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Dash Business Phone System Interface

Features Blogs

Our hosted phone system, hardware like headsets and smartphones, and services like SIP Trunking offer numerous features to small businesses and enterprises. Read more about those features here.

Provide Multilingual Support With Multiple Auto Attendants

Image of Globe - Provide Multilingual Support with VirtualPBX Auto AttendantsIt’s not uncommon for businesses to provide goods and services to a wide range of populations. Even if your small business is local to a U.S. city state, it may still have a need for multilingual support to match the communities it serves.

One benefit of our new Multiple Auto Attendants feature is the ease with which you can address multiple languages for your inbound callers. You have certainly heard “For English, press one; para español, marque dos” or a similar phrase when calling customer support for a business; now you can replicate that same inbound call flow at your own company.

How Our Multiple Auto Attendants Are Applied

All our Unlimited Minutes Plans offer Multiple Auto Attendants. The addition of multiple attendants compliments our Auto Attendant that comes with every VirtualPBX Plan.

Think of the Auto Attendant as a feature that applies only to your Main Number. Your plan will come with several phone numbers, and one of those numbers will be used as your Main Number. Customers that call that number can be sent to your Auto Attendant where they will hear your custom greeting and can select their choices for reaching your company (“Press one for Sales, Press two for Customer Support…”).

Now think of Multiple Auto Attendants as a feature that can apply to any phone number in your plan. A recent blog post of ours explains more about how you can attach one of these attendants to a Direct Inward Dial (DID) number or use a specific number for a new marketing campaign – each with their own unique greeting.

Multilingual Support by Nesting Attendants

Your Main Number attendant and your Multiple Auto Attendants can work together to help you provide multilingual support.

When combining these features, you may want to consider your Main Number as the default location that most customers will reach. It could be the number posted on your website, business card, billboards, and online advertisements. It might also say nothing more than “Welcome to XYZ Corp. For English, Press one. Para español, marque dos.”

Nested Auto Attendants Diagram

This message might seem short, but by having the dialed one and two each reach their own sub-attendant, it opens up your business to route customers according to their language needs. Those needs are met by the other attendants you customize for them. Moreover, the transition between attendants will be invisible to callers, so their experiences should be helpful and without any indication that your phone system has moved them from one attendant to another.

Multilingual Support With Direct Phone Numbers

Although using your Main Number attendant with the Multiple Auto Attendants feature can be extremely useful when setting up multilingual support, you can achieve a similar effect by using Multiple Auto Attendants on its own.

Our Essentials, Advanced, and Enterprise Plans give you 5, 10, and 15 phone numbers, respectively, to use however you wish. One of those numbers should play the role as your Main Number. The others can be used creatively, and it’s possible you may want to use one or many of them for multilingual support services.

Direct Number - Multiple Auto Attendants Diagram

You can have any of your numbers point to one of your multiple auto attendants, which of course can then provide a greeting and call routing as you see fit. Used this way, customers would not have to sit through an initial menu just to pick their language.

Reaching Globally

This same logic could apply to phone numbers you use in a range of other countries. If your headquarters is in the U.S., it would be appropriate to have callers reach an English-based attendant through your Main Number. Your other plan phone numbers, however, may be specific to Mexico, France, and Italy, as just three examples, and an auto attendant could be created for each one.

This type of setup would be specific to your business’s situation and the countries or communities it reaches. Multilingual support would extend to those populations with ease, and you could reconfigure their attendant menus quickly with changes in products, services, or the type of outreach your company completes.

Setting Up Nested Auto Attendants

The configuration of attendants from your Multiple Auto Attendants feature is found in the “Auto Attendants” menu on the left-hand side of your VirtualPBX Dashboard. After clicking that button, you will see a listing of your existing attendants and a button for “Add Attendant” to create a new one.

Create New Auto Attendant Settings

After creating an attendant, you can click its name to open up a configuration menu. This configuration will contain a button that reads “Available in Main Menu.” This is how you make any of your multiple attendants available as a sub-attendant for any other attendant. It’s how you allow customers to press one and be routed immediately to the English-appropriate menu.

You can tell your attendants to reach a nested attendant in two ways. Your Main Number attendant is reachable through the dashboard’s Main Number menu and then through the Incoming Call Handling drop-down menu. It looks like the following image, and clicking “Virtual Receptionist” will let you change your routing options.

Virtual Receptionist Menu

For any one of your multiple attendants, you can access the same “Virtual Receptionist” text through their individual Settings menu, which is shown with a wrench icon in your Auto Attendants list of attendants you have created.

Auto Attendant Routing Configuration With SubmenusIn your routing options, you will see the dropdown menus for the button to press and the path it should take. Shown here, any of your multiple attendants marked with the “Available in Main Menu” will be selectable.

Get Started With Our Help

If you need assistance setting up the Multiple Auto Attendants feature for multilingual support or any other task, start a chat with us today. We’re happy to help you navigate the system and test your configurations so your customers will have a great experience every time they interact with your company.

Receive Voicemail-to-Text With Our Newest Feature

Woman Using Smartphone - Receive Voicemail to Text With VirtualPBX Voicemail TranscriptionAll users of our Unlimited Minutes Plans and VirtualPBX 1000 Plans will now receive voicemail-to-text transcription as part of their system reminder emails.

Your users have always had the ability to receive alerts about new voicemail messages through brief emails. Now those alerts have been expanded to include Voicemail Transcription, which offers computer-generated text that matches the messages callers have left to the voicemail box associated with those users.

Transcriptions are included at the close of each reminder email. They can be useful for reviewing your messages without needing to interrupt a meeting or a quiet room.

New Reminder Email Structure

VirtualPBX Voicemail Reminder Email SampleThe primary difference between the past and current email reminders comes at the close of each email. A simple example is shown in the screenshot here, which can be seen at full size by clicking on the image.

Transcription starts near the bottom of the email. All other necessary information about the call is there as it was in the previous form of our email reminders, including the identification (name and phone number) of the caller and the time and date when the message was created.

Those brief pieces of information are necessary when deciding how and when to reach the caller. Now the addition of voicemail-to-text transcript will expand how you can use that data and use emails as part of your daily workflow.

Voicemail-to-Text Benefits to Users

What you get with Voicemail Transcription is an extension of how voicemail has existed for years. It simply moves audio information into a text format. This can be useful for a range of situations.

Process Voicemail Messages More Quickly

Why not complete more than one task at time? With voicemail-to-text capability, you can check your email and read your voicemail messages together.

It will continue to be possible to log in to your VirtualPBX dashboard to manage your voicemails. There, you can listen to individual messages, download them to your computer or phone, and delete them. The process of deciding which messages to keep and which to discard can begin with a quick check of your email inbox.

Improved Search Capability

Audio playback doesn’t lend itself well to a search. You can label downloaded messages with accurate filenames, but an entire transcript could improve further the labeling and sorting process.

If you can complete a text search in your email software, you can begin to search for important voicemail messages. Voicemail-to-text, therefore, creates a record of information that is more beneficial to future information gathering – especially if you have a large volume of messages in your inbox every day.

Automation

The management and processing of transcriptions can also be automated for an entire company.

Using our Webhooks feature, you can capture the text of a voicemail when it is left in an email inbox. Webhooks can be created within seconds from the online VirtualPBX Dashboard. In this case, selecting the “Notifications Webhook” type will get the text output you need.

Information that’s available with the output of “Notifications Webhook” will include information about the user in your system who received the voicemail message and the caller ID of the person who completed the call. Because of that, you can filter for the name of a voicemail box or the inbound phone number when using Zapier to send notifications to your other web apps.

A Zapier setup with webhooks will provide you with a URL to enter into the VirtualPBX system. That URL captures the relevant call data so you can use Zapier to filter for what you need and send messages and logs to Slack, Airtable, Trello, Google Sheets, and more.

Accessibility

Voicemail-to-text ability in our Voicemail feature can also assist users who are hearing impaired in some way.

For anyone who has difficulty hearing or may be deaf, a traditional voicemail setup may not work well on its own. A secondary service may need to be used to process audio and transform it into text. The VirtualPBX system can now cut out that middleman by providing the translation action on its own.

VirtualPBX Email Notification Settings ScreenGetting Started With Voicemail-to-Text

The only setup necessary for your plan users to get started with Voicemail Transcription is to enable the “Send Voicemail to Email” option in their user portals. A quick sign in at dash.virtualpbx.com will let them select the Settings & Devices menu option, click the “Send Voicemail to Email” checkbox, and save the email address they prefer to use.

From that point forward, Voicemail Transcription will automatically provide notification emails for all received emails. Transcripts will be provided at the bottom of each notification email.

VirtualPBX Softphone: Android 11 Updates, iOS 14 Updates, and New Desktop Features

VirtualPBX Softphone Benefits From Android 11 UpdatesThe release of many new features for the VirtualPBX Softphone for mobile and desktop include the capability to send SMS text messages and participate in video conferences. Moreover, Android 11 updates and iOS 14 updates give our mobile softphones a number of new actions not found in previous builds.

What you receive as a VirtualPBX customer is an improved user experience that helps make the use of our Business SMS and Video Conferencing features even better. Small adjustments such as how your phone’s contacts are managed can make it easier for your business to function, so we’ll discuss those updates here as they coincide with the development of our own business phone platform.

New VirtualPBX Features

The newest features of the VirtualPBX Phone System are Business SMS and Video Conferencing. We’re thrilled to be promoting them now because our customers have been requesting their addition to employees across our company.

Business SMS

As just a quick recap: If you haven’t done so already, head on over to our Business SMS feature page to see how you can use texting on your VirtualPBX Plan.

This feature allows users to send unlimited texts between coworkers and outbound to customers. For companies that work remotely, it can help employees stay connected in an informal way. Then when marketing campaigns are in full swing, SMS messages can help you highlight new products and seasonal promotions.

Automated capture of inbound texts is also possible through our Zapier Integration, use of our Webhooks feature, and through database services like Airtable. You can read more about the confluence of those features in our blog about building an SMS Airtable template.

VirtualPBX Softphone - Group SMS Management

Our latest softphone update also includes a number of settings for sending messages to individuals and groups. You can complete one-to-one chats with contacts, and you can easily create groups with as many contacts as you need. A user can create a group and easily manage room settings like its description and topic; members can also be added, removed, and re-sent their invitations.

Video Conferencing

Additionally, you will want to check out our Video Conferencing feature page to read about how video works in your plan. You can complete 1:1 video chats with colleagues and customers, and video conferences can be created with dozens of participants – mixing both video and audio-only callers.

Attend your weekly meetings on the VirtualPBX Softphone and share your participation in HD video and audio. The interface is as familiar as any web-based video service you have used before. Now all your communications tasks are possible in a single platform.

VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone Video Conferencing Example

Android 11 Updates

Android 11 updates include:

  • A new picture-in-picture mode where a small window can be pinned to the corner of your phone’s screen
  • Updates to the face-down mute function where, when your phone is places face down (and automatically mutes your audio, announcements can still be played
  • And a change in default behavior when creating a contact that creates a new Main number instead of a Softphone when you add a user from a call log

The benefits to these three updates have an impact on use of the VirtualPBX Softphone and its new capabilities. Picture-in-picture mode, of course, could be used to allow you to multitask while in a video conference.

Meanwhile, you can rely on alerts still being effective on your phone when you need to mute your device for any reason. Then any time you receive an SMS from a new contact – potentially as part of your new inbound sales campaign – you can easily add that contact to your address book and have their number be displayed as their primary device.

iOS 14 Updates

Additions to iOS 14 also impact use of our softphone. Here’s a notable list of iOS 14 updates:

  • Like with Android, a new face-down mute setting can be enabled (in iOS, it’s found in Settings > Preferences > Mute When Face Down)
  • The mute notification is also improved to correctly display your audio status if you unmute your phone while in the lock screen
  • And a typing indicator is now visible to show when users are actively composing messages in both public and private chat rooms

Both mute functions listed above should help individuals better understand and manage what’s taking place in their conversations. They will have an accurate reading of whether or not they’re muted, and instant access to mute (by simply turning the phone on its face) can make changes in status more streamlined.

Team collaboration should also benefit from improvements to mute handling. In addition, SMS texting will become less of a “black box” by showing what’s happening with other users during a conversation. The pacing of any conversation, and a potential lack of unnecessary interruptions, can be expected by giving users feedback about when messages are being typed.

Mac and Windows Desktop Softphone Updates

While we don’t have any platform (Mac and Windows) updates to report here, this is a great time to point out some new features of the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone related to its SMS and video functionality.

Softphone Interface Changes

The latest version of the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone includes several changes to its visual interface that assist with sending SMS messages and starting video calls.

VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone Extended Menu

In your contact list – which you can upload from your online dashboard to your softphone – you will see several icons next to a contact when they’re clicked on.

  • The phone icon lets you quickly start a call
  • The speech bubble icon starts an instant message between desktop softphone, so you can chat with your team
  • The smartphone icon lets you start a one-to-one SMS chat with any phone that supports texting

VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone Contact List UpdateYou can also begin voice and video calls from within an existing SMS chat. In the upper-right corner of a chat, click the ellipses icon to see a menu that gives you immediate access to those options.

iOS 14 and Android 11 Updates Improve Daily Workflow

Although we’re not directly involved in Android 11 updates and iOS 14 updates, the VirtualPBX Softphone benefits from their effects, and we’re happy to take full advantage of their capabilities. As a result, your daily workflow can benefit from their additions because they are built into the native functioning of our softphone.

Small improvements in contact creation to large, long-awaited features like picture-in-picture add levels of usability and simplicity to casual and advanced usage of our softphone.

We hope the additions to these platforms make use of daily calls and texts a welcome task at your organization. Visit our VirtualPBX Softphone page to find links to our mobile and desktop softphone hosts so you can upgrade the software on your devices to take advantage of all these new features.

VoIP Texting Customers and Teams With the VirtualPBX Softphone

VoIP Texting Example on the VirtualPBX SoftphoneSelect VirtualPBX Phone Plans now have the ability to send text messages through our new Business SMS feature and use of the mobile and desktop VirtualPBX Softphone.

One of the most important capabilities we can note about Business SMS is that it can be used externally to contact customers and internally to keep your team connected. Use cases for your organization will fall into one camp or the other, and by preparing your staff with the VirtualPBX Softphone, either style of use can be made easy from the start.

Reaching Out and Responding to Customers

Consider that your business has a sales team that wants reach out to a subset of your existing customers by sending them direct SMS messages. How would you use the VirtualPBX Softphone on your desktops to send your promotions or brand updates?

An Office With Desktop Softphones

Our Softphone App runs on multiple desktop environments, including Mac and Windows 8 and 10. Businesses that wish to manage a large SMS campaign can do so easily without modifying their existing hardware.

VirtuallPBX Desktop Softphone SMS Example

An install of the VirtualPBX Softphone can be completed for one or multiple computers. Therefore, no matter the size of your team, you can have each of their desktops run a softphone that’s capable of handling calls and SMS texts throughout the workday.

This type of situation would lead to relationships being built between individual team members and the customers they have contacted. It’s no different than what your employees would experience when completing phone calls because VoIP texting works fundamentally the same as voice calls.

All VoIP texting that’s handled inside your Advanced or Enterprise Plan takes the same route as your voice calls and video calls. Texting on these plans is unlimited, so your team can reach out and respond to as many contacts as they have.

Keeping Your Team Connected With Texts

The unlimited sending of individual SMS messages extends to internal communications between your team members. VoIP texting isn’t limited to chats between you and your leads; it’s also a helpful way of allowing remote teams to stay in touch. Consider what use of the VirtualPBX Softphone for mobile devices would look like for your distributed workforce.

Working From Home, Connected Through Mobile Softphones

VirtualPBX Softphone SMS ExampleOur Softphone App operates on a number of platforms in the mobile world, too. We have downloads in the Google Play Store for Android and in the App Store for iOS devices. All your employees with personal or company smartphones can download their appropriate apps for free and log in with their existing VirtualPBX credentials.

This ease of distribution and use can have your entire staff connected to each other within minutes. With SMS messages, your employees and management can freely connect with one another throughout the day:

  • Complete daily check-ins to team leads
  • Announce wins of new clients
  • Reach co-workers for help with a task
  • Send quick status updates like “Heads down in outreach” or “Lunchtime!”

VoIP texting allows you business to gain the benefit of immediate outreach within the organization. SMS messages are great for letting people keep in touch without worrying about the recipient’s current status, so you can send messages at any time and know that, when your boss or co-worker is able, they will see what you’ve sent.

In times when your conversations are active, text messages can also provide an unobtrusive way of asking for information like a contact’s phone number or getting reminders about an upcoming meeting. VoIP texting has all the benefits we know from using texts in our personal lives. Now your business’s private phone network can realize those same gains.

How Will You Use VoIP Texting?

By no means is it necessary to limit your business to only using Business SMS within or outside of your company. However, how you reach out to customers and how your team members keep in touch will be unique.

Your number of employees, customer base, existing outreach campaigns, and many other factors will all shape how you use VoIP texting each day. Want to see it in action before you commit? Start a conversation with our sales team and sign up for a Free Demo.

Building a Business SMS Airtable Template

VirtualPBX Business SMS Airtable Template HeaderOne of our primary goals at VirtualPBX is to make our phone system features extensible through other tools you might already use at your business. Our latest feature release, Business SMS, lends itself to extension through Airtable templates, so we made a proof of concept for that purpose.

Airtable lets businesses track and organize their daily tasks through an online interface that combines the function of a database with the look of a spreadsheet. It’s an event tracker you can customize through existing Airtable templates and by crafting your own functions. In our case, we built connections to Zapier and the VirtualPBX API to automate the receipt of new text messages and provide an interface for sending individual replies to customers.

Our COO, Lon Baker, provided insight about our build process and the ease of which we can implement this same system at your business to simplify the way your teams handle text messages.

“This opens up a lot of potential for all our customers to leverage SMS beyond simply texting from a phone,” he began.

A Quick Look at the Finished Product

Let’s start at the end and see what an SMS setup in Airtable could look like in your organization. The screenshot here shows you a lot about what the SMS tool does.

Showing Received Messages

Airtable Template Interface of VirtualPBX Business SMS Tool

At the top of the screen, you can see four tabs titled “Messages,” “Outbox,” “Sender,” and “Phone Numbers.” These are filters for specific information you can capture within your database. In our Airtable template in the “Messages” tab, we filter for the sender and receiver, their phone numbers, and the messages received from the sender.

You can also see a button here titled “Reply” that gives the ability to send an SMS message back to the sender. This is the entry point for recognizing an inbound text. We have multiple team members with permissions to access this Airtable setup, and you can do the same with chosen members of your marketing, sales, or customer service departments.

“Adding users and permissions would be available for customers to implement in their own systems,” Baker commented about group access. “What we have build so far is just a basic prototype, but in Airtable you can review the history of tasks, so we could build extra add-ins like a Confirmation dialogue that would keep text replies ordered.”

Filtering Message Types and System Users

The other tabs visible in this Airtable template are self-explanatory in their purpose.

  • “Outbox” filters all the messages sent through Airtable to an individual’s phone
  • “Sender” gives the ability for any user to send a direct message – not a reply – from Airtable by clicking a “Send SMS” button we built
  • “Phone Numbers” tab shows all the messages that have been exchanged between two people

This is a proof of concept but is applicable to production scenarios and configurable to what customers need. You might wish to limit your tabs and message views to these tabs, or you might want to add additional tabs to gain even more fine-grained detail.

Baker noted that “a method of tracking messages through threads could be possible, and there could be additional checks in the system that validate or filter messages.”

“I would expect businesses to push this tool further by adding, for example, sending SMS notifications to team members through Airtable,” he continued. In this way, an Airtable template that manages SMS could be good both for handling customer interactions and for keeping team members informed through internal communication.

Buttons, and Leveraging the VirtualPBX API

The buttons shown and mentioned above are custom. Lon and the VirtualPBX team built them to perform specific functions inside of Airtable and to send data to the VirtualPBX API.

“This is pure JavaScript,” Baker said. “That is it. It’s very simple to use. Airtable has good documentation and a decent community.”


let replyData = {
  'data': {
  'from': fromValue[0],
  'to': phoneNumber,
  'body': reply
  }
}

Airtable lets you create Apps within your account. You build them with custom scripts that are allowed access to the internal workings of your account and allowed to interface with third-party services. For example, we can build an SMS message with a few pieces of information.

Airtable Message Response Interface of VirtualPBX Business SMS ToolHere, the from, to, and body are populated with strings we will send to VirtualPBX through the phone system’s API. We can customize the look of the reply screen to include or exclude information you need. Our prototype, however, does show the basic information of the SMS being created and gives users a place to insert the body of their message.

When it comes time to send a message, Airtable must speak to the VirtualPBX API and tell the API what information it wants to send. Shown below is the few lines of code it takes to complete that process:


await fetch('https://api.virtualpbx.net/v2/api_auth', requestOptions)
  .then(response => response.text())
  .then(result => JSON.parse(result))
  .then(result => requestOptions.headers.append('X-Auth-Token', result.auth_token))
  .catch(error => console.log('error', error));

requestOptions.body = JSON.stringify(replyData)

await fetch('https://api.virtualpbx.net/v2/accounts/{account-id}/sms', requestOptions)
  .then(response => response.text())
  .catch(error => console.log('error', error));

All that’s done here is reaching out to the VirtualPBX API endpoint for SMS, passing it the appropriate login information (the requestOptions variable), modifying the text message data into a JSON string, and sending that string through the VirtualPBX SMS endpoint, which delivers the message.

VirtualPBX API EndpointsCapturing Messages with Zapier and VirtualPBX Webhooks

Still working backward here, you might be asking yourself: How do I receive text messages in the first place?

This job is completed through a Zapier workflow and with Webhooks – a feature available to all VirtualPBX customers. We recently wrote a blog post about how you can use Webhooks to automate your marketing. That post does a great job of introducing you to the concept of hooks and how they move data from one service to another.

As a quick recap, when you use Webhooks, you create a trigger that waits for an action to take place in your VirtualPBX Plan. An SMS hook waits for an inbound text message; then the hook posts information about the message (sender, message body, timestamp, etc.) to a URL you can reference with another service.

Zapier can provide you with a URL to which you attach the hook you create in VirtualPBX. We do that exact task in our own Zapier account to send messages to the Airtable template discussed in this article.

Using an Airtable Template for SMS

At this point, VirtualPBX is offering to help customers build their own SMS integrations with Zapier, Webhooks, Airtable, and the VirtualPBX API. While this may seem like a lot of setup, in reality it should only take a few hours for our team to get you started. Baker confirms:

“We could assist a customer with this in a matter of an hour or two,” he commented about the project. “Once the customer requests assistance, we can update variables for their credentials to make it work.”

Further changes to the interface, like we have pointed out, are possible and could be adjusted per request from the customer. We are happy to discuss your situation and customize the Airtable functions to your liking.

We’re also excited to bring this Airtable template into the Airtable Universe, which would allow the template to be accessible to the public. Your business, and any user of Airtable, could then modify the code on their own without the assistance of VirtualPBX staff.

“We will likely improve this and publish it as a Template in the AirTable Universe in December/January for customers to copy into their account,” Baker concluded.

In any way this setup is accessed and modified, we’re happy to see this integration work well and improve the function of our customers’ businesses.