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Infographic: Maintain Brand Standards & Call Experience
June 25th, 2015

Well-branded companies have a familiarity and cohesion throughout their user experience. Recently however, much of that design is focused on the theme and feel of web-based interactions and apps. Truly committed companies understand that each one of their potential touch-points needs to be given the same level of attention in order to maintain a high standard across the board. Take a moment to go over this simple infographic and see how you can maintain your brand messaging through call experience as well. Plus, for a very limited time, you can even save on professional recording for any new messages you want to use as part of a branding exercise for your phone system.Maintaining Brand Messaging Through Call-Experience

Updating to Auto-Attendants Only Half-Way to Effective Telephone Modernization
June 23rd, 2015

Vintage Receptionist

Although the world seems to believe that this whole internet fad might just be here to stay, the truth is that there is still an extremely high likelihood that you will have business coming to you from more traditional channels. No, letter-writing is a little more antiquated than I was shooting for here, but specifically the telephone is where nearly half of all consumers still prefer to conduct their business. With that high volume of potential business filtering through your phone lines, it is especially critical that it flow freely onto the desks of your employees. Yet, the real challenge here is that an alarmingly high number of consumers still feel frustrated with poorly designed telephone auto-attendants.

Give the People What They Want

This isn’t one of those Henry Fordisms about giving people a faster horse because they didn’t think of building a car, this is a far less abstract concept- people get impatient with terrible design. Not your company’s logo or your color scheme, but the design of the telephone architecture could be helping or hurting your business substantially. Simply stated- if someone wants to do business with you, make it as easy as possible.

According to the reliably thorough think-tank Software Advice, the expert software reviewers that revealed added benefits of both OTT Apps and SIP Trunking, we’ve been able to quantify and verify things we have suspected for a long time to be true. Specifically that if a caller doesn’t feel like staying on the line, they won’t.

Customer Reactions To Poor Auto-AttendantsBrevity is the Lifeblood of Engaging Callers

At the risk of violating this very simple rule, allow me to explain. Of the consumers surveyed in this most recent study from Software Advice, 42% of them said they would take their business to a competitor after a frustrating experience with a company’s auto-attendant. Nearly half of all callers to your business are ready to jump ship to your competition if your auto-attendant isn’t efficient. Even when you’re discussing succinct communication, that number is representative of enough business to warrant repeating.

These consumers have already dialed your business, which indicates they clearly want to investigate working with you. In order to keep them on the line, according to the study, the best way is to focus on two key areas, namely length of introduction messaging and complexity of menu options.
Challenges of Using Auto-Attendants

  • Intro Message Length – Remember the Rule of Eight? This was the concept that messaging should be distilled to 8-second sound bites. Turns out, that’s too long. In fact, 69% businesses already have greetings less than 5-seconds long, yet consumers still prefer a 3-second greeting or less.
  • Menu Options – In addition to the length of time it takes typical auto-attendant programs to send callers to the menu, the actual amount of menu options themselves were cited as the second most aggravating characteristic of poorly designed auto-attendants. Keeping the number of menu items as close to five as possible is ideal, but never any more than eight, according to respondents.

Don’t Abandon the Auto-Attendant

Very few businesses will benefit from not having an auto-attendant. Simply having an around-the-clock resource for customers can yield huge dividends, but then there is the added advantage of not requiring a receptionist, too. However, it’s obvious that the wrong auto-attendant or one that is poorly designed can also be a crippling blow to a business that can’t afford to lose 42% of their potential inbound leads.

Partnering with a modern business telephone provider will be the easiest and quickest way to test, iterate, and improve your inbound caller experience. VirtualPBX’s sleek and simple Extension Manager is fully web-based so you can take it wherever you have an internet connection, and our Customer Support Team is located right here in San Jose and ready to help you get the most out of your phone system.

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.Infographic - Get More From Your ACD Queues

Dress Your Phone System for Success: 3 Auto-Attendant Best Practices Every Business Should Embrace
June 9th, 2015

Best PracticesWhen it comes to business, we’ve all been taught that first impressions matter. Whether it means walking into a client meeting dressed professionally or having a website that compels prospects to take the next step, how you present your business can literally make or break a sale. As Will Rogers once said, “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Among the most impactful ways to create a positive first impression is to tailor your phone system’s auto-attendant’s message, features and functionality to your callers. This touch point is often the first experience a potential customer has with your business. If your auto-attendant is professional and user-friendly, you’ll be that much closer to converting a prospect into a customer. On the flipside, if it’s confusing, overly verbose, or amateur-sounding, you’ll give callers a reason to take their business elsewhere.

Not sure how to make the most of your phone system’s auto-attendant? The following are three best practices which can help you create a professional first impression while enabling you to route your calls efficiently.

Prioritize Information Callers Want

Callers are dialing your business for a specific reason, and you probably have a good idea what these reasons are. Your auto-attendant message is not the place to promote your new product line or to provide a lengthy monologue about how your business started.

In general, auto-attendant messages only need to provide a few important details such as your business name and URL. From there, the goal is to direct the caller to the right extension by providing options. For after-hours and holiday auto-attendant messages, you may want to include your operating hours and address.

Most business communication experts will tell you that a phone system greeting shouldn’t exceed 75 words. Efficiency is key. For example, the prompt to “Press one for the sales department,” can be more concisely said “press one for sales.” As you write your auto-attendant message, focus on finding the most efficient way to state the most relevant information. Both first-time callers and repeat customers will appreciate this!

Keep Routing Options Limited and Logical

Of course, you want callers to be able to reach the person they are dialing. Yet, from their perspective, it can be downright irritating having to listen to a long list of options. For most businesses, there is no need to have a complex web of options and extensions. A single level with a few extensions is a smart phone system strategy.

Your menu of options also needs to be logical. The most requested options should come first, e.g. “press 1 for customer service, press 2 for sales, press 3 for billing. Every effort should be made to limit the number of options. Nine options is excessive and will cause some callers to repeat the message or even hang up. As well, you should always provide an option for callers to connect with a live person.

Align Your Phone System to Your Brand

The voice on your phone system will be most effective when it’s aligned with your business’s image. For example, callers dialing a law firm will respond positively to an auto-attendant message that communicates professionalism and confidence. Whereas, a dental office’s message should sound more friendly and nurturing to give potential patients a sense of comfort.

Interestingly, many businesses simply rely on someone in-house to record the auto-attendant greeting. Even if they have a golden voice that is perfect for your business, what will happen if and when they leave? This problem affects countless businesses, and it becomes very apparent to callers when they hear a patchwork of different voices on system recordings. A much safer bet is to choose a professional voice that you can return to time and time again to build consistency throughout your system. Virtual PBX has partnered with Snap Recordings specifically to streamline the process of managing, uploading, recording, and ordering professional messages.

Your auto-attendant is a valuable, image-promoting tool that will support your callers’ needs if it is optimized effectively. With a few best practices, your automated message and menu will speak volumes about your professionalism and desire to provide great service.

About the Author

Saul Ives is the VP of Business Development at Snap Recordings. As a leader in professional, studio-quality voice recordings for business phone systems, Snap Recordings offers more than 80 voice talents and multiple language options, along with a user-friendly, online ordering system. Learn more about Snap Recordings at http://www.snaprecordings.com/virtualpbx/

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.

Blocking and Tackling: It’s all about Fundamentals
May 12th, 2015

FoundationFor 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.

Grow With Confidence – Franchise Phone Systems
May 8th, 2015

Growth

There exist hosts of challenges to growing any business. For some businesses, many of those challenges can be avoided by shifting their growth strategies to a franchise model. Franchises allow for more rapid expansion and iteration, but also come with some concerns unique to them.

Change the Business, Not the Brand

Perhaps the biggest concern for expanding franchises is that they risk diluting the core brand that made them successful in the first place with every new franchisee they open. Not being able to directly oversee operations in all locations is a relative leap of faith for many business owners, but with the implementation of certain technology strategies, this becomes far less of a Hail Mary.

By implementing a franchise phone system, businesses can easily unify every franchise location in a single, nationally recognized, and appropriately branded fashion. With hosted PBX phone systems, every location can be routed to just like they were all different lines in the same office building. Unlike traditional, on-premises phone systems that require a physical connection to each telephone, VirtualPBX makes distance irrelevant and can connect all locations, even those that use a local phone number, to a single national toll-free number.

National Network, Personal Customer Service

Another benefit of utilizing a cloud-based telephone solution is that customers never have to know exactly where the nearest franchise location is. VirtualPBX offers a variety of different routing methods whereby inbound calls are routed instantaneously and based off the most appropriate metrics. Either with automatic analysis of the inbound callers’ three-digit Area Code or by offering a prompt to enter a zipcode or any other distinguishing number for a business, calls are always sent exactly to where they can be served quickly, passing on the benefits of a nationally recognized company to the franchisees.

These hosted telephone solutions are more advanced than can be achieved by even the most robust physical telephone systems, and yet they are also much more cost effective, as well. By switching to a hosted telephone service, many companies stand to save upwards of 40%-80% over their current, on-site options. We’re thrilled to have been able to help countless businesses achieve their goals by offering them a bolstered national appearance all while cutting their operational costs considerably. You can read about some of our satisfies customers through our reviews, and the 55Places.com case study that deals directly with franchise and call routing across a national network.

For any additional questions on how a VirtualPBX phone system can positively impact your business, get in touch with our expert, award-winning Customer Support Team today.

Attend a Conference From Anywhere
April 27th, 2015

Hello My Name Is

Staying on the cutting edge of your industry can only be done with a combination of real life application, trial and error, and continuing education. The continuing education portion is especially important because, while plenty of solid refinement and experience can be achieved in the laboratory of day-to-day business, without learning from other experts we’d potentially miss out on critical new trends and tactics.

“Hello, My Name Is ________________”

One of the more popular ways to gain your continuing education credit is through the burgeoning conference market. And boy or boy is it ever burgeoning. A city known for a laundry list of not fit for print indulgences, Las Vegas, NV, is also the site of some of the most massive conference and convention audiences in the world. According to the City of Las Vegas, over 22,000 conventions that drew over 5 million attendees were held in the city’s massive, and numerous, conference halls last year. Needless to say, sharing information to a wide audience in a directed fashion is so valuable, that companies invest literally billions of dollars each year to get involved on both sides of the presenter and attendee spectrum.

Of course, not all companies can afford to send their employees all over the globe chasing down the next big idea and trend, let alone are they able to include all affected employees in the journey when they can. Furthermore, making certain that the information gained by those who do attend is shared quickly and efficiently is another challenge that some companies face.

Hold Your Own Summit

Okay, it may be difficult to reproduce the glam, glitz, and swag that comes form a proper Las Vegas conference, but you can execute the same type of quality group education from the convenience of your home office. Teleconferencing is the best way to engage larger groups of people in a simple, effective way. Plus, much like how Sin City is the site to where people travel from all over the globe, teleconferencing also brings together dispersed groups better than anything else can, without all of the airfare.

Teleconferencing can bring people together from over the phone lines, but when you have multiple people in one place, having a proper conference phone is important to getting everyone in the room involved. There are many options out there for a quality product, too many, in fact, to realistically consider all of them as contenders. VirtualPBX has narrowed down the field for you with the best values for high-performance phones and even have a very limited special opportunity to save on select models.

Injecting new ideas into your organization is critical for staying competitive and teleconferencing is one of the most cost-effective and reliable ways to do that. To learn more about how to bring teleconferencing to your team contact the conferencing experts at VirtualPBX today, and you won’t even have any more “creative” expense account charges from Vegas ever again.

On Demand for Customers, On the Clock for Providers
April 3rd, 2015

Delivery Guy

Consumers expect content and services unique to their needs delivered to them on their schedules more today than ever before. It used to be that a pizza delivery was about as close to on demand, customized service that most people could expect. Now, though, mobile technology and ever-increasingly sophisticated information management are combining to create an unprecedented land rush for developers all trying to be first to market with more on-demand applications.

From Palm to Project

Ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft are becoming more of the norm everyday, but now with services like Handy and TaskRabbit, consumers can get everything from help packing for a move to a wrench for their leaky faucets 24 hours a day. For people who don’t want to limit their at-home dining options to only restaurants that have delivery in their area, there is even Eat24 which has over 20,000 take-out options across the country and on-demand delivery.

As long as there is an opportunity to make an experience more user-centric, consumers will grow continuously disenchanted with services that don’t meet their exact specifications. Though this trend has been the purview of areas like streaming content and on-demand housework, it is likely to affect how utilities and other professional services begin operating soon, too.

You-tilities

Exemplary of the made-to-order economy are hosted telephone service companies. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is likely the best, non-consumable vertical to employ on-demand offerings to customers. The flexibility inherent in any hosted phone system far surpasses that of any physical PBX from traditional phone carriers, but innovative companies are taking that one step further.

With near limitless options in how systems are configured, products like SelectRoute and GeoRoute from VirtualPBX are designed exactly to cater to businesses that don’t want to simply order off of a menu of features, but want to design something to fit their company’s appetite as they see fit. With so many different ways to customize VoIP systems, specifically with routing options dispersed and field-based businesses with dispersed and employees, VirtualPBX is tapping into the pulse of consumers with their custom options. To learn how your business can get exactly what it needs, exactly the way you want it, you can get in touch with the award-winning service professionals at VirtualPBX, today.

Champagne Taste, Beer Budget
March 23rd, 2015

Champagne Cork

My Dad used to talk about having champagne tastes and a beer budget in the sense that he always knew he wanted something nice but would always have to settle for whatever was a realistic option in his price range. We’ve all been there and, frankly, we’re probably in this situation more often than not. The double-edged sword of our modern society’s preponderance of options is that, while we are typically presented with options for anything from cellular service to airfare that are reasonably affordable, we are also assaulted with images and advertisements of options that are both much more desirable and astronomically expensive. Why can’t we just have both?

Unicorns

No, I’m not talking about the billion dollar Silicon Valley startups. But just as rare and incredible are the findings of intrepid bargain hunters and savvy business people alike when they find a real value in the marketplace. VirtualPBX Anywhere Plan should satisfy that definition, but the fact is that our award-winning business phone solution can no longer fly below the RADAR. All of the fanfare and recent recognition aside, the incredibly flexible and affordable VoIP phone service for businesses with distributed or mobile workforces has got a coach airfare with Gulfstream accommodations.

TrueACD Queues

TrueACD Queues are only available from VirtualPBX and are one of the most highly sought-after features of our most option-rich, powerful enterprise phone solutions for corporations, call centers, and even national political campaigns. What you may not realize, however, is that they are also part of the standard suite of features on every single Anywhere Plan package. TrueACD Queues outperform basic hunt groups that are common in traditional, physical phone systems in many ways, but none more importantly than in how VirtualPBX makes them available.

We monitor and maintain all of the servers and software that power our virtual phone systems we can improve and service it without you ever experiencing a loss of service. Anywhere Plan customers benefit from this because whenever they need to make a change to their phone system, reroute a call, program a queue, or make any one of literally hundreds of changes to their phone system that they want, all it takes is a few clicks of a mouse on their free, online web portal, and we handle the rest.

Infinitely flexible, premium service at pennies to the dollar of what a traditional phone system would cost you may not exactly be Dom Pérignon, but nothing tastes as good as saving tons of money and getting more than you thought possible. Go ahead, take a sip.