Posted on November 23, 2021 by Lon Baker
Holiday Communications Survival Mode
Small businesses must prepare for the increased volume the holidays bring by maximizing internal and external communication needs in today’s challenging business environment. From the website to phones to texting, connecting is even more essential than ever to succeed.
As a business owner, adapting and changing at a moment’s notice will be crucial, and pregaming how your customers will want to communicate with you (and they will) is time worth investing. Coordinating shipments from suppliers and deliveries to customers will require timely and consistent contact to ensure your business lives up to customer expectations and demands.
Keeping up with your holiday communication connections can mean leveraging voice, video, or texting day or night, from wherever your team is operating.
Use Your Voice
More Voice = Less Headaches. The first place to start will be the phones your team uses. Leveraging voice means every employee has a phone, hardware or software-based, that keeps them connected with the real-time status of everyone else on their team. Ensuring your entire team can leverage voice to stay in sync with the demands of your business will go a long way to keeping things running more smoothly.
You’re on Camera
The next step in this process is taking advantage of video collaboration and text messaging. Not only does this extend the ability for your team to collaborate on solving problems, but the functionality of video and text will improve processes and help staff perform at their best when it counts the most.
You would be surprised how something as simple as sending a text message when a critical notice tags a key team member can make or break a customer relationship. Having a handle on sharing last-minute updates with your team will minimize mistakes and stress.
Finally, the communication platform that powers voice, video, and text communications for your business needs to have powerful functionality. Key features such as real-time presence, hot desking, advanced call center features, all of which can extend through automation platforms such as Zapier or a public API.
At VirtualPBX, we connect our team using the VirtualPBX Softphone to provide real-time presence, voice, and video collaboration, as well as text messaging. Additionally, we empower team members to leverage Zapier to automate and improve processes across our company.
In short, don’t let disruptions send your business spinning. Prepping in business should be a year-round habit your business embraces so that when things do happen, everyone knows their responsibilities.
Posted on November 18, 2021 by Jenae Townsend
Navigating the Small Business Saturday 2021 Shopper Experience
2020 was a challenging year on so many levels. Especially for local entrepreneurs and small business owners who faced many obstacles during the height of the pandemic. The good news? Positivity is on the horizon for those ready for Small Business Saturday 2021. Consumers feel more confident about this upcoming holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation forecast that holiday sales during November and December expect to increase between 8.5 to 10.5 percent over 2020.
Those kinds of numbers during the busiest shopping time of the year are a welcoming sign, especially with Small Business Saturday on November 27. Created in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday is the anthem for consumers to “Shop Small” between Black Friday and Cyber Monday by patronizing local brick-and-mortar stores. Last year, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported Americans spent nearly $20 billion on Small Business Saturday.
What about the shipping delays or “out of stock” scenarios popping up in the news? Even with the resources provided by AMEX and support from larger corporations, small businesses still have to face the possibility of not having enough inventory or staff to support the needs of their customers. Here are some tips to help prepare:
Tell the Truth
The keyword here is transparency. Holiday shopping is stressful. Hiring more staff to handle questions and utilizing messaging in marketing strategies or creating a loyalty waitlist may not be enough if a popular product is out. Let them know an estimated time it may be back in, or get an email to offer reasonable free shipping or discount when it arrives. That will not only help build your customer base but show the customer that you are willing to go the extra mile for a meaningful exchange.
Studies show that prospective customers visit a website before visiting a store, so prepare your site to offer live inventory updates and handle online customer inquiries. Creating a specialized toll-free phone number to direct specific inventory requests to trained staff members could gain valuable downtime and let customers know that their needs are essential. Here we discuss the benefits of expanding your phone system for the holiday.
Don’t do this alone. Partnering with other small businesses for Small Business Saturday is for the greater good. By tying in another business product with yours, you create an even more memorable experience, as well as help out your community. That’s right, for every dollar spent at a small business, around 67 cents stays in the local community.” That deserves a hashtag. #Awesome
Make it Personal
Find ways to personalize. This is an excellent opportunity to stand out and showcase other products in stock, which leads us to this question. Why did the consumers choose your store over similar businesses? Depending on what you’re selling, use that as an advantage. Maybe it is your reputation for stellar customer service or the personal touch of making your product packaging eco-friendly. From writing a handwritten thank-you note to adding customization to gifts, lean into what makes a visit to your store special.
Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer. – Unknown
Posted on November 16, 2021 by Jenae Townsend
We have taken it to the next level in the evolution of the VirtualPBX Business Phone System.
The NEW VirtualPBX Reseller VoIP Program is coming and will allow our partners access to the exciting benefits of our award-winning VoIP phone service.
As a telecommunications company with remote and hybrid employees, we have spent over 20+ years creating a productive and streamlined workplace. This program joins our existing partner offerings, including Affiliate Program for website owners, a Referral Partner Program that allows partners to pass leads onto our sales team, and a Customer Referral Program. While each program extends our innovative core features, integrations, and add-ons, the Reseller Program takes things to the next level.
New VirtualPBX VoIP Reseller Program: What Makes this Program Different?
Our existing programs give affiliates, customers, and resellers an easy way to refer business to VirtualPBX and be rewarded for doing so. However, the New Reseller Program gives much more power to partners to build their business selling and provide full service to their customers with the support and technology of VirtualPBX operating behind the scenes.
- Silver program for resellers who do not require white labeling
- Gold program for those who need white labeling
- Platinum program that will include white labeling AND support services
The Reseller Program does more than grant your customers a sophisticated phone system. It provides a fully brandable experience with custom white labeling options. We support you so you can support your customers. And with add-ons like Softphone, SMS, and advanced reporting, both you and your customers get the VoIP service you’ve been waiting on.
“Our new Reseller Program is a fantastic business opportunity, providing so much more value to our partners and allowing them to collaborate with a VoIP provider whose primary focus is on the customer journey.” ~Paul Hammond, CEO
It is time to take your company communications up a notch, and who better than VirtualPBX, a trusted name in VoIP. Apply to the VirtualPBX Reseller Program Today.
Posted on November 12, 2021 by Rachel Anderson
As we head into a major US shopping season and final details are being placed on Small Business Saturday and Black Friday campaigns, marketers are being tasked with how to track the success of their advertising methods. On one hand, digital marketers often have the easiest access to data regarding their campaigns. Tools like Google Analytics for example are ubiquitous, detailed, and easily customized by wide ranges of businesses to capture sales, engagement, and form activity. But what happens when a customer calls your business?
Start Tracking Marketing Phone Numbers to Gauge Campaign Success
One of the strongest tools in a digital marketer’s tool kit is segmentation. It is no different for phone numbers. How may phone numbers are employed comes down to how granular campaigns should be tracked. Here in the VirtualPBX Marketing Team, we divide phone numbers by lead source, but have also seen customers breaking this down further to test a/b test campaigns, products, or seasonal specials. Plans from VirtualPBX come with at least three phone numbers and these can be added, removed, and reconfigured with just a few clicks. Many will stop here – by just segmenting phone numbers, you’ll now be able to track each of those numbers in Call Logs or Advanced Reports. These reports will show volume of calls, call length, who answered, and more. But there is much more that can be done.
Give Sales a Heads Up
Let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. When a call comes in from a marketing phone number, gives sales a heads up using Prepend. Prepend allows you to add text before the caller ID indicating what the purpose of that call is. This gives sales an edge, allowing them to anticipate the caller’s needs and of course, gives them the intel they need to appropriately define the lead source if they’re tasked with entering lead details into a CRM manually.
Add Marketing Phone Numbers to Website Tracking
As phone numbers are added to website pages, they should be considered a conversion point. While a catch-all solution may be employed, again, granular segmentation will be a better indicator of which campaigns are performing well. This can be as simple as noting which phone number link is clicked in tools like Google Tag Manager.
Show Numbers Dynamically
How should you plug in phone numbers on your website? The easy option is to segment pages just as you’ve segmented phone numbers. If the landing page is exclusively for Google Ads, then show the Google Ads phone number. But what about when a page receives traffic from multiple sources you’re tracking? Here’s where a little bit of set up with dynamic content goes a long way. Using a tool like If-So (see screenshot) allows you to identify the criteria behind showing each phone number.
Go Even Farther with Integrations
Adding phone numbers to campaigns essentially gives you one more data point to pivot off of. While phone system data, especially with Advanced Call Reports give a wide range of indicators to analyze, many marketers will look to their CRM when pulling campaign success data. Here’s where phone system integrations play a major role. Integrations with VirtualPBX include Salesforce, Webhooks, API, Zapier, Microsoft Teams, and more.
Posted on November 10, 2021 by Megan Reninger
The last 18 months have reminded us of the true value of communication in business and connecting with people.
Our team’s communication skills and tools have grown in planned and unplanned ways throughout this period, as has how we communicate with our customers.
Having delivered a “Virtual” phone platform for tens of thousands of businesses, we sometimes took how we used our own product for granted.
Our team embraced video conferencing and SMS and integrating tools like Slack and MS Teams into our work lives. Yet, the most impactful feature we experienced was the use of presence status displayed in the VirtualPBX softphone and programmed into Desk phones.
Team Member Presence and Communication in Business: Are You Available?
Presence is a long-standing feature of most PBXs and is fully supported on the VirtualPBX platform. This feature displays the current status of a user in real-time to other users.
The ability of our team to signal availability and for the platform to automatically indicate when team members are on a call helped our team operate more efficiently than ever It’s welcoming, almost beckoning for interaction– “do you need anything? I am currently available. Go ahead and call me.”
Additionally, the VirtualPBX desktop and mobile phones all share the presence data and include a way to quickly call, message, or collaborate regardless of the platform or location.
With a team spread across the United States and in multiple countries, presence represented the heartbeat of our operations every day. You find yourself looking to see if so and so is online, or one a call. This cut down on the frequent “are you free?” chat messages, emails, and voicemail messages left every day. After all, if you were in an office together, you wouldn’t send a message asking your desk-mate if you could ask them a question.
Cutting down interruptions and communicating transparently through the platform improved productivity and helped our team stay focused.