Posted on April 17, 2019 by Casey Houser
Let’s talk about a marketing tool that may not already be part of your organization: phone number prepends.
Any prepend is something that goes before something else. In the case of phone numbers, a prepend could refer to any text or numbers you insert before the digits or text associated with a caller ID.
The VirtualPBX Business Phone System allows for prepending as a standard feature. Our marketing team uses this tool to help segment our own calling data, and you can begin to use it too once this brief tutorial is finished.
What is a Prepend?
We can expand on the definition of a phone number prepend.
You have seen a caller’s ID before. It might look like a phone number (+1 234-555-6789), a name (John Smith), or both tied together.
This is excellent information for marketers that know how to use it. However, it can lack the detail necessary to tell you why the customer has called you.
Simply put: There’s no identifying information prepended to a traditional caller ID that alerts you to the reason behind a call.
A Simple Two-Campaign Scenario
Consider that you’re running a joint marketing campaign between two properties – a digital advertisement in Google Ads and a print advertisement in a magazine.
You attach separate phone numbers to each property, so when you look at your call logs or export that data with Zapier, you can match callers to the numbers they dialed to reach you.
You might think that it wouldn’t be difficult to tell incoming calls apart. In a sea of other calls, it can become more complicated than expected.
Prepend Assists Segmentation
The use of a phone number prepend on both your marketing numbers would make life a lot easier.
Say your prepend for the print ad reads “Print Ad: ” and the one for your online ad reads “Online Ad: ”. Among all the other incoming calls in your log, you can easily sort for those terms.
An incoming caller ID of “John Smith” could read “Print Ad: John Smith”. That’s much more specific than just the contact’s name; you can make it even better by being more specific.
This basic example is a bit crude. What would happen, for instance, when later this year you ended your existing online campaign and started another? The simple prepend of “Online Ad: ” would become too vague.
You can easily make changes in the VirtualPBX Dashboard to append whatever text you like. When you’re specific, like with “Online Ad 2019-04-16: ”, you could mark when a campaign started.
It would be just as easy to append information about the goal of your campaign or the region it addresses, such as a click-through rate goal or the Midwest area of the U.S.
Phone Number Prepends in Your Own Campaigns
This use of a phone number prepend isn’t complicated. It doesn’t require a depth of knowledge in order to get started or make it unique.
Yet it adds a power to your campaigns that’s often overlooked. As businesses, it’s important to identify who tries to reach us and why they are calling. Without that basic information, you will be lost when creating new marketing efforts because you won’t know who to target.
The phone number prepend feature lets you run a campaign and analyze it with fine-toothed comb. All you have to do is enter a short phrase.
Five seconds spent annotating your phone number settings could save you hours of frustration when sorting through logs. And it can improve all your future marketing campaigns because you’ll be better able to see effectiveness of your efforts.
Check out our prepend feature in a Free Trial of our phone system and let it work for you.
Posted on April 11, 2019 by Casey Houser
Many call centers use software-based phones to have agents accept inbound calls. For new centers, the pairing of software and a free online number can help them begin operations quickly.
Taking advantage of a free phone number and the Web Phone available from VirtualPBX also makes it affordable to begin taking calls.
Today’s blog will look at the possibility of quick call center setup and cost savings through the VirtualPBX browser-based phone and the included phone number that comes with all our phone plans.
Quick Call Center Setup
The primary function of any call center is to complete calls. This function, of course, requires that the center have a phone number where customers can reach them.
Each VirtualPBX Business Phone Plan comes with at least one free phone number. For call centers, this lifeline can give their customers access to all agents on a VirtualPBX plan.
How VoIP Numbers Work
A call center of five representatives could begin accepting calls as easily as one with 100.
Phone numbers on a VoIP plan don’t run into the limitation of one caller per number. A single online phone number can be paired with as many users as necessary. The only limitation is the number of users on the VoIP account.
We allow an unlimited number of users to be added to an account. The process of adding users is simple, and with a phone number already in place, the only remaining task is to give those users access to a phone.
Cost Savings and Quick Startup
The initial cost of setting up any business phone system lies predominately in hardware.
Basic IP phones can set you back $80 each or more. Across dozens of employees, the out-of-pocket cost can stretch into the thousands.
This isn’t to say that hardware phones aren’t worth their costs. Many models like those in the VirtualPBX Store – even basic ones – provide users with storage for phone directories, support for conferencing, and call history access. These and other features can work well in many situations, and for businesses with a lot of cash on hand, the financial impact may not be a burden.
For new call centers, however, the ability to make calls quickly is paramount. Software-based phones pair well with a free online phone number to get businesses up and running in minutes. Call center agents simply need a device that can run the software.
Web Browser Compatibility
The VirtualPBX Web Phone has the advantage of running natively within the web browser. It can work in any WebRTC-compatible browser (Firefox, Chrome, Opera) on devices that support those browsers.
This gives the Web Phone an advantage over software that might work only on Windows or Mac computers. There are versions of major web browsers for most operating systems, so call centers can set up workstations for their agents and deploy the Web Phone in only a few minutes.
In some cases, this may entail the setup of computers; for others, this may mean using mobile devices. No matter the device, the Web Phone can access all the features of its underlying VoIP system.
Full-Featured Software Phone
The VirtualPBX Web Phone can access all the features available in our VoIP phone system. It acts like any desktop phone and can be added to any user.
What this means for call centers is that, with the Web Phone, users can accept incoming calls, park calls, and transfer calls as necessary. They have full control over the calls on their lines.
Likewise, system administrators can add a user’s Web Phone to a Ring Group or ACD Queue, so calls can be routed to the proper groups and individuals. Admins can monitors live calls through the ACD Queues dashboard and distribute calls by categories like round robin, to spread calls randomly, but evenly across a field of representatives.
Don’t Miss Your Free Online Number
The pair of Web Phone and free online number are a great combination to get businesses running quickly and without aggressive up-front costs.
Call centers and other burgeoning business stand to benefit from these features. It’s a simple way to begin making and receiving calls without the hassle of setting up hardware phones and then procuring and porting a phone number.
The entire package is ready with all VirtualPBX plans.
Posted on April 9, 2019 by Casey Houser
It’s no secret that communications providers compete on price. You’d be mistaken, however, if you thought that the cheapest VoIP phone service always equaled the best phone service.
As with most products and services, there is a sweet spot where price and features intersect to form a union. It’s where customers can expect to pay a little more than the bare minimum and, in return, they receive a quality unmatched in the cheaper competition. We try to keep the VirtualPBX Business Phone System in that sweet spot.
It’s worth considering what the cheapest VoIP phone service might award your businesses, and what the best phone service will award you. You will thank yourself, and your customers will thank you, when you don’t just grab the lowest priced item from the shelf.
What Your Dollars Pay For
The cost of your VoIP phone service doesn’t just go toward connecting one phone to another. It’s distributed among a variety of people and places and electronic equipment to keep the entire communications apparatus up and running.
When less money is funneled to those constructs, quality can dip both in your call streams and customer service.
VoIP providers come in many sizes. VirtualPBX can be considered a midsize business with a large reach. Its approximately 50 employees help provide service to businesses across the U.S. and into Europe and Asia.
Many VirtualPBX employees work in the States. Its distributed workforce takes care of Sales, Services, Marketing, Product Development, and Management departmental duties – often with individuals crossing from one plane to another.
There is a balance here between the amount of work required of our individual employees and the prices of our services that help pay our salaries. A drop in cost of our products could mean that fewer people are staffed to provide an equal expected amount of work.
Price can only drop so low before it begins to negatively affect product quality. The cheapest VoIP phone service on the market may border or cross that line of negative effect. It can strain product development; troubleshooting of customer issues; and overall quality of service.
Development could be outsourced to the lowest bidder, who churns out a functional but basic product. Customer service could show huge jumps in hold times without the option for a callback. Overworked sales reps could misinterpret your needs as a business.
Is that something you want to see in the employees who handle your phone system?
Places and Equipment
The central offices of VirtualPBX and all other VoIP providers represent only a small portion of the overall communications network.
In brief, your calls in a VoIP network reach a number of physical centers, including a VoIP provider’s servers, gateways that transfer calls between packet-switched and circuit-switched networks, and offices like tandem and central offices that route calls to their destinations.
This mix of wire and computation stretches between VoIP providers and traditional communications providers – like AT&T and CenturyLink.
VirtualPBX and others have agreements with other telecoms so your calls can be routed through their networks. Your monthly payment for service to a VoIP provider, therefore, goes toward the continuation of those relationships and the upkeep of any of the associated properties mentioned above.
With the cheapest VoIP phone service, those relationships between carriers may fluctuate or be less robust. The equipment that handles call transmission might also go without necessary maintenance.
Your calls could then experience unacceptable downtime or low quality. Is that something you want within your communications infrastructure?
To Choose the Cheapest VoIP Phone Service?
If you’re considering subscribing to a new phone plan, keep these ideas in mind. If you decide to spend a little more for your service, you can expect to receive a lot more.
Our dedicated customers are what fuel the powerful set of features included with every VirtualPBX Phone Plan. We first focus on providing exemplary service; then we offer competitive prices.
For us, it’s not a race to the bottom.
Posted on April 4, 2019 by Casey Houser
There are few cases when a business can’t capitalize on a giveaway. When one receives a free mobile number with its new phone plan, it can use that gift to make sure its operations remain flexible.
Whether a business is in the early, maintenance, or expansion stages of its development, phone numbers play a pivotal role in its being. Today, this blog will take a look at how free phone numbers can help startups bootstrap and give established entities room to plan and grow.
Startups aren’t always as flush with cash as headlines might make them look. Your Series A round of funding probably isn’t the whopping $5 million you read in the tech news this week, so you’ll need to be more thrifty when it comes to early growth.
Anything of a high-quality nature that’s also free can help your startup make the most of its situation. When you sign up for a VirtualPBX Phone Plan, you get at least two free phone numbers, either local or toll-free. This is a feature of every plan.
While you’re focusing on huge tasks like obtaining financing, opening a storefront, product manufacturing, hiring employees, and other early-stage business tasks, marketing can get lost in the fray. You already have a lot to focus on; you already see a lot of places where you’ll need to spend money.
Taking advantage of a free mobile number can assist your burgeoning marketing efforts by letting you, first, get a number for your business. Then it helps you complete work, for instance, through the VirtualPBX Softphone app so your personal number isn’t tied to your business and your phone plan features remain accessible at all times.
At least, the free number gives you one less thing to worry about.
Eventually, your business will find success and enter a time of maintenance. You’ll have hired your team and have a steady stream of customers returning for your goods.
Perhaps you accomplished all of that without the services of VirtualPBX. How can free numbers help you now? Switching to one of our phone plans at this stage could help you plan for the future.
You already know how to grow. You’re just not ready for a second round. Gaining a new free mobile number or phone number for your office at this point will let you spin up your extended marketing with enthusiasm.
You can port your existing numbers to your new phone system and continue using them as you please. The free phone numbers included with the plan can lie in wait until you’re ready to expand.
When you reach the tipping point, you can rely on the VirtualPBX system to keep detailed call logs for all your communications through all your phone numbers. You can see specific information like inbound and outbound call duration and caller ID to help track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
As just one method of differentiating your multiple phone numbers, you can prepend caller ID fields in your logs with specific messages related to the campaign a number tied to. A phone number used in Houston could prepend the tag “HOU-TX”, or any other appropriate message, so you can easily sort your logs and search for specific campaigns.
Startups may outgrow their bootstrap stage but continue to expand; established companies may wish to grow after a period of stagnation. Whichever the situation, there’s a point in successful businesses’ lives when they will expand beyond their virtual and physical borders.
A free mobile number at this stage could let your business take advantage of something like VirtualPBX Mobile, which uses a nationwide cellular network (including voice, data, and texting) in conjunction with our VoIP platform. By having a mobile service tied to the rest of your business phone plan, you can consolidate all your communications costs into a single invoice and manage all your business devices from a single dashboard.
Consider, for instance, that part of your growth is to hire a group of contractors that are spread across the country. They work in their local areas with customers, who need to get ahold of them directly. You could separate your physical location, in one state, from your contractors, in several.
The numbers used in this way would allow for a logical separation of entities that are part of your operation. Yet your entire collection of numbers would be accessible through the same online dashboard.
Get Your Free Mobile Number
Think about the current state of your business. Regardless of your holding pattern or growth status, you may have room for a set of free numbers.
They can help you hold steady and prepare for the future. They can assist with your growth as a startup or enterprise.
We hope you’ll look at VirtualPBX if your phone system could use an update.
Posted on March 27, 2019 by Casey Houser
VirtualPBX has won a number of awards since its establishment in 1997. Our latest – the 2019 Product of the Year award from TMC and INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine – marks our 10th of that particular honor.
TMC and its magazine INTERNET TELEPHONY have provided the telephony community with industry news for decades. Their influence reaches globally, and their awards speak volumes about all recipients. The Product of the Year, as TMC CEO Rich Tehrani said, reveals those products and companies that sit at the top of the communications market and continue to innovate with their offerings.
“I am honored to recognize VirtualPBX with a 2019 Product of the Year Award for its commitment to excellence and innovation,” Tehrani said. “In the opinion of our judges and editorial team, the Dash Business Phone System has proven to be among the best communications and technology solutions available on the market. I look forward to continued leadership from VirtualPBX.”
Awards Represent Dedication to Customers
What we see in the 2019 Product of the Year is much more than a line item on our list. These awards aren’t expected; they’re earned.
Each honor, each compliment we receive shows us that we’re on the right path. Each one lets us know that our daily dedication to customers has created a business phone system that works well and will continue to impress in years to come.
We’re excited to have accolades that show just how much we’ve achieved over the years. Specifically, we’re happy to know that the honors represent much more than just the product we work to improve every day.
“It’s nothing less than exciting to see how this company performs on the global stage,” VirtualPBX CEO Paul Hammond said in response to the receipt of the 2019 POTY.
“The Product of the Year honor from INTERNET TELEPHONY signifies how hard we work and how well our core product helps businesses of all sizes. It is, once again, a pleasure to be announcing our recognition as a top-tier company among the giants in communications.”
The Here and Now, and the Future
What we provide now to entrepreneurs, small and medium-size businesses, and enterprises alike is a Business Phone System that includes a number of powerful features. Everyone, on every plan we offer, can expect full use of an Automated Attendant that can reach an unlimited number of users sorted into Ring Groups or notified through Voicemail. Our Call Recording and Conferencing features come standard and reach beyond what many other providers offer.
We haven’t rested on our past achievements, however. We continue to look to the future with our Web Phone, that offers a full-featured phone, for free, to any customer on any device. And we’re on the cusp of releasing a number of new features hinted in our Product Roadmap.
This award, the 2019 Product of the Year, is one we hope to view as the successor to next year’s model. But that won’t come easily. We know we have to earn it, so we’ll keep working hard for all our customers to offer them the best business phone system in the market.