Posted on December 12, 2019 by Casey Houser
Today’s guest post was written by TechWarn, a digital safety advocate and news site.
Data is not what it used to be, especially to brands and businesses. Of course, data has always been important in the business setting, but the rate at which data is being coveted these days brings a new twist to the whole game.
That makes it necessary for brands to protect their data better. By extension, there is an increased need for secure file transfer channels so that a data breach doesn’t affect the data in motion.
Importance of Secure File Transfers
Businesses have a thousand-and-one reasons to invest heavily in the security and safety of their file-sharing protocols.
For one, it costs way more to recover from a data breach than it does to prevent one from happening at all. Speaking of costs, companies also get a lot of negative publicity when a data breach is found out.
This was the case with Yahoo when the brand was found to have lost the details of a stunning 3 billion accounts to hackers. Besides the negative press that this brought Yahoo, it also slashed the worth of the brand so much that it was acquired for an arguably lower price than would have been expected without the data breach fallout.
All that, and we have not mentioned the loss of customer trust that comes with such instances.
These are huge costs which no business should pay – especially when they could have prevented something of the sort from happening in the first place.
How Companies Can Protect Their Data Transfers
There are various methods of data transfer that companies can use. The methods they employ will inform the type of protocol that should be established around the data in question. Getting into the specifics of each type of transfer and each type of security protocol available is outside the scope of this piece.
Speaking generally, however, there are measures that businesses can put in place to ensure sensitive files and proprietary documents do not get into the wrong hands.
Some of these include, but are not limited to:
- Ensuring End-to-End Encryption – Most businesses can secure the data on their servers by encrypting it. Proper use of encryption can make files unreadable to anyone that obtains the data.
Data encryption begins the process of data protection. It protects data in place but does not protect access to the server itself.
An insecure connection could serve as the entry for the data breach. This is why businesses should be as aware of the encryption of their target destination as they should be concerned about their encryption protocol.
- Encrypting Connections – Businesses need to make sure that encrypted connections between servers and devices are available. They also need to make sure individual employees actually use those connections. End-to-end encryption is only effective when it becomes standard practice for employees to use it.
IT departments carry a heavy weight here by creating those connections and by needing to educate non-IT employees about how to use encrypted connections. A common use case for connection encryption is the virtual private network (VPN). Installing a VPN can make it easy for individuals to complete secure file transfers.
Maintenance of that type of encryption practice is essential and will include customizing VPN logs to not store sensitive data about your data transfer activity.
- Educating the staff – It bears repeating that, no matter how great your internal file transfer protocol is, human error could be the one thing to ruin everything.
If the employees of the business aren’t aware of the proper file transfer practices, they could end up being the weak link in what could have been an otherwise strong chain. Thus, ensure every member of staff, especially the ones handling sensitive data, receives adequate training on proper data handling.
Data privacy and security should not be an afterthought for any company, but a cause of constant consideration. Investing in a firewall and leaving it to chance is not enough.
With the growing threat of data breach and security – as well as clever ways through which hackers are perpetrating their attacks – it is important to always be in the loop with new and improved models of keeping sensitive data safe and secure.
Businesses can get started by doing their research about how services like VirtualPBX support encryption. From there, encrypting data at rest, establishing a VPN for secure file transfer, and committing to data security education and practiced usage of these structures is essential.
Posted on December 10, 2019 by Casey Houser
VirtualPBX has partnered with Snap Recordings for the 2019 season of giving. We’re excited to offer you a holiday voicemail greetings pack and 20% off your next order with Snap.
You can download the Holiday Message Gift Box at this link. Then look for the Holiday Message Guide and the coupon code (“HOLIDAYVPBX”) to claim your 20% discount. Claim your Gift Box before Jan. 07, 2020 to take advantage of this value-packed promotion!
Holiday Message Gift Box Contents
Here’s what you get for free from Snap Recordings:
- 12 total holiday messages
- 6 female-voiced messages and 6 male-voiced messages
- 4 greetings for each gender expressing “Seasons Greetings,” “Merry Christmas,” and more
- 2 voicemail greetings – holiday-themed
You can use the provided messages in any way you choose. The variation in messages caters to the needs of all businesses, whether or not they wish to refer to Christmas or only to the holidays in general.
Each message has been created by the professional staff at Snap Recordings. The same polish that adorns these messages are a reflection of what you’ll see in future greetings you order from them.
Take 20% Off Your Next Order
Following the holidays, you’ll probably want to change your Automated Attendant and voicemail boxes once more. The holiday voicemail greetings pack will only get you through the end of the year.
This is why VirtualPBX and Snap have offered you 20% off your next order of greetings. Just use the coupon code “HOLIDAYVPBX” during your online checkout.
Or Do It Yourself!
If none of the above options meets your needs, you can always record your own messages. Snap gets you started with that project as well.
You can download the Holiday Message Checklist alongside your free holiday greetings. Snap helps you make your holiday messaging checklist and check it twice.
It asks basic questions like, “Are your holiday hours mentioned up front?” to ensure that your custom greetings are effective at addressing your customers. Then it gives you multiple holiday voicemail greetings and auto attendant greeting examples from which to draw inspiration.
You can fill in each example’s blanks with your own company name and phone number. Or simply use them as a spark for creativity.
Have a Great Holiday
From all of us at VirtualPBX, we hope you have a great holiday.
Don’t work too hard. Enjoy the season and maybe a few extra cookies. Just don’t forget to set your holiday voicemail greetings and auto attendant messages first.
And don’t forget to take advantage of this promotion by Jan. 07, 2020.
Posted on December 5, 2019 by Casey Houser
Today’s guest post was written by IntelliTicks — developer of an AI-powered chatbot for sales teams.
As you observe the rise of apps like Uber, Netflix, Amazon, and Airbnb, you will realize that people love the convenience these brands provide in the form of swift resolution of their queries and problems through chatbot customer service.
Any delay in service would cause customers leave one business for another. This is why businesses all over the world strive to move lightning fast when handling customer concerns. Brands don’t want customers to switch to a competitor, so brand provide users with quick, frictionless interactions that promptly resolve their problems.
The question for businesses is how to improve customer service without over-extending their budgets.
Phone Support and Chatbots
There are plenty of benefits for deploying a chatbot in conjunction with phone support through a Business Phone System.
Both allow businesses to answer customer queries quickly at any hour. Both also support each other by providing unique benefits to the businesses and customers that use them. What follows is a quick look at the overall picture of phone support and chatbot benefits for businesses.
VoIP phone systems are affordable. Phone support delivered through a VoIP telephone system can be much more affordable than using a conventional phone system. Softphones can be used on any existing device, so hardware costs are initially kept low. Per-minute costs for inbound and outbound calls are also easy on the budget.
Phone support builds brand loyalty. Customers who prefer to get their queries answered in a short time can call up the phone support. With a well-staffed Support department, a business can help customers with issues quickly and to the customers’ satisfaction, generating loyalty for the brand through such thorough expediency.
VoIP systems easily route calls. VoIP phone systems provide built-in functions for routing calls to individuals and groups. If a call isn’t answered, it can be forwarded to another device for the same user or to a different Support rep. Smartphones, desk phones, and laptops are all within reach.
Why To Use It
Phone support is a great way to make the customer feel valued as the customer gets empathetic answers from the customer service representatives.
Customers love it when a human agent listens attentively to their queries and gives great support to them in the matter of minutes. It’s a personal method of turning a dissatisfied customer into a happy one.
Phone support gives a customer a feel of investment and attention from the businesses that help in retaining customers. Real-time interaction is also helpful in getting feedback about products and services because customer service reps can hear the tone in customers voices when they talk about interacting with the product. These same calls also give representatives a chance to ask customers what they can do to create an improved product.
Chatbot Customer Service
Chatbots — chat robots — communicate with customers online in the form of personalized conversations. This communication can take place through voice and text, and customers can find this type of support on mobile apps, websites, and on popular chat platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Slack.
These services are often free to use with a trial or limited plan, including brands like IntelliTicks, which offers paid plans for businesses that need to scale upward. This makes chatbots flexible enough to grow with businesses at a moment’s notice.
Chatbots have the capability to help customers at every stage of their journey in the sales funnel.
They can provide quick access to product information and answer routine consumers questions in the language customer speaks. Customers write their queries as if they’re speaking to another person; then the chatbot interprets the text to accurately respond in real-time.
Chatbots can run 24/7 and handle multiple customers at one time. This gives businesses a constant online presence so possible prospects are not lost.
Why to Use It
Chatbot customer service is great for businesses that have a lot of website traffic and don’t want to spend money on hiring and training human resources to engage with visitors. They can answer repeated queries without delay and can generate leads by just being there for customers at any hour.
Automated online chatbots are also much less expensive than traditional support structures. The setup for a call center can be extensive; its training time long; its overall cost expensive. Chatbots can begin operation in a matter of minutes.
Businesses can also easily customize their chatbots with preferred response phrases and direction. As an example, linking customers to an FAQ page can help businesses take advantage of support docs they already have in place. Chatbots can also take the lead by answering simple questions and engaging customers with discounts/offers/new products/services information.
Convergence Between Chatbot Customer Service and Phone Support
Chatbots are immense technology innovation, but they can’t currently replace person-to-person interaction.
Phone support is crucial for it offers an empathetic response to the customers who always seek someone to listen to and hear their problems. It offers an engaging way for customers who prefer a more personalized contact with a brand to troubleshoot their issues.
Chatbots, on the other hand, can help in engaging customers who prefer the online service. Chatbots also don’t have to be impersonal. They can easily offer a phone number for voice support for any customer who’s interested.
Both are important for businesses in delivering excellent customer service, increasing brand loyalty, and catering to a worldwide audience.
Posted on December 3, 2019 by Casey Houser
The “local party line” and modern forms of voice communication are more alike than you might expect.
Party lines – where many people shared the same phone number and only one conversation was possible at a time – acted as the predecessor to Business Phone System features like audio conferencing and individual/group extensions. They each, in their own time periods, have responded to the human need for effective group interaction.
Although the party line mostly died out by the late 1900s, with the literal writing on the wall signaling its final hours as early as 1971, improvements and affordability in communications technologies have made it possible for all individuals to gain personal phone numbers and all businesses to offer extensions throughout their organizations.
Take a look at our blog’s previous discussion of the party line timeline, and stay tuned to this text for a comparison of the past to the present day.
Audio Conferencing / A Single Shared Line
One of the most exciting elements of a local party line (the traditional, early-1900s era version), is that it offered no privacy to its users. A group line was exactly what it sounds like: the whole group had access to the single line at all times.
The whole compliment of VirtualPBX employees, if using a party line, would have to wait in its own queue to dial a single customer. It would be first come, first served for our Sales team when making outbound calls. And only when one Sales representative finished their conversation would anyone else have the chance to begin a new one.
Moreover, anyone with access to that line could pick up their phone and listen to the present call. This would quickly become awkward and annoying for our employees. And imagine the privacy concerns for our customers.
It’s clearly not an ideal situation for any business.
Move Forward to Conferencing
VirtualPBX Phone Plans, of course, are part of a communications system that has moved far beyond that limited reality. The plans excel in their offering of Audio Conferencing to all users. Any two or more plan users can meet among themselves or with customers.
Local party lines looped callers together so those individuals could save money and make use of limited resources. They could have used their own group line to conference with one another. However, we expect that it would have proven an irritation more than a bonus.
VirtualPBX Conferencing doesn’t suffer from the limitations of high cost or limited availability. The digitization of communications has eased those burdens considerably. It builds on the limited function of traditional party lines by linking together multiple individuals in a way that’s both private and uninterruptible. Eavesdropping becomes a thing of the past because conferences can be made invite-only and may be protected with passwords.
Individual and Group Extensions
VirtualPBX plans also give users their own individual extensions and offer Ring Groups for simple call routing to departments.
Believe it or not, individual extensions became a part of the local party line too. In a limited fashion, extensions were created when service providers offered distinct ringing patterns for users of a line.
Our Sales team, now theoretically accepting inbound calls on an old-timey local party line, could have their own “extensions” as ring codes that would be completed in a fashion similar to 1 long, 2 short.
For example, Sales rep 1 could be signaled with 1 long ring followed by 2 short rings. Another rep could have 2 long, 2 short. And yet another could have 2 long, 1 short. It was undoubtedly confusing and limiting.
What you get with modern VoIP phone systems like VirtualPBX are extensions like x1234 or x5598. You can set them yourself and take advantage of the thousands of possible combinations with four digits.
Furthermore, those extensions can be used in a variety of ways, including as direct links to an Auto Attendant or within Ring Groups as group participants.
No More Local Party Lines
The local party line is gone. And frankly, good riddance.
Still, there’s a respect to be paid for what it accomplished in its heyday. And there’s a lot of functionality in modern phone systems that relate closely to the basic predecessors in the party line.
The next time you dial a colleague or hold a conference with customers, be thankful for its ease of use and for its privacy.
Posted on November 26, 2019 by Casey Houser
Today’s blog post will offer something a little different — it will be supported by our competitors’ opinions about the best VoIP phones of 2019 and 2020.
Many of the phones we offer in the VirtualPBX Store have made their way to other review sites. That gives us a great opportunity to show you that praise these devices have received outside our borders.
Don’t only take our word for it. See what they have to say.
The Balance Small Business – Polycom VVX Series
In its article this year, The 8 Best Office Phones of 2019, which was updated as recently as Nov. 21, 2019, The Balance Small Business noted the entire Polycom VVX Series as a great pick for businesses with employees who telecommute.
The VirtualPBX Store offers more than a dozen VVX models to suit the demands of businesses of all sizes. In particular, The Balance Small Business reflects on the 3.5-inch touchscreen display and video capability available on these models.
The review points out that employees “might be in remote locations, but this doesn’t mean [they] don’t need to periodically hold meetings or otherwise meet face to face.” Executives are able to take advantage of the VVX 400’s 12 lines and speed dial buttons to easily reach other employees.
TechRadar – Yealink SIP-T46S
TechRadar also pointed out, in its Best IP Phones of 2020 review, that a large screen and intuitive display can work well for midsize firms.
We found it funny, but definitely appropriate, to see TechRadar’s observation that “this Yealink IP phone is great option if you’re seeking a phone with a big and useful display that’s operated with buttons rather than using your greasy fingers.” How often do you consider the impact a touchscreen will affect your productivity? Sometimes grease happens, and sometimes it’s a huge win to have a button to press.
The Yealink SIP-T46S confirms the extensibility offered by this model’s USB ports, which can accept a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi dongle to open the main unit to a wireless headset or local internet.
TechRadar also added that the T46S’s 16 lines and “fantastic call quality” help open this model to the midsize business crowd. Executives in this market may find themselves with more than one SIP account and speaking to other employees, managers, and company stakeholders on a daily basis – all of which demand clarity of voice.
The Best VoIP Phones of 2019 and 2020
The reviews we profiled here are just a few of those available in a crowded search for “best VoIP phones.” Our hope is that these two picks can help you narrow down the choice in finding new phones for your office.
There are multiple models available in the VirtualPBX Store within the Polycom VVX series and for other Yealink models as well. Take a look through what we offer, even through the refurbished models, and don’t hesitate to ask the VirtualPBX Sales Team what phones would fit best at your business.