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.
Posted on March 2, 2021 by Casey Houser
There two ways in which your business might wish to have an auto attendant greeting generator – first in text-to-speech function within your Auto Attendant and second as a creator of sample greetings you can use to address your own customers.
We’ll talk today about how your Auto Attendant functions and provides you with effective text-to-speech for your custom messages. Then you can take some inspiration in this blog from our simple greetings generator whose messages you can use in your own phone system.
A workhorse component, yet often overshadowed, of our Auto Attendant feature is its text-to-speech function where you can type a message and have it read automatically to your inbound callers.
The effect is straightforward. Take a look at the screenshot here to see the area in which you insert your greeting. Any text put into this box will be read to the caller when they reach your business.
You should include information like your name and business hours so your customers know who they have reached and whether or not you’re open. From there, you can include routing numbers for your various departments or individuals who can be reached by pressing 1, 2, 3, etc. on the phone’s dialpad.
This functionality comes included in every VirtualPBX Phone Plan and highlights the primary purpose of your attendant, which is to quickly inform customers about your status and how you can be reached. To a large extent, it plays the role of a live operator.
You can also use text-to-speech functionality in Multiple Auto Attendants that comes with our Essentials, Advanced, and Enterprise Plans. This lets you use the auto attendant greeting generator within the attendant that’s paired with your main business number and also with other numbers like those that reach specific departments or are used with DID numbers for individual employees.
Create Sample Messages with Auto Attendant Greeting Generator
Now we’d like to share with you another type of generator. Our quick script below gives you sample messages to plug into your auto attendant however you like.
Fill in the boxes below with your business name and your office hours; select the style of message you want to hear; and hit Generate!
You can use these messages verbatim within your text-to-speech function or record the greeting with your own voice. They are here for you to use directly or for inspiration for more personalized greetings.
Need even more assistance for a professional message? Our partners at Snap Recordings create high-quality audio recordings for any style of message you prefer. Their team has a quick turnaround and can provide you with further suggestions about what their voice actors should say in your recordings.
Don’t just take our word for it. Read about how our customer, APEX Career Services, used Snap to create their custom greetings.
“All I had to do was click a link to get my professional messages ordered. It was amazing.”
Set Up Your Auto Attendant
If you have yet to take advantage of your Auto Attendant feature, our Support staff are here 24/7 to help. We also offer a Free Demo if you want to know more about how it operates in a live environment. Our Sales team will be happy to show you around.
The Auto Attendant is one of the most central components to a well-working phone system. Get your messages ready and your settings established today.
Posted on February 26, 2021 by Charlie Galaviz
Remote workers are leaving California in droves in what many are labelling a “tech exodus” and the “great migration”. Given that nearly 50% of company executives will allow permanent work-from-home after the pandemic, big decisions lie ahead for the Golden State’s workforce.
Out of full disclosure, I left the Bay Area in California in 2018 after our hybrid team went remote full-time. Sure, I will always miss my family, the weather, and the gorgeous beaches, but moving to a remote-friendly city was the right decision.
In order to find the cities that offer remote workers the highest quality of life, I’ve analyzed factors like remote-friendly workspaces, taxes, cost of living, activities, and sunny weather.
Thinking of leaving California? Here are the 5 best cities for remote workers.
5 Best Cities for Remote Work
Salt Lake City, Utah
Best known for having the greatest snow on earth, Salt Lake City is an ideal destination for remote workers due to the high quality of life, family friendly neighborhoods, and plethora of outdoor activities. In the winter, you can ski and snowboard, and in the summer you can hike, rock climb, mountain bike, and camp. If you prefer to work away from home, it tops the list in both coffee shops and co-working spaces per capita. Plus, the airport was recently upgraded to an international airport – which allows you to travel the world in your spare time.
Austin’s Silicon Hills is quickly becoming the next Silicon Valley. Best known for its thriving music scene, Austin is regarded as a top place to live. It has world-class entertainment, warm weather, a strong economy, and a high quality of life. It’s also a top city to start a business and get funding. The demand to live in Austin is so high that real estate prices are soaring. To offset the high costs, you pay no income taxes, which is a hefty welcome gift from the Friendship state.
Best known for its stunning beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural scene, Denver is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The Mile High City averages 8.4 coworking spaces per 100k people. That’s more than any other city on this list. With all the remote-friendly office spaces, restaurants, and entertainment, it’s almost as if Denver was designed with remote workers in mind. What’s not to love about 245 days of sun and beautiful views of the rocky mountains.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is quickly becoming more than “Sin City” the entertainment capital of the world. Due to its close proximity to Los Angeles, affordable housing, entertainment, and tax incentives, it’s an attractive city for telecommuters. While there isn’t a ton of coworking spaces to choose from, many transplants are opting to buy a larger house in a master planned community. If you ever get bored of the world-class dining and shows, you can take a day trip to Zion National Park, Joshua Tree, and the Grand Canyon.
Phoenix is best known for its warm weather and bustling metropolitan area. The Valley of the Sun has it all, from excellent food, parks, hiking trails, resorts, and so much more. While you won’t see very many co-working spaces and coffee shops, it ranks high for both affordable housing and childcare. If you don’t mind the hot weather, Phoenix makes a lot of sense for the variety and affordability it offers.
Work from Anywhere With Flex Plans
No matter which city you select, you’ll need a way to stay connected to your team and clients. The VirtualPBX Flex Plan is the perfect solution for remote teams and entrepreneurs that want to transform their smartphones, laptops, and desk phones into a full-featured business phone solution. With features like virtual receptionist, unlimited local minutes, texting, and video conferencing, you can run your business from anywhere.
Want to learn more about communication solutions for remote workers? We have friendly VoIP experts on standby to answer your questions.
Posted on February 24, 2021 by Casey Houser
In previous sections of our new e-book, Managing Remote Teams, we’ve discussed the overall remote work culture and the challenges of hiring an off-site team. Now in Chapter 3, we’re excited to talk about developing the ideal remote work environment for your staff members.
Since our e-book addresses managers directly, what we have in this chapter is a look at internet security, work location, and the structure of the workday. Managers can have a positive impact on their overall workplace environment by understanding how their employees prefer to work and how those preferences mesh with the demands of the job.
The networking expert at VirtualPBX is Len Cacioppo, our VP of Operations. He has decades of experience in securing digital networks and presently uses his knowledge to keep VirtualPBX staff members and customers safe.
Cacioppo, when asked about how remote workers can protect themselves, offered a few key pieces of advice:
- “Avoid simple passwords.”
- “Use your corporate VPN.”
- Trust your home router: “They have good default settings to keep you protected.”
Employees can keep themselves safe by taking a few simple steps, Cacioppo says. It’s up to managers to relay the necessary information so employees know how to best interact with their companies from remote locations.
For instance, managers can instruct employees about how to create strong passwords and how to connect their home computers to the company virtual network. Cacioppo also provides a VoIP Security Checklist in our e-book to show which settings should be noted (or adjusted) on a user’s home router.
What makes your ideal remote work environment special? You might work from your couch or kitchen. Other employees could use the local coffee shop as their primary hub. In any case, it’s important for managers to address how an employee’s location can impact their work.
Say, for instance, that one of your team members regularly works from a noisy coffee shop. This might have worked well in previous months, but it could become a problem if you ask them to adopt more customer-facing responsibilities like handling support calls.
You can have a quick discussion with your employees about their chosen or ideal work environments. Then you can speak together about how that environment works or doesn’t work well with the demands of the job. Our e-book offers several suggestions for how companies can help remote work locations mesh well with daily work tasks.
Structure of the Work Day
Managers have the responsibility of looking at both the hard tasks (responsibilities like answering calls and submitting reports) and soft events (employee culture, like “water cooler” conversation) that occur during a typical workday.
Often, it’s the human connections that drive an employee’s ideal work environment. The VirtualPBX marketing team meets every morning for a check-in that allows its members to banter before talking about their tasks for the coming eight hours. This meeting time works to generate camaraderie alongside the necessary sharing of workplace hard tasks.
How do you handle the “water cooler” conversation at your own business? When moving to a remote work environment, the switch from a literal water cooler to a virtual meeting space can be an odd adjustment to those employees who aren’t familiar with the situation. Managers can help ease the transition by showing employees the ropes and letting them know what’s expected and what’s permitted (such as friendly banter) in your Slack channels or video meetings.
Create the Ideal Work Environment
Our e-book this chapter discusses these topics with even more depth. It gives you tips and tricks for helping employees make the most of their workspaces.
If you haven’t already, you can download our e-book today and gain immediate access to advice from our experts at VirtualPBX. We’re excited to offer this chapter and look forward to presenting you with several more in the coming weeks.
Posted on February 18, 2021 by Casey Houser
Many of the business services you use are online. You collaborate through video streaming; share multi-user, online documents like spreadsheets; and store files in cloud servers. Data integration tools make it possible to connect the information that’s stored in, and travels through, these mediums.
VirtualPBX phone plans also work as an online service. The underlying platform that runs our Business Phone Plans, called Dash, includes an API that we use internally to pass information from one part of the system to another – such as when you transfer a call. The API makes our system flexible, and it helps us integrate with other data integration tools to make your phone plans work well for your business.
Our COO, Lon Baker, explains briefly how our API helps us upgrade our phone plan features, build custom features for our customers, and integrate with third-party services like Zapier:
Zapier: Perfect for Beginners
Baker mentions Zapier as a service that helps businesses transfer data from one location to another. Zapier offers a free service tier so anyone can test the product or use it lightly to conduct basic operations. Power users can also upgrade to professional plans that allow for high volume and complex data manipulation.
Our Zapier Integration uses our Dash API to let you send data to other services when your business receives a call, ends a call, receives a voicemail, and more. It can even handle the receipt of texts in conjunction with our Business SMS feature.
Data integration tools like Zapier let us help businesses small and large integrate their phone services with online tools they already use. Our Zapier template can, for instance, log inbound calls in a Google Sheet or note voicemail receipts in a Trello card. You can also build your own custom workflows to make the most of the services you’re already familiar with.
VirtualPBX API: For Pros and Custom Solutions
Additionally, Baker points out that the VirtualPBX API works well for developers that need to build custom data integration tools that go beyond what a pre-built service like Zapier can achieve.
Our Zapier Integration is powerful and can help a large percentage of business use cases. We can’t, however, predict your specific needs as an enterprising organization.
Maybe you’re building a new product the world has never seen. That’s great! We offer you our API in case you need it to bring your product to life.
Our API helps many of our expert customers handle tasks like contact center maintenance and creating complex call flows for their inbound traffic. We have even used it internally to build tools that customers have requested.
Need More Customization? We Can Help.
In addition to our Business Phone Plans, we also offer Custom Voice Solutions as a way to let us help you with complex situations.
You might be that company with a great new idea but without the time to spend developing a custom phone system setup. No worries! We can build you something custom in as small or large a package as you need.
One example is the SMS Tool we built as an Airtable template that handles both receipt and sending of SMS text messages.
We initially built that tool at the request of a customer. Now, as you can see in the blog post linked above, you can build one yourself or have us easily replicate a similar tool for your own business.
If you have a need for a phone system that doesn’t do what we already offer through our list of plans, we’d love to build it for you.
Contact Us for Data Integration
Whether you want to get started with Zapier, access our API to build your own product, or have us help you build a custom voice system, we’d like to talk to you.
Get in touch today to start a conversation with our team. We can discuss your unique use case and set up a Free Demo or schedule an in-depth call with our development experts.