Posted on May 2, 2019 by Casey Houser
If your business has expanded across national borders, you’ll want to begin using phone numbers local to those countries. In tandem, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the international number formats each new number will copy.
Not every country uses the same type of spacing and digit count found in the U.S. (XXX-XXX-XXXX). Your knowledge of phone number formats outside the States can help your professionalism as a business owner, and it can help your business’s expansion move smoothly with a VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans in the future.
Here’s a starter list you can use to begin your education.
The U.K. presents a challenge: Depending on the location they address, its phone number area codes can have lengths of 4 (the most common), 3, 2, and 5 (the least common).
The 4-digit codes precede a subscriber number (the equivalent to the final XXX-XXXX in U.S. numbers) length of 5 or 6. The 3-digit codes precede number lengths of 7. The 2-digit codes precede numbers of length 8. And 5-digit codes precede numbers with lengths of either 4 or 5.
London phone number format, therefore, is (020)XXXX-XXXX. The leading 0 here is the national trunk code, so it doesn’t count toward the aforementioned digit tallies.
Less well-known Brampton presents a number of (0169 77)XXXX.
VirtualPBX can use any of those international phone numbers, whether you’ve moved office to the capital or rural town.
Germany’s phone number format regulations are a bit tighter.
You’ll still find area codes that range in length from 2 to 5 digits – not including the trunk code, of course. Its standard subscriber number length, however, is now set to 11 digits, including the area code.
Prior to 2010, Germany used to allow phone numbers at variable lengths. You might have found phone numbers as short as two digits.
Today, though, you can expect to get a local number that’s 11 digits, or 10 if it’s local to a major metropolitan area like Berlin.
India uses what are known as Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD) codes for its phone number format. Similar to area codes, they precede a subscriber’s phone number and can range from 2 to 8 digits.
Shorter STD codes apply to larger cities. New Delhi uses 11 as its STD. Jaipur uses 141.
Phone numbers always combine with the STD to reach a total of 10 digits. Therefore, a New Delhi number would look like 11-XXXXXXXX, and a Jaipur number would look like 141-XXXXXXX.
Phone Number Format Primer
While we can’t cover all the phone number formats in this article, this is a good place to get started.
Know, at least, that not all countries subscribe to the same format the U.S. uses. Make yourself familiar with the types of conventions out there. Most of all, don’t expect that a standard set of digits or conventions will always apply in every situation.
VirtualPBX can make use of local numbers in any country where we offer service. In addition to our phone number coverage in the U.S., we can help you reach across the globe but remain a local presence in your countries of choice.
Good luck in your expansion efforts.
Posted on April 30, 2019 by Casey Houser
You’ve already done the hard work of expanding across the U.S. Now it’s time to think about using a vanity toll-free number with your VirtualPBX Phone Plan.
More than just a communication lifeline, a toll-free number can be a representative for your business. The use of a vanity number in this context lets your personality and intention slip into customers’ memories – all with a few letters/digits.
Let’s discuss, for a few minutes, the influence you can gain by adopting a number that speaks for you.
Grab Customers’ Attention
Which one stands out more? The regular toll-free number, or the vanity toll-free number?
Unless you have a penchant for digits, the option above that spells out “cycling” is much more attention-grabbing than its counterpart.
The digits in the first option above spell out “cycling” – you just can’t see it at first glance.
If you owned a bicycle or motorcycle shop, you could use 1-800-CYCLING in print and digital ads to immediately grab customers’ attention. Customers could then more easily remember your phone number since the word “cycling” is familiar, whereas 292-5464 is not.
Solidify Brand Identity
You can take this one step further by giving your phone number a feeling.
If you were a vacation company, 1-800-CHILLIN could evoke an emotional response in customers before they even call.
Using the word “chillin” is memorable. Its use as slang (the abbreviation of “chilling” or “chilling out”) also gives the number a casual air about it.
Customers would see 1-800-CHILLIN as a representation of the vacation company’s brand style: Casual and playful, and responsible enough to create a phone number easy to remember, which adds professionalism to the image.
Be on the Lookout
Not every vanity toll-free number will be available for you to use. In fact, 1-800-CYCLING and 1-800-CHILLIN are already taken.
You can improve your chances of getting a relevant number by using different prefixes (like 866 instead of 800) and being creative with your slogan.
A few minutes of brainstorming should be enough to get started.
Find Your Own Vanity Toll-Free Number
Check our partner TollFreeNumbers.com to see what’s available. You can use any of the numbers available there with any VirtualPBX Phone Plan.
Remember that your number doesn’t need to match your business name exactly. Once you have a few options, type them into TollFreeNumbers to get a list of numbers and suggestions for alternatives.
Before you know it, you’ll be impressing customers with your creativity and hopefully seeing a boost in call traffic for your efforts.
Posted on April 22, 2019 by Casey Houser
When it comes to the process of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, every effort counts. You can leave your mark this Earth Day by making electronics recycling a part of your work day.
Many business throw out their old phones. This increases landfill waste and can put hazardous materials into our environment.
This isn’t necessary. Your business can do its part this year by e-cycling the hardware it no longer needs.
You can visit the Environmental Protection Agency and the E-Cycling Central for recycling resources and to find out where to recycle your used hardware. Keep reading this blog for a brief look at our take on the matter.
Why Recycle Your Electronics
Two primary effects happen when you recycle rather than throw away goods and materials: You can reuse parts of the recycled material, and you can limit the creation of new materials that would replace those parts.
The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle slogan places “recycle” at the end of the list. However, recycling can lead to both re-use of materials and reduction of processes like mining.
After you take your old phones to an electronics recycler (see the E-Cycling Central link above), your local recycling center can make sure the components of your hardware are taken apart.
The EPA notes in its recycling information page: “For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.”
The individual desk phone or smartphone you recycle will contribute to that total. Those materials can be reused in the creation of new products.
Moreover, the EPA says, you can visit local retailers like Best Buy and Staples or contact brands such as HP, Spring, LG, Vizio, Samsung, Sony, Xerox, and TCL to recycle your phones. These businesses may partner with e-cycle shops or could find avenues to reuse the devices directly.
Broken devices can make their way to a recycling center, while used or unwanted (but operational) devices could be picked up by other individuals and businesses happy to use older hardware. You can even contact local thrift stores like Goodwill to connect buyers with used hardware.
At VirtualPBX, we do our part by promoting the use of refurbished hardware. For businesses on a tight budget, a pickup of discounted used phones supports their needs as an office while both supporting our virtual phone system business and reducing the demand for new, equally effective hardware.
When hardware is reused, it reduces the need to create new goods and develop new materials.
Your electronics recycling efforts, for example, can impact the mining industry by limiting consumption of products that require specific materials.
The EPA’s statistics regarding savings of copper, silver, gold, and palladium mean that those pounds of materials don’t need to be mined. This impacts manpower, machinery fuel, and time lost when old materials are simply buried – requiring that additional resources be used to dig for more.
Get Involved in Electronics Recycling
The ideas we’ve covered in this article simply recycle what environmentalists have been saying for years.
It’s easy to get involved. Every efforts helps.
Electronics recycling is as simple as finding a local recycling center, electronics business, or used goods store and delivering your unwanted devices. You can find further tips and recycling locations for your state in our Hardware Recycling Guide.
Take one hour out of your work day this Earth Day. Recycle those phones and routers that sit in your storage room. It will feel good, and you’ll make a positive impact on the environment.
Posted on April 9, 2019 by Casey Houser
It’s no secret that communications providers compete on price. You’d be mistaken, however, if you thought that the cheapest VoIP phone service always equaled the best phone service.
As with most products and services, there is a sweet spot where price and features intersect to form a union. It’s where customers can expect to pay a little more than the bare minimum and, in return, they receive a quality unmatched in the cheaper competition. We try to keep the VirtualPBX Business Phone System in that sweet spot.
It’s worth considering what the cheapest VoIP phone service might award your businesses, and what the best phone service will award you. You will thank yourself, and your customers will thank you, when you don’t just grab the lowest priced item from the shelf.
What Your Dollars Pay For
The cost of your VoIP phone service doesn’t just go toward connecting one phone to another. It’s distributed among a variety of people and places and electronic equipment to keep the entire communications apparatus up and running.
When less money is funneled to those constructs, quality can dip both in your call streams and customer service.
VoIP providers come in many sizes. VirtualPBX can be considered a midsize business with a large reach. Its approximately 50 employees help provide service to businesses across the U.S. and into Europe and Asia.
Many VirtualPBX employees work in the States. Its distributed workforce takes care of Sales, Services, Marketing, Product Development, and Management departmental duties – often with individuals crossing from one plane to another.
There is a balance here between the amount of work required of our individual employees and the prices of our services that help pay our salaries. A drop in cost of our products could mean that fewer people are staffed to provide an equal expected amount of work.
Price can only drop so low before it begins to negatively affect product quality. The cheapest VoIP phone service on the market may border or cross that line of negative effect. It can strain product development; troubleshooting of customer issues; and overall quality of service.
Development could be outsourced to the lowest bidder, who churns out a functional but basic product. Customer service could show huge jumps in hold times without the option for a callback. Overworked sales reps could misinterpret your needs as a business.
Is that something you want to see in the employees who handle your phone system?
Places and Equipment
The central offices of VirtualPBX and all other VoIP providers represent only a small portion of the overall communications network.
In brief, your calls in a VoIP network reach a number of physical centers, including a VoIP provider’s servers, gateways that transfer calls between packet-switched and circuit-switched networks, and offices like tandem and central offices that route calls to their destinations.
This mix of wire and computation stretches between VoIP providers and traditional communications providers – like AT&T and CenturyLink.
VirtualPBX and others have agreements with other telecoms so your calls can be routed through their networks. Your monthly payment for service to a VoIP provider, therefore, goes toward the continuation of those relationships and the upkeep of any of the associated properties mentioned above.
With the cheapest VoIP phone service, those relationships between carriers may fluctuate or be less robust. The equipment that handles call transmission might also go without necessary maintenance.
Your calls could then experience unacceptable downtime or low quality. Is that something you want within your communications infrastructure?
To Choose the Cheapest VoIP Phone Service?
If you’re considering subscribing to a new phone plan, keep these ideas in mind. If you decide to spend a little more for your service, you can expect to receive a lot more.
Our dedicated customers are what fuel the powerful set of features included with every VirtualPBX Phone Plan. We first focus on providing exemplary service; then we offer competitive prices.
For us, it’s not a race to the bottom.
Posted on February 20, 2019 by Casey Houser
While your desktop fax machine may prove a valuable asset to your business, there are a number of compelling reasons why you should send faxes through email.
This isn’t a pitch for the Email-to-Fax Feature that comes with our Business Phone Plans. Set that notion aside for now; just focus on the following aspects of using email as your faxing hub.
The process of sending faxes through email can help you maintain focus through the workday. It can fit within your existing workflow and give you the opportunity to easily track your digital documents.
Want to learn more? Keep reading.
Maintain Your Focus
Even if you run a small office, it’s unlikely that the fax machine sits on your desk. It probably makes its home in the hallway or a small printing room. Maybe it even knows the water cooler by name.
In any case, when you want to send a fax, you have to stand from your desk and walk to the machine. There’s no way around it. You lose time and focus by being forced to exit your workspace to complete the tasks of filling out a cover sheet and feeding papers into the machine.
When you send faxes through email, you can complete those tasks digitally while remaining at your desk.
Think about how email already fits into your workflow. You probably know which browser tab your email is located in, or in which toolbar of your desktop. With muscle memory, you can find a contact and send them an email in only a few minutes.
Email-to-fax services are no different. They work behind the scenes so all you need to do is attach a document and specify a phone number. You don’t need to break your usual stride, and you certainly don’t need to walk away from your desk, because you already know email so well.
Build Fax Documents Into Your Current Workflow
While you’re certainly comfortable sending emails, you’re probably concerned about the usability of fax cover sheets and other fax-specific issues like signatures. Don’t those require pen and paper?
Fax Cover Sheets
There’s an easy way to build digital fax cover sheets into the digital faxing process.
Whenever you want to send faxes through email, start with a document draft that contains your cover sheet. We offer one for download or for use within Google Docs.
You can edit this template to contain your business name, fax number, and other information you want to include with every fax. Your only responsibility then is to personalize the file when you want to send a fax to a client.
Starting with a cover sheet template is essential because that part of the final faxed document marks the subsequent pages as your own. With your business name, number, etc. already in place, you save yourself a few precious minutes every time you need to email your fax papers.
When you fax important documents like receipts and invoices, they may require signatures. How do you handle those in a digital environment?
You can approach signed digital faxing in a few ways. Remember here that the final step of sending faxes through email is that you attach a PDF doc or TIFF image to your email.
Before you attach the to-be-faxed document to your email, you can sign it with a proprietary service like DocuSign.
You can also sign documents on your laptop’s trackpad with the Preview program on Mac or through various other programs on Windows, iOS, Android, and browser plugins that let you sign by trackpad, stylus, and mouse.
With the appropriate software, you can easily sign any PDF you want to fax.
Save Money and Paper
Consider also that many of your workplace activities are already dedicated to saving money and resources.
Your digital life may include services like online chat software, collaborative document editors, and internet-connected phone systems. These workplace mainstays help save your office money by consolidating your bills and allowing individuals to complete tasks from any location.
They let employees do more work, more quickly, from any location.
Digital faxing is no different in that it immediately saves your company money and resources. You will have one less physical machine to maintain. You’ll use less paper. You can tie an email-to-fax program into your phone service.
From a maintainability and cost-savings standpoint, digital faxing makes sense.
Simple, Effective Tracking
Digital faxing also provides you with the opportunity to better track your sent and received documents. You can do this by using a central location for all your faxed digital papers.
On your desktop, create a folder labeled Faxes. Then, inside that folder, create three subfolders: Sent, Received, and Drafts.
- Drafts: We’ve already discussed what type of documents you’ll store in the Drafts folder. That will be your location for templates that include your fax cover sheet. Your first step when you send faxes through email will be either your Drafts folder or your Google Docs account (or similar online word processor). From there, you can copy the template and work on that draft before sending.
- Sent: When you open your email software and send the fax you just finalized, you can move that PDF draft to the Sent folder. Organize it by title or by further subfolders – whichever works best for you.
- Received: The faxes you receive through an Email-to-Fax service will land in your email’s inbox as attached PDFs. Upon receipt, you can save those attachments to your Received folder.
If you keep up with this process, you won’t ever have to ask yourself, “Did I send that fax?” again.
Send Faxes Through Email
Ditch the desktop fax machine, at least for a little while.
When you begin using a digital faxing system, you can stay focused on important tasks. You can make sure faxing fits within your daily workflow. And you can track all your faxed documents both sent and received.
The only potential loss here is the BREEEP BROPPPPP SQUEEEEEEEEK sound your ancient fax machine makes. Don’t worry, the link above has you covered for any time you need the soothing, scratching sound of a traditional fax.