VirtualPBX Blog

VoIP Can Give Your Business the Best Automated Phone Tree

automated phone treeAn automated phone tree is a menu-based telephone system that routes callers to individuals, departments, or even to recorded messages or additional menus. This inbound call direction tool is essential for businesses with high call traffic or large departmental organization. The phone tree got its name in part because there is a multitude of options for a caller to be directed towards even though they all come in from the same telephone number. This “many from one” design resemble the branches of a tree and the trunk is the single pathway that all inbound call traffic originates from. Traditionally, the phone tree was something that didn’t exist as an automated system at all. Live receptionists had to be staffed by the dozen to accommodate the complex call routing needs of some organizations and that persisted well into the late 20th century until the advent of new, digital telephone technology like an Auto Attendant.

Putting the Auto into Automated Phone Tree

An Auto Attendant is a popular feature on some feature-rich hosted VoIP plans that has taken most of the point-of-contact requirements out of the hands of humans. However, more than just fielding calls, an automated phone tree’s core function is to direct them to the appropriate party or parties, as well. This is accomplished by combining the infinitely scalable capacity thresholds of an Auto Attendant with a few advanced telephony tools, as well. Specifically, these tools are designed to handle the complex routing requirements of modern organizations without the costs associated with older, traditional phone systems.

  • ACD Queues ACD (Automatic Call Distribution Cues) are highly customizable call routing systems that can designate more than just the group or party an inbound call should be directed to. Additionally, ACD Queues can also throttle the pace of distribution, designate the sequence of agents who will answer calls, plus any one of several skills-based and overflow oriented call routing logics.
  • Hunt Groups Hunt Groups are similar in function to ACD Queues and also help to complement the function of an automated phone tree, but are less sophisticated in their adjustability. Also, whereas an ACD Queues can be added to a Dash Business VoIP Plan for a fee, Hunt Groups are included with every available Dash Plan, including basic.

Getting Started With an Automated Phone Tree

Even though the combination of an Auto Attendant and either ACD Queues or Hunt Groups make for a formidable inbound call strategy, using them does not preclude an organization from having a live receptionist. In fact, the opportunities to use these technologies to enhance and improve the impact that having a live receptionist has on an organization are greater than the using them on their own. Plus, getting started is easy considering that all VirtualPBX VoIP Plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee. So what are you waiting for? Get automated phone trees for your office and see how they can help your business, today!

The Ways How Building Open Source Software is Like Baking a Cake

open source software and cakeWe recently launched the all-new and totally free to acquire VirtualPBX Web Phone for all of our Dash Service Plan account holders to use. This was a big deal for our customers and us because it was the first time that open-source WebRTC (Web-Based Real-Time Communications) software was used to create such a powerful telecommunications device that was being made freely available to the hosted PBX community. We’re rather proud of the Web Phone for both its formidable performance and durable reliability as much as we are for the fact that we’re literally giving it away to anyone who wants to use it. Since its debut earlier this year, however, we’ve been getting lots of questions about how it was made, how we can offer it for free, and general questions about what features users would be losing out on by using it. The short answer to that is that anyone on a VirtualPBX VoIP plan will get 100% parity on the feature set on the VirtualPBX Web Phone as they would on even the highest quality VoIP Desk Phone. We understand the skepticism, though, honestly. We have so many people who make the switch to VirtualPBX from other services that promise a lot and deliver a little that it’s entirely understandable why some people may be wary to accept something that is promised to be so impressive, much less that it’s being offered for free. To address some of the apprehension, we’ve tapped one of our engineering rockstars to explain WebRTC and Open-Source Software but still we’ve decided to make it even more approachable with a new analogy. And it’s one that I think is close to almost everyone’s heart; cake.

Open Source Software As a Cookbook

First of all, who doesn’t love cakes, right? There’s a reason cake is ubiquitous at birthday celebrations and that’s because, while we may have disagreements about the flavors or icing, it’s pretty tough to go wrong with a fat slice of cake. And how is our new Web Phone like a birthday cake? Well, just like the spongy goodness of a cake, the VirtualPBX Web Phone shares a variety of similarities.

  • Our new web phone is comprised of a balanced apportionment of carefully selected ingredients. Too much tech and not enough UX design can leave a similarly bad taste to a cake baked with too much rising agent that may have a lot of volume to it, but the aftertaste is something that people may not care for.
  • Choosing the right platforms to be compatible with (ie, being immediately optimized for all modern web browsers) is also a lot like picking the style of cake layers. A multi-tiered and festooned piece of bakery may look good, but is it something that works for everyone? Not likely. From a reliability standpoint, a simple sheet cake is what you’d need to make sure that anyone, anywhere would be able to, sink their teeth into, a new web phone.
  • And, of course, one of the most obvious of similarities between cakes and the VirtualPBX Web Phone is that they each can be universally popular assuming the recipe is followed to the tee. This is great for our users because we host and manage all of the necessary technology behind the web phone in the cloud which means that they can rest assured that the recipe is right 100% of the time. Because you know the secret to making perfect Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookies, don’t you? It’s following the recipe perfectly.

Use Our Open Source Software as Much as You Want

Here’s another similarity between great cooking and great open source software; when people make something incredible, they want to share it with everyone else. Just like you can find recipes from amateur and professional chefs being freely given away across the web, we’re also happy to provide our web phone totally free of charge. That means that you can have as many of these as you want on as many devices and for all of your employees and the cost will always be zero dollars and no cents. The VirtualPBX Web Phone operates reliably on any modern web browser on any web-enabled device, phone, tablet, or computer. The only thing you pay for is the use of your Dash Service Plan, and your pooled minutes are drawn from each user in the exact same way they always had been. Now, the only thing that changes is you get the industry’s best and, ahem, freshest web phone technology for all of your employees totally free. No more buying and provisioning VoIP phones, no more paying licensing fees for softphone applications, and way more budget left over for, if we have anything to say about it, cake. You can’t always eat as much cake as you’d like, but with the VirtualPBX Web Phone and a Dash Service Plan you can at least have your cake and eat it, too!

How Work Has Changed for a Phone Receptionist with Cloud Communications

phone receptionistA phone receptionist is often times the first and most commonly encountered employees at a company. Being the point person on the front lines of a business’ telephone traffic definitely puts an individual in contact with a lot of the public, but how a phone receptionist works has changed with the proliferation of modern telecommunications technology. While the tools he or she uses to accomplish the task of answering, transferring, and forwarding calls may have changed, however, the essential value of a phone receptionist has remained just as high.

The Original Phone Receptionist

As we can all imagine with the images of bays and bays of operators working a switchboard in the office buildings of yesteryear, the function of a live receptionist has always been, well, lively. This has always been the lot of the phone receptionist, irrespective of what the industry or size of an organization he or she worked for. That’s because regardless of the amount of traffic that comes across the desk, or phone line, of a phone receptionist, the importance of it all does not waver. Being a triage nurse or sorts, a phone receptionist has historically played a role in which determinations need to be made about a host of topics. Everything from locating the correct parties to receive inbound calls, assessing callers’ needs and escalating as necessary, to even gatekeeping access to members of a leadership team all are responsibilities that fall at the feet of a phone receptionist. This has largely remained unchanged throughout the years, though advances in telephone system technology have shaped how all of these tasks get completed.

The Super Charged Phone Receptionist

Today, with the benefits of faster, leaner, and simpler voice communications technology like VoIP, a phone receptionist can effectively be at more than one place at the same time. This is accomplished across several fronts, many of which stem from the multi-faceted benefits of an Auto Attendant, the virtual receptionist that comes with the award-winning Dash Business VoIP Plans. VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is an advantage to any phone receptionist because it allows him or her to “park” calls to be handled by a team of potential recipients rather than simply taking a message. Also, by nature of being hosted in the cloud and not tethered to physical wires, a hosted phone plan allows phone receptionists to move from location to location, permitting them to get more done than when they had to be stationed at a desk to field a call. This mobility can be accomplished a variety of ways, intra-office moves can be executed with a Hot Desk from desk to desk or even anywhere the industry’s only 4G LTE nationwide network exclusively for Dash VoIP users covers them with Mobile for Business. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what all an Auto Attendant or a virtual receptionist can do to enhance the work of a phone receptionist. Suffice to say, however, anything that can help one of a company’s most important employees be better and more efficient at their job is something that should be investigated by any organization. Auto Attendants powered by Dash VoIP Plans are and do exactly that.

What You Need to Know About Having a Live Receptionist With VoIP

live receptionistA live receptionist is often the first line of contact for a business with its customers, and needs to possess a wide range of institutional knowledge to field calls, answer questions, and direct topics to their best possible outcome. The importance of having the right person in this role underscores the commonly held notion that a business’s greatest assets are the people who work there. Certainly, we’ve had a lot of fun investing in our human capital, ourselves, because we also attribute our growth and success to the hard work and irreplaceable personalities that make VirtualPBX who we are. Combine that idea with the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and you’ve got a situation whereby the front lines employees are staggeringly important to the success of an organization. Many of our customers are small, scrappy, and resourceful entrepreneurs who handle every aspect, from the front of the house to the back, on their own. But other companies with a few more employees make one of their first hires an administrator who can handle the logistics of an office. This person ends up with plenty of responsibilities, and more often than not those include acting as the live receptionist for all inbound calls. There is really no replacement for the personality that some of my favorite administrators have and how that, in turn, elevates the brand they represent.

That’s why many organizations also have anxiety over bringing in an advanced business telephone service like feature-rich hosted VoIP for fear of them losing the need for a live receptionist altogether. Even though some businesses enjoy employing an Auto Attendant in lieu of a live receptionist, mandating that never has to be the case. Over the course of this post we’ll illustrate how a live receptionist and an Auto Attendant are not mutually exclusive and can, in fact, complement each other quite nicely. There are several compositions this can take, too, each of which provides specific support for live receptionists only, exclusive use of Auto Attendants, and any number of hybridizations of the two.

Having A VoIP Plan With a Live Receptionist

We aren’t going to deny that one of the most consistently popular features on any of our VirtualPBX cloud phone systems is the Auto Attendant. An Auto Attendant can route calls, forward to groups or individuals, be programmed to adapt to time changes and holiday schedules, and even field questions or direct to voicemail. With all of that ability packed into a free Auto Attendant, it’s easy to see why companies without the capital to hire new administrators find it to be such a helpful feature. That said, there is no need to use this feature to replace a live receptionist. When properly executed, an Auto Attendant can actually serve as an assistant and enhancement to the operations of any live receptionist. Here are a few of the ways a live receptionist can benefit from an Auto Attendant:

  • Added Coverage Being able to field multiple lines of call traffic is one of the most important duties of a live receptionist, but it may also prematurely interrupt the conversation he or she is currently on. With an Auto Attendant, you can arrange to have those alternate calls be answered by the phone system if the main line is busy.
  • Specific Design for Live Receptionists Fielding calls within an organization is much easier when live receptionists can use Advanced Transfers to ensure swift and accurate call transfers. Plus, for critical conversations that need to put on hold, calls can be parked and this and a host of other useful features can be accessed right from a handset with Feature Codes, too.
  • Pinch Hitter Being able to call in a back-up to bat for a team member is a great advantage in baseball, and the same can be said for a live receptionist, too. Fielding phone calls is easier when you don’t have to be stationary at a desk, so if a cordless VoIP office phone isn’t available, knowing that an Auto Attendant will answer calls in your absence is a huge relief when you need a moment of, well, relief.
  • Professional Representation As we’ve mentioned, the best live receptionist can do more than just act as an operator, he or she can also be the company’s best brand ambassador, too. Fortunately, a virtual receptionist can do the same thing. By being able to customize everything from on-hold music to automatic and professionally recorded messages that dynamically change for holidays or promotions, a live receptionist never has to worry that a virtual replacement isn’t pulling their weight.
  • Infinitely Expandable The only real threshold that even the most capable and competent employee encounters is that of scalability. Because an Auto Attendant never needs to take a lunch break and can handle multiple concurrent calls without any attrition to the quality and polish of each one, there’s no need worry about overloading the system. Plus, because all of VoIP Phone Plan features are hosted in the cloud, they can be scaled up or down as needed to grow with a company with just a few clicks, too.

Auto Attendant is Just One Way to help a Live Receptionist

The above list barely scratches the surface of the examples on how an Auto Attendant can help any live receptionist be better and more agile at work. The ways a live receptionist can benefit from a VoIP plan are as many and as creative as the administrators thereon. Because companies can add dozens of recording options, add department groups at will, and have infinitely customizable voicemail, faxmail, and greeting options, this literally is just the tip of the iceberg. Plus, add into the fact that all of those presets can be dynamically programmed to act differently for night/day hours and holidays, too, and you’re left with a system that is almost as dynamic as your live receptionist. Of course, no program will replace him or her, but this one sure does come close.

For information on how to get your own Auto Attendant, you can sign up for a free VoIP trial right now, or just hit us up on Twitter and Facebook with your questions. Also, if you already have your Dash Plan and Auto Attendant and need a little help setting it up, we have online call handling support available and you can even call us right from those resources if you want, as well. If you do, don’t be surprised if you are wildly impressed with our combination of automated and live receptionist skills, either.

How to Get Your Free Auto Attendant Right Now from VirtualPBX

free auto attendantArguably, there are some promotional deals that are more attractive than others. Being in the heart of Warriors country and it being the eve of game 3 of the NBA Playoffs, I’m naturally keen on Taco Bell’s “Steal A Game, Steal A Taco” promo. This is where the entire country (you read that correctly) can get a free taco at participating Taco Bell locations if the visiting team “steals” a win on the road at any time during the finals. The attraction to free tacos is palpable, obviously, but the problem with this is that free crunchy goodness doesn’t come your way unless a group of athletes halfway across the country out-preform another group of talented athletes. And herein lies the problem. Whether it’s free-ish tacos or massive “savings” on airline baggage fees with the purchase of a subscription package, companies rarely offer premium features or products for anything short of, well, a premium. Rarely, that is. Because VirtualPBX hosted business phone plans are some of the longest-running and most comprehensive unified communications options available on the market, they boast an array of premium features that are included with even the most affordable Dash Basic Plans. Because there are literally dozens of features that other service providers would charge extra for that would take too long to go over one-by-one, we’ll focus one of the most popular of all, the totally free Auto Attendant.

There Really Is Such a Thing as a Free Auto Attendant!

As we mentioned, every Dash Service Plan Agreement comes with a host of valuable and time-saving features. And though some premium offerings like Salesforce CRM Integrations and ACD Queues are available, no VirtualPBX service comes without at least a free Auto Attendant. The Auto Attendant is one of the perennial favorites among our customers and has been for ages. In fact, early versions of the free Auto Attendant came on legacy business VoIP platforms that we operated years ago and it was an immediate success from the start. Since then, and like all of our products and services, the Auto Attendant has received successions of updates and improvements, all of which have combined to bring it to companies in its most advanced state yet. And in spite of all of the award-winning advancements the VirtualPBX engineers have applied to and all of the other features along the way, Auto Attendant has stayed (and will remain) completely free and included in every Dash account.

What’s so Special About a Free Auto Attendant?

Well, other than the obvious, “free,” part of that question, there really is a lot a company can do with an Auto Attendant that makes it so popular. Any virtual receptionist can answer a call and shoot the caller to voicemail, but the free Auto Attendant from VirtualPBX can perform any one of a litany of Call Answering Services. Being able to customize the inbound caller’s journey with specific greetings, audio of your choosing (including professional greetings and on-hold music), send callers to any department or individual, and the ability even change all of those aspects to accommodate night/day or office hours is all just a fraction of the functions that can be performed by an Auto Attendant. And sure, Auto Attendant is included for free in the native feature set of a Dash Business Phone Plan, there’s no way you can get into one of those for free, right? Wrong! In fact, between our 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee, and the chance to preview Dash for free for up to two weeks right now, you really can try it before you buy it. It may not be as tasty, but try doing that with a taco!

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