Posted on April 17, 2019 by Casey Houser
Let’s talk about a marketing tool that may not already be part of your organization: phone number prepends.
Any prepend is something that goes before something else. In the case of phone numbers, a prepend could refer to any text or numbers you insert before the digits or text associated with a caller ID.
The VirtualPBX Business Phone System allows for prepending as a standard feature. Our marketing team uses this tool to help segment our own calling data, and you can begin to use it too once this brief tutorial is finished.
What is a Prepend?
We can expand on the definition of a phone number prepend.
You have seen a caller’s ID before. It might look like a phone number (+1 234-555-6789), a name (John Smith), or both tied together.
This is excellent information for marketers that know how to use it. However, it can lack the detail necessary to tell you why the customer has called you.
Simply put: There’s no identifying information prepended to a traditional caller ID that alerts you to the reason behind a call.
A Simple Two-Campaign Scenario
Consider that you’re running a joint marketing campaign between two properties – a digital advertisement in Google Ads and a print advertisement in a magazine.
You attach separate phone numbers to each property, so when you look at your call logs or export that data with Zapier, you can match callers to the numbers they dialed to reach you.
You might think that it wouldn’t be difficult to tell incoming calls apart. In a sea of other calls, it can become more complicated than expected.
Prepend Assists Segmentation
The use of a phone number prepend on both your marketing numbers would make life a lot easier.
Say your prepend for the print ad reads “Print Ad: ” and the one for your online ad reads “Online Ad: ”. Among all the other incoming calls in your log, you can easily sort for those terms.
An incoming caller ID of “John Smith” could read “Print Ad: John Smith”. That’s much more specific than just the contact’s name; you can make it even better by being more specific.
This basic example is a bit crude. What would happen, for instance, when later this year you ended your existing online campaign and started another? The simple prepend of “Online Ad: ” would become too vague.
You can easily make changes in the VirtualPBX Dashboard to append whatever text you like. When you’re specific, like with “Online Ad 2019-04-16: ”, you could mark when a campaign started.
It would be just as easy to append information about the goal of your campaign or the region it addresses, such as a click-through rate goal or the Midwest area of the U.S.
Phone Number Prepends in Your Own Campaigns
This use of a phone number prepend isn’t complicated. It doesn’t require a depth of knowledge in order to get started or make it unique.
Yet it adds a power to your campaigns that’s often overlooked. As businesses, it’s important to identify who tries to reach us and why they are calling. Without that basic information, you will be lost when creating new marketing efforts because you won’t know who to target.
The phone number prepend feature lets you run a campaign and analyze it with fine-toothed comb. All you have to do is enter a short phrase.
Five seconds spent annotating your phone number settings could save you hours of frustration when sorting through logs. And it can improve all your future marketing campaigns because you’ll be better able to see effectiveness of your efforts.
Check out our prepend feature in a Free Trial of our phone system and let it work for you.
Posted on April 11, 2019 by Casey Houser
Many call centers use software-based phones to have agents accept inbound calls. For new centers, the pairing of software and a free online number can help them begin operations quickly.
Taking advantage of a free phone number and the Web Phone available from VirtualPBX also makes it affordable to begin taking calls.
Today’s blog will look at the possibility of quick call center setup and cost savings through the VirtualPBX browser-based phone and the included phone number that comes with all our phone plans.
Quick Call Center Setup
The primary function of any call center is to complete calls. This function, of course, requires that the center have a phone number where customers can reach them.
Each VirtualPBX Business Phone Plan comes with at least one free phone number. For call centers, this lifeline can give their customers access to all agents on a VirtualPBX plan.
How VoIP Numbers Work
A call center of five representatives could begin accepting calls as easily as one with 100.
Phone numbers on a VoIP plan don’t run into the limitation of one caller per number. A single online phone number can be paired with as many users as necessary. The only limitation is the number of users on the VoIP account.
We allow an unlimited number of users to be added to an account. The process of adding users is simple, and with a phone number already in place, the only remaining task is to give those users access to a phone.
Cost Savings and Quick Startup
The initial cost of setting up any business phone system lies predominately in hardware.
Basic IP phones can set you back $80 each or more. Across dozens of employees, the out-of-pocket cost can stretch into the thousands.
This isn’t to say that hardware phones aren’t worth their costs. Many models like those in the VirtualPBX Store – even basic ones – provide users with storage for phone directories, support for conferencing, and call history access. These and other features can work well in many situations, and for businesses with a lot of cash on hand, the financial impact may not be a burden.
For new call centers, however, the ability to make calls quickly is paramount. Software-based phones pair well with a free online phone number to get businesses up and running in minutes. Call center agents simply need a device that can run the software.
Web Browser Compatibility
The VirtualPBX Web Phone has the advantage of running natively within the web browser. It can work in any WebRTC-compatible browser (Firefox, Chrome, Opera) on devices that support those browsers.
This gives the Web Phone an advantage over software that might work only on Windows or Mac computers. There are versions of major web browsers for most operating systems, so call centers can set up workstations for their agents and deploy the Web Phone in only a few minutes.
In some cases, this may entail the setup of computers; for others, this may mean using mobile devices. No matter the device, the Web Phone can access all the features of its underlying VoIP system.
Full-Featured Software Phone
The VirtualPBX Web Phone can access all the features available in our VoIP phone system. It acts like any desktop phone and can be added to any user.
What this means for call centers is that, with the Web Phone, users can accept incoming calls, park calls, and transfer calls as necessary. They have full control over the calls on their lines.
Likewise, system administrators can add a user’s Web Phone to a Ring Group or ACD Queue, so calls can be routed to the proper groups and individuals. Admins can monitors live calls through the ACD Queues dashboard and distribute calls by categories like round robin, to spread calls randomly, but evenly across a field of representatives.
Don’t Miss Your Free Online Number
The pair of Web Phone and free online number are a great combination to get businesses running quickly and without aggressive up-front costs.
Call centers and other burgeoning business stand to benefit from these features. It’s a simple way to begin making and receiving calls without the hassle of setting up hardware phones and then procuring and porting a phone number.
The entire package is ready with all VirtualPBX plans.
Posted on April 4, 2019 by Casey Houser
There are few cases when a business can’t capitalize on a giveaway. When one receives a free mobile number with its new phone plan, it can use that gift to make sure its operations remain flexible.
Whether a business is in the early, maintenance, or expansion stages of its development, phone numbers play a pivotal role in its being. Today, this blog will take a look at how free phone numbers can help startups bootstrap and give established entities room to plan and grow.
Startups aren’t always as flush with cash as headlines might make them look. Your Series A round of funding probably isn’t the whopping $5 million you read in the tech news this week, so you’ll need to be more thrifty when it comes to early growth.
Anything of a high-quality nature that’s also free can help your startup make the most of its situation. When you sign up for a VirtualPBX Phone Plan, you get at least two free phone numbers, either local or toll-free. This is a feature of every plan.
While you’re focusing on huge tasks like obtaining financing, opening a storefront, product manufacturing, hiring employees, and other early-stage business tasks, marketing can get lost in the fray. You already have a lot to focus on; you already see a lot of places where you’ll need to spend money.
Taking advantage of a free mobile number can assist your burgeoning marketing efforts by letting you, first, get a number for your business. Then it helps you complete work, for instance, through the VirtualPBX Softphone app so your personal number isn’t tied to your business and your phone plan features remain accessible at all times.
At least, the free number gives you one less thing to worry about.
Eventually, your business will find success and enter a time of maintenance. You’ll have hired your team and have a steady stream of customers returning for your goods.
Perhaps you accomplished all of that without the services of VirtualPBX. How can free numbers help you now? Switching to one of our phone plans at this stage could help you plan for the future.
You already know how to grow. You’re just not ready for a second round. Gaining a new free mobile number or phone number for your office at this point will let you spin up your extended marketing with enthusiasm.
You can port your existing numbers to your new phone system and continue using them as you please. The free phone numbers included with the plan can lie in wait until you’re ready to expand.
When you reach the tipping point, you can rely on the VirtualPBX system to keep detailed call logs for all your communications through all your phone numbers. You can see specific information like inbound and outbound call duration and caller ID to help track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
As just one method of differentiating your multiple phone numbers, you can prepend caller ID fields in your logs with specific messages related to the campaign a number tied to. A phone number used in Houston could prepend the tag “HOU-TX”, or any other appropriate message, so you can easily sort your logs and search for specific campaigns.
Startups may outgrow their bootstrap stage but continue to expand; established companies may wish to grow after a period of stagnation. Whichever the situation, there’s a point in successful businesses’ lives when they will expand beyond their virtual and physical borders.
A free mobile number at this stage could let your business take advantage of something like VirtualPBX Mobile, which uses a nationwide cellular network (including voice, data, and texting) in conjunction with our VoIP platform. By having a mobile service tied to the rest of your business phone plan, you can consolidate all your communications costs into a single invoice and manage all your business devices from a single dashboard.
Consider, for instance, that part of your growth is to hire a group of contractors that are spread across the country. They work in their local areas with customers, who need to get ahold of them directly. You could separate your physical location, in one state, from your contractors, in several.
The numbers used in this way would allow for a logical separation of entities that are part of your operation. Yet your entire collection of numbers would be accessible through the same online dashboard.
Get Your Free Mobile Number
Think about the current state of your business. Regardless of your holding pattern or growth status, you may have room for a set of free numbers.
They can help you hold steady and prepare for the future. They can assist with your growth as a startup or enterprise.
We hope you’ll look at VirtualPBX if your phone system could use an update.
Posted on March 20, 2019 by Casey Houser
At VirtualPBX, we develop a Business Phone System that works across a range of devices. We want you to easily have the ability to make phone calls online.
Our flagship Web Phone lets you make phone calls online through your browser – including Firefox, Chrome, and Opera on desktop and mobile devices. It’s a great option we’re proud to have in our lineup.
What makes our Web Phone especially powerful is its ease-of-use in multiple business cases. The following use cases will show how the Web Phone can:
- Help a remote employee stay connected
- Assist an entrepreneur in the early stages of startup development
- And let an enterprise easily switch to a new cloud-based phone setup.
Remote Employees Can Stay Connected
The situation: Jessica works for a medium-size accounting firm as a remote employee. She works from her home office and uses her laptop for all her business tasks. She doesn’t take many phone calls with clients, but she does collaborate with her team in daily meetings. She must remain connected to her team. However, she prefers to keep her work-life balance clear, so making phone calls online from her laptop web browser is preferrable to her personal mobile phone.
Many businesses take advantage of web-based tools to link their workforces. The accounting firm explained here could easily use Google Docs and Slack like millions of others. In part, these and other tools have become staples of business development because they can help individuals and whole businesses find productivity in the workday.
Like the use of Docs or Slack, part of what makes the VirtualPBX platform so attractive is its simplicity of setup. It uses the internet and cloud computing to give businesses a setup time of minutes – not days or weeks. Remote employees can take advantage of this reality.
Jessica’s need for a company phone would be halted if her employer only had access to physical devices. IP phones make sense in a lot of cases, but they’re inadequate for many remote employees. Likewise, a softphone app on Jessica’s smartphone could keep her connected; yet it would eat into her definition of work-life balance that keeps her motivated and fresh during the workday.
The VirtualPBX Web Phone meets in the middle. It runs well on desktop and mobile browsers, which gives Jessica a choice in devices. She can access in through a single bookmark and receive notifications when calls arrive.
Moreover, its deployment time is quick, so it makes sense for the accounting firm with Jessica’s onboarding and continued employment. She can be running with the Web Phone in minutes and gain access to her personal contacts list, call history, and daily conference calls without any headache on the part of her employer.
Assist the Early Stages of Entrepreneurship
The situation: As an entrepreneur, Mark has faced an uphill battle in establishing his apparel business. He mans a small storefront, alongside a co-owner, that’s open during the weekday. He also works overtime on nights and weekends by calling suppliers and making sure the back-end operations are in order. He has no excess cash to spend on hardware. His laptop and smartphone act as his lifelines to suppliers and customers.
Mark’s position here is nothing unique. Like other startups, his cash and supplies are limited. Any extra expenses could crush the development of his business.
One of the most attractive features of the VirtualPBX Web Phone is that it’s free. All phone plans come with an unlimited set of Web Phone connections.
Business can create a new virtual device for any employee. In Mark’s case, he only needs to set up a virtual phone for himself. This only takes a minute, and then he can return to making phone calls online from his browser of choice. Perhaps his smartphone at the storefront and his laptop when at home.
Breathe New Life Into an Enterprise
The situation: A large, multi-state bank uses an outdated physical private branch exchange (PBX) for its phone system. Its branches have different phone numbers and aren’t connected to one another. The bank’s C-suite has decided to adopt a voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone system to become more flexible and help sales associates better connect with customers. Out of its 100 employees, only 25 will regularly need access to office phones; the other 75 will see occasional use of the phone system.
This bank faces a mix of deployment concerns. It knows that only a handful of its employees will need to regularly use the phone system. However, it’s aware that almost everyone will need to use the phones periodically.
Intent on keeping costs low, the bank can pair desk phones and the Web Phone where appropriate. It can, for instance, supply managers and dedicated sales persons with desk phones, in their personal offices and workspaces. Even an entry-level phone like the Yealink T21P offers features like local 3-way conferencing, call holding, use of a headset, and speakerphone.
The Web Phone can then make an appearance where lighter use is expected. A common office for tellers could host a laptop with the Web Phone on an always-open browser. Individuals in marketing or IT could host a Web Phone on their mobile phones to make phone calls online from any location inside or outside a bank branch.
Making Phone Calls Online Offers Flexibility
What all these situations have in common is their need for a flexible phone system. The VirtualPBX Web Phone shines brightly in that respect because it can work on any device a business brings to the table.
VoIP phone systems are incredible in their ability to offer a range of phones for every business use case. No employee needs to go without access to a phone. The reality of making phone calls online through a browser isn’t just a gimmick or toy, it’s a full-featured virtual portal for keeping in touch with business contacts and customers.
Posted on March 13, 2019 by Casey Houser
The range of options for making workplace phone calls is large: desk phone, conference phone, smartphone, Android/iOS app. These are all good choices, but they might slump in comparison to web phone calls.
A browser-based phone like the VirtualPBX Web Phone makes it possible for you to call from any device that run a modern browser. Whether you use Firefox, Chrome, or Opera on desktop or mobile, it can handle both inbound and outbound calls with the same capability as any other phone you’re used to.
This type of phone scales well. It’s easy to set up. And it reduces your workforce’s dependence on operating system-specific hardware and software. Let’s dig in.
Scaling Your Business
Whether you’re a startup with one employee or a large business with hundreds, it can be difficult to scale your work processes.
Your individual needs as a company may demand more employees for sales, support task, development services, and delivery of physical goods. The people in those positions don’t just need a desk in your office (or their own home office), they need access to phones that let them reach customers and coworkers.
What would happen if you relied on desk phones to accomplish the new hiring of, say, 5 people – two of which are remote?
The largest burden here is cost. Entry-level IP desk phones start between $40 and $80. Therefore, your five hires would ask between $200 and $400 for the lot. Do you have that to spend above their salary and benefits?
The immediate out-of-pocket burden increases linearly with each hire. And while some of your sales persons would need to use their phones all day, others might only need them periodically.
You need to ask yourself whether or not the expense is worth it. Not all companies will come to the same conclusion, especially if there’s a viable alternative.
A Web Phone is Free
The VirtualPBX Web Phone can be that viable alternative. It utilizes all the features of a VirtualPBX Phone System – including calls to company extensions and quick dialing from call history.
Businesses can add the Web Phone to any user for free. Within the phone system, it acts like any other phone by accessing a user’s extension and having ability to be added to Ring Groups and Voicemail Boxes.
Making a web phone call is only different in that you click/tap your screen instead of pushing physical buttons on your hardware. It routes calls through the same network as other phones, and it uses your same plan minutes just like other phones.
Scaling is easy with the Web Phone because it only takes a few clicks to add the device to a user. And it’s affordable because there’s no cost for any employee to use the browser-based phone.
Setting Up Devices
VirtualPBX tries to make its desk phones as easy as possible to install. Its phones automatically provision themselves to a phone system account.
That said, companies must wait to order and have phones shipped to their offices. The process is simple; it just takes time.
Waiting for Delivery, Unboxing
Installation of desk phones and conference phones for a dozen employees would take a few hours, once they’re delivered. The need to be opened, plugged in, and told to reach VirtualPBX servers.
The argument here isn’t that a few hours is a lifetime of agony. It’s only that a few hours lost in a busy office environment could translate to lost sales or marketing opportunities when a company is trying to grow.
What if that installation time could be reduced to a matter of minutes?
The Web Phone is Quick
Like it was noted earlier, adding the Web Phone to a user is only five clicks away.
Repeating the install process for multiple users is simple. Moreover, once the steps are complete, users can begin making calls from any browser that supports WebRTC – the set of computer code that gives rise to full-featured internet phone calls.
Reduce Dependence on Proprietary Hardware
A primary struggle in business, no matter the industry, is the reliance on software and the need to choose a software platform.
Windows or Mac?
Most companies will pick either Windows or Mac computers to run the software they need. At times, they may find cross-over in program support, but a lot of software will work only on one type of operating system.
This extends to phones, too. Android apps don’t have a lot of interplay with iOS apps.
This forces businesses to pick one platform and stick with it. This has also driven the rise of web-based apps that run in web browsers that are cross-platform.
The Rise of Web Apps
Browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera run on the major desktop environments and on mobile. They reach across platforms so web-based applications can take advantage of that universality. When you want to make a phone call from your computer, this is what makes it possible.
Your daily use of Google Docs, for instance, could be much more difficult if that service was a native desktop or mobile application. Google would have to maintain a separate program that worked on Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, and any other platform its users demanded.
Web Browsers do all the leg work of being cross-platform. Google Docs can then worry about creating a users experience that’s consistent from one user to another.
Similarly, VirtualPBX only needs to worry about creating a great user experience. We rest assured that users have access to a modern web browser, so we focus on making the best application we can.
Make A Web Phone Call Today
It’s easy to give the VirtualPBX Web Phone a try. You can make a web phone call in just a few minutes by signing up for our 14-Day Free Trial.