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.
Memorial Day and Military Programs
May 22nd, 2015
This Memorial Day weekend you’ll hopefully be out camping, picnicking, road tripping, or just hanging around with your friends and family. One thing that we hope is involved no matter what you have in store, however, is a recognition of the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families so that we could all enjoy the freedom to do whatever we please this long weekend.
Success on the Battlefield, and in the Boardroom
There has been a rising tide of desirability for having veterans on staff as their many leadership and objectives-based qualities are just what corporate America looks for in ideal candidates. Furthermore, many veterans are taking their innate skills and focusing on building their own companies backed by the increasing number of entrepreneurial lending options catered just to veterans.
Our Turn to Serve
For years, VirtualPBX has been committed to supporting our nation’s service men and women as they reenter into civilian life. Fueled by the new influx of capital provided by veteran-focused investment, many of whom are bound to continue accomplishing new missions in business. Having trudged challenging roads enough already, we want to make their pathway to success in business as smooth as possible from here. That’s why we offer and will maintain evergreen, special military pricing incentives on our award-winning VirtualPBX business telephone service for current and former servicemen and women.
We know that what we have to offer pales in comparison to that which has been given to us so freely by our nation’s veterans. We also know that, while every customer benefits from our industry-leading support, we take unique care and pride in each and every one of our veterans that we have the honor to serve.
Thank you to all of our veterans, their families, and all active men and women in the Armed Forces. We hope you all get a moment of rest this weekend as we honor you and your sacrifices. If we can help you in any way or if you have any questions about the special military pricing, please do not hesitate to contact one of our expert support representatives today.
RadioShack- Building a Powerful Franchise One Transistor At a Time
May 18th, 2015
Some of us will remember being able to buy any number of different components to build a transistor radio or basic computers at the local RadioShack. Heck, even the first wearable technology, Lizzy, was constructed with a few odds and ends that came from the nationwide hardware retailer. Though things have not been so rosy lately for the ‘Shack. With the advent of online retail and big box stores decimating their market share over the last 15 years, the venerable retailer has had to make some big changes to stay afloat.
A History of Communications
Founded in 1921 by a pair of ham radio enthusiast brothers, RadioShack has been a model of American franchise business. Even in spite of deciding to close nearly 20% of their locations in 2014, RadioShack persists to be a desirable franchise business opportunity and still cracked into the top 150 companies in Entrepreneur’s 2015 Franchise 500 list of best franchise investments. Though there are many financial reasons that contributed to this favorable listing, one of the most valuable propositions of owning a RadioShack franchise has been far less tangible.
Brand Stability Equals Profitability
Even in the current state of affairs where RadioShack has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, there persists a very profitable endeavor to acquire the majority of their locations. If the company is in decline, sells dated technology, and is currently contracting, though, why then would there exist a bidding war for their last storefronts? The same things that investors want from them now is what entrepreneurs and IT professionals have known they would be able to get from them for almost a century- a consistent, authentic, enthusiast’s experience for communications technology. Creating a solid brand experience is one thing, curating and preserving it through global expansion how RadioShack has done for decades is entirely another. Maintaining that purity of a brand as it is entrusted to a multitude of franchisees is something that throttles many business owners as they look to expand their own companies. It doesn’t have to be that scary.
Keep Your Business Yours, Even When It’s Someone Else’s
No, that’s not a riddle or Zen kōan, it’s how business owners maintain consistent brand standards with their franchise partners everyday with VirtualPBX Franchise Phone Systems. With locations growing and cropping up all over the country, there exist two key challenges to keeping a brand’s core experience intact, Customer Connection and Brand Cohesion.
You’ve built a successful regional or national brand, how do you continue to connect customers over an increasingly large area with the right locations during rapid expansion? The best way to do that is with singular, corporate contact points in the form of your existing website and a national toll-free number. Just having a toll-free number can be a drain on your staffing requirements if it requires a call-center and operator functions, though. VirtualPBX toll-free numbers can be programmed to automatically direct your callers to the most appropriately located by identifying the caller’s area code and routing it to the nearest franchisee.
manage, change, edit, and monitor the content and function of the toll-free number from anywhere in the world that you have an internet connection.
The Unfair Advantage
RadioShack didn’t have access to these types of unified communications when it was founded. They, like you, have relied on the tried and true method of identifying a need and providing a reliable and valuable solution to fill that gap in their communities. Today, you can utilize the latest iterations of technologies that were designed with RadioShack components to ensure that your brand’s growth can be at least as potent, consistent, and effective as even the largest franchises in the world.
To learn more about how VitualPBX’s unified communications strategies can best be employed for your business, you can read more about it on our blog or get in touch with one of the VirtualPBX Franchise Experts today.
National Bike To Work Day
May 14th, 2015
May is National Bike Month and today with the second full week being Bike to Work Week and today, Thursday May the 14th, is National Bike to Work Day. That basically is like the epicenter of the your-co-worker-might-be-a-bit-stinkier-than-usual month that marks (for most) the gateway into the summer months. All of the added hours of commute time that the budget-conscious, fitness-oriented and environmentally-minded cyclists in the office will have to put in this month, plus the days away from the office that typically occur during the coming summer months, make finding ways to stay connected when on the road even more important.
Keep In Touch
Though cell phones, laptops, and devices galore have become ubiquitous in today’s society, not everyone wants to leverage their digital flexibility at the expense of their personal freedom. Giving out personal information like mobile and home phone numbers makes delineating clear lines between the beginning and ending of work hours difficult. Even for sales executives who are on-call more often than not, maintaining an element of anonymity for the times they do not want to be disturbed by work is important for a healthy work/life balance. Furthermore, for either budgetary or logistical reasons, carrying separate mobile devices for work and for personal use is not a realistic solution for many people or businesses.
Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too
Forget for a moment how ridiculous this expression is (seriously, I always eat all the cake I have, every time) and focus on how great it is when things work out with a double-whammy like it implies. Now you can use any device to conduct business. Whether it’s your work, personal, family, or borrowed device, as long as it has an internet connection, the VirtualPBX Softphone App mirrors your office presence from anywhere, anytime.
The VirtualPBX Softphone is an application that uses internet, wifi, or a network data connections to create a portal into your company’s hosted PBX system so that you can access it remotely. By using the company’s existing phone network, you can mask all of your communications with the work telephone number that you use when you’re at your desk in the office. No more missed calls, no need to share private information.
Get Started Now
Unlike how some of your bike-riding co-workers may have realized that they probably could have benefitted from a few rides beforehand to ramp up to their commute today, you don’t have to prepare anything to get started with the VirtualPBX Softphone App. In fact, the sooner you get the desktop or mobile app download, the sooner you can start working remotely as if you were in the office.
If you have any questions about the Softphone App or hosted telephone service for your business, you can always contact our award-winning VoIP for Business Experts. They have probably cleaned-up from their rides in by now, too.
Blocking and Tackling: It’s all about Fundamentals
May 12th, 2015
For sports fans, the Bay Area is a great place to live. We have two Major League Baseball teams, two National Football league teams, a National Basketball Association team (go Warriors!), a National Hockey League team, a Major League Soccer squad, and a host of other pro and semi pro teams ranging from Roller Derby to Cycling and everything between. Maybe it’s the great weather or big industries that are synonymous with Northern California, or maybe it’s just that we’re really fortunate, but the point is that we have an abundance of opportunities to improve business with lessons from professional sports.
Recently the NFL held its annual draft of college players into the pro ranks and this inspired many conversations around the office concerning each prospect’s relevant skills and upside potential. In spite of an impressive 40-yard-dash or bench press reps completed, however, the key thing that it always came back to was how fundamentally strong the athlete was. In sports, just like in business, how strong a foundational skillset and functional intelligence an athlete or company has will dictate much of how scalable and ultimately how successful they will be.
Operations – The Base of the Pyramid
We’ve discussed in the past how important basic operations and balance sheets are for avoiding a potential tech collapse, but basic skills go beyond accounting into other compliance and regulatory areas, too. For many large industries, like healthcare, legal, and any service capacity, proper record keeping isn’t just good business, it’s often times a matter of regulatory necessity.
They say a big part of success is just showing up, that’s true in a lot of ways and the concept extends to other areas of being present, too. Dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s is not the sizzle to any workplace steak, but it often makes the difference between success and failure. Think about how important procedure is in a court of law where improperly handled evidence or questioning can result in mistrials or dismissals. From a reporting perspective, many pitfalls and regulatory sanctions can be avoided by simply keeping organized records.
Avoid Human Error, Automate Compliance
Recording conversations, contacts, and events has become easier with email archiving, but for many businesses that is merely one portion of their communication. With so many critical conversations still occurring over the phone, establishing an equally reliable and automated call-recording procedure is the best way to mirror an electronic message capturing protocol.
VirtualPBX has a battery of call recording features that achieve the highest standard of compliance for business to keep running smoothly. From the convenience of the Extension Manager, call recording preferences can be set and changed from anywhere there is an internet connection and in real time. Features include-
- Set automated call recording by extension or by entire queue
- Toggle recording in call with a simple key-pad entry
- Set recording storage and delivery preferences to email, cloud storage, or send a recording directly to your DropBox account
The basics of record-keeping and operations aren’t solely responsible for a company’s success, but improperly addressing these things can effectively damage the chances of that success. To discuss how your company can keep its fundamentals strong with automated call recording and storage, contact one of the compliance experts at VirtualPBX today.