General Telephony

VirtualPBX Tech Talks- Linda And the Virtual Receptionist

VirtualPBX Tech Talks virtual receptionistWe’ve been around for a long time and have collected some of the best minds from across several industries, and we think it’s high time they got their day in the spotlight. In this series of blogs we’ll be unearthing some of the technology and talent that power our hosted communications platform.

Ensuring that the thousands of new companies that switch to VirtualPBX every year have a smooth and seamless transition is a responsibility that we take quite seriously. For the vast majority of them, setting-up their new Dash VoIP plan is simple and they can be up and running in about five minutes. We also have a category of customer that includes far more complex organizational needs and, for them, we offer a high-touch onboarding and system management service aptly named our VirtualPBX Concierge Service. Linda Freitas is one of our most experienced and capable Onboarding Specialists who has seen just about every possible configuration of business phone system imaginable. Also, never one to take the fact that we’re a global company too lightly, Linda is one of the most worldly and well-traveled people you’ll ever meet. In fact, last year she visited a total of 6 new countries but we happened to catch her while she was here in California to sit down for this installment of VirtualPBX Tech Talks.

So Linda, what is the first thing that most companies encounter or ask about when they start setting-up their Dash account?
That really depends on if the company is a new enterprise or if they’re coming to VirtualPBX from a different business phone service. For folks with an existing phone plan and their own telephone numbers, we can port
in their numbers so they never have to worry about losing their current number. For other companies that don’t yet have a telephone number, they just have to pick one from our number bank. This is actually fun for a lot of people because all of the Dash Plans come with at least one number included and we have literally hundreds of thousands of numbers, from local numbers to international numbers to toll-free numbers, to choose from. The sheer amount of options can get a bit overwhelming for some folks so I always remind them that they can add new numbers for just a few dollars whenever they want, that generally helps them be comfortable with the decision.

Great, so once they have their number situated, what is the next thing people will typically look to accomplish?
Easily the biggest thing that people get excited about is setting up the incoming call strategies for their phone system. Honestly, it doesn’t sound that jazzy on the surface, but once admins begin realizing the extent to which they can control everything about the path of an inbound call, it makes sense why they love the Virtual Receptionist. There are a few major templates on how to route the inbound call, and easily the most popular is direct to the Virtual Receptionist. That’s because businesses generally enjoy being able to put the power of choosing where to go right into the hands of their callers, and they can do that without having to tie-up any of their employees in the process.

Other than the few major tracks that you mentioned people can choose to direct inbound call traffic, what makes the Virtual Receptionist really all that special when it comes to customizations?
Again, there are a bunch of nuanced edits that can be made to really fine-tune the experience for any business, but for the sake of time, I can talk about two of the big ones. First is the way people can customize the audio message of the Virtual Receptionist itself. This is a big deal for basically everyone because a franchise that doesn’t own all of its locations would still want a uniform message for the company and even a smaller mom and pop shop would want to keep the message as authentic as possible as to not alienate anyone who has come to expect a certain level of personal attention from a neighborhood business. The audio can be recorded to your computer and uploaded, we can have our professional audio partner Snap Recordings record it for you, or you can even use the automatic text-to-speech feature where you just type in what you want the receptionist to say. The other big feature for most people is the programmable business hours. In just a few clicks you can arrange for the opening and closing hours, lunch hours if necessary, and even holidays for the entire year to be determined so you don’t ever have to worry about if you set up voicemail for a long weekend ever again. Plus, once you’ve set the hours, you also have the option to tailor the inbound call experience to cater to the fact that nobody is around to answer the call with additional audio messages and even unique routing options. Again, once people get to tinkering around with the Greetings Manager, they realize how much better it is than they ever expected.

Let’s go back to the audio options you mentioned just now, what is the text to speech feature all about? Is that something people can reliably trust to sound relatively human?
Absolutely! This new text to speech platform is an advanced system that sounds terrific. There are some nuances to all automatic speech programs that need to be understood, but once you’re aware of them it’s a pretty easy process to navigate.

What types of things should users be aware of when they’re getting started with text to speech?
It really boils down to pacing. You want these messages to have the same pace and cadence of a normal conversation, and the best way to ensure that is adding punctuation strategically. For example, just tossing a comma or a period in whenever you would normally be taking a breath is always a good way to make sure the message comes out in a comfortable, natural fashion. Plus, you can preview the message whenever you want simply by dialing your number and listening right there over the phone.

virtual receptionist and tapasOkay one more thing, what are your next big travel plans for 2018?
Well, to be honest, I always have a million different places to go, but so far I think I’ll be staying relatively close by with a trip to the Caribbean somewhere. I know that’s already pretty great, but I always like to get a new stamp in my passport, so if it does happen, I’d hope it’s Spain so I can get some tapas!

No matter where Linda or the other members of her team will be, you can rest assured that you’ll get the award-winning Customer Support that VirtualPBX is known for at any point in your onboarding process. Plus, because we’re one of the only companies to include our Support Team at no extra charge, you can use their expertise any time you want. And because we’re also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we really mean it when we say any time! So what are you waiting for? Get started with your new Dash Plan today, and we’ll be sure to be here if you want some help getting on-boarded. In the meantime, let us know where you’d go visit if you could pick anywhere in the world by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and for the record, I’d go see the Northern Lights in Iceland before the season is voer!

Temporary Business Phone Service From the Cloud

Temporary Business PhoneWe’re a global company with workers who collaborate from literally all over the world. We like it that way and that’s just one of the reasons that we pour so much of ourselves into developing the best and most reliable cloud phone systems. Plus, when you have workers who play a pivotal role on a variety of teams who hail from different corners of the earth, you have to ensure that the barriers to entry for using such a phone system are few, and really quite low. We’ve accomplished that with our award-winning Dash Plans, and our global community can continue collaborating and working together with ease. However, today’s blog is about something far more local than that. In spite of our global footprint, we have a few office locations like our HQ here in San Jose, California, where a concentration of our team lives. And not unlike many of the areas in Silicon Valley that are experiencing increases in growth and development, our business community here is growing like a weed. Our building, in particular, has seen a spike of activity as it undergoes a complete renovation. During this construction, we’ve had occasion to meet many new arriving and transitional companies to our address, many of which have been in need of temporary phone service during or immediately following their move. If you can’t see where this is going yet, let me clue you in on the fact that we happen to know some folks who specialized in permanent or temporary business phone service, all powered by the cutting edge in cloud technologies.

Temporary Business Phone Service in the Blink of an Eye

Probably the biggest driver in what motivates some companies to seek out a temporary business phone system isn’t lack of technology or in-house resources. Rather than needing the right people in place to assemble and configure a cloud phone system, these companies need to have more time to do that. Unsurprisingly, time is the most valuable resource for most organizations, and because we built Dash to be up and running in only minutes from the time a business signs up, the gap between when a company moves and when their phones are ringing in their new office is virtually nonexistent. Plus, because Dash has more features than are typically associated with a traditional business phone system like Follow Me Calling that will ring a series of numbers that help to track down employees no matter if you’re unpacking into your new space or picking up pizza for the movers. A side note should be that, regardless of the composition of a moving team, pizza is never a bad idea. Additionally, no matter how long it takes to get settled into a new office, your customers should never have to wait to get in touch.

Keep Temporary Circumstances from Becoming Permanent Problems

A periodic inconvenience of relocating or displacing due to renovations can be a hassle, for sure. But without proper telephone service continuation, that temporary inconvenience can balloon into a long-term loss of income. Establishing simple, effective, affordable, and most importantly fast continuations of all of your communications with a cloud-based temporary business phone system from VirtualPBX will ensure that everything will go smoothly as you endure a move. Even if your coworker forgets to bubble wrap the office coffee mugs. Dang it, Johnson…

No matter when you tackle the task of schlepping everything into your new digs and begin to settle in and make the new space your own, we’ll be there for you. Our dedicated 24/7 Support Team is widely recognized in the industry as one of the best, and they’re included with every Dash Plan, too. You never know, you may find out that saving money on your temporary business phone system and getting a whole bunch more out of it in the process is actually a good long-term play for your company, too. And with reliability and operational up-time that leads the industry, too, you really can’t go wrong with a new Dash Plan. Give us a call today to see how we can get you set-up with a temporary business phone service or with a permanent solution today, because we know how much it helps to have a hand during a move.

Li-Fi – Possibilities of an Emerging Technology for Telecommunication Apps

For our Partner Blog Series we like to highlight the relationships we have with our peers and business partners from across all areas of the telecommunications industry. We know that when it comes to relationships, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why we want to share with you the wisdom, experience, and perspective of the companies we work with.

For this edition of the Partner Blog Series, we’ve called on Fueled, the groundbreaking app developers with offices in New York City, Chicago, and London. Today, we hear from Micheal Kordvani, a lifelong technology lover and Computer Sciences graduate of Queens College, as he examines the impact of an emerging technology on the future of telecommunications apps.

li-fiThe web is packed with humorous memes about poor connectivity. People don’t like wasting time and money on cut-off video connections and half-finished conversations. Telecommunication companies deliberately work on making the internet safer and faster or on new technologies that could solve the frustrating problem of speed, safety, and cost during data transfers. Unfortunately,  App developers tirelessly create new telecommunication apps. While one solves team communication and it’s painfully slow, another one is super-effective for fast connectivity, but costs way more than is acceptable.

It’s not easy to meet all criteria at once. The intriguing Li-Fi (short of Light Fidelity) is opening new doors. It’s still young, but a number of supporters are working to make it a viable solution for solving some of the current data transfer problems.

In a way similar to Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is a wireless data transfer option. However, as it uses VLC (visible light communication), Ultraviolet and Infrared waves instead of radio frequencies, it provides a variety of ways to deal with the notoriously insecure Wi-Fi connections. If you’ve by now thought that Li-Fi creates new problems while solving old ones, you’re partially true. Consequently, it may not be the perfect all-in-one solution for improving communication, but it definitely carries a lot of potentials for mobile developers to play with it’s developing functions for telecommunication apps.

Overcoming Wi-Fi Shortcomings with Li-Fi

While Wi-Fi is predominantly operational within a full building when you need to transfer data with light, walls do create a problem. On the other hand, as Li-Fi offers much bigger bandwidth, efficiency and security, it solves radio interference issues for a low cost. The world of data communication is jam-packed and with smart connectivity, the volume is only getting bigger. We all know the frustration of slow Wi-Fi when multiple devices are connected to a network. The number of connected devices grows by billions. Despite Wi-Fi’s current optimal performance for confined spaces, the fixed bandwidth makes high data transfer a problem. Since Li-Fi works well with LED and lighting units, there are plenty of options for developing the medium. At least one area where Li-Fi has exciting possibilities is smart automation. In this sense, telecommunication app developers can start thinking well out of the extent of Slack, Skype, Zoom or other mobile apps that are now solving business communication problems.

Li-Fi supported devices which are based on a larger part of the electromagnetic spectrum provide endless possibilities for data transfer by light in smart homes. This doesn’t mean that we will get rid of the communication over the internet as it is now. Maybe we won’t leave Ethernet cables or Wi-fi routers to the history yet, but this new telecommunication technology can change the way we stream videos, send emails or access the web.

Majority of standard office operations in the foreseeable future could be managed via a Li-fi based telecommunication app. Your smartphone will be the tool to turn on the LED lights, set the room temperature, organize clock alarms, arrange an HD video streaming calendar or print your meeting agenda. And yes – hold a meeting on a plane! Cost and security work extremely well with Li-Fi.

The extensive growth in the use of LEDs for illumination provides a rich opportunity for integration of the technology. If we consider the shortcomings of Li-Fi, such as the necessity of an immediate access to a light source, the short-range reach of Li-Fi and the limitations posed by natural sunlight or physical obstacles, as well as the high costs of mass-scale adoption, it’s still early age to predict the full application. At the same time, it’s a fertile moment to test its potential for inventive telecommunication apps that can make our lives easier at smart homes and automated offices.

Future Areas for Development of Li-Fi Telecommunication Apps

What are the areas for developing profitable software products that can solve more problems than creating ones? Future applications of the Li-Fi technology could make educational institutions work better due to faster internet. When Wi-Fi is backed up by Li-Fi, medical equipment that suffers from Wi-Fi interferences can be made much safer. Although Li-Fi is not without its own drawbacks in terms of penetrating dense environments (for example, underwater), when Wi-Fi fails, light data transfers can take over to support underwater exploration.

For sensitive industries, such as energy providers (power plants), Li-Fi is a safe connectivity solution that can be easily monitored. Where other less secure technologies – Bluetooth or NFC are forbidden, Li-Fi short-range networks are a viable replacement solution. In the end, the technology can offer effective connectivity for smartphones or laptops on-the-go, or strengthen the safety of traffic via car LED lights.

Areas with ample LED light are Li-Fi friendly and, no doubt, carry a vast creative capacity for testing telecommunication apps that bring all these technologies together. When the technology becomes commercially successful, cleaner environments and improved health are irreplaceable benefits to be gained. The impetus is on. It’s up to developers to find ways and turn researchers’ results into business products.

So what do you think? Will Li-Fi be the technology of the future and become as familiar, ubiquitous, and necessary as Wi-Fi? You can let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to give a shout out to Fueled while you’re at it for this thorough review. Also, no matter what core technology your business network operates over, if you ever have any challenges now or in the future, you can garantee our VirtualPBX Customer Support will be there to help you through it!

3 Business Service Audits You Should Conduct for Success in 2018

Business Service AuditsWhen it comes to having the right partners and services in place for your business, there is little room for error. Outsourcing operations and employing business systems that help your business perform are consistently more expensive than accomplishing those task in-house. However, many of the advanced and sophisticated platforms and services businesses outsource are simply too cumbersome or highly specialized to be handled by their existing resources. Thus, it seems like these types of outsourced operations will remain a necessary part of doing business. This isn’t anything to lament, however, as even the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world have their own areas where they need to lean on the expertise of outside firms. The key to making these investments have the most positive impact on a bottom line is that they need to be regularly reviewed and thoroughly vetted as to their need, value, and their return. It’s with that in mind that we present to you these business service audits you should conduct for success in 2018 and beyond.

Business Service Audits

To maximize the value of the dollars you invest into work done on your behalf that doesn’t also stay in the hands of your employees, maintaining the highest levels of scrutiny will go a long way. Remember that will all business relationships, you are in trusted partnerships but in the end, you are also the customer. Insist on being treated the way you would have your own customers treated and understand that expecting the best and settling for nothing less thereof is nothing to be ashamed of. Keep that in mind as you run these business audits you should conduct for success in 2018 below.

  • Financial Stress Testing No, this isn’t the same things as what we subjected our national financial institutions to following the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, but it’s similar. One of the most critical steps to assessing your business’ health and one that will help you contextually rate other audits as we proceed is knowing how financially fit your company is in the event of hardship or disaster. This exercise simulates the impact that acute strain on your cash flow and fundamental business health to determine if your company is prepared to weather any storm ahead. One major thing to consider before conducting this critical baseline exercise is how your financial stress test is considered as part of your overall Business Continuity Plan, or BCP. Once you have a precise understanding of how a crisis would affect your operations and how a BCP will keep you fully operational during one, you’re well positioned to succeed in 2018 no matter what turbulence may lay ahead.
  • Internet Network Audit Let’s face it, nothing happens for a business at an acceptable speed these days when the internet is down. Certainly there are moments when upstream carriers have outages, and for those times we have little recourse. However, more often than not, business experience suboptimal connectivity not as a result of their upstream provider, but rather as a function of their omission of any legitimate network audits. While the above audit is crucial because you’ll need to be able to pay for your services in the long run, the importance of a proper Network Health Check can’t be overstated because you’ll want to ensure the service you are paying for is adequate for your needs. By conducting a comprehensive around-the-clock assessment of how a business uses their network connection, the types of strains that are put on it (video conferencing, streaming, webinar hosting, etc.), and devising a plan to optimize bandwidth to prioritize that use, a company can be confident knowing that they are maximizing the efficacy of their most essential business service.
  • Unified Communications Audit Unified Communications (UC) refers to the complete integration of all modern business communications platforms and technologies and is achieved by one of two ways. First is ideal for larger organizations with handsome operations budgets and plenty of in-house telephone engineering staff and it entails building on-site PBX switching and server systems to manage all of a company’s communications. The second and far more popular method is to harness the power of the cloud to unify all of these same systems. A modern hosted business telephone plan will have enterprise-grade features and reliability but will only carry a fraction of the expense of the same system if it’s built on-site. And though users of an on-site PBX option are legitimately hampered with the time and expense it costs to make changes to their system compared to their cloud-based UC competitors, they can still bridge the gap between the two platforms with SIP Trunking. Effectively a hybrid of both systems, SIP Trunking allows you to keep your existing on-site PBX setup but connects to the PSTN (Publicly Switched Telephone Network) over an internet connection to deliver a lower price per minute. For users of a purely cloud-based UC, however, the infinite flexibility of the cloud enables them to integrate all of their other critical business systems including Salesforce CRM software and the increasingly popular collaboration platform, Slack. Additionally, following both a comprehensive financial systems review and a complete assessment of a business’ network health, a business will be poised to make decisions on their UC system needs and expectations better than before embarking on these critical annual review.

Time Is Money

Clearly, time is the most valuable resource that any enterprise can invest. That’s why, though certainly there are other important considerations a company needs to make on a regular basis, these are the most important business audits you should conduct for success in 2018. Fortunately, the resources we’ve included above should get you well on your way to streamlining the process, but we’d be happy to help further, too. Simply reach out to one of our experts in business communications and connections to learn more about how you can harness the power of the cloud to benefit your own organization, today.

I’ve Got Your Telephone Number. Call Me, Maybe?

telephone number call me maybeThe telephone number has long been the first and most trust point of contact for any business. Though there is a multitude of other communications methods out there now, the importance of having a business telephone number hasn’t faltered one bit. Online portals allow one-click-to-call interfaces directly from a web browser that makes having a conversation with customers faster and easier than ever. Additionally, studies have long proven that the simple act of placing a phone call indicates a much higher likelihood of a prospect making a purchase. Plus, the odds of that customer purchasing from the first company they speak with are staggering, as well. All of the evidence that supports the need for a business to have an immediate voice connection with their market makes having the right business telephone number almost as simple and simply having one. But for many newer companies that are accustomed to cutting-the-cable and employing modern, cloud-based communications and collaboration methods, enrolling with an antiquated telephone company’s usurious service contract doesn’t sound very attractive at all. We agree. That’s why we maintain hundreds of thousands of business telephone numbers as part of our total business communications services product array.

How to Get The Right Business Telephone Number

The need for your business to have a telephone number should be pretty clear, but the path on how to go about obtaining one may not be as apparent. Fortunately, thanks to the infinite amount of flexibility and routing options that are inherent in modern, cloud-based business telephone systems, adding, removing, and managing telephone numbers is easy. With a VoIP business phone system like Dash, for example, you can select from any of the following telephone number options below:

  • Local Telephone Numbers Being a successful business is more than just being good at operations and having a compelling product, it’s also about being a good neighbor. There’s no better way for a “local” business to get rejected than to have an out-of-state telephone number. Counter that but searching for a new telephone number by Area Code from our bank of numbers.
  • Toll-Free Numbers For companies that have grown outside of their immediate surrounds, have a healthy e-commerce business, or that are just looking to offer an easy way for their customers to reach them, nothing works better than a toll-free business telephone number. And when it comes to toll-free, nothing conjures the image of stability and familiarity than a true 1-800 number. Did I mention we have plenty of those on hand for you, too? Go ahead and start searching for your new 800 number now!
  • Vanity Phone Numbers For that added element of recognition and to inject some brand awareness or personality into your business telephone number, why don’t you explore your options with a vanity number? A vanity number is the same as any other business phone number, but because we have so many of them to choose from, you can let your creativity run wild in finding the best seven letter combination for your business.

You Don’t Even Need VoIP to Get a New Number

Because we’ve been pioneering advances in the hosted communications industry for over 20 years, we’ve picked up a few techniques that are pretty handy. Want all the instances of telephone number to be linked to a certain ad campaign to track ROI? We can do that. Need to know that the location of calls and office branches are being coordinated from the very moment the number is dialed? Yep, we can do that, too. We can also route calls to and from subsidiaries and port numbers in and out of your existing telephone service to a different provider, too. Plus, because all of our telephone services are hosted in the cloud, we can accomplish all of that more quickly and with far less expense than you’ll ever be able to say with your old, copper-wired telephone company. In fact, you don’t even need to have an existing telephone number to get started. By signing up for Dash, you’ll be guided through the clear, intuitive process of choosing your telephone number directly from our bank of hundreds of thousands of numbers from over 140 countries and be up and running in about 5 minutes. So what are you waiting for? We’re open 24 hours a day, and here’s our number, so call us, maybe?

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