Tag: Conferencing

Is Your Business Changing? Virtual PBX Can Change With You

Virtual PBX’s hosted phone service is flexible and quickly adapts to the changing needs of your growing business. Easily scalable and constantly updated with new features, Virtual PBX will keep up with your business no matter how fast you change.

With traditional PBX’s, everything must be installed and maintained by on-site IT staff and for a growing business this can get very expensive, both in terms of dollars and time.

With Virtual PBX you can easily add or remove extensions and ACD Queues, switch plans, add Voip phones and make many other changes whenever you need to – and for a fraction of the price! Everything is in your control.

Virtual PBX also makes it easy for customers to configure the system to meet their changing needs with a simple user interface. Add a new phone number for that new ad you’re placing in the new magazine, update your main greeting with your new business hours, or route calls to a new employee, all with the click of a button.

Monitor and train new employees with Virtual PBX’s real-time web monitors and call recording. Keep an eye on when they are logged in and out of ACD queues, when they are receiving calls, as well as when they are marked unavailable. Also, ensure they are giving the best phone customer service by using free call recording. You can also use the call recording feature to train new employees.

Use free conference minutes to communicate with employees and customers virtually anywhere in the world. For ultimate flexibility, each extension owner can have a conference call going on at the same time.

With Virtual PBX you will always have multiple ways to connect with employees, customers, and vendors whenever and wherever your business takes you.

Telecom Disaster Recovery with PBX Parachute

In previous blogs we covered the importance of telecom disaster recovery and what to look for in a telecom disaster recovery service provider.   The industry has published many studies and surveys about how crippling a telecom disaster can be as well as how unprepared most companies really are when it comes to recovering from a phone system outage of any sort.  Like the 2009 study from the Business Research Institute which 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.

The planning behind a telecom disaster recovery service should not just take national or natural disasters into account.  What about the mundane and non-disasters such as planned downtime?  What about simple things like a false fire alarm?  There are multiple reasons why a company’s employees may not be able to answer their own phones in their own office.  Why not be prepared?  This is not a hard process, but it is an important one.

Virtual PBX has made the process very simple with our telecom disaster recovery service PBX Parachute.   Here’s what you get:

Hot-standby PBX with Automatic Failover
PBX Parachute waits in the background until it is needed. When called upon, there is no hardware to boot, no software to run, and no data to move. As a hot standby PBX it is ready to go. Failover can be automatic and almost instantaneous, or you can bypass automatic failover and manage the transition on your own. Calls can be routed to alternate phones in any location, such as cellular phones, phones in branch offices, or home phones.

Scale to Any Level
PBX Parachute is so complete, with so many important features, that it can usually directly mirror your primary PBX. Any size company can use the service, and it can provide phone system business continuity for all workers, or just for the most critical business functions.

Employee Emergency Hotline
Even if your business is prepared for an emergency, that’s not always true of your employees. An emergency hotline that is ready to provide instructions for how they should handle any given situation is a lot easier to remember than how the system is wired to deliver calls outside in the event of a fire in the building.

Complete Architectural Assistance
While the way in which you want calls handled is up to you, building and maintaining your disaster recovery should not cut into your time. When you create a PBX Parachute account, you just let us know how the calls need to get handled and we carry it from there. Need to update your plans or messages? Just send us an email, we’ll get any recordings or routing taken care of for you.

Knowledge research firms like Basex, Inc., have estimated that a standard 500-person company would lose over $90,000/day from loss of phone service.  Says Cheryl Arscott of Reservation Services International, “Had I not completed and signed up for the Virtual PBX Parachute program we would have been out of business for 10 days.  With the PBX Parachute, our company was able to stay in contact with our customers by phone when our normal phone system was down during hurricane Wilma”.

Given the amount at stake and the ease of creating and maintaining an automatic fail-over phone service through Virtual PBX’s PBX Parachute service, we strongly urge any company who has not already prepared for disaster to give us a call. 1-888-825-0800, option 1, and you can acquire phone system readiness for whatever storms may come your way.  As we say here at Virtual PBX — don’t get caught with your phones down!

5 Things to Look for in a Telecom Disaster Recovery Provider

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.

TechTip: Password Protecting Your Conference Call

VirtualPBX’s conferencing feature makes it quick and easy for you to host a conference, and now with more free conference minutes, we make it more affordable! You also won’t need any special conference call-in numbers, or long complicated PIN’s. Your participants just call your virtual PBX phone number, select the conferencing option from the auto-attendant, and enter the extension hosting the conference. That’s it!

However, some of you may want a little more security to your conference call. Not to worry, we give you that option as well. To password protect your conference and require your participants to enter a numeric password, simply do the following:

1. Log in to your virtual PBX extension here
2. Click on the “Conference” tab for your extension

3. Click on the “Yes” option for “Entry Password Enabled”

4. Enter your custom 4-10 digit numeric password in the text box

5. Click the “Update” button to save the changes

That’s all there is to it. Your conference room is now password protected.
For more information and FAQ’s, be sure to visit our Support page.

Talk Up a Storm

It’s time to start connecting. Conference calls let you hold meetings, make presentations, perform training, coordinate staff, handle investors, and more. And since conferencing is so useful to businesses as they grow in size or need a more personal touch, Virtual PBX is stepping up to the plate. We’re not just cutting costs, but swinging included conferencing into every account we provide.

If you’re new to conferencing, now’s the time to start finding ways to use it. You can have your people call in, join the conference, and hold whatever kind of seminar you need. If you’re already using our conferencing, expect a nice reduction off your bills from now on. That’s it. Nothing to sign up for, no need to change plans, just lower costs.

So, brainstorm freely. Talk it up. The conference bridge is already enabled and configured on your system by default. But just in case you’re not sure where to get started, here’s everything that you need from top to bottom. Most people only need the first item here.

To enter a conference if conferencing is already set up as an option in your auto-attendant menu (default key is ‘9’):

Conference Moderator:
1. Call into your Virtual PBX number.
2. Press ‘9’ during the auto-attendant to access the conferencing options.
3. Enter ‘#’ followed by your extension.
4. Enter your phone password followed by ‘#’.

Conference Participants:
1. Call into your Virtual PBX number.
2. Press ‘9’ to access conferencing.
3. Enter the extension number of the conference.

If you don’t have conferencing set up in your system, or aren’t sure, here’s how to make it all work:

To setup conferencing on your system:

  • Login to vConsole
  • Go to the “Admin” tab
  • Click “Conferencing” in the left-hand navigation box
  • Select “Yes” for Conference Bridge Enabled
  • Select the menu number you’d like to use (9 by default)
  • Click on “Update” to save your changes
  • To enable conferencing for individual extensions, click on “Edit” next to “Set Extensions Conference Privileges, enable as needed, and click “Update”

If conferencing is not enabled on your system or you have more questions, please email support@virtualpbx.com or call 888-825-0800, option 2 for Support, and we’ll help you get your conference bridge configured. Happy conferencing!