What Ghostbusters Can Teach Us About a Good Router
September 22nd, 2015
I am the Keymaster, Are you the Gatekeeper?
Okay bear with me here. We’ve previously compared the performance-boosting advantages your network will have after undergoing a Network Health Check to the perpetual need for “more power” that Captain Kirk would impress upon his crew in the sci-fi saga, Star Trek. Seeing as how well that was received, however, I’m inclined to believe that we can learn something from Ghostbusters about getting a proper router. Plus, we clearly didn’t quite find the boundaries of what constitutes “too-much-geek” to include in our blog. Let’s give it another shot, shall we?
Is your ISP Gozer The Gozerian?
Easily the best name of a movie villain ever, Gozer is more than just a powerful spirit hell-bent (sic) on reducing our world to a smoldering pile of rubble. Gozer represents the acme of supernatural power, and power needn’t always be used for evil. What other ethereal, intangible, nearly supernatural force flows through the world with the ability to build and destroy entire empires? Yep, you’re using it to read these words right now.
Power is Nothing Without Access
As the spirits released from the eco-chamber in the Ghostbusters’ headquarters begin to rain terror down upon the city of New York, two characters are pivotal to the realization of Gozer’s most Gozerian of incarnations- the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Your unified communications, browsing, research, remote data storage, and every other component of the network you rely on are your Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and you’re equally dependent on unlocking access to his chewy, sugary potential.
Using the router that came with your network access is fine for most personal use, but chances are good you need enterprise-grade hardware to handle the use over your Wi-Fi. Upgrading means more than just optimizing your performance, it also means added features and security. Unless you have in-house communications IT staff to handle all of your unified communications needs, chances are good you are familiar with mostly consumer-grade features for routers and modems. That’s okay, we’re here to help.
The Right Tools For the Job
Just like we regularly conduct industry-wide audits of the VoIP telephone market to produce a curated selection of the best options available for business, we’re now doing the same for routers. Take a look at the results from our extensive hardware review and see which one of these advanced routers for business is right for you. Still not sure which one is right? Our Network Experts are standing by right now to assess your needs and help pair you with a good router that is the best option for your company.
Finding the right hardware used to be something fear doing, but it isn’t as long as you have VirtualPBX to help. C’mon, you know it was coming- so who ya gunna call?
Infographic – Network Health Check
September 16th, 2015
You research your business opportunities exhaustively- competitors, market conditions, macro trends, nothing comes to you as a surprise. Unfortunately, you can’t maintain the same level of expertise for every other industry as well. No problem, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at this infographic to learn how our Network Health Check can build the guardrails for your business to keep moving forward, full speed ahead.
Perspective on Quality – QoS & Network Health Check
September 11th, 2015
It’s not the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog that matters. Maybe that’s a bit more scrappy than you’re accustomed to thinking when you consider your Quality of Service (QoS) or your network performance, but it’s really not that far off of the mark depending on your perspective. Considering all of the attributes that made your company’s most recent hire different from the other candidates is another way to think about it. They were clearly all capable and met certain requirements insofar as experience and skills are concerned, but be it cultural fit or just an energy that you jived with, she’s got that something extra. Virtually the exact same thing can be said about a network that is operating at its peak performance – that’s what you want on your side.
ISP – Buyer Beware
How do you shop for internet access? Typically you’ll do some comparison-shopping, maybe some bundling, but in the end you’re going to compare various speeds and costs and call it day. What you’re not seeing in that process is enormous. From the physical distance of your offices from the actual servers to the widely varying tendencies of each end user on how they access the web, there are a multitude of variables that will affect your internet service and speed. VirtualPBX can dive deep into your provider market’s specifications and find you the best price on the best service option, which is a real time-saver, but there’s still more that can be done once you’ve found the right ISP for you.
Study, Strategize, Execute
Once you’ve secured the best option on your ISP, you’ll want to get the most out of it, right? To determine how best to manage your bandwidth use via QoS to boost performance of critical applications takes a very nuanced and advanced understanding of network systems and behavior. Fortunately for you, I am not the guy who handles that here. Fortunate for me, too, because it’s more than one guy, we’ve got a whole team of network experts who are specialists in bandwidth optimization.
A Network Health Check from VirtualPBX launches that team into a full week of around-the-clock surveillance and analysis of your network’s behaviors, yielding far more than what a complete Speed Test can offer. Once they’ve assembled all of the information on how your network’s performance impacts the execution of critical applications, you’ll receive a comprehensive report complete with detailed prescriptive measures for moving forward. After you’ve completed your Network Health Check and any corrective actions, you can rest assured that your bandwidth prioritization hierarchy won’t ever drop your sales call because of the latest cat video download. Not that that’s ever happened or anything, of course.
To get started on boosting the performance of your network, get in touch with our QoS Experts today and make sure that you’ve always got plenty of fight left in your dog.
More Bandwidth, More Power
September 4th, 2015
“I need more power, Scotty!”
Any good science fiction fan (or really anyone who was born before 1980, for that matter) will probably recognize this as the iconic pleading of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk to his Scottish comrade down in the engine room of Starship Enterprise. Unfortunately, Scotty was all too often the bearer of bad news when his callback was in his Scottish brogue that he just, “Cannaugh do it.” The cool irony about this is that you, unlike the futuristic crew of the Enterprise, when you ask for more power in the here and now, you can always have it. Assuming you ask the right people, of course.
Plenty of today’s business still runs on the Black Gold of oil, but increasingly the most critical resource for a modern operation is internet access. Access to web-based apps, email, and cloud-supported data storage are critical to preforming in today’s marketplace and yet these tasks represent just a drop in the bucket of essential functions delivered by a business’ network in the course of a day. The only threat to a day’s productivity greater than not having access to the internet is not having access that is powerful enough to actually execute on all that needs to be done.
The Ultimate Attribution Error
This concept states that if one individual expresses a certain behavior than all members of their particular demographic will behave similarly. Obviously that is a completely ineffective way to deal with people, so applying the same faulty logic to businesses is just as problematic.
Many organizations will get an ISP to provide them with the access they think will work best for their business without giving any consideration to how they will optimize that access to their unique needs. Assuming each company uses the web the same way is the same as assuming every investor should have the same retirement account. We all have different goals, needs, and tolerances for risk or failure and, as such, need to make sure our utilities reflect those nuances. Only by examining a longitudinal, detailed account of a company’s web use can a bandwidth expert tell how they should proceed to optimize that performance. Fortunately, there are hands-off services like the VirtualPBX Network Health Check that will both conduct a week-long, around the clock analysis of a company’s network and also couple it with optimization strategies to boost performance. Also, by enabling QoS, certain functions can be prioritized so that, should an employee be enjoying some streaming content over their lunch break, that will never interfere with the crucial sale you are closing on a VoIP conference call in the other room.
Shopping is a Hassle
Comparing all network options delivered by ISPs in your area can be a full time job especially when you pair that with the challenge of finding the best solution for your business’ unique usage profile. The bandwidth experts at VirtualPBX live for this stuff and can be dispatched to find the best prices on additional bandwidth in your area that are guaranteed to fit your needs. By weighing your company’s needs against all available options, they will apply the operational experience that comes from optimizing the VirtualPBX network for thousands of calls every second to ensure you are presented with the absolute best option for you company.
Not ready to broker with dozens of ISPs or go back to school to become a telecommunications engineer just yet? No problem. Get in touch with the telephony experts at VirtualPBX who are standing by in sunny San Jose, California right now to make sure you always have enough power to launch your, ahem, Enterprise.
IM & MBA – Instant Messaging for Work
August 24th, 2015
Maybe you’ve heard, one of the most blocked for business websites, Facebook, looks to be getting into the business messaging game. This seems to be the norm now with instant messaging (IM) transitioning from the personal communications world and becoming a viable business tool. Communications for companies across all sectors are moving more and more into the cloud. Now that these changes have become more prevalent, though, what are some lessons we can learn from how well they are being received?
Software Advice has the Answers
Once again, the experts in comparative software analysis and recommendation have shifted their focus on researching the impacts of IM as used for business communication. Research based on topics that are familiar to us (let’s face it, texting and IM are pretty ubiquitous activities these days) often reveals surprises as frequently as it provides data that serves to reinforce and validate existing assumptions, and this most recent report is no exception.
Efficiency is Key
Like anything in the accelerating rate of business in the modern world, process improvement is essential for profitability, if not for survival. Adding new business tools and project management interfaces may initially seem like an appealing way to boost efficiency, but without a meaningful improvement to workflow or with too long of a learning curve that threatens adoption, they can actually have the opposite effect. Fortunately for businesses that adopt an IM platform for their company, the results seem to be categorically positive.
Because messaging applications are simple and most people are familiar with using them in their personal life, their rate of adoption in the course of business is tremendously high. Furthermore, that familiarity also contributes to a relatively seamless learning curve. With quick adoption and easy use, IM for work is allowed to execute on its primary goal, which is to reduce cluttered communications and streamline day-to-day employee interaction. According to the results of the Software Advice report, an overwhelming 98% of respondents were able to identify at least one area where messaging has provided a meaningful benefit to their workday. Though there is no actual data to support this claim, I would assert that the remaining 2% haven’t actually begun using the app yet. Just like how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Innovation Driving Technology
Most messaging systems are fairly straightforward; you send a message, receive one back and so on, but slowly there have been small improvements that provide a substantial benefit. Most notably is the advent of chat presence additions to contact menus. Just like they sound, chat presence shows the status of the people in your list of contacts. Most messaging apps native in smart phones don’t have these though it’s rather common in many third-party apps. Building off of standard presence information, the inclusion of more than simply the binary availability/unavailability of a contact is known as Rich Presence, and it is with this that employees are getting even more out of their business IM systems.
Just like IM is designed to reduce unnecessary communication and boost efficiency, Rich Presence integrates even more information directly into the application. From just a quick glance of a contact list, any number of statuses can be immediately visible. Again, this added layer of information prevents unnecessary and unhelpful messaging like pinging a colleague who is in a meeting or on vacation if you need an immediate response.
The story of how messaging applications have been able to enhance the workplace and overall business communications is headline worthy on its own, but it is also simply a function of a much greater movement. Adding messaging to the battery of business communications tools is indicative of the transition to a truly unified communications approach to business. Incorporating all of a company’s communications needs; everything from conferencing to email and telephones, is exactly the direction that VirtualPBX technologies is taking businesses everyday and why we’ve been awarded multiple Unified Communications Awards.
business’ network connection to the amount of time it takes to manage it, VirtualPBX drives system improvement everyday. To learn more about how your company can benefit from a unified communications system from VirtualPBX, contact our Communications Experts who are standing by to help right now.
Infographic: VirtualPBX Concierge
August 17th, 2015
They say that good things come to those that wait. We say that you’ve got a lot going on, we wouldn’t want to make you wait for anything. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also have good things, either. Introducing VirtualPBX Concierge, your dedicated unified communications expert. When you are busy doing what you need to keep your company moving, your concierge expert is hard at work keeping your lines open and your information flowing. Also, instead of waiting to encounter challenges before changes are made, concierge service includes a constant analysis of your network to course-correct for obstacles well before they arise. Take a peek at this infographic and see how VirtualPBX Concierge is like putting a new member on the team without with the flip of a switch.
VirtualPBX Concierge Service
August 6th, 2015
We’ve had a busy few months here at VirtualPBX Headquarters. We’ve won some incredible awards for our virtual phone system service and products, we’ve added some new customer support best practices for VoIP, and we’ve kept up with the everyday advances of our platform to provide the best office phone system to our customers that they can find. But not content just to sit idly by and let all of our business phone options’ recognition go to our heads, we’ve also been working on another big project.
Your Private Communications Expert
VirtualPBX Concierge marks a total disruption of the existing hosted telecommunications paradigm. As announced earlier this week, concierge service is an unprecedented approach to how businesses partner with telecom industry leaders. The high-touch service and attention of a VirtualPBX Concierge expert delivers more than simply a dedicated telecommunications agent, though, and the work that is delivered to participating account holders is infinitely evident in two key areas.
Big Data, Big Difference
We are doing more than requiring you to brain-dump all of your company’s needs and expectations before letting you move on with your business. By activating concierge services you declare where you need to apply your full attention and where else that you need to position the right partners to take care of the rest. By picking us to be that partner, you also don’t expect to diagram your entire business model. Good, because we already have. We collect and analyze staggering amounts of usage data to preconfigure an approach to your business based off of your company’s unique profile. We’ve been building out the framework for a custom-made program just for you way before the time you’re ready to have a conversation about a concierge. Then we can shape the mold to accommodate every nuance and need of your organization to hit the ground running.
VirtualPBX Concierge is a truly revolutionary approach to utilities partnerships. We want to give you the power of all of our expertise at your fingertips. VirtualPBX Concierge accomplishes that, so you can be free to accomplish your next big revolution, too. Get in touch with one of our Support Experts to begin planning your concierge program today.
VirtualPBX Support: Tuesday Toolbox
August 4th, 2015
We’re back at it! Because our first Tuesday Toolbox was such a success, we’ve gone back to the wellspring of information. That’s right, our Customer Support Team has put together a few more commonly encountered challenges with a hosted telecom service and, more importantly, guidance on how to avoid facing these yourself. Because let’s face it, what’s the value of pointing out a problem if you aren’t also ready to offer a suggestion on how to fix it?
5 (More) Best Practices for VoIP Users
- Extension Activation: Remember to have each extension user activate their extension through their phone to complete the extension registration. From the auto-attendant of any extension handset, press pound to bring up the login prompt, then follow the instructions to record your name and voicemail greeting. Until this process is completed, an extension will not be registered in the either the user or dial-by-name directories.
- Robodialers: A robodialer is what the industry uses to refer to an automated dialing system typically used for advertisements or political campaigns. At best, these are not much more than irritations, but the can also end up costing you money with overages and unexplained charges to your phone system. Using Auto-Attendant to require input from the caller is a good way to screen for autodialing because you can require inbound calls to select form a list of options once the call is received. By configuring the Auto-Attendant Replay and Return to Auto-attendant features each to, “hang-up,” you can protect your system by automatically disconnecting the call if no option is selected. Auto-Attendant Guide
- Daylight Savings: Just like your clocks at home (do people even still use clocks not located on their mobile device?), your VirtualPBX phone system needs to be updated manually twice a year. Not updating to accommodate the time change will affect any Day/Night settings that you have in place for your system. Administrators can log in and edit the time in Advanced configurations. Daylight Savings Guide
- Lines vs Extensions: In your VirtualPBX system, lines refers to the number of VoIP devices (desk phones, softphones, etc) that you have active on your account and therefore that is the number of billable “seats” that will be reflected on your account. Extensions are not fixed directly to a cost and can be added and subtracted without creating a billable event.
- The Power of Power-Cycling: You know what power-cycling is, right? It’s basically the technical term for the simple act of turning something off and then back on to reset it. As unsophisticated as it sounds, sometimes any piece of technology can, “get stuck,” (also a technical term, obviously) and not even VoIP phones are immune to the occasional, “sticking.” If a phone no longer makes or receives calls, try unplugging both the ethernet and power cables for a minute. Often this will correct whatever was the matter with your device but, if not, just know that our Support Team is there to assist you with any problem you may have.
On that point, we’d just like to offer a friendly reminder that VirtualPBX is one of the last companies to include all of the award-winning talent and know-how in our Customer Support Team for free. Plus, they’re all still located here in our main offices in the Silicon Valley, and standing by to make sure you stay up and running through any ordeal.
Infographic: ACD Queues
June 12th, 2015
The ACD Queues platform from VirtualPBX is a simple, intelligent way to route calls and manage call volume. Managing the traffic and extensions of your ACD Queues enabled system is easy, too, but that doesn’t mean a little refresher wouldn’t help. That’s why we’ve created this intuitive infographic, so you can see clearly just how the system works.
Save on Professional Recordings
June 3rd, 2015
We all know how important it is for a business to make a good impression. That impression is created by a multitude of micro-moments that ultimately define the customer experience. But can we ever be totally sure that each of those moments is exactly how we would like it to be? We all tell horror stories about that one time a company had us on hold for hours, or that social media post gone wrong, or even the exact individual who gave us terrible customer service. For each of those bad experiences, it takes several good experiences to turn that customer’s perception back to positive. So what can you do?
Mastering the First Impression
Just like the homepage of a website sets the tone and defines the next steps for your brand online, so too does your phone system greeting. Unlike the homepage of a website, your callers give you their utmost attention when their call is answered. They are not browsing like they would online, they’re ready with a question or concern. Does your current greeting point them in the right direction? Does it make them feel taken care of?
Auto Attendant Greetings
One feature our customers take particular advantage of is the Auto Attendant. Small and large companies alike appreciate the value in professional appearance and seamless call routing that ensures their customers are directed to the department or individual that can answer their questions quickly. The auto attendant begins with a greeting that welcomes callers to the company, gives them any pertinent information, and promotes their brand. The next step depends entirely on your business structure. Common executions include directing callers to particular departments, for example, “For customer service, please press 2. For billing questions, please press 3.” Smaller companies may simply say, “If you know your party’s extension, please enter it now. To listen to the company directory, please stay on the line.”
Options, Options, Options
Every business is different. Our goal is to work with our customer’s unique brands to reach their ideal setup. This rings true for greetings as well. For many, uploading a custom greeting is ideal and lets customers hear a familiar voice from the get-go. For those who need a quick solution, synthesized greetings allow them to type out a script and immediately receive their recording. For those who want a real voice on the line for a low fee, we offer standard recordings that feature either a male or female voice from our in-house voice talent. Finally, for those who are looking for a particular impression in the highest possible quality, we offer professional greetings.
Professional Greetings from Snap Recordings
Earlier today, we announced via press release our new partnership with Snap Recordings. We’re very excited to be partnering with them and even more excited to offer our customers access to their library of over 80 professional voice actors in multiple languages and accents to best match their brand. What’s even better is that there is no mystery! At any time, customers can preview the voices of each available voice actor, and even hear some examples of recordings based on profession. Have a law firm? Listen to a sample greeting, on-hold message, voice prompt, or voicemail message for a law firm. In real estate? Listen to samples in real estate. Snap Recordings even offers special packages should you want to refresh your entire phone system user experience. Click here to take a look for yourself.
Save 15% in June!
Ready to rule your customer experience? For the month of June, we’re offering 15% off ALL VirtualPBX orders through Snap Recordings. Simply use the promo code “June2015” at checkout.