Tag: Call Routing
Posted on August 18, 2010 by Paul Hammond
If you’ve called a customer using your home phone or cell phone, then you’ve probably had them call you back on that same phone number — they just redial the caller ID left on their phone. Suddenly your personal phone is your new “business” number. It’s like having people visit your home when they should be going to your office or store. What a pain. But all is not lost. By using Virtual PBX, you have a way to show your company phone number on outbound calls without having to reveal the number from which you’re calling. Convenience and privacy all in the same call!
This feature is called “Virtual Calling Card”. It’s perfect for calling from a cell phone, a friend’s house, a hotel, or even a pay phone…if you can still find one that works! And you don’t need to keep track of special code numbers and dialing strings – you just dial yourself. This feature is accessed by logging into the phone system over the phone. Some of our customers are unfamiliar with this feature or think it’s harder to use than it really is. Truthfully, it does take a few steps — call into your Virtual PBX phone number, press #, enter your extension number followed by #, then enter your phone password follow by #. Realistically, all of that can be accomplished via a speed dial on your phone. There is an alternate way to log into your phone system by pressing the CallBack button on the Call Routing tab.
Once you are logged into the system over the phone, you press 3 to make an outbound call. The system will ask you to enter the phone number you wish to dial. That’s all there is to it. Once you enter the phone number, the system will dial, showing your Virtual PBX phone number as the caller ID to your call recipient. So not only is this convenient, but it’s also secure as you’re not showing your personal phone number when you call your customers, vendors, or contacts.
You do need to make sure that your system is set to show your Virtual PBX phone number on outbound calls. This is the default setting, so unless you changed it, it should be fine. That setting is edited under the Advanced Configuration settings of the Auto-Attendant.
Also, if you have multiple Virtual PBX phone numbers, you can show any one of those on your outbound calls. A beautiful thing! Just make sure to dial into the system using the number that you want to show on your caller ID. So this feature is not just convenient and secure, but also flexible!
So now you and your personnel use your Virtual PBX to make a bunch of outbound calls. How do you know who called whom? You can track all of your outbound calls using the Extension Outbound Call Report. This report shows the date, time, extension numbers, extension owner caller ID, duration of the call, and the phone number of the party dialed. This is a great report if extension owners use the Virtual Calling Card feature to make customer call backs to customers or vendors. It’s great detail, but it’s also great for accountability.
With the Virtual Calling Card feature from Virtual PBX, not only can you show whichever Virtual PBX company phone number you wish in the caller ID when you make your outbound calls, but you also get the satisfaction of NOT having your personal contact phone number show up on caller ID displays of your customers, vendors, and business contacts. It’s convenience, flexibility, and personal protection at the same time.
Posted on August 6, 2010 by Paul Hammond
If you haven’t already heard about it, the FCC is releasing the 855 prefix for toll-free numbers on October 2, 2010. Since none of those numbers are currently taken, numbers like 855-Call-Now or 855-855-8558 should be available. All of the 855 numbers — all 7+ million of them — will be available for reservation on October 2nd, all at once. When that happens, every company that has access to the nationwide toll-free number database will reserve as many numbers as they can, as fast as they can.
Since Virtual PBX has direct access to the nationwide toll-free database, you can get in line to have us make a grab for your numbers of choice on your behalf. And unlike many other toll-free number ordering services, we charge nothing to place orders for up to 25 numbers, and only $25/each for the numbers successfully reserved for you. Now’s the time to try for a special toll-free number that’s always been unavailable in the past. An opportunity like this doesn’t come around very often.
To place an order, click here and enter your request. Again, the first 25 attempts are free, just $2 each after that, and only $25 for each number successfully reserved. Other companies are marking up these numbers to make a huge profit. VirtualPBX is just trying to give our customers what they want.
For more information about why you might need a toll-free number, please continue reading…
Why Use Toll-Free Numbers
There could be a very long list of reasons why a business or person would use a toll-free number. However, one could narrow it down three general reasons::
Visibility: If you want to show a local presence, then market your local number so your callers know that you’re local to them. Small to medium sized businesses typically fall into this category. However, if you are marketing your services to customers that are not within your local area, then a toll-free number is the best way to go.
Protect Your Branding: get your company name or the toll-free version of your local number. In the case of this post, get the 855- version of your current toll-free numbers
Polite to Consumer: it essentially rolls out the red carpet to the caller, letting them know that they can call you from where ever they are for no cost to them.
Convenience: With no cost to the caller, it’s very convenient for the caller to dial a toll-free number. Sometimes people with kids in college or family members living outside the immediate area will get a low-cost toll-free number strictly for the convenience of communication. With toll-free, it reduces the excuses for not calling!
With that information in mind, now’s the time to get your 855 number. Remember, in order to place an order, click here and enter your request. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know at 888-825-0800, option 1 for Sales.
Posted on June 24, 2010 by Paul Hammond
A 2009 study from the Business Research Institute revealed that of all the recovery points necessary in the event of a disaster (data loss, employee management, notifications, etc.), 65 percent of businesses surveyed said telecommunications was the weakest link. Given the importance of phones to a business, this is a surprising statistic. In the event of catastrophic system failure, or because a fire alarm went off and your employees have to exit the building, you’re going to need a backup plan for handling phone calls. This is not a hard process, but it is an important one. For that reason, you need to make sure that the company you’re working with to handle your telecommunications failover can connect all your employees and all your callers as effectively as possible.
In the event of a disaster, a company’s local and toll-free provider can re-route, or forward, the inbound calls to a different location. But where? To another phone system at some dark site? That is an immense amount of capital being spent on something that may never be used. The better way is to have the calls forwarded to a virtual phone system – a phone system in the cloud, if you will. A virtual phone system can have the Fortune 500 sound, features and reliability without any hardware on site. But while there are many virtual phone system providers in the market, not all of them make good telecom disaster recovery providers. Here are four things to look for in a telecom disaster recovery provider:
1. Highly Reliable
There are a lot of virtual phone system providers that have built their networks on open source software running on standard computers. This is fine for simple call control, but when it comes down to it, having specialized, reliable hardware built specifically for high call traffic is key to reliability. Also, the vendor should be located in a data center that is on the national backbone so it stays up and running even in the event of a natural or national disaster. Also, competent support staff with strong technical expertise is crucial. This cannot be accomplished with an outsourced support center but rather with their own employees who have an in-depth knowledge of their network and capabilities.
2. Highly Redundant
As a telecom disaster recovery provider faces the same problems as you – fire, hacking, power loss, etc. – they need to have a disaster recovery plan of their own, with redundancies and failovers in place for electrical, inbound, and outbound local and toll-free carriers, as well as network and hardware component redundancies. A reputable telecom DR provider has no planned downtime of their own. They should be able to switch between multiple carriers for your call (in case entire networks of phones go down) and repair and replace components without you ever knowing or needing to know.
3. Full Customization
Whether you want to appear as though nothing’s interrupted your business, or if you need emergency messages and directions only, or just an employee emergency hotline, a reputable telecom disaster recovery provider’s virtual phone system should have the features and customization capabilities as well as the support staff willing to work with you to put a system in place that meets your telecom DR needs. As an example, the service should allow you to create a bank of recorded messages that can be fluidly managed, as well as multiple fallback contact numbers for each of your employees based on what kind of communication is still available to you at the time of the disaster.
4. Full Control
When disaster strikes, it’s going to be unexpected, it’s going to be complicated, and you’re going to need to respond directly to the type of problem that has occurred. A single generic response or scripted recovery plan may not account for the number of variables in a disaster situation. At times you may not have access to computers. At other times you may not have access to phones. You’ll need a telecom DR system that can be accessed and managed several different ways, such as through a self-managed Web port as well as through the phone. But beyond that, you’ll need to have a system that can provide several options for routing calls to employees, depending on what resources are available to them during the disaster. Ideally, each employee has a phone and Web login to the telecom DR system, with access dependent on the rights given to them by the system administrator.
5. Always On
A common process in the disaster recovery world is when a disaster occurs you need to “declare a disaster” with your DR vendors so they can start working with you during that disaster. However, in the telecom world, there’s no time for that. Calls are going to keep coming in and you need a place to send them. A telecom DR provider should always be on, in hot standby, waiting for calls to come to it. You may need to declare a disaster with your local and toll-free providers so they know to reroute calls to your telecom DR provider. But you can work with them ahead of time to make sure those routes are saved in their switches, ready for when needed.
Virtual PBX is one of the only telecom disaster recovery and business continuity service providers with our PBX Parachute service. This customizable service can completely mirror your phone system, only cover your inbound call center, act as your employee emergency hotline, and provide a conference bridge for your disaster recovery team — all in the same system, all at the same time. Give us a call at 888-825-0800, option 1, and ask any of our Sales personnel about this very important service.
Don’t be a part of the 65 percent of companies whose disaster recovery plan does not include your phones. Phone calls mean money, and finding a reputable telecom disaster recovery service provider that uses a hosted phone service is key to making sure you continue to make money with those inbound phone calls, even in the event of a disaster.
Posted on June 11, 2010 by Paul Hammond
Desk phone. Home phone. SIP phone. Personal cell phone. Company cell phone. In today’s world, we have a lot of options on how and where we take our calls — and when running a business, phone calls are money. If you can’t get the call, no matter where you are, you lose business, which means you lose money! Therefore, it was a BIG surprise to learn that one of the major players in the virtual phone system market no longer offers “Follow Me Calling”. Isn’t “Follow Me Calling” one of the main reasons people choose a virtual phone system?
Not only is “Follow Me Calling” extremely important to your business, it’s extremely easy to setup and manage with Virtual PBX. With “Follow Me Calling”, your virtual phone system will find you at whatever phone numbers you have selected. It’s like “telestalking”, but different. For example, you can configure your extension to try your desk phone for 20 seconds, then if no answer, try your cell phone for 20 seconds. This appears seamless to your callers. All they need to do is dial your extension — let Virtual PBX handle the rest. Don’t worry, we’ll find you.
With Virtual PBX, there are no complex “call rules”. Setting up “Follow Me Calling” is as easy as 1-2-3. Just login to your system and click on the Call Routing tab:
1. Enter your contact numbers in the Contact Phone Numbers section.
2. Click the checkbox next to Use Follow-Me Calling in the lower right section.
3. Click the UPDATE button to save your changes.
That’s all there is to it. However, we don’t stop there — we also allow you to set the Ring Duration for each contact phone number, so you can control just how long your Virtual PBX will try each number. This setting is found on the Advanced Configuration page of the CALL ROUTING tab.
If you don’t see what is shown in the graphic above, please talk to your Virtual PBX System Administrator and have them allow extension owners to override the system Ring Duration setting.
So the lesson here is that not only is “Follow Me Calling” extremely important to your business, but with Virtual PBX its as easy as 1-2-3 to setup and manage. With Virtual PBX handling your calls properly, you get to spend more time on what matters — your business!
*NOTE: Approximately 98% of this post, including images, was written on an Apple iPad using the WordPress and Photogene apps.
Posted on May 19, 2010 by Paul Hammond
Lots of information flows through your business’s phone lines. Potential customers who don’t leave contact information could still be reached if you had access to their caller ID. Marketing spending results could be tracked precisely if you could find out exactly how your call volume has been affected. Managers could confirm the movement of calls, showing that they’re processing leads and their staff is working properly.
But just having a plethora of raw call information is difficult to manage and hard to decipher. So here at Virtual PBX, we give your organization the ability to host an unlimited amount of phone numbers and forward those to all kinds of different destinations, while still tracking all the information and processing it into a set of easily manageable reports. Each phone number can further be specialized by having its own greeting as well as directing callers to specific destinations within the Virtual PBX.
Basically, any company trying to track caller response to advertisements, promotions, campaigns, find out about missed sales or prove proper call management needs to be able to get the records that show those pieces of information organized based on the phone numbers dialed. And anyone trying to direct calls to dedicated sales teams, handle multiple businesses, provide access to multiple retail locations, or give VIP access to special clients would benefit from being able to have individual numbers for each of those possible purposes.
So there are many reasons to use extra phone numbers — and every reason is very specialized. Using extra numbers to support a franchise is going to be completely different from tracking marketing information from inbound callers. The Marketing group is going to want one or more phone numbers for each advertisement, promotion, or campaign. By doing this, they can measure their advertisement effectiveness, and thus optimize their advertisement costs. This is accomplished by tracking all call detail such as caller ID, date and time of the call, call duration, and destination of the call – even on missed calls and, in most cases, callers who have blocked their caller ID. Franchisors, on the other hand, may want to track similar information, but at the same time they need to get the calls directed down to their franchisees and regional offices as fast as possible.
Regardless of the needs of your business — from individuals, to home offices and small businesses, to large enterprises — you only pay for what you need, with no wasted resources or dollars. With the ability to track and route a company’s inbound calls like no other call forwarding, call tracking, or virtual phone system in this market, the Virtual PBX service is the best choice for companies serious about measuring and optimizing the flow of information and budgets.