of the most commonly utilized channels that hackers use to access sensitive company data is not by “storming the front gates,” so to speak, but rather by first compromising an employee’s point of access. By using the new Dash Mobile Feature you completely eliminate the possibility of a weak access point because every VirtualPBX VoIP plan utilizes the industry’s most stringent security protocols.
  • Device Management Additionally, because the mobile feature isn’t a separate platform but rather one that is managed under a company’s existing Dash VoIP plan, that means the management and visibility of mobile are just as simple as with every other extension or device. The simple and clear oversight helps admins make decisions affecting their network based on actionable and irrefutable data.
  • Account Simplicity Fewer vendors, fewer expense reporting, and zero reimbursements all contribute to a categorical improvement in operational efficiency. Because all mobile data, devices, and minutes will be included in the standard usage statements that VirtualPBX customers already receive, the slick interface of Dash extends to the streamlining of managing the overall unified communications of your entire company, too.

What’s Next from the Dash Mobile Feature?

We’re always keen to share some of our most exciting developments on our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap, so there’s an idea of what’s to come always available there. Because the new Dash Mobile opens up our users to a wide new world of, well, mobility, we can certainly point to a few key updates. Specifically, you know that by introducing a mobile feature and by providing our own mobile data plans to users that texting over VoIP isn’t far away. However, remember that this is the new Dash Mobile Beta Period, so we’re keeping an open mind as to what we will be building and editing based on pending feedback from our beta testers. And with that in mind, we want to reiterate that participating in the beta testing period is limited to a set amount of organizations, so you’ll want to Sign Up Now to get in on it.

Because we’re always so inspired by our core users who frequently participate in these beta test periods, we’d like to remind you as well that the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap is always open to your feedback and we regularly conduct similar exercises to this mobile one. And if you have anything to add, feel free to do so there or on Facebook and Twitter, too. In the meanwhile, make sure to get in on the new Dash Mobile beta and take your work with you anywhere!

VirtualPBX on TwitterVirtualPBX on FacebookVirtualPBX on YouTubeVirtualPBX on Pinterest