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Extending Your Business Presence with a Small Business Virtual Phone

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:53:04 AM

Those of you running your own non-employer business understand that at any given moment you might be your company’s billing, sales and marketing departments—all at once. As a sole proprietor you simply don’t have the option to turn a task over to a coworker. But just because every department of your company is actually just you, it doesn’t mean you have to look small-time to the outside world.

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A small business virtual phone can provide the same features and functionality offered by traditional wire-based systems including easy-to-set-up extensions for your departments. With this technology all you need is a mobile phone to get your business looking like a Fortune 500 company. 

For example, let’s say a prospect or new client calls your business specific line—another feature of a small business phone service—with a billing question while you’re in the tunnel at Grand Central Station or on an airplane to Los Angeles. Because of your location, you’re unable to answer the call. You are unable to answer the call. With a small business virtual phone, your customer is professionally greeted and presented extension options for each division of your company, giving you big business presence that projects an air of credibility.

No matter what industry you are in, competition is stiff in today’s congested marketplace. According to a customer service survey by Zendesk, 55 percent of customers said they switched to a different company for a product after having a bad customer experience, which can include something as seemingly insignificant as an unprofessional interaction with a company’s phone service.

You’ve worked tirelessly to build a great product or service and to generate leads and the last thing you need is to forfeit lose out on business because your phone system makes a bad impression. As the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make…” well, you know. 

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Topics: Cloud Phone, VoIP

Launch Your Startup into Success with a Small Business Phone System

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:52:57 AM

So, you’re a hot new startup operation with the potential to make an immediate impact on the market. But do you have the communications capabilities to support your goals? If you are struggling to find the right enterprise phone solution, perhaps you are looking in the wrong place.

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Photo Courtesy of Flikr User Sebastiaan ter Burg

A small business phone system is designed for small companies and startups like yours. It gives you big business presence for a low monthly price, including features like: 

Auto attendants

When customers get a professional automated greeting they get the feeling they are dealing with a Fortune 500 Company and not a brand new venture. So if you happen to be indisposed when an important call comes through, your customers have a first impression that keeps them coming back. A small business phone system managed through the cloud also gives you ability to change your greeting—or other settings—as long as you have a connection.

Conference calling

Nothing looks more professional than the ability to loop in another member of your team to get an answer for a potential client at a moment’s notice.

Voicemail to email

Suppose you’re in a meeting, and you receive an important voicemail but you don’t want to leave the room. A voicemail transcription service takes care of this, granting you the power to read your voicemail right over the interface of your mobile device.

Virtual extensions

Virtual extensions are another way to extend your business presence. Even if you are a sole proprietor you can configure your system with extensions for billing, sales, or customer service departments.   

As a new business owner there is no reason to settle for less than the functionality you need or pay more than you can afford. Now, go forth and succeed!

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Improve Your Business, Cost-Effective Solution

5 Steps to Micro-Business Social Media Success

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:52:50 AM

You took the plunge and started your own micro-business (i.e., a business that operates on a very small scale with just one or a handful of employees). You’ve created a logo, launched your website and set up a Facebook page, but now what? There are a thousand questions running through your head: should my business also be on Twitter? What about Instagram? How should I use my newly founded social pages to build brand awareness and gain clients while also running my company?

We get it, effectively using social media to market your business can be hard. Between decoding social media jargon, managing ads, organic reach and sharing relevant content across your social channels, there’s not a whole lot of time left to manage your business. However, there are ways to achieve social media success – even if you are a one or few-person micro-business.

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Here are five steps to help your business’ social media channels work for you:

1. Stay focused

There are dozens of social media outlets, but putting your energy into one or two that best fit your business goals will gain you more than spreading yourself too thin. If you’re not sure where you fit in, find out where you clients hang out. Are they on LinkedIn, Twitter or Snapchat? Go where your ideal clients are – and be patient!

2. Complete your profile

Each social network has its own way of displaying profile information, but regardless of what format your bio comes in, it’s important to fill out all applicable aspects of your social profile – especially your contact info! While many of us do not want to share our personal phone numbers on our social media profiles, we do want clients to be able to get in touch. This is the perfect opportunity to use your Cloud Phone number. Your followers will know how to get in touch with you via phone, if they like, and your cell phone privacy is still intact – it’s a win-win!

3. Develop Street Cred

Having a social media presence means more than just having a page on Facebook and an Insta account. You also need followers – and you get them by being interesting, relevant and engaging. Invite influential people and industry leaders to Like your page, create compelling graphics, geotag when necessary and use all of the features social networks have to offer like hashtags and events.

4. Work Smarter

Content takes time to develop, so why do entrepreneurs continue to write blogs, create videos and take photos that they only share once? Because they often don't realize all the ways they can effectively leverage and disseminate content. Take a blog post for example, there are so many ways to cross-promote it: share the link on Facebook, create a promo image and share with the link on Instagram, create tweets from the content, etc. Use hashtags or @ mentions when applicable to broaden your reach and if you’re still in a bind for time, try sharing tools like Hootsuite that let you schedule posts in advance.

5. Drive traffic to your site

Your website is the hub of your business, but social is where people go to talk about it. When sharing deals, photos, events, etc. on your social pages, be sure to direct readers to your website for more information. This will increase traffic to your site, allow your readers to learn more about you (because they’re already on your site) and if you track analytics you can find what your clients are most interested in!

By using these five strategies you can develop an engaged social community and manage your micro-business – all within a day’s work and on a shoestring budget. Do you currently use any tools to help manage your social pages? Or are you struggling to keep us? Share your tips and your stressers in the comments below.

Topics: Small Business Productivity

5 Benefits of Virtual Phone Numbers for Small Business Owners

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:52:28 AM

For entrepreneurs like yourself, every hour of the day is dedicated to growing your company and every dollar earned is reinvested. With so much on your plate, having an inexpensive and professional way to manage communications for your growing business can be a life-saver. 

Enter: virtual phone numbers.

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Virtual phone numbers can help you control your "phone presence" in an affordable, convenient way. This is why small-business owners everywhere are turning to them to maintain a professional image and keep money in the bank. Here are 5 benefits of virtual phone numbers:

1. Keep business and personal communications separate.

Sometimes you just don't want people you don't know very well to have your personal cell phone number. This is particularly true when you want to publish a phone number for your business online. (Who'd want their cell digits floating around the web?!) A virtual number lets you have a dedicated phone number for your business contacts that's separate from the direct cell number your friends and family use—all from one device. Also, when placing a call from your virtual number, the person on the other end sees your business line as the caller ID.

2. Consistent branding for your business.

Maintaining a professional and consistent image across all your communications is key to business success. Customers may think of you differently if they get a "Hey, this is Bob. Leave a message!" versus "You've reached Robert Smith Financial Advisers...". Now that you have a separate business line, you can create a custom message for your clients, letting them know they’ve reached your business, rather than your personal cell—giving you the professional edge you’ve been craving.

3. More features than your cell phone number. 

With virtual phone numbers, you typically get additional features, such as call forwarding, SMS and email notifications, advanced customization of your settings, advanced conferencing capabilities, etc. With business solutions, like Cloud Phone, you can also get simple extensions for employees (anywhere in the world!), voicemail transcription, and a ton of other useful features that you wouldn't necessarily get when using your personal cellphone to field business calls.

4. No dedicated hardware. 

Talk about flexibility and cost-effectiveness! Virtual phone numbers can work with your mobile phone and your employees' mobiles, so you don't have to pay for an expensive premise-based business phone system or extra phones to stay connected.

5. Toll free virtual numbers. 

Think the toll free number is a thing of the past? No way. The ability to make your business line a toll free number is a great way to expand your business and reach new markets.

If you want to increase efficiency, promote a professional image of yourself, and make it simpler for friends, family and business contacts to connect with you, consider adding a virtual phone number to your business profile. 

Have questions about how to add a virtual number or want to share how virtual phone numbers have improved your business communications? Comment below or connect with us on social media – FacebookTwitterGoogle+.

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Topics: Small Business Productivity, Improve Your Business, Virtual Phone System

Score Big with Cloud Communications During the World Cup this Year

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:52:18 AM

The most popular, most highly anticipated sporting event is about to get underway bringing waves of global excitement along with it. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be watched by hundreds of millions of people this year, many who will cheer themselves red in the face when their home country scores a big goal.

If you are planning to follow the event closely, you can remind yourself every time you see a goal that you can score a victory for your small business by adopting cloud communications. Switching from a wire-based, legacy phone system to a cloud-based phone service is like scoring a miracle goal with just seconds remaining on the clock, because your company can simultaneously boost productivity and cut costs.

A cloud-based system is maintained over the Web through a third-part y vendor, meaning you don’t have to worry about installation and maintenance expenses. Furthermore you get one, low monthly bill that never comes with any surprises.  The cloud also offers all the features you’d get with a traditional enterprise, including:

  • An auto attendant that greets callers professionally and presents them with menu options

  • Voicemail transcription that turns voice messages into text that can be read when listening is not an option

  • Business-class voicemail that makes retrieving old messages simple and easy

  • Instant conference calling that boosts productivity and enhances collaboration

Whether you’re a fan of the U.S., Brazil, Italy, France or a different country, we know that you are certainly a fan of making more money in your small business. So even if your team doesn’t prevail in the World Cup this year, you can win big with cloud communications.

3 Communication Mistakes SMBs Make (and How Virtual Numbers Can Fix Them)

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:51:51 AM

Owning a small business is filled with challenges and those challenges sometimes lead to making the wrong decisions. No matter if you're just starting out or have been in business for years, making mistakes is all part of the learning curve—but a big part of being an entrepreneur is finding a way to put those experiences to good use.

When it comes to business communications, small businesses often struggle simply because they are using outdated technologies. If you're one of the thousands who can't seem to get your phone communications right, check out these three common communication mistakes and how fixing them with virtual numbers will not only save you money, but also can improve your communications and customer perception.

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Mistake #1: Paying too much for multiple lines

As a small business owner, you may be paying for extra phone equipment and plans for all your vital employees.

You're on the right track as far as having a dedicated phone line for your workers, which makes your business image more professional. But having to pay for extra phones and phone plans also hikes up your IT budget, and it means your employees have to manage multiple calling devices.

Virtual numbers let you drop all the heavy equipment and rely solely on the devices you and your team already own, since any calls to your business number go straight to any phone you'd like.
What's even better is that you'll only have to carry one device. Here's to 2015 tech at its finest!

Mistake #2: Using out of area phone numbers

When setting up shop in a new town, advertising with or calling clients from an out of area phone number is a clear sign that you're either a brand new business with no street cred, or an out of towner who can't be trusted. While these assumptions may or may not be true, using a virtual number with a local area code gives your business an automatic in with the locals.

Plus, if you have multiple locations or highly mobile staff, you can purchase numbers in a slew of area codes so you can appear local, no matter where you actually are.

Mistake #3: Not utilizing advanced features

If you’re like most small business owners, you're busy—so busy that you haven't taken 30 seconds to properly set up your voicemail or customize your phone settings. Well, to be honest you probably haven't done those things because you're still relying on land lines or your mobile carrier's phone service instead of virtual numbers.

Not only can virtual numbers, and all the advanced features that come with them—such as call forwarding, conferencing, voicemail transcription, and more—help you provide better communications for your customers and team members, but they also give the appearance of a larger business. Even if your small business has just a few employees, you have the ability to make your business look as large as you desire, as your auto attendant can route callers to individual extensions or departments such as sales, customer service, and billing.

Once you make the switch and take control of your business communications, these mistakes will be a thing of the past. Roadbumps are just part of the entreprenural experience, the real test is how you use them to better your business!

What are your biggest communications mistakes? Tell us how you virtual numbers have helped you succeed.

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Topics: Improve Your Business, Cost-Effective Solution, Virtual Phone System

Planning Day Trips? Cloud Communications Keeps You Connected Anywhere

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:51:39 AM

It’s summer again, which means the options for family activities are innumerable. Should you take your kids to a water park, a mini golf course, or on a ferry ride? 

Day Trip Van

You are thrilled to be on a day trip, but as a small business owner you are also slightly worried about being out of touch for the entire day. As you know all too well, in the business world missing an important call or message could cost you a key opportunity.

With a cloud communications application like Cloud Phone, a small business phone system maintained completely through the web, you can fully enjoy a trip to the zoo—or anywhere else for that matter--without worrying that an opportunity is flying past you.

 A cloud-based phone system can provide you with features that maximize your mobile capabilities, such as:

  • Auto Attendant: Callers are greeted professionally by your company’s name and then presented with menu options that can expertly route your callers to the correct department , even if every department is really just one person at the zoo with his or her kids
  • Voicemail Transcription: Voicemails are automatically transcribed before they’re delivered, allowing you to be able to read your messages just like email. So if there’s a ruckus going on at the baboon exhibit and you’re unable to hear an urgent message, simply check your email where the voicemail will be made readable.
  • Reach Me Anywhere: Cloud Phone connects your incoming business calls to you or your staff wherever you choose, on any device. If you know you’ll be unable to answer a call, you can have calls routed to multiple employees, ensuring that someone will be able to answer.

 As if those features weren’t enough, because a cloud-based system doesn’t require any hardware it’s far less vulnerable to hurricanes or other disasters as well. Calls to your business-specific number—provided when you sign up for Cloud Phone—rings to your mobile phone so that when that fierce afternoon thunderstorm rolls in and knocks out power in your office, your system stays right as rain.

 Communicating with an application like Cloud Phone is easier, less costly, and more efficient than a legacy wire-based system—an impossible combination to beat. And you need all the help you can get, because like the animal kingdom, the business world is survival of the fittest. So if you’re looking to do better business this summer, consider taking a closer look at Cloud Phone from Voxox.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Mobile Productivity

What Every Small Business Owner Should Know About Professional Voicemail Greetings

Posted by John Lee

May 10, 2018 10:51:24 AM

According to a report from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), there are an estimated 27 million entrepreneurs in the US starting or operating new businesses. With so many companies’ vying for success, your business should be leveraging every possible advantage to stand out from the competition. Your business voicemail greeting is often the first point of customer contact, so it's important to have one that projects professionalism and reliability. A professional voicemail greeting not only leaves a positive impression and builds trust, but also helps you effectively and efficiently manage your communications. 

 

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There are a number of options for customizing your business voicemail greeting. A unique professional greeting helps your company appear personable and knowledgeable. You can organize your message to share information about your company's products, direct callers to the appropriate department, or even provide directions to your location.

These could be details about the hours you’re out of the office or how to reach the appropriate employee to assist the caller. Eliminate the need to repeat information when it can be automated. Having your business information readily available will save time and money. 

The old cliché "time is money" plays an important role in investing in a professional voicemail system. Small businesses cannot afford to waste time or resources on inefficient communication. Helping customers’ access information instantly and efficiently through a professional voicemail system, helps ensure that your company can meet their needs, expeditiously and professionally. Staying ahead of the competition means your business must have organized systems in place to serve a customer from initial contact through providing  the solution to the client’s needs, the way the client wants it and most importantly when the client wants it. Contact us today to learn more about customizing your voicemail with our virtual phone system.

 

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Topics: Cloud Phone, iPhone, Voice Communication, Android, Improve Your Business

Branding the Voice Channel: 5 Mistakes to Avoid With Virtual Numbers

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:51:14 AM

To survive in today's fast-paced business world, companies need to stand out. While some leaders are focusing on ways to differentiate their brands online through social media, content marketing, and other digital marketing efforts, smart businesses are also nurturing their voice channel. Having a brand-appropriate phone presence gives your business a personal voice.

The telephone is an old-world communications medium, but customers, clients, and partners expect businesses to have a voice channel, and for that channel to reflect the professionalism of the business's brand. Simply listing a phone number isn't enough to get your "voice presence" across the right way. Neglecting your voice channel can have a negative impact on your brand image, causing customers to question your professionalism and potentially shift their business elsewhere. 

Here are 5 mistakes small business make when it comes to their phone service, and ways to avoid them...

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1. Voice Greeting Not Brand-Aligned

Small business owners often don’t have the resources or the need for a sophisticated phone system, so they rely on personal cell phones to connect with team members and customers. While combining work and personal lines does save money, it can backfire when it comes to your brand image. If a customer, client, or business partner calls your personal cell phone number and reaches you at a bad time (like during happy hour) or is forwarded to a personal message (like, “Hey, it’s Jim. I never listen to voicemail so I probably won’t call you back!”), they probably won’t be impressed – or worse, never call back.

2. Forgettable Number Makes Business Look Smaller Than Intended

Choosing a business phone number with repeating digits or a pattern not only makes it easy for your customers to remember, but can also impact perception -- a brand that has invested in its voice channel feels more established and professional. Utilizing a toll-free number (e.g., virtual number) can also help small businesses appear larger and more credible, even if it’s just you and a small team working from home.

3. Choosing the Wrong Area Code Can Cost Your Business

Trying to sell over a wide geographic region can be difficult if you’re calling or offering phone support from an out of area number. Customers are more likely to answer incoming local numbers and are also more likely to do business with local businesses. Choosing area codes within your target geographic region or using a toll free number sends a certain signal about your business goals and could help your conversion rate. You can easily obtain multiple virtual numbers so you have a presence in more than one geographic area.

4. Lack of Extensions May Confuse, Irritate Callers

Telling callers that they need to dial a different phone number for their billing or support inquiry because you don't have extensions can confuse, irritate, or even anger callers -- deterring them from calling back. By utilizing a phone system with extensions to route incoming calls to other departments or offering a touchtone menu, you can provide convenient, professional service while also freeing up your own time!

5. Missing Messages & Slow Response Times Reflects Poorly on Your Brand

No one likes listening to voicemails, but what good is a message if you never retrieve it? Choosing a business phone service that offers voicemail transcription makes it easier to manage and view voice messages, ensuring you can help customers when they need it. Responsiveness is key to your brand's reputation. It's much faster to review a voicemail transcription than to find the time (or remember!) to listen to the voicemail. Voicemail transcription helps you get back to the customer faster, earning your brand top marks for customer service.

Having the best social media or email campaigns will not help if your voice channel is out of order. All businesses that rely on voice communications in any way must consider their phone presence to ensure that this element of their brand matches their overall business goals and image.

Have you employed any interesting voice channel techniques to support your business brand? Do you use virtual numbers in your voice presence strategy? Share your comments, questions and challenges with us in the comments below or on our social media channels –  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Small Business Productivity, Mobile Productivity, Improve Your Business, Mobility, Virtual Phone System

How a Small Business Virtual Phone Can Set a Freelancer Free

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:51:07 AM

Whether you are a freelance writer, graphic designer or interior decorator, your creativity and imagination is what keeps your services in demand with customers. The quality of your work speaks for itself and you take great pride in making a client’s vision come to fruition.

Freelancer

When it comes to adopting the right business communications system, however, you may be having a difficult time making a decision. Fortunately, small business virtual phone systems exist just for successful entrepreneurs like you.    

A virtual—or cloud-based—phone system gives you much of the functionality you’d get with a legacy enterprise system at a much lower cost. You can set up professional greetings, designate extensions and have your voicemail sent to email so you won’t miss an important message. Furthermore, because your system is in the cloud your settings are easily accessible and you avoid installation and maintenance costs. Last but not least, all you need to get started is a mobile number!

Another advantage of adopting a cloud-based phone system is that if you decide to expand your freelance business into a full-fledged company, you’ll be sending a signal to millennials in the workforce that you are committed to running a modern business. When considering the emphasis younger workers place on a potential employer’s technology these days, attracting the best and brightest can be a challenge—one a virtual phone system helps you meet.

Being your own boss has many advantages, but one of the potential drawbacks is dealing with aspects of business outside of your comfort zone. Fortunately, today’s best-in-class technological solutions offer freelancers more tools than ever before. Yes, that is opportunity knocking at your door. Will you answer?

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Voice Communication, Voxox, Cost-Effective Solution