Posted on May 28, 2019 by Casey Houser
Our recent release of new Business Phone Plans had us consider what types of features fit best with the smallest of companies. The answer for single-person shops – our phone service for entrepreneurs – is VirtualPBX Basic.
While no single phone plan works exclusively for a single group, we believe entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from our most economical package. Weighing in below $20 per month, Basic offers users powerful features like audio conferencing and voicemail delivery to email, alongside 500 minutes of calling to numbers in the continental U.S.
We know entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of extra cash. They’re bootstrapping their way to the top. Now they can grab Basic for less than their lunch bill at the weekly networking meeting.
Often, it’s necessary for startups to complete group calls with investors and clients.
The easier it is for entrepreneurs to set up multi-user calls, the more professional they’ll look. This can make a great first impression on the stakeholders and initial customers businesses will see in their early days.
Those first impressions build the foundation for future growth and influence locally and outside a business’s community.
Growth doesn’t just occur in an entrepreneur’s home town.
A phone service for entrepreneurs that offers audio conferencing, but doesn’t allow those conferences to reach outside city limits, would be useless. The growth an individual creates through their conferences should extend throughout the country.
Our offering of 500 plan minutes in Basic lets entrepreneurs make contact with anyone in the contiguous U.S. Whether their setting up a business meeting or following up with customer service, they can reach parties anywhere they need.
And when entrepreneurs outpace their plan with more call time, they can always upgrade or see only a modest per-minute fee for additional minutes. Neither will break the bank, but both will let them continue to grow.
Voicemail to Email
One of the most frustrating aspects of our digital world is that we have single applications for everything.
Email sits separate from phone, which is separate from web chat, invoicing software, website management, and databases. And you need all of them to run your business effectively.
We’ve done our part to connect email and voicemail. With Basic, you can have your voicemails automatically delivered to your inbox as soon as they arrive.
Receive notifications like you would normally, and play messages from within your browser. There’s no need to navigate the VirtualPBX dashboard. It’s one step toward a simpler, more efficient business life.
Grab Your Phone Service for Entrepreneurs
If you’re an entrepreneur and need a cost-effective but powerful phone service, using Basic can let you separate your personal phone contacts from your business contacts. Basic can be used through the VirtualPBX Web Phone and any other device, including the VirtualPBX Softphone to run on your smartphone.
Give it a test run with a 14-Day Free Trial that includes full access to all the features available on the plan.
Posted on May 21, 2019 by Casey Houser
The past several months at VirtualPBX have been alight with activity as we’ve refined our new Dash Plans.
Now the day has arrived, and we’re excited to offer a new set of Business Phone Plans: Basic, Essentials, Advanced, Enterprise, and Ultimate.
This change, from three plans to five, better matches our business customers to calling features. All our new clients can expect to pay only for the features they need, whether they’re a single entrepreneur or global enterprise.
Included Features for All Businesses
Our primary goal with this move is to better address business needs. Therefore, while our set of available options may have changed, we still offer a collection of stock features that are included with every plan.
VirtualPBX CEO Paul Hammond explained that “every customer will continue to receive the same standard of 24/7 customer service and professional care we place behind all the work we do. Each plan begins with a free 14-day trial with no obligation to buy.”
Well-known features like Unlimited VoIP Minutes between system users, Ring Groups, Auto Attendant, Voicemail, Audio Conferencing, and use of the VirtualPBX Web Phone will come standard with every plan. All customers will also get at least one phone number with their signup.
The New Breakdown
“Our new Basic and Essentials packages reach the smallest of businesses, including startups and entrepreneurs,” Hammond continued. “Advanced, Enterprise, and Ultimate give more expansive options to midsize outfits and enterprises.”
Our new breakdown of plans offers its respective feature sets as follows:
- Basic starts customers with 500 minutes of U.S. calling and support for any desk phone or smartphone they wish to use on an account.
- Essentials includes unlimited U.S. calling, 500 toll-free minutes for use with an 800 number, and access to Digital Faxing.
- Advanced upgrades customers to 1,000 toll-free minutes and adds access to ACD Queues, Call Recording, and Webhooks.
- Enterprise’s 2,500 toll-free minutes stands alongside Private Storage for call recordings, access to the VirtualPBX API, and use of VirtualPBX Servers for dual use of Dash and VirtualPBX SIP Trunking.
- Ultimate joins 10,000 toll-free minutes with CRM Integration and access to Priority Customer Support.
Building Upon Each Other
Together, the new plans work like stair steps. Each successive plan uses the VirtualPBX feature set to build upon the last.
Basic provides the foundation with all the included base features. Then Essentials includes every feature Basic offers while increasing its toll-free minutes.
Advanced includes everything in Essentials. Enterprise includes everything in Advanced. And Ultimate includes everything in Enterprise.
Customers can expect to find plans that are priced better to fit their needs as organizations. While many enterprises will want access to the API offered in the Enterprise plan, entrepreneurs can do well with base features and a set collection of calling minutes.
We hope every size business can get what it’s looking for. Our new plans mean to work better for everyone, and we look forward to feedback on this company-wide change.
Posted on May 8, 2019 by Casey Houser
The size of your business comes secondary to the power of multiple business phone numbers.
Slim startups can boost their marketing efforts by using more than one number in their campaigns. Expanding enterprises can make their global ambitions more feasible with a handful of numbers at their disposal.
Keep reading for a deeper look at those situations and how your own business can benefit from using multiple phone numbers as part of a VirtualPBX account.
Starting Small, Marketing Big
Startups eventually reach the point where marketing becomes a pivotal activity in their development.
To attract customers, startups can take advantage of online and offline advertising in places like Google Ads and industry magazines.
The process of creating advertisements is straightforward enough. You create sensible ad copy, release it in the right location (online or printed publication), track the results, make changes, and complete a subsequent round.
Where this becomes most complicated is within the “track the results” phase. You need to know how and why your customers are reacting to your ads; otherwise, you won’t know how to improve them when the campaign has come to a close.
Multiple business phone numbers can help this process by segmenting differing campaigns from one another. For instance, if you have a single Google Ads campaign and a printed ad in Wired, and each one sports a separate phone number, you can tell which ad the caller reacted to.
Let’s say you scale your marketing to 20 online campaigns and 5 print ads. Great! Attaching phone numbers to every single campaign, or at least to groups of campaigns within the online and print subsets, can work wonders when you’re receiving dozens or hundreds of calls a day.
Enterprise Across the Globe
Likewise, many enterprises will also reach a tipping point. The sizes of their individual departments can dwarf other whole businesses.
Enterprises have hundreds to thousands of employees, so their departments can become enormous. An accounting department that’s 100 employees deep may be split into its own sections that deal with new contracts, global connections, and taxes, just to name a few areas of focus.
If an individual needed to contact that accounting department but only had one line into a central part of the business, it could become a mess. A single Automated Attendant could route the caller correctly, but it would be a messy experience for that person.
A direct line to the department could make routing much simpler. In fact, separate lines for accounting, marketing, HR, sales, and other departments would make contact to those places easier for everyone involved.
Callers wouldn’t have to navigate deep auto attendant mazes. Businesses could publish their individual departments’ numbers and let the subsections of those departments easily delineate themselves by extensions.
Multiple Business Phone Numbers in Your Market
How do you currently shape your growing business? If you haven’t tried organizing your marketing efforts or company growth with a set of business phone numbers, it could be time to start.
Adding numbers to a VirtualPBX Business Phone System account is easy and cost-effective. Numbers can be used at your discretion and routed anywhere you like, even in complex arrangements that would require a custom voice system setup.
Posted on May 2, 2019 by Casey Houser
If your business has expanded across national borders, you’ll want to begin using phone numbers local to those countries. In tandem, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the international number formats each new number will copy.
Not every country uses the same type of spacing and digit count found in the U.S. (XXX-XXX-XXXX). Your knowledge of phone number formats outside the States can help your professionalism as a business owner, and it can help your business’s expansion move smoothly with a VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans in the future.
Here’s a starter list you can use to begin your education.
The U.K. presents a challenge: Depending on the location they address, its phone number area codes can have lengths of 4 (the most common), 3, 2, and 5 (the least common).
The 4-digit codes precede a subscriber number (the equivalent to the final XXX-XXXX in U.S. numbers) length of 5 or 6. The 3-digit codes precede number lengths of 7. The 2-digit codes precede numbers of length 8. And 5-digit codes precede numbers with lengths of either 4 or 5.
London phone number format, therefore, is (020)XXXX-XXXX. The leading 0 here is the national trunk code, so it doesn’t count toward the aforementioned digit tallies.
Less well-known Brampton presents a number of (0169 77)XXXX.
VirtualPBX can use any of those international phone numbers, whether you’ve moved office to the capital or rural town.
Germany’s phone number format regulations are a bit tighter.
You’ll still find area codes that range in length from 2 to 5 digits – not including the trunk code, of course. Its standard subscriber number length, however, is now set to 11 digits, including the area code.
Prior to 2010, Germany used to allow phone numbers at variable lengths. You might have found phone numbers as short as two digits.
Today, though, you can expect to get a local number that’s 11 digits, or 10 if it’s local to a major metropolitan area like Berlin.
India uses what are known as Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD) codes for its phone number format. Similar to area codes, they precede a subscriber’s phone number and can range from 2 to 8 digits.
Shorter STD codes apply to larger cities. New Delhi uses 11 as its STD. Jaipur uses 141.
Phone numbers always combine with the STD to reach a total of 10 digits. Therefore, a New Delhi number would look like 11-XXXXXXXX, and a Jaipur number would look like 141-XXXXXXX.
Phone Number Format Primer
While we can’t cover all the phone number formats in this article, this is a good place to get started.
Know, at least, that not all countries subscribe to the same format the U.S. uses. Make yourself familiar with the types of conventions out there. Most of all, don’t expect that a standard set of digits or conventions will always apply in every situation.
VirtualPBX can make use of local numbers in any country where we offer service. In addition to our phone number coverage in the U.S., we can help you reach across the globe but remain a local presence in your countries of choice.
Good luck in your expansion efforts.
Posted on April 30, 2019 by Casey Houser
You’ve already done the hard work of expanding across the U.S. Now it’s time to think about using a vanity toll-free number with your VirtualPBX Phone Plan.
More than just a communication lifeline, a toll-free number can be a representative for your business. The use of a vanity number in this context lets your personality and intention slip into customers’ memories – all with a few letters/digits.
Let’s discuss, for a few minutes, the influence you can gain by adopting a number that speaks for you.
Grab Customers’ Attention
Which one stands out more? The regular toll-free number, or the vanity toll-free number?
Unless you have a penchant for digits, the option above that spells out “cycling” is much more attention-grabbing than its counterpart.
The digits in the first option above spell out “cycling” – you just can’t see it at first glance.
If you owned a bicycle or motorcycle shop, you could use 1-800-CYCLING in print and digital ads to immediately grab customers’ attention. Customers could then more easily remember your phone number since the word “cycling” is familiar, whereas 292-5464 is not.
Solidify Brand Identity
You can take this one step further by giving your phone number a feeling.
If you were a vacation company, 1-800-CHILLIN could evoke an emotional response in customers before they even call.
Using the word “chillin” is memorable. Its use as slang (the abbreviation of “chilling” or “chilling out”) also gives the number a casual air about it.
Customers would see 1-800-CHILLIN as a representation of the vacation company’s brand style: Casual and playful, and responsible enough to create a phone number easy to remember, which adds professionalism to the image.
Be on the Lookout
Not every vanity toll-free number will be available for you to use. In fact, 1-800-CYCLING and 1-800-CHILLIN are already taken.
You can improve your chances of getting a relevant number by using different prefixes (like 866 instead of 800) and being creative with your slogan.
A few minutes of brainstorming should be enough to get started.
Find Your Own Vanity Toll-Free Number
Check our partner TollFreeNumbers.com to see what’s available. You can use any of the numbers available there with any VirtualPBX Phone Plan.
Remember that your number doesn’t need to match your business name exactly. Once you have a few options, type them into TollFreeNumbers to get a list of numbers and suggestions for alternatives.
Before you know it, you’ll be impressing customers with your creativity and hopefully seeing a boost in call traffic for your efforts.