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Archives: June 2011

Virtual PBX and PrintsMadeEasy Fight Confusion From Joplin Devastation With Volunteer Support Line
June 2nd, 2011

Volunteers Field Calls for Victims Using the Joplin Tornado Info Facebook Page

24 minutes is all the warning the residents of Joplin received to prepare for the F5 tornado that would completely flatten three miles of this small city in Missouri.   The devastating tornado has been declared the most deadly in years, leaving in its path at least 139 victims and over 100 missing people.

Surrounded by the mayhem left by the tornado, PrintsMadeEasy (http://www.printsmadeeasy.com) saw first hand that communicating reliable information was nearly impossible and quickly becoming a critical issue.   They were determined to help the people of Joplin stay connected by setting-up a support line for the victims and volunteers.  Susie Matthews, online operations director at PrintsMadeEasy, quickly contacted Virtual PBX (http://www.virtualpbx.com/), enlisting their support.

As a longtime customer of Virtual PBX, Susie knew the hosted phone service would be the perfect solution, allowing volunteers to answer questions about drop-off sites for donations, locations of volunteers and hospitals, and to take down missing-person updates.

Virtual PBX responded by providing PrintsMadeEasy with additional phone lines, a local number and automatic call distribution (ACD) queues to help manage the increase in inbound calls. This support line fields calls for the Joplin Tornado Info Facebook page created by PrintsMadeEasy to help the people of Joplin stay connected.

“Because we’re so close to the disaster in Joplin, we did not want to just sit back and watch, especially since most of us are familiar with the places that were hit,” says Matthews. “Virtual PBX has been great by donating its hosted phone system, which has worked well for us in the past, along with a local number for people to call.  We encourage anyone interested in joining us in our efforts to give us a call.”

As PrintsMadeEasy donates their free time to taking calls and updating the Joplin Tornado Info Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/joplintornadoinfo), they may soon need more volunteers.  With Virtual PBX, Matthews can quickly and easily create additional extensions for volunteers.  PrintsMadeEasy and other volunteers can even make and receive calls on-the-go, as Virtual PBX can allow calls to be directed to any phones anywhere. Volunteers currently working outside the affected area can now provide immediate response.

Such an influx of support and aid required organization, and Virtual PBX was glad to be able to offer some much needed assistance.

“When a longtime customer calls asking for practical help to provide a vital service like their support line, the only reasonable response is ‘yes,'” says Paul Hammond, CEO of Virtual PBX. “After viewing the devastation, it’s heartening to know that we can provide assistance that makes a difference, and we’re grateful to Susie and her team for their hard work. We’re glad we could help.”

To follow along on Facebook about any needs you may have regarding the Joplin disaster please visit http://www.facebook.com/joplintornadoinfo for more information.

Virtual PBX Receives Network Products Guide 2011 Hot Companies and Best Products Award
May 19th, 2011

Virtual PBX Complete Selected as a Winner in the Hot Technologies Category

Virtual PBX, once again proving their commitment and drive to constantly create award-winning services, wins Network Products Guide’s 6th Annual 2011 Hot Companies and Best Products Awards in the Hot Technologies category.

Network Products Guide, the industry’s leading technology research and advisory guide, honored winners from all over the world in Las Vegas on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, during the 6th annual dinner and presentations.  The esteemed annual award is the world’s premier information technology award honoring achievements and recognitions in every facet of the IT industry.

The Network Products Guide Award marks the second prestigious honor Virtual PBX has received in less than six months. Virtual PBX Complete — Virtual PBX’s turnkey service for small and mid-size businesses — also recently received Internet Telephony Magazine’s 13th-annual Product of the Year Award.

Receiving the coveted industry award from Network Products Guide further validates Virtual PBX’s position as a company well positioned to ensure their customers have an easy-to-use yet extremely powerful phone system to help present a professional image over the phone to their customers, prospects and employees.

An annual achievements and recognition awards program with active participation from a broad spectrum of industry voices, the coveted annual Hot Companies and Best Products recognition program encompasses the world’s best in organizational performance, products and services, executives and management teams, successful deployments, product management and engineering, support and customer satisfaction, and public relations in every area of information technology.

“This esteemed industry and peer award recognition of Virtual PBX Complete by Network Products Guide is truly an honor,” said Greg Brashier, COO of Virtual PBX. “The recognition in the ‘Hot Technologies’ category demonstrates that Virtual PBX is continuing to meet the needs of our customers by providing solutions that are best-in-class.”

The Results Are In!
March 14th, 2011

Survey says: owners of small and medium-sized businesses see cost savings, improved productivity by adopting virtual office approach.

You may have noticed that the number of people choosing to work from the comfort of  their own homes is increasing as this lifestyle becomes more attractive to workers and employees.  This phenomenon comes as no surprise given that today’s technology and business services make working from home easier than ever.

“Small-and medium-sized business leaders are on the forefront of embracing virtual offices to boost business efficiency, cut costs and provide more flexibility to their workforces,” said Greg Brashier, COO of Virtual PBX. “At Virtual PBX, we’re responding to the needs of this growing population with technology designed to make it easy for them to stay in touch with colleagues and clients. In particular, we’ve seen strong interest in our Virtual PBX Complete solution, which allows our users to leverage the industry’s deepest feature set and the flexibility to use any phone, all at 40-80 percent savings over traditional phone services.”

Virtual PBX, inventor and leading supplier of hosted PBX services, recently learned the effect virtual offices have on businesses, surveying over 600 Small-and-medium business representatives – including CEOs, owners, partners, directors and sales managers.   The survey incorporated a wide range of topics including frequency of virtual office use, perceived effectiveness in a virtual setting, virtual office costs and use of technology that supports virtual offices.  The results were very interesting, to say the least.

Lets start with the top reasons SMBs adopt virtual offices.  According to the survey, the number one reason to work from home, chosen by 61 percent of respondents, was flexibility, followed closely by cost savings (54 percent), geographic distance of staff (42 percent) and the desire to reduce commute time, cost, and pollution (41 percent).

So just how many people work virtually, from home offices, coffee shops and other not-traditional locales?  A whopping 60.9 percent of respondents work from a virtual office almost all the time and 27 percent will work outside the office 2-10 days a month.  In addition 57 percent of survey-takers indicate that half or more of their workforce works outside the office during a typical month.

The below results may be part of the reason working from home is so popular among SMBs:

•   The majority of respondents – 59 percent – feel they are more  effective working from a virtual location than in a traditional office.

•   On the cost-savings front, 43 percent of the SMB leaders reported they save $1,000 or more each month on items such as rent, IT equipment,     phone service and supplies by using a virtual office. (Eight  percent of this group saves more than $10,000/month.)

Cell phones are extremely popular among virtual workers, with 87 percent of respondents using them as a business communications device.  However, landlines are still quite popular, coming in as the second choice at 49 percent.  VoIP phone lines and computer-based VoIP soft phone are used by 25 percent and 20 percent of the survey-takers, respectively.

According to the representatives, having both a local and a toll free number is extremely important in a virtual office, allowing them to appeal to both local customers and those outside their region.  Two-thirds of respondents have a local number for callers to reach them on while the same number also indicated they have a toll-free number.

Disliking “on hold” music, our survey takers much preferred their phone system features include “custom music or messages while on hold”.  This feature was even more popular than built-in conferencing, call forwarding to any phone, and caller preview.

On a racier note, some participants were all too honest when asked what they wear when working virtually. 3 percent of respondents admitted to working from home in their birthday suits!  Of the remaining survey takers, 50 percent prefer the comfort of working in shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops; 37 percent dress up in business casual attire;  4 percent just stay in their pajamas and 2 percent dress to the nines in formal business attire.

So what did we learn?  Working virtually can help you to be more productive, help you save time and money, and apparently even save some people the hassle of dressing for work in the morning!  Let’s just make sure those particular employees attend the audio-only conference call!

Virtual PBX Adds VoIP Phones and New Flat-Rate Plans!
February 25th, 2011

Polycom SoundPoint IP 335

Virtual PBX Adds Hardware VoIP Phone Support

The time has come — Virtual PBX, provider of the no-compromise business phone system, announced support for hardware VoIP Phones along with new flat-rate plans, fortifying their lineup of industry-leading plans and services. With this, Virtual PBX now controls the phone call from the inbound phone number ALL the way down to the phone on the desktop. You can now have a truly complete phone system integrating phone numbers, free long distance and IP phones into one cost-effective solution.

We now offer two award winning plans from which you, the customer, can choose: the new flat-rate plans and the original usage-based plans. Even better, you don’t have to be on the flat-rate plans to use the VoIP phones – we’ve set up the system to support the phones on either plan. So feel free to pick the plan that works best for you and your business, and also decide how you would like the system to reach you. You can be contacted through the VoIP phone(s) and/or contact phone numbers via a landline or cell phone. The freedom to choose is in your hands.

We also offer you the freedom to save! With Virtual PBX you can simplify your life and your budget by cutting the ties with your landline carrier. There is really no need for a landline anymore seeing as how you can make and receive phone calls using a VoIP phone and your Virtual PBX service. So go on ahead and save that money each month with Virtual PBX Complete. With our phone service you can enjoy a savings of anywhere from 40-80% in traditional phone system and landline costs – that is a huge savings! Given that telecom costs are a major expense in everyday business, Virtual PBX provides business communication that is affordable, easy and accessible from wherever you need to be with a low monthly fee and no contracts or setup costs!

Please see the plan details below and save money with the plan suited for you:

Flat-Rate Plans:

These are your traditional “unlimited” plans that so many companies try to market. However, Virtual PBX does it right as there is a fair-use policy in place (much like every other VoIP phone service out there) that allows 5,000 minutes of inbound minutes per extension, aggregated at the account level. So a 5-user system would include upwards of 25,000 inbound local minutes. That’s amazing. Most companies won’t touch that. Yet, they can have this system for around $150 per month, and that already includes the e911 fees, Federal and FCC taxes. The flat-rate plans are as follows:

  • 1-User: $39.99/mo
  • 4-User: $23.99/mo/ext
  • 10-User: $21.99/mo/ext
  • 20-User: $19.99/mo/ext
  • 50-User: $19.99/mo/ext
  • Extra Extensions: $24.99/mo

Usage-Based Plans:

These plans are what Virtual PBX used to pioneer the hosted phone service market. On these original plans you only pay for the minutes used each month. As the plans go up, you receive a larger block of free minutes and the price for additional minutes becomes cheaper. These plans come with unlimited users and all the same features as the flat-rate plans. Virtual PBX has the following usage-based plans:

  • VPBX-5: $9.99/mo (300 minutes, extra minutes are 6.5 cents/min)
  • VPBX-10: $24.99/mo (600 minutes, extra minutes are 5.8 cents/min)
  • VPBX-20: $44.99/mo (1,000 minutes, extra minutes are 4.7 cents/min)
  • VPBX-50: $94.99/mo (2,500 minutes, extra minutes are 4.4 cents/min

VoIP Phones

Virtual PBX now supports hardware VoIP phones connected to the service. This is a superb addition as now you can make phone calls and show your Virtual PBX caller ID on every outbound call. And you don’t have to use a cellphone or landline to make that outbound call. All you need is an Internet connection. Virtual PBX sells the following phones that arrive pre-configured and ready for use:

  • Polycom SoundPoint IP 321: $99.99 (single ethernet port)
  • Polycom SoundPoint IP 335: $139.99 (ethernet pass-through port; backlit display)
  • Polycom SoundStation IP 5000: $599.99 (conference phone)

With Virtual PBX there is no need to get phones from one provider, calling plans from another, and features from somewhere else. Get it all in one place. If you are looking for a complete, no-compromise business VoIP solution for your business, Virtual PBX is the answer.

Show Your Company Phone Number from Any Phone!
August 18th, 2010

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.

Get Your 855 Numbers Here!
August 6th, 2010

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.

5 Reasons Why You Need Telephone Disaster Recovery
June 15th, 2010

When disasters occur, a company has a lot to deal with. Protecting your employees and assets is important, but can still leave you paralyzed. It’s one thing to protect your data and network, but what about ongoing customer interaction? It may seem old-school, but a company’s telephone number is a primary customer-interaction channel. During a disaster, without some method of continuing to carry on customer interaction, you’ll be dead in the water and hemorrhaging clients. A lot of companies have disaster recovery plans in place. But unfortunately, a lot of those same companies don’t include telecom in the DR plan. Here are five reasons to not put off your telecom disaster recovery plan.

1.  There’s Too Much at Stake

People insure their health, their cars, and sometimes even their mail. But many overlook the need to protect their company’s primary customer interaction channel – their phones. They might think it’s expensive, or they might think they don’t have the time. But if your phone lines fail, or your people cannot get to those lines, then what’s at risk isn’t just current business being lost – it’s a permanent blow to the reputation and credibility of the company. Busy lines, emergency signals, hold time, disorganization, and lack of status updates will severely damage your corporate image. Even if you’re willing to risk the days or weeks it takes to repair the damage, it can be months or years before your image is restored.

2.  43 Percent of Companies Have Had a Major Disaster

Power loss, office loss, or even damaged power or phone lines can and do occur. There’s no reason to not protect your business against disaster. Almost half of all businesses suffer extreme loss of data and communications. Considering how much each client is worth to your company – how much is at stake on every call – how many calls are you willing to risk on a flip of the coin?

3.  Even a Minor Disaster Can Cost Major Amounts

Total loss means losing every client until your phone system can be repaired, which could take days or weeks. This will ruin a business. But even minor problems like equipment malfunction, temporary electrical outages, or roads going out mean that you put a lot of stress on the rest of your business to try to make up for it. Having a fall-back plan isn’t just for hurricanes, fires and terrorism: It’s for anything else that may arise, even if it’s seemingly mundane. A good plan can and will keep you from losing your clients and your reputation.

4.  65 Percent of Businesses Have Weak Telecommunication Continuity Plans

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 the phones to a business, this is a surprising statistic. That’s a significant majority of businesses that lose big whenever any kind of disaster occurs. Even a small investment of time and money to establish some sort of telecom disaster recovery plan will go a long way toward protecting your company.

5.  It Doesn’t Cost Much Money or Take Much Time to Protect Your Company

A good telecommunications disaster recovery plan can be put together in a matter of hours, not days, and the costs are trivial compared to the risks. This isn’t the business of comparing the price to the value of what’s being protected. Figuring ROI on disaster recovery investments is extremely hard to determine. The better question: What is a client worth to the company? Typically, the cost of a telecommunications disaster recovery service is a mere fraction of the cost of a lost client. That alone should be a major decision-making factor in putting together a proper telecommunications disaster recovery plan.

Why is Virtual PBX talking about this?  Because a by-product of using our service is automatic telecom disaster recovery — your phone calls are being handled by an off-site service.  With Follow Me Calling, you don’t have to be in the office to take your calls.  Even if you have a hardware phone system that you’re not intending to do away with, protect it and those inbound calls using our PBX Parachute service — a virtual phone service for disaster recovery purposes.

Bottom line is that too many companies leave their main asset – their phones – unprotected. A disaster or even a small phone line outage could cost a company significantly, both in customer revenue as well as a hard-earned reputation. With a bit of effort, some good research, and a simple telecom disaster recovery plan, a company can weather the storms of small mundane outages as well as the large natural disasters. And best of all, their customers may not even know it.

Follow Me Calling with Virtual PBX
June 11th, 2010

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.
Video TechTip: Enhanced SIP Addressing
June 2nd, 2010

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRP2vzYNU0k&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

TechTip: Password Protecting Your Conference Call
May 21st, 2010

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.