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 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 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 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.