Posted on November 5, 2020 by Casey Houser
The release of our Business SMS feature can easily ramp up your SMS marketing goals.
By taking advantage of Webhooks, you can automate notifications for the receipt of every text message sent to your business. Your teams will have quick access to those messages and the phone numbers of your customers – allowing them to reply and properly engage with contacts.
Let’s take a quick tour of how Webhooks can bring Business SMS into team tools you already use, like Trello and Airtable.
The Logical Link for SMS Marketing
Business SMS allows any company on our Advanced and Enterprise Plans to send and receive SMS messages through the VirtualPBX Softphone on their desktop and mobile devices. Hardware VoIP phones are also supported and can be used at your office.
To automate the receipt of texts, we employ our Webhooks feature that’s available on all our phone plans. Webhooks capture phone system data and let you deliver that information to other services. The process is straightforward in that you choose a trigger event (like SMS) and a server that will receive data when the trigger is activated (a URL you specify).
You can link the hook with a server provided by your tool, such as through Zapier, or you can link it to a server your business controls. In either case, an SMS trigger would offer you information about inbound texts, including the customer phone number, message, phone number associated with your SMS marketing campaign, and timestamp that you can process as you see fit.
Combining SMS, Webhooks, and Zapier
We talk about Zapier a lot on our blog because it makes automation of business tasks so simple; you can even use it for free with the most basic plan. With regard to the topic of SMS marketing and use of our Webhooks, Zapier provides you with a key piece of the puzzle — the server — needed to send texting data from our phone service to your chosen application.
The Catch Hook element of a Zapier workflow generates a server address for you, like you can see in the image shown here. The URL it provides is what you will enter in the Webhooks section of the VirtualPBX dashboard. It’s the place where your chosen hook will send its data.
The heavy lifting is all done for you. Once you copy the Zapier URL to your webhook configuration, you can tell Zapier to process the data that’s most useful for your team. Maybe send all your messages to a Trello board or keep a running count of inbound texts in a Google Sheet.
Using The VirtualPBX API to Assist
Power users may wish to handle this process with their own servers and tools. That’s completely allowed. You only need a server our Webhooks feature can communicate with.
You can also manage your hooks outside of the VirtualPBX web interface by taking advantage of our API. The VirtualPBX API lets you manage a number of types of data that exist within your phone plan. You can look up devices and phone numbers in use, and you can create and edit your webhooks.
A quick API call might be easier for your engineering team than logging in to the VirtualPBX dashboard. We provide our API for those businesses that want to take SMS marketing automation into their own hands.
Responding to Messages
Your team can respond to customers through their desk phones or VirtualPBX Softphones. However, it may be more convenient and accessible for entire teams to respond through a web-based interface. Our API, in conjunction with popular online services, makes that possible.
VirtualPBX team members use Airtable to manage their tasks, and within the Airtable service we can use its custom scripting to retrieve and transmit data to our API. Your own organization can do the same with Business SMS by retrieving the contents of received SMS messages and using the Airtable interface as a texting platform to respond immediately to your customers.
While Zapier automation works well for creating notifications, an Airtable setup could become an essential part of your organization by keeping all your SMS messages within the same database. This lets you organize your SMS marketing efforts while creating a searchable history of your conversations with customers — all without forcing you to build your own bespoke application.
The use of Zapier, Airtable, or any other third-party services are, by no means, mutually exclusive; you can mix services as you need. Our API’s role is to offer the “secret sauce” behind your team’s capability with its online tools and our phone services. We are building this same functionality into our Web Phone, and our professional services team can work with your organization to create a powerful, custom Business SMS setup that links the applications you already use on a daily basis.
Any Way You Manage It
Regardless of how much manual control you want over your SMS marketing and call data, we want you to be comfortable using Business SMS. Our team is always available to discuss your business’s needs, should you be searching for a customizable phone plan. Let us know your goals, and we’ll give you as much assistance as you need to achieve them.
Posted on November 3, 2020 by Casey Houser
Business SMS stands as the feature our customers have requested most in the past year. We know SMS texting is important to them and that it’s a key component of many businesses’ marketing plans, so we’re happy to announce that VirtualPBX now offers this capability on several of our plans.
Both our Advanced and Enterprise Plans now offer Business SMS for use in a variety of devices. We’ll cover those capabilities today and complete a quick overview of the other key features available in these plans that are geared toward midsize and larger companies.
Business SMS on a Range of Devices
A variety of phone types can be used with Business SMS. There are options for everyone, including the VirtualPBX Softphone for mobile and desktop and hardware phones of all levels. We want you to have SMS texting ability no matter which device you prefer and which location you do business.
This launch of our Business SMS feature is tied directly to improvements we’ve made in our Softphone Apps for both desktop and mobile devices.
The VirtualPBX Softphone is available on mobile for Android and iOS devices and on desktop for Mac and Windows. These two software applications let you send and receive texts no matter where you’re located. Send texts to your office computer, or take SMS texting with you on your personal mobile device.
For all our Unlimited Minutes Plans customers (which includes Advanced and Enterprise), the desktop version of our softphone is also now available with no additional license fee.
Our pages for the Yealink T23G and Yealink T46S both show in their datasheets that SMS is supported. A quick web search, or a chat with our Support team are both simple ways to find your own datasheets or discover if your phone supports business texting.
Automated Team Management With Webhooks and API
One of the biggest advantages to using Business SMS through a VoIP system is that you can use Webhooks to capture text information for later processing.
Webhooks used in VirtualPBX are easily configured in your Dashboard. When using an automation service like Zapier, for instance, you can have Zapier create a webhook URL that you paste into the appropriate section in the Webhooks setup screen. The setup process is short:
- Create a webhook URL in Zapier
- Note the URL in your VirtualPBX Webhooks configuration
- Modify your Zapier workflow to react to inbound texts
Your Zapier workflow could be used to send a Slack message to a group channel every time a message is received. Or you could log all inbound texts in a Trello board.
These types of data transfer allow an entire team to respond to inbound texts. You can configure a single business phone number to receive text messages and then assign communications to an entire team. Your Sales team, for example, would have access to the Slack channel that notifies them of inbound messages that need to be addressed.
This type of connection building can be automated further with use of the VirtualPBX API, which has also been extended to our Advanced and Enterprise customers. The API lets you grab information about your account so you can, for instance, access your list of active devices or create a new webhook outside of our stock Dashboard. Then you can proceed to creating novel connections with your phone service, like posting your new webhook to a tool like Airtable that can track inbound Business SMS text messages that are visible to your team. We’re always here to help your build process as it moves along.
In Addition to Other New VirtualPBX Features
Business SMS has arrived alongside a number of other features we hope you will have the chance to use.
Multiple Auto Attendants gives your business the opportunity to establish more than one inbound call flow. Your company Main Number can have its own Automated Attendant with a custom greeting and contact options, and other phone numbers like personal DIDs or group numbers (Sales, Services, Marketing) can have custom routing options attached to them too.
Additionally, Dynamic Caller ID gives you the opportunity to display specific company phone numbers according to rules you set for outbound calls. You can match outbound dials by Area Code, for a VirtualPBX Feature Code used during the call, and by regular expression to match full or partial phone numbers. If there’s a match, your chosen phone number will be displayed to the person you have called.
Video Calling will also soon make its way out of our beta test – ready to be used by all Advanced and Enterprise Plan customers. You can complete one-to-one and conference calls between your staff and with customers. Combine video with audio-only calls to accommodate everyone.
Send Your First SMS Message
To begin using Business SMS, speak to our Sales team today to configure your account or start a Free Demo to see it in action. We’re ready to show you the ease of which SMS messages can be sent, received, and automated, in addition to the other new features available for our customers.
Posted on October 30, 2020 by Charlie Galaviz
Think of a single Auto Attendant as a full-time virtual receptionist that is efficient, flexible, and capable of orchestrating your organization’s complex call tree.
Now imagine how powerful it would be to deploy Multiple Auto Attendants that can work in conjunction with each other to steer call traffic where you want it. You can supplement your main phone number with additional attendants that reach personal DIDs, Ring Groups, and other inbound phone lines.
We’d like to share five use cases of our newest feature, Multiple Auto Attendants, that your business can take advantage of.
5 Business Use Cases for Multiple Auto Attendants
1. Multiple Location Management
Franchises with multiple storefronts and enterprises with dispersed offices can benefit from using multiple auto attendants. Using the VirtualPBX Phone System, administrators can easily manage each location’s auto attendant and customize the menu options based on the departments and services available at that location.
2. Provide Multiple Language and Country Support
Welcoming customers in their native language creates a personalized caller experience. Companies can use more than one attendant when providing multilingual support with extensive call tree options. In addition, international companies can utilize toll-free and international numbers to provide region specific call flows for countries like Canada, Mexico, and the UK.
3. Promote Products, Services, and Promotions
Multiple attendants can be used as a dedicated line with alternate greetings specific to seasonal products, services, or marketing promotions. For example, during the holidays you may want to shorten the time it takes for customers to reach sales. E-commerce stores can use a secondary attendant to streamline sales questions and process orders over the phone.
4. Backup Auto Attendant for Emergencies
Prepare your business for unexpected events and natural disasters. Having a backup attendant on standby allows you to instantly deploy an alternative call tree should an office or department suddenly become unavailable. Calls can be routed to a different location, department, or a 3rd party to give your customers a service option when spontaneous events arise.
5. Consolidate Your Accounts and Save Money
I’ll let you in on a big secret. Entrepreneurs with multiple businesses can save on their phone bill by consolidating their businesses into one phone account. Instead of opening separate accounts for each business, you can create one account, and then add additional auto attendants for each business. Not only will you save a ton of money, but you’ll also appreciate how much time you save when handing over your annual expenses to your accountant.
Try Out Multiple Auto Attendants
These use cases are just the tip of the iceberg of what Multiple Auto Attendants are capable of.
Want to learn more? Our VoIP experts are available to chat about how to deploy Multiple Auto Attendants at your company today!
Posted on October 27, 2020 by Casey Houser
There are a number of new VoIP features we’ve packed into our Business Phone Plans.
Now you can use Multiple Auto Attendants, Business SMS, Dynamic Caller ID, and Video Conferencing in many of our plans for both small businesses to enterprises. We’ve also made some changes to our existing features like Priority Support, Call Recording storage, and API, so don’t leave this page before you’ve had a chance to investigate.
Multiple Auto Attendants
All users of our Unlimited Minutes Plans are able to create more than one Automated Attendant for their inbound calls. In addition to your Main Number, you can create as many Auto Attendants as you need:
- Use unique greetings for each attendant
- Create separate call routing options for each attendant
- Assign your DID numbers to their own Auto Attendant
- Assign multiple numbers to a single Auto Attendant
Accessing this feature is done in your Dashboard through our new Auto Attendants menu option. There you can add phone numbers, modify your greetings, change your menus, and alter each attendant as you see fit.
Of the new VirtualPBX features, we’re most excited about this one. Customers of our Advanced and Enterprise Plans can now use Business SMS.
Through the VirtualPBX Softphone (both mobile and desktop), you can send and receive SMS texts to your customers. This makes a great addition to sales teams that want a novel way of reaching contacts. And it’s a simple way of changing up your target marketing campaigns.
The VirtualPBX Phone System processes SMS text messages in the same manner it does phone calls. This means we can move business texting data to other applications like you might handle within Zapier. A simple use case is that you can use a Webhook to note when a text has been received and then send that information to a Zapier workflow, which can alert your team through Slack or Trello (or any other available application) that an inbound text should be addressed.
Our team is ready to help you with setup for these procedures.
Dynamic Caller ID
We know how important it is that you reach leads and customers in a targeted fashion. Scattershot and random messages won’t do. This is why we’ve implemented Dynamic Caller ID as one of our new VoIP features.
Dynamic Caller ID lets you categorize the phone numbers a system user dials so your Caller ID can match the intent of the call.
For instance, you could have Dynamic Caller ID recognize all the outbound numbers your sales team member dials with an 855 area code. If your business is located in the 855 area, you might want to let customers know that you offer local service by showing them a local phone number. Therefore when that area code is used, the team member’s Caller ID could be changed to something appropriate like +1-855-244-0398 which clearly shows your location.
You can choose to show any of the phone numbers available for use on your VirtualPBX Plan. Matching is available by VirtualPBX Feature Code used during the call, area code of the call recipient, and by regular expression that can match exactly or approximately the customer’s number.
Although you may have read about Video Conferencing in our other blog posts that illuminate our testing process and show our supported devices, we’re now on the doorstep of releasing Video Calling out of its beta test.
This means that all Advanced and Enterprise customers will have access to Video Calling in one-to-one calls and video conferences through devices like our VirtualPBX Softphone and desk phones like the Yealink SIP-T58V.
As one of the newest VirtualPBX features, this is perhaps the most advanced feature of our current lot. It gives your business the ability to converse within your own company (which is great for internal meetings and remote work) and lets you reach stakeholders that share the same calling capability on their own phones.
Existing VirtualPBX Feature Updates
Previously, our Priority Support was only included with Enterprise Plan. Now our Advanced customers will find it included in their service.
We found that many of our larger customers were choosing the Advanced plan but were also in need of increased customer support. In addition to 24/7 access to our Support team through phone, email, and web chat – which is available for all our customers – Priority Support grants them:
- Direct access to Support for urgent issues
- A dedicated account manager from our senior staff
- Immediate access to our engineering team
This level of service makes it easier for larger customers with more involved phone network circumstances to get immediate assistance with complex issues.
Although our core Call Recording service has remained unchanged in its functionality, we have increased the storage capacity of this feature for our largest customers.
Enterprise Plan users are now granted 5 GB of storage on VirtualPBX servers to hold all their recordings. These can include inbound and outbound calls.
Additional storage on our servers is still available for a small fee per gigabyte, and any Enterprise customer that wants to move their data off-site can do so through AWS Integration, which immediately moves your recordings to an external Amazon AWS server.
Finally we come to API Access. This feature, though not typically needed by smaller customers, is now available on both our Advanced and Enterprise Plans to address midsize and enterprise companies.
Our API gives you a direct path to the internals of the VirtualPBX Phone System. Among many other assets, you can access devices in use on your system, phone numbers assigned to individuals, and the webhooks you have in use. All the data you can access is available for use in your own applications.
Try Our New VoIP Features
Our excitement for the release of new VirtualPBX features only goes so far. We need you to take advantage of these releases to give them real traction.
We’re available to chat to get you started with any of the features listed here. Get in touch today to set up your first of Multiple Auto Attendants or send your first text message.
Posted on October 22, 2020 by Casey Houser
Big news today! We have enabled the use of multiple Auto Attendants on all our Unlimited Minutes Plans.
Our Multiple Auto Attendants feature gives you the ability to provide a custom greeting and call routing options for all your inbound calls. Using more than one path for your call routing, you can customize this process for each unique phone number on your plan.
We’ll explain more below. Even if you’re familiar with basic usage of this feature, there’s something to learn through its expansion in our phone system.
How to Access Multiple Auto Attendants
You will notice in your VirtualPBX Dashboard that there is a new menu item titled Auto Attendants.
Clicking this item will open a screen that shows you all the Auto Attendants you have configured aside from your Main Number. Routing and call configuration for your primary business number will still take place in the Main Number menu where you can click Incoming Call Handling to manage those settings.
For all your additional numbers, the new Auto Attendants menu lets you get a quick overview of your previous setup and lets you add new Attendants for any numbers you choose.
Creating a New Attendant
At the top of your Auto Attendants screen, you will see the count of the Attendants you have already created. To configure a new one, click the Add Attendant button in that same location.
You will be prompted with field for the Name and Extension number, which must be unique from all other Users and Groups in your system. Saving those values will allow you to add phone numbers and alter settings.
Each of the columns shown for Name, Phone Numbers, Extension, and Settings are a button to configure that element of each Auto Attendant. Adding a phone number can be done by clicking the appropriate button and then choosing from your existing numbers or purchasing a new one. Remember that all our Unlimited Minutes Plans are allotted more than one phone number (five for Essentials, 10 for Advanced, and 15 for Enterprise).
Greetings for More Than One Number
You can assign more than one phone number per additional Auto Attendant. This is part of where you can be really creative with your assignment of greetings and routing to extensions.
For instance, you might include two phone numbers that are both part of the same marketing campaign that intends to reach your inbound sales team. Depending on your goals with these campaigns, the routing of both numbers to the same greeting and call routing options might prove convenient for both your customers and your staff.
Keep Your Hours in Order
You always have the option of setting your office hours in the Main Number menu of your dashboard. These hours are extremely useful when setting up your Multiple Auto Attendants.
As you can see here, buttons are available for Open Hours, Lunch Hours, After Hours, and Holiday – all of which you set ahead of time. Clicking any of those buttons in an Auto Attendant’s configuration lets you set unique greetings and routing options for when customers call your business.
Options for Individuals and Groups
You can also get creative with how you handle inbound calls for both individuals and groups at your company.
Whereas you once were limited to a single Auto Attendant for you main number, you can now apply Multiple Auto Attendants to whomever you wish. It’s not just the entire company that should be represented in your setups.
For example, you might have a Direct Inward Dial (DID) number be established for your Marketing team. Callers could be greeted with guidance to “Press 1 for Marketing or dial your extension at any time” during Open Hours. Then during After Hours, the message could change to guide callers to a general Marketing voicemail box or individual voicemail boxes for several team members.
Help With This New Feature
While you may already be familiar with use of the Auto Attendant in respect to your Main Number, we’re always here to help with establishing Multiple Auto Attendants for your company.
Get in touch with our team now to see how we can assist you in custom management of all your inbound calls.