General Telephony

How Circuit Switching Helps You Reach Customers

Telephone Pole - Circuit SwitchingIf you have the chance right now, take a look outside. You’ll probably find a few telephone poles on the nearest street. Those are the most salient example of circuit switching you will probably ever see.

Those poles and copper wires form the basis of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Despite its age, the PSTN and its circuits remain a relevant part of communications for both homes and businesses. You probably couldn’t function effectively in the office for more than a few minutes without them.

Our Dash Business Phone System uses digital networks and packet switching primarily to initiate calls, but it makes heavy use of circuit switching along the way, like we discuss at length in our What is VoIP? guide.

Let’s consider one example to make circuit switching a more relatable topic: You make several calls from an IP phone connected to your Dash account.

Initiating a Call With Your IP Phone

How does your phone make the call? It first sends digital signals through the internet to VirtualPBX servers, which route the call to its destination. The hardware you use — including your IP phone, local network, and internet architecture — makes use of digital communication tactics rather than analog tactics.

VirtualPBX does a lot more here than just route your call. The particulars of this situation, however, all revolve around the fact that your IP phone acts like a computer. It sends packets of information just like a computer does.

Reaching Another IP Phone

Your desk or conference phone, when it sends your digital voice packets, can continue to use an all-digital, all-packet switched network to reach another IP phone.

Consider that your call reaches a business across town that uses a competitor’s VoIP service. Both Dash and the competitor’s plan all take advantage of the same underlying principles, so your call will likely continue to use packets throughout the entire journey from one phone to another.

Going Analog: Reaching a Home Phone

It’s easy, though, to jump out of the digital network and into the world of analog.

Consider that your next call reaches a customer’s home phone. If they use an analog phone service, a switching center will transform your digital packets into analog signals that the customer’s phone can understand.

Circuit switching occur at this point because the customer’s phone service must complete a steady circuit to hold a call.

The PSTN will make sure that your outgoing voice packets run through a circuit that’s completed within the copper cables outside the customer’s home. It will also make sure the reverse process happens when the customer speaks to you.

Circuit Switching is Here to Stay

Many of the calls you make to other businesses and to smartphones will have the chance to remain entirely digital. The PSTN has gone through a transformation where most of its switching centers and much of its hardware now uses digital signals to reach each other.

On the other hand, home phone users – which may represent a large portion of your customer base – will continue to make circuit switching a necessary element of the PSTN. No matter how digitally-focused the rest of the world becomes, the copper wires that line our streets will stay indispensable.

Packet Switching Plays a Key Role in Your Business

Packet switchingWhether or not you realize it, packet switching forms the backbone of business communications.

Packet switching – the aggregate process of sending and receiving groups of packets over a digital network – plays a prominent role when you:

  • Make a call on your Dash Business Phone Network
  • Use the internet to view a website
  • Send an email to a colleague
  • Watch a YouTube video on your phone

Packets act as the building blocks of every digital communications tool you use throughout the workday. Below, we’ll look at the ways in which packet switching exists in those tools.

For a deeper look at the technical aspects of VoIP and packet switching, check out our “What is VoIP?” guide.

What are Packets?

Digital networks – including your local computer network and the World Wide Web – use packets to transfer information. Packets are the small pieces of data that a digital network uses to move information from one device to another.

Briefly stated, packets exist as the pieces that comprise whole files. A bricklayer (the network) uses individual bricks (packets) to build a wall (the resulting file).

Each packet contains enough extra information to tell sending and receiving devices where the packet has been, where it should be sent, and in which order the device should assembled it with respect to the other packets.

A computer might not always receive packets as A, B, C and use them in that order to create a whole file. But it will know that A should be placed before B, and B before C, to create a readable result.

Packet switching is the aggregate process of sending and receiving groups of packets over a digital network.

Make a VoIP Phone Call

Business phone systems that use Voice Over IP (VoIP) to manage calls depend on underlying digital networks. Such systems use the Internet Protocol (hence, voice over IP) to send calls within a business’s local phone network and outbound to the public telephone network.

Your desk phones and conference phones send packets that contain voice information. They capture the sounds you make when you speak and convert those sounds into digital information that is eventually converted back into sounds on the receiving end.

VoIP phone system providers have to battle side effects of packet switching, including jitter and packet loss, that can affect the quality of voice calls. Providers use Quality of Service techniques to make their voice networks clear and reliable.

Viewing Websites and Sending Email Messages

When you view a webpage, you use packet switching to download packets from a central server onto your computer or phone.

Those files may be retrieved from the server in an abstract order. Your computer, however, knows from the information contained in the packets and the instructions provided by the website how to display the resulting page in your browser.

You also take advantage of packet switching when you send emails. The text you write in your Gmail or Outlook account will be broken down into small bits of information that are reassembled for your recipient so they can read your message as you intended.

Watching a YouTube Video

That business presentation (or cat video) you just watched on your phone’s data network also relies on packets.

The same processes described above apply to the data you send and receive on your 4G connection. Before you’re able to understand the audio and see the visuals, the digital network breaks down, sends, and pieces together your video in the same way it does to your website, email, and voice call.

Appreciate Packet Switching

The next time you use your computer or phone, try to remember the complex process that moves behind the scenes of all your tasks.

It should help you better appreciate the complexity of the internet and the VoIP phone system you use every day.

Transferring Phone Calls: 5 Steps to Good Business Phone Etiquette

Phone EtiquetteThe importance of proper business phone etiquette cannot be stressed enough, as it can leave either a positive or a negative impression on your callers and potential customers. The way you treat callers on the phone reflects directly upon the image your business portrays. Put in the extra effort to be polite and you will ensure that your customer feels valued.

With advanced features from VirtualPBX you can rest assured that your business phone system won’t get in the way of proper phone etiquette and a smooth customer service experience.

Read More About: Dash Business Phone Plans

5 Steps to Professionally Transfer a Phone Call for Good Phone Etiquette

  1. Explain to the caller why their call needs to be transferred.
    Whether they’ve reached the wrong person or department, or you simply do not have the resources or authority to answer their questions; be sure to explain why you must transfer them.
  2. Give the caller your information before transferring the call.
    It’s important that the caller has access to your information in case of a dropped call or disconnection. This will also make the caller feel important knowing that while you couldn’t help them further, you are personally concerned about their situation.
  3. Ask the caller for permission to initiate the transfer.
    Asking a customer for permission to transfer their call gives them the opportunity to ask any additional questions. It also gives them a sense of control over the situation.
  4. Speak to the party whom the caller is being transferred to first.
    Speaking to the next party to relieves the caller from having to re-explain their situation. It will also give the other person time to prepare for the call. Now is also the time to pass any “insider” information that might expedite the situation.
  5. Introduce the caller to the individual or department you are transferring them to.
    First, make the introduction to the new contact. Next, ask if there is anything else you can do to help the caller, and thank them for their patience.

Dash Feature: Advanced Transfers

Treating your customers right over the phone is just as important as how you treat them in person. A simple phone call can make or break a business relationship.

VirtualPBX offers Advanced Transfers to ensure that all the tools you need for successful call transferring are at your fingertips. You can transfer calls to anywhere in the system — whether it’s to another employee, the operator, an outside number, or an ACD queue.

Call VirtualPBX today at 888-825-0800 or visit our Dash Plan Features page to learn more about Call Routing and other options for small businesses to enterprises.

VoIP Phone Service Benefits for Small Businesses

VoIP phone serviceIf you’re running a small business, adopting a VoIP phone service could save you money and improve the consistency of your brand image.

Unlike traditional phone lines that run directly to your storefront or mobile service that only works on your smartphones, you can run a Voice Over IP (VoIP) systems on all the devices your company uses. Options like our Dash Business Phone Plans give you a flexibility and reliability not found on other communications platforms.

For further consideration, here’s a quick breakdown of three primary benefits you can gain from a VoIP phone service.

Cost Savings

Small businesses often run on a shoestring budget. Like others, you may be running extremely lean just to make ends meet. You don’t need your phone system stressing your budget even further.

A VoIP phone service can be an affordable alternative to traditional phone lines because it packs so many features into a single base price.

Starting at $12.99 a month, Dash offers professional features like Conferencing and Call Recording, Voicemail, Auto Attendant, and Follow Me Calling. With all the Dash Features in mind, compare that low price against what you pay for your office phone and cell phone each month, and we’re sure you’ll come out ahead.

Multiple Devices

Speaking of your office phone and cell phone: Do you have multiple numbers associated with your office and personal smartphone? Are your customers unsure about which number to use when they need to reach you?

You can clear the confusion by running a VoIP service on all your devices at once. For the same low cost, you can run the Dash Web Phone on your work desktop, use dedicated VoIP phones in the front lobby and back office, and take calls in the VirtualPBX Softphone mobile app – all from the same number.

Your customers will be pleased to have only one phone number associated with your business. The consistency you provide them with something as simple as contact information will make you look more professional in all respects.

Overall Brand Consistency

Beyond your public-facing phone number, a VoIP phone service can improve your overall brand consistency in the way it interacts with customers. The professional options you receive in Dash afford you a lot of flexibility.

Follow Me Calling: When someone calls your office at midday, it can route your call to the front desk, and your receptionist (even if that’s you, CEO!) will pick up. Or it can ring first to your smartphone or office desktop – it’s your choice. You can even chain your front desk, desktop, and smartphone to ring in that order.

Office Hours: You pick the time of day when your office is open, so why shouldn’t your VoIP phone service know about it? It can use your office hours to determine where to route calls and which options your Auto Attendant offers to callers.

Auto Attendant: Before the customer reaches you, a nice greeting in your phone system can lead them to your personal phone extension or to the front office. You determine what the greeting says and what options the system presents. You can even take advantage of professional recordings for personalized messages and hold music.

Make the VoIP Phone Service Your Own

If you’re not yet convinced that a VoIP phone service is right for you, then give one a spin for free. That’s right; you can try Dash for free for as long as two weeks.

Give our Dash trial a try. We know you’ll be impressed.

VoIP Providers Come in All Shapes and Sizes

VoIP ProvidersDon’t get caught in the trap of thinking that all business phone services are equal. VoIP providers can offer a range of options and add-ons at varying prices.

You want to pick the best service for your business’s needs, so it’s important for you to do your research before you settle on a provider or calling plan.

Today, we’ll look at some of basic options provided in our own Dash Business Phone Plans. Don’t miss the comparison chart below to see how we measure against the competition.

Calling Minutes

The breakdown of your calling minutes from any voice plan provider can be complex. You’ll need to be aware of local calling, toll-free calling, and a distinction known as “VoIP minutes.”

Local

Most VoIP Providers will offer you a set of basic calling minutes to continental U.S. numbers. You may receive minutes that apply to calls within the continental U.S. states and to Canada or Mexico. The exact number of minutes you receive when calling these locations can also fluctuate from one provider to the next.

What can you expect? For basic plans on many providers, it’s reasonable to see 1000 minutes of calling to continental U.S. numbers. Advanced plans begin to change those figures by adding calling to different countries and increasing your allotment of minutes.

Toll-Free

The addition of toll-free minutes comes when you want to offer your customers a free number to call. For each inbound call to your 1-800 number, you accept the charges, so these minutes are usually more expensive to provide.

You will want to consider the differentiation between plans that either group local and toll-free minutes or make a distinction between the two. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but one could more closely meet your needs as a business.

VoIP Minutes

Providers may also allow customers to complete internal VoIP calls at no extra charge. This way, a business’s employees can call their extensions without using outbound calling minutes. These types of calls don’t reach the public telephone network, so they’re often bundled together as a separate feature.

Again, you’ll want to be aware of how these minutes interact with the Local and Toll-Free sets. Sometimes, VoIP minutes are unlimited; other times, they’re part of another grouping.

Conferencing and Call Recording

Many businesses now embrace remote work. Their connection with work-from-home or contract employees is essential, so they often look to conferencing to keep everyone in the business on the same page.

Conferencing is often found as an add-on (a feature with an added charge) from VoIP providers. Even though it’s essential to the operations of many startups and enterprises alike, conferencing may take a secondary position behind basic calling minutes and low prices.

Likewise, Call Recording is becoming a staple of operations for companies across the globe. Yet you may also find it sitting behind other “essential” features in a VoIP plan.

Stand-out companies may include conferencing and call recording in their plans, like VirtualPBX now does with Dash Basic, Pro, and Unlimited. You just have to keep an eye out for those features while you’re considering the overall price.

Price

While price isn’t necessarily a feature of VoIP any more than it’s a feature of any other product, this can be the most important factor in your decision when comparing VoIP providers.

Price is a direct reflection of the other features you’re offered in a business phone plan.

If you notice that your plan starts at the surprisingly low price of $5 per user, you may want to ask yourself what other features you’re not receiving. Does this cheap plan give you thousands of calling minutes and VoIP minutes at no extra cost? Or does it cut your minutes and charge you for any internal calls?

In contrast, does the upgraded plan of $30 per user give you everything you expect and more? This plan should include some extra features like conferencing and unlimited calling between plan users.

A Quick Comparison of VoIP Providers

We’ve assembled a brief chart that shows where our mid-range Dash Pro plan lines up with similar plans from RingCentral and Grasshopper.

  • Local Minutes
  • Toll-Free Minutes
  • VoIP Minutes Between Users
  • Local/Toll-Free
    Numbers Included
  • Mobile Softphone
  • Email to Fax
  • Call Recording
  • Conferencing
  • Salesforce CRM Integration
  • Grasshopper
    Solo

  • $26.00

    /user per month
    with annual payment

  • Unlimited
  • Unlimited
  • Unlimited
  • 1
  • BEST VALUEVirtualPBX
    Dash Pro

  • $23.99

    /user per month
    with annual payment

  • 2,500
  • Plan Minutes
  • Unlimited
  • 2
  • RingCentral Standard

  • $24.99

    /user per month
    with annual payment

  • Unlimited
  • 1,000
  • Plan Minutes
  • 1

It’s easy to see that the prices and options for each plan fluctuate along the multiple features available from each provider.

All that left is for you to decide which plan best meets your business’s needs and capabilities. If you’re still undecided and want to learn more about VirtualPBX’s business phone plans, email our excellent sales representatives or start an online chat today.

VirtualPBX on TwitterVirtualPBX on FacebookVirtualPBX on YouTubeVirtualPBX on Pinterest