Posted on March 23, 2021 by Casey Houser
Working from home doesn’t mean you have to be cooped up inside an office. You can adjust your working location depending on how you feel. And now that it’s spring, we’d like to show you how to use VoIP phones at home while taking advantage of the nice weather.
In particular, you will find that VirtualPBX Phone Plans support the Follow Me Calling feature and the Move Feature Code, which help you stay connected to your colleagues and customers no matter where your office is today.
Follow Me Calling
Starting with Follow Me Calling, lets consider what would happen if you decided to immediately step away from your desk and onto your back porch.
It’s spring, so maybe you just needed a breather from the stuffy inside air. Or maybe it’s amazing outside and you want to complete a few hours of work in the sunshine. Your porch might even have better chairs than the ones inside.
Reasoning aside, you don’t want to lose access to inbound calls. Using multiple VoIP phones at home, however, is easily managed from within the VirtualPBX system.
Ring All Your Devices
Follow Me Calling works by routing your inbound calls to one or multiple devices you specify. If you use our VirtualPBX Softphone on your desktop computer and on your mobile phone, you can specify both those devices in your Follow Me Calling settings.
You can ring both devices at the same time, have one ring after the other, or overlap their ringing in any configuration you please. This can be done with any two or more phones that are associated with your user on your VirtualPBX account.
Account administrators can set a user’s ringing pattern and add devices to the user if necessary. You can find Follow Me and other settings in the main Users menu of the VirtualPBX dashboard — clicking on the User Features button for any user you want to edit.
Move Feature Codes
An underused part of our phone system is the vast array of Features Codes we have available, including the Move code.
Move helps you change from one VoIP phone at your home to another without having to place the caller on hold.
The process of using move occurs in three steps:
- During an active call, find an additional device assigned to your user on your account
- Dial 6683 (M-O-V-E) on that second device
- Continue your call on the second device
A Simple Example of Move
You can initiate Move on your VoIP phones at home without any additional administrator setup. Typical use of our desktop and mobile softphone works again as a great example.
If you’re currently in a call on your desktop softphone but you want to walk outside, you can do so within your mobile softphone. Simply pick up the mobile softphone, dial 6683 (M-O-V-E) on it, and your call will automatically be transferred to that device.
There’s nothing else you need to do to complete the call transfer, and the person you are speaking to will not be notified that the Move has taken place.
Take Advantage of Spring With VoIP Phones at Home
One of the primary goals we strive for at VirtualPBX is to make work easier for our customers. The uses of Follow Me Calling and Feature Codes are one example of how our phone system flexes to meet your needs. In this moment, we’re glad it’s spring and hope that you can take advantage of good weather even when workplace responsibilities call.
You can use these features together or separately. It would also be possible to manage more than two phones inside of a Follow Me Calling setup. You could also Move your call to more than one device during a single call. Maybe it starts to rain outside?
In any case, we hope our feature pages linked in this article will be enough to get you started. You can find assistance both in our 24/7 Online Support and through our Support Pages that show you how to edit your users and change your settings.
Posted on March 18, 2021 by Casey Houser
We’re thrilled to announce that we have been awarded the 2021 Product of the Year Award from TMC and Internet Telephony Magazine.
This year’s award win is special because it’s our eighth consecutive win. Since 2014, we have developed a phone system that has continued to innovate in the market and serve our customers well.
“What we have achieved, how far we have advanced through this decade, it’s amazing to see how our phone system has grown,” said Lon Baker, COO of VirtualPBX.
“The Product of the Year awards expect continued innovation and market-changing aspects of your product. With our Business Phone Plans, we have reached that goal in many ways. This past year of effort has brought us the power of Business SMS, the connective ability of Video Conferencing, and so many other new features that not only lead the pack but also have changed the face of what we offer as a telecom.”
TMC CEO Rich Tehrani had his own meaningful words about what it takes to win this award and demonstrate leadership in the global communications industry.
He said that 2021 Product of the Year Award winners “have demonstrated innovation and excellence” in their markets and that they are “prominent players who consistently demonstrate the advancement of technologies.” In short, they are innovators, and they have stepped to the forefront because of how they continue to address market needs from one year to the next.
“Each recipient is a verifiable leader in the marketplace,” Tehrani finished.
Internet Telephony Magazine has granted this award for more than 20 years and has established the honor as one of the most prestigious in the industry.
Through the struggle of 2020 and within the pressure of a world gripped by pandemic, we pushed forward with a range of new features geared toward one huge change in the market: remote work.
Many businesses are moving to remote work to keep their employees safe. We have responded in kind with Business SMS to give businesses of all sizes the option to use our VirtualPBX Softphone on mobile and desktop so they can send unlimited messages to colleagues and customers. Texting here works similarly to how consumers expect on their phones, so there are no hoops to jump through to get started.
Video Conferencing, likewise, has helped our customers with their remote work situations. It works as a direct replacement to Zoom or Google Meet and can accept as many as 200 participants in a single high-definition video call. Businesses can hold internal meetings and share video chats with customers. Screensharing is now possible through the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone.
These options have arrived alongside many other features released in the past year, including Multiple Auto Attendants, Advanced Call Reports, ACD Queues Pro, AWS Intergration across call recordings, voicemail, and faxing, and expansion of the VirtualPBX API to include SMS and expanded data access.
Looking to the Future
Innovation and response to the market doesn’t stop for us. We launched our new Flex Plan recently to better cater to remote workers.
Now we’re revamping our collection of plans once more. The biggest changes here come with movements in available features, a significant lowering of prices for our Unlimited Minutes Plans, and a huge increase in available storage for call recordings.
- Our Essentials Plan now includes Business SMS and Video Conferencing
- Prices have been lowered to $19.99/user, $24.99/user, and $36.99/user for Essentials, Advanced, and Enterprise Plans for 2-99 users on annual rates
- Storage has been increased to 250GB for Advanced, 500GB for Enterprise, and 10GB for the VirtualPBX 1000 Plan – as much as a 250-fold increase from previous storage allotments
We’re always looking for what customers need the most and adjusting our plans to fit.
What we believe TMC and Internet Telephony judges see in our product is the same hope we see in ourselves. We hope our Business Phone Plans provide an excellent value and extensible feature set to businesses of all sizes. In this pandemic, we have recognized the need for businesses small and large to take their operations remote, so we responded with new features that made the most sense to our changing day-to-day.
Posted on March 11, 2021 by Casey Houser
Our new e-book, Managing Remote Teams reaches out to managers and team leads as they bring their teams into part- or full-time remote work. Chapter 4 speaks about the direct role managers play in remote team success.
Now that you know about how remote teams function and the ways your business can benefit from allowing your staff to work from home, you can concentrate on the daily impact managers have on their employees who work from a range of locations. We’ll show you the tips and tricks, and what actions to avoid, as you move your team throughout the year.
Our Tips and Tricks
What do you do, daily and weekly and monthly, as a manager? There are a number of tasks and practices you should familiarize yourself with if you want to see your remote team grown and begin to trust in the process or working outside an office.
As a leader of remote workers, your daily routine might need to adjust as you continue to motivate your staff and remain accessible.
One of the most important aspects to a good remote team manager is their willingness to accept feedback. When you ask your team – often and with sincerity – how the workplace can improve, you open up your business to change that arises from the people who experience the daily grind closest.
Set Clear Expectations
Your clarity is paramount when it comes to having tasks completed on time and within bounds.
Set deadlines like you would normally for all tasks your employees need to complete. Make sure that everyone understands what it means for a task to be complete and how they can submit assignments so you know they have arrived.
Make Your Schedules Clear
It’s simple to keep your entire team calendar within a single program. We list a number of alternatives in our e-book.
Remote team success hinges on the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing. Using an online scheduling system allows you as a manager to set your deadlines for tasks and see the progress that’s taking place on line items. It also helps your employees see what everyone else is working on so they can ask questions and provide feedback directly to others involved in the same projects.
What to Avoid?
We talk in detail about practices you should avoid as a remote team manager. If you want to see remote team success, get started with a few quick tips:
- Don’t change your expectations of workplace performance for in-office versus remote employees
- Stray clear of leaning (virtually) over an employee’s shoulder while they’re trying to work
- Don’t ignore progress made throughout the day, even if that progress is small
Finding Remote Team Success
Overall, it’s not difficult to switch to being a manager of remote employees.
You can still expect your employees to perform tasks throughout the day. You can still have conversation about important topics alongside banter about personal interests. You can remain diligent with deadlines for all the projects on your desk.
The biggest change with remote work is that new hires, and many of the people you have worked with for years, will be a little farther away than the desk across the room. A quick refresher in virtual etiquette can help you nurture all those relationships no matter how physically distant your team has become.
Check out Chapter 4 of Managing Remote Teams today to take a deeper look at how you can find remote team success.
Posted on March 9, 2021 by Casey Houser
We’re making the most out of the first months of 2021 by releasing some important updates to our VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone. As our COO, Lon Baker, reports in this short teaser video, you can now enjoy our Video Conferencing feature alongside new screensharing capability and our host of other features on both Mac and Windows computers.
This 2021 desktop softphone update keeps all the features you have come to enjoy – high-definition voice, Business SMS, live chat between system users, and real-time presence – and joins video to keep your remote teams connected. On all of our Unlimited Minutes Plans, you can enjoy unlimited use of video, SMS, and voice calling from your home and office on any desktop device you choose to use.
Our Video Conferencing feature comes with the ability to handle one-to-one conversations and conferences with as many as 200 participants.
This means you can hold individual conversations between team members or have the entire office join a company announcement. Our desktop softphone update removes all the obstacles to for bringing your team together, no matter their locations.
What’s more is that our new softphone updates allow you to bring customers and team members into video calls by creating unique web-based URLs that users can follow like they would any other website. Simply share the URL with meeting participants; they can join with a single click and speak to you, and see your video stream, through their web browser of choice. It’s as familiar as all the Google and Zoom calls you have experienced before outside of your office.
Another of our important 2021 desktop softphone updates that accompanies Video Conferencing is screensharing. Again, you will be familiar with screensharing through other browser tools, and now you can have that capability natively within your VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone.
Just click the screensharing icon to get started. You can share your desktop while you’re in a live video meeting, or you can share your screen exclusively (decoupled from video and audio), to use as a presentation tool. This option works well if you want to share as part of a board meeting where you’re already speaking to coworkers in person or as an accompaniment to a support call you have live with a customer.
Business SMS is one of the most popular features we have on our phone plans. Many customers requested it before we brought it to production, and now many new customers are joining to have the functionality.
SMS doesn’t have to be limited to your mobile device. The VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone can send text messages like its mobile softphone counterpart. You simply select the system user or customer you want to reach and type the message from your keyboard.
This feature works a lot like web chat. The only difference is that you can send messages to smartphones in the SMS format, which works really well for customers who, of course, don’t have a VoIP device on hand.
Web chat, however, can be an extremely useful tool for your team to keep in touch without having to rely on SMS. Think of this feature as a replacement for Slack or similar team messaging tool.
- Send individual messages to your team members letting them know your status
- Create groups to keep your departments informed of ongoing project updates
- Pair web chat with a video conference by sharing your meeting start time or web link (for users who aren’t active on the Desktop Softphone)
Web chats work like SMS in their functionality. One click gets you into an individual or group message, and a few keystrokes later, your announcement has been sent to your team.
The final of our 2021 desktop softphone updates to arrive is real-time presence.
Presence lets you quickly glance at any user on your buddy list and see their system status. Are they in a call, away from their desk, or able to talk?
Presence informs all the other ways you can reach out to your colleagues:
- Video chat: Make sure your department head is available before suggesting an impromptu meeting
- Screensharing: Is all your support staff free from calls and ready to view the presentation?
- Web chat: Should I expect a response from my request soon, or is an engagement holding up progress?
See Our 2021 Desktop Softphone Updates Now
Want to see more? We can show you, live, how our phone system functions and what you can expect from our VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone on the phone plan you choose.
Schedule a Free Demo with us today. One of our experience sales team members will show you around our phone system and answer any calls you have before deciding to purchase a plan.
Posted on March 4, 2021 by Casey Houser
The traditional business arrangement of a managed PBX or managed VoIP service is for a service provider to offer a middle ground between an on-site PBX and a cloud-based hosted phone plans. It turns out that, at VirtualPBX, we act as a managed VoIP provider some of the time and a cloud-based provider at other times.
Your definition of what category we fall into has everything to do with your needs as a business. If you’re an entrepreneur that uses only 300 calling minutes every month, we probably fall into the cloud-based service provider category with our Business Phone Plans, but if you’re a sprawling multi-national corporation, we could work as your own managed VoIP servicer.
What Does Managed VoIP Try to Achieve?
The “middle ground” noted at the beginning of this article references both on-site PBX services and fully cloud-based phone plans.
Providers of on-site PBX plans have historically relied on businesses owning their own private branch exchange servers and purchasing their own phones. Since PBX servers are what control the inbound and outbound connections of phone calls, the server would run at a business’s office.
Conversely, cloud-based phone plan providers have allowed businesses to simply plug their phones into the internet to gain access to inbound and outbound dialing. Customers here typically also purchase their own phones.
Managed service providers tried to reach a midpoint with these two styles of service by helping businesses with initial costs.
Businesses could, for example, rent a PBX server from the phone company. They might also rent phones for a small monthly fee. Or they could expect to receive maintenance services on any hardware that they kept at their places of business.
There is a lot of variability in what mix of services have been provided. Some phone plan providers offered all of these types of options; others only a few. VirtualPBX has found itself, with a lot of planning and a little bit of luck, in a position to cater its abilities to the needs of every customer that it works with.
VirtualPBX as a Managed VoIP Provider
Think back to the entrepreneur that uses only 300 calling minutes per month. That individual might be bootstrapping their business and working on many aspects of sales, marketing, and product development every day. Their time allotted for phone calls is probably minimal, so a small allotment of minutes and a good Voicemail box and Auto Attendant will do them wonders as they grow as a company.
Now consider that a large multi-national company might need services like Priority Support or a custom retail delivery setup to get them running quickly as they open new locations. Those types of extra services are available through our stock plans and through custom setups that we’re happy to provide.
Each of those examples is dissimilar to one another, however, in the way that they make VirtualPBX appear. Are we a simple hosted VoIP provider, or do we go the extra mile to offer managed VoIP services?
Your choices and your needs as a business answer that question.
Serving Your Individualized Needs
This type of variability in business styles is why we have several phone plan types. We have created enough options to suit the majority of businesses that seek our services.
Yet we also know that not everyone falls into a cookie cutter shape, which is why our Custom Voice Solutions helps us build you a phone plan that works well for your individualized situation.
Get in touch today for a Free Demo to take a personalized tour of our phone system and see how we can help you.