Posted on December 27, 2017 by Dan Quick
As you probably know by now, we’re a remote team. In fact, if you’ve ever seen our company’s Instagram account, you know that we have our work with us on the road even when we’re not traveling. Coffee shops, Apple stores, parks, and with the increased availability of city-wide wi-fi coverage in San Francisco, basically anywhere in some of the busiest cities in Silicon Valley can be our office for the day. But during the holidays, we’re not unlike anyone else in that we want to travel further distances to either be with loved ones or simply to take advantage of the long weekends and time off. That’s why we wanted to show you in just a few steps exactly how easy that is with a hosted business telephone system like Dash. Because it may not be what a lot of the season’s most-loved movies and stories are about, but spending a holiday on the road can be just what the doctor ordered for those who have adventure on their minds.
Spend the Holiday on the Road Less Traveled
John Muir, the famous naturalist for whom many of California’s greatest natural treasures are named, said, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” With that in mind, I opted to spend some quality holiday time in the Eastern Sierras that separate Nevada and California. To do that, though, I had to prepare some things on Dash before I left. No problem! All I had to do was make sure I had my VirtualPBX Softphone App downloaded to my Android phone and double check that the Follow Me Calling settings were up to date, as well. The Softphone App is all I need to keep my office space totally virtual. It can operate off of either my data connection or wi-fi, and is a totally self-contained and portable replication of all of the functions of my standard VoIP Desk Phone, but in the palm of my hand. With it, I can toggle between my work phone and my personal line so that I can always keep my private information private and my professional information available.
However, sometimes when I have the softphone deactivated, I still need to take a call and that’s where the Follow Me Calling feature comes in handy. By preloading my Follow Me Calling call forwarding with the likely telephone numbers where I’ll be reachable, I can make sure that incoming calls cascade through the numbers I want to be reached at until I answer or the call goes to voicemail. And speaking of voicemail, with the handy feature of emailing my voicemails directly to my inbox, you guessed it, I can get those right on the same mobile device I use when I’m spending my holiday on the road.
Where are You Spending Your Holiday?
We have as many different ideas of what makes a good holiday as we have members of our team, and I suspect you’re no different, either. That said, what triggers your sense of adventure on a long weekend? Or perhaps you’d rather have a staycation or spa day? Let us know how you did, or just how you would prefer to spend your holidays by joining in on the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. We’re always looking to get new ideas on places to go, so share what you have in mind. Either way, no matter where the holiday on the road takes you this year, make sure to have a safe and happy voyage and enjoy the New Year!
Posted on December 21, 2017 by Dan Quick
Hello again from VirtualPBX! It’s that time of year again when we pause to look back and, like every year before, reflect on the great strides we’ve made over the past 12 months. This year has been significant in so many ways but there is one key consistent aspect of it that we are eternally grateful for, and that is our wonderful community of customers without whom none of this would have ben possible. This year, however, we were able to collaborate with our users in ways like we never have before and the result has been equally historic, as well.
Community Driven Success
Typically, we’ve worked on our newest projects by evolving and refining our internal processes, but this year marked the beginning of a new, more fruitful, path to product development. By introducing our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap, we were able to begin including the people most intimately involved with our products into the design process therefore. Our Product Roadmap does more than offer a glimpse into the future of our newest products and features. It’s also an avenue for our power users to offer feature requests, comments on our trajectory, and even gain valuable access to exclusive beta testing programs as all of these new technologies become available. Through this process, we’ve been able to boost our productivity, shorten development cycles, and improve the overall quality of our offerings in record time. The Awards and Recognition we’ve received from industry press and peer-review boards alike speak volumes about the results of this new process. Our truest success, however, can measured in the thousands of businesses that are getting more from their phone systems than ever before. To give just a few of those milestones another moment in the sun, we’ve outlined some of the highlights of our customer-centric product development process below.
Blacklisting Bad Actors
Spam callers are frustrating and can be a time-consuming irritation under the best of conditions. In more extreme cases, malicious callers and robo-dialers can even rake up costly call traffic and tie up your employees from doing their actual work. Our collaborative solution to that was the all new Blacklisting feature. This allows for businesses to collaboratively add, manage, and update all of the flagged spam numbers they encounter. Once uploaded, these numbers are blocked from ever reaching any extension or number across a business’ entire telephone system automatically and in perpetuity.
VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone and Salesforce CRM Integration
One of the biggest waves we made this year was the collaboration we had with one of the largest companies in the entire SaaS space, Salesforce. By delivering a VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone and Salesforce CRM integration, we brought to our customers a marriage of two of the most vital tools for the modern, sales-reliant organization. With the complete and complimentary integration of the mobile-first telephone system, Dash, along with powerful customer relationship management from Salesforce, sales teams everywhere are more capable, independent and profitable everywhere. Plus, for managers of sales teams, the integration also comes with entirely new data visualizations for all manner of relevant data points for contacts, conversions, and more.
Getting Caught by Webhooks
If you hadn’t heard of Webhooks before now, you’re not alone, because they were news to this author not too long ago as well. However, thanks to the work from our engineers and users alike, the need for more integrations and automations has become abundantly clear. Good thing, too, now that VirtualPBX supported Webhooks come with every Dash Basic, Pro, and Unlimited Plan. With hundreds of the most popular business application supported, the potential applications of Webhooks with VirtualPBX are limited by only the imagination of a company’s employees. Being able to have your business phone system communicate with the other critical applications for your business is great on its own, but considering that we also include the first Webhook for free on all of our plans, it doesn’t get any better than that!
The Second Act for SIP Trunking
SIP Trunking was another area that took an unexpected turn for the better this year thanks to the hard work of our UX/UI designers and engineering teams. For years, there have been companies that had locked themselves into long-term amortization and depreciation schedules by having invested heavily into on-site PBX hardware. Those companies still wanted to take advantage of the mobility and cost-saving benefits of a cloud-based PBX, however, but their options to do so were relatively antiquated compared to the intuitive and streamlined VoIP Plans available. Realizing this, we set out to deliver the solution and have been thrilled at the adoption of our entirely new SIP Trunking Solutions that combine the technological potency that is required to bridge on-site and hosted PBX systems along with the simplicity and performance that is desired by modern enterprises.
Bringing ACD Queues to Dash
No list of major 2017 milestones in telephony would be complete without the mention of one of our most anticipated releases, the entirely new ACD Queues that we rolled out into Dash Features earlier this year. The advancement of our call queue technology has been made possible by the fact that we’ve been offering call queues, hunt groups, and a variety of other creative departmental call routing solutions for nearly two decades. All of that experience, along with the invaluable insight gained from our beta testing period with our own customers, contributed to what is arguably the most capable and easy to use enterprise queuing system available in the cloud. Complete with all of the admin features of previous systems but with the added benefits of it being a hosted system makes the new ACD Queues on Dash a formidable service for organizations with high call volumes, tight budgets, and zero tolerance for mediocrity. Seriously, we’re really excited about how these are working for our customers, so if you are a growing business that needs more sophisticated routing and queuing, you should really check them out today.
Being Here for You Around the Clock
We wish we could give credit to our customer feedback loop for our industry-leading commitment to service, but this is something we’re proud to say has been with us from the start. From our earliest days, we understood that if we were going to compete in the emerging market of VoIP providers, we were going to have win the battle for providing unparalleled Customer Support. We’ve been fortunate to have a great and dedicated team that has routinely put us on the short list for leaders in support in our industry, but when we unveiled our 24/7, 365 days a year Support for free with every VoIP account, we believe we’ve pulled ahead of the pack. We host telephone numbers for over 140 countries in the world and our customers represent business interests from every corner of the globe, so a simple 9-5 just never would have cut it. Because we understand that our success is directly related to the success of our customers, and because they are out there mixing it up every hour of the day, we’re committed to being there for them no matter what happens and no matter when it happens. Of course, ideally you’ll never have to speaks to our friendly folks in Customer Support, but if you happen to need them, they’re just a phone call away any time of the day.
What’s Next for 2018
If you haven’t noticed yet, the theme of transparency should be coming through pretty, um, clearly. We have the major plans for 2018 all outlined on our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap right now and are constantly adding to and updating them as we go along. A few of the highpoints coming up include text messaging, further integrations with g-suite, Slack, and other top business tools, along with a few other surprises that we’re keeping close to the chest. No matter what the topic, feature, or product may be, however, we’re always eager to hear your perspective on how it will impact your business. In the interest of keeping our efforts focused on improving that impact and increasing your productivity by reducing the clutter in your communications operations, please consider joining in the conversation either there or with us over social media. The premium value of your participation is the only certainty in our industry, and we’re honored to include it into every business decision we make.
There you have it, folks! As you can see, it has been quite a year indeed. We want to invite you to join us for the next adventure that’s hiding on the other side of the calendar. We have even more plans to include our communities, both around our various worldwide offices and our global digital community, in more events, promotions, and releases than ever before. Plus, we promise to have a little bit of fun along the way. Whatever the case may be, just know that we will stay steadfast on our course, committed to excellence, and willing to always go the extra mile for you every step of the way. Please accept our gratitude for being an indispensible part of our 2017, as well as our invitation to the front row of what is to come in 2018!
From all of us at VirtualPBX, may you all have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!
Posted on December 19, 2017 by Dan Quick
I have a friend who is spending his first holiday season with his new spouse this year, and I am always interested to learn how different families approach the season. Just as we are a giant melting pot of cultures, holidays, and celebrations, the way we mark those occasions can vary widely, as well. This is, of course, one of the things that make our home so wonderful and, if nothing else, at times quite interesting. One tradition that I still have a difficult time reconciling myself with, though, is the one where some families open a gift on Christmas Eve, rather than waiting until the morning. Of course, while that may be anathema to my family, and me it in no way means that our own pastimes aren’t looked at with equal side-eyes. In the spirit of acceptance of all traditions, regardless of when you do or do not like to give and receive gifts, we teamed up with our friends at Snap Recordings to once again offer you something very special as part of our favorite VirtualPBX tradition.
Holiday Traditions That Won’t Get Re-Gifted
From now until the end of the year, you can get a free holiday recording from the professional voice talent at Snap Recordings. This year, we’re even extending the offer to include both VirtualPBX customers and the general public alike, because it is the season of giving, after all. This means that one of the Hollywood voice actors from the professionals at Snap Recordings can be your voice of the season for free. Recordings that can normally cost up to several hundred dollars are already completed in several different varieties and available for you to download right now, just by heading to the Snap Recordings and VirtualPBX mini site. Simply head there, download the recording of your liking, and upload it into your Dash business phone system and you’re all set to put the holidays on cruise control.Seasons Greetings and Well-Earned Time Off
In addition to having the simplest way to manage and upload your new, free, Snap Recordings Holiday Message, Dash also makes it easy to skip out of the office a little early, too. We all know the many mobility and location-flexibility benefits that come from Dash’s cloud-based features, but the platform does more than even that. Sure, it’s nice to get to work from the road to get a jump on the holidays and time off, but when the office is definitely shut-down for a period, Dash also lets you manage that with ease, too. Setting holiday hours, out of office notifications, and generally managing all of the schedule changes that occur this time of year is a breeze with the full complement of Dash Support Guides and Videos, so there’s nothing to hold you back from getting the most out of your time with loved ones this year.
The Real Holiday Traditions Are At Home
Getting to break away from the grind and get close to those who matter most to us is what this season is really about. That’s why, though it may seem like something insignificant at first, we put as much time and energy into designing the tools you need to completely shut yourself off from work to be with them as we do into the ones that let you work hard the rest of the time. So please, enjoy our gift to you from us and Snap Recordings and get your free holiday message here. And if you need any help uploading it into your Dash system or anything else over the holidays, just know that our lights will be on all night long through the holidays, just like they are 365 days a year. That means that you can always reach out to our Expect Support Guides if you need anything between now and, well, ever.
Rest easy by the fire with your family this year knowing all is well with your phone system. And, of course, thank you as always for being the most important part of our VirtualPBX community, and have a safe and happy holiday season!
Posted on December 14, 2017 by Dan Quick
We’re thrilled to announce that we’re ending the year on a high note, it seems, because we were just named the winners of the 2017 TMC Unified Communications Excellence Award! The specific area that the award was given to highlight is our totally reimagined approach to SIP Trunking which, apparently, really won over the review board. In act, in our recent SIP Trunking press release about the award, you can see some of the glowing commentary that the recently revamped technology garnered.
How SIP Trunking Won the 2017 Unified Communications Excellence Award
SIP Trunking is a technology that was developed to help companies that had already made large investments into on-site PBX’s take advantage of some of the mobility and customization that can only be provided by a cloud-based telephone system. SIP Trunking was an essential bridge to the advantages of a hosted PBX when larger organizations realized they needed to access them but that were also still financially beholden to their on-site hardware investments. We go into much finer detail on the underlying technology of SIP Trunking and how it generally relates to hosted PBX in our KP360 Tech Talks Blog for anyone looking to learn more, but the way we delivered SIP Trunking to a modern audience is what really earned us this award.
The Modern Face of SIP Trunking
We developed our SIP Trunking platform to satisfy the most rigorous technical demands of our largest enterprise customers. But to differentiate it from other options and to have it dovetail with the well thought out design of our total line of user-centric Dash VoIP Plans, we packaged it as cleanly as possible and in a way that no other option on the market can offer. Like with all of our products, we didn’t deliver a finished product until we knew it would put the needs of our end users at the forefront. The employees and admins of all of our business telephone systems, their needs and pain points, and our two-way feedback channel that goes into the development of all of our products are solely responsible for the win of the 2017 TMC Unified Communications Excellence Award. Without these insightful and fruitful relationships, none of this could have been possible.
That being said, it is with great gratitude and honor that we accept this award on the behalf of the hundreds of dedicated contributors in our BETA community, the thousands of companies they represent, and the millions of customers that we hope to help them service at the highest level. Thanks to you all and thank you to TMC for recognizing all of the hard work that went into our newly redesigned SIP Trunking platform.
Posted on December 12, 2017 by Dan Quick
If you haven’t heard by now, California has been experiencing some of the most destructive wildfires in years. Recently, right to the north of our corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley, the Napa and Sonoma County fires raged right through the downtowns of several neighboring cities and has left thousands of displaced workers still without a clear path back to normalcy. Now, to the north of California’s largest city, Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara fires are causing even more destruction at a record-setting pace. The largest of those blazes, the Thomas Fire, is just over the weekend now the fifth largest wildfire in California’s modern history. This unsettling trend of increased climate instability and the fallout from it on California and the world as a whole is obviously a large topic to address. There is one facet of it, however, that is something that we have a great deal of experience in addressing. Specifically, we’ve found that businesses that are able to bounce back quickly from these catastrophic events tend to all have one thing in common in that they each have a thorough Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place well before it’s too late.
Finding a Safe Place for Displaced Workers
Getting employees and families to safety is paramount in emergency situations, and because that is such an immutable priority, there’s no time to waste discussing how to show up to work the next day. That’s why a BCP is so critical to create and practice before it’s required, so that when life is at stake employees can be unencumbered by anything that isn’t absolutely essential at the time. But when the dust settles and the smoke clears, what then? For our customers across the globe who have, unfortunately, been exposed to some of the most terrible experiences due to extreme weather, fires, earthquakes, and other emergency scenarios, they have routinely outperformed their local competitors in the aftermath because they never had to worry about how to get back to business when the time was right. A BCP covers everything from chain of command to alternate staging areas during fire drills, but for our purposes, we focus on the communication aspects of one with our hosted business telephone service.
Working as a Displaced Worker
Our hosted business telephone services are all cloud-based which means they can travel wherever you go so long as there is an internet or data connection. This means that BCP planning on communications services for our Dash customers, for example, is a foregone conclusion. Any employee on a Dash system can totally recreate their office communications system from anywhere they land following displacement during an emergency event. Because the core technology that Dash customers rely on to stay connected is never housed in their offices, but rather in our multiple secure and redundant server locations, their phones never actually go down in these situations. For other companies with an on-site PBX or older, copper-wired business telephone, they have more at stake. Those businesses will be completely shut off from their business in the event of an evacuation until the property is both safe to return to and all services have been restored. And as we’ve seen in the recent Atlantic storm season, that can be weeks or months until it happens. For these companies, there is a solution, though, and that is to employ an automatic business failover system like PBX Parachute that automatically deploys at the first sight of trouble.
Landing Safely Under a PBX Parachute
PBX Parachute acts as the cloud-based telephone systems that we described above, but because it’s designed for companies that already have an on-site telephone system, it has several unique features. First of all, because it mirrors an existing telephone system that, barring an emergency event, is otherwise working satisfactorily, the rest of the time it is lying dormant for a negligible fee. Once it is triggered by any detected outage or by a manual deployment, it then only replicates the portions of a business telephone network that the users have chosen to keep operational. For some businesses that means just a few key employees or departments, for some others, it means the whole business, and others still want it to deploy to just a prepared general statement as a recording for inbound callers telling them they are experiencing an event that will keep them from the phones for a period. Whatever the configuration a business’ BCP calls for, PBX Parachute can be customized to work as well as even the most robust hosted business telephone system.
Business Continuity Planning and emergency failover are obviously massive topics that are as diverse and unique as the companies they serve. That’s why we have our BCP experts on hand around-the-clock to help customers whenever disaster strikes. Don’t wait until you’re on hold with your own telephone company in the wee hours of the night to discuss your communications plans at work. But even if you do choose the middle of the night, we’ll be here waiting for you all the same. Get in touch today to learn more.