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Hitting the Concert Scene? Stay Jamming With Cloud Communications

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:53:39 AM

For music-lovers, summer is concert season, filled with warm weather, cold drinks, shorts and dresses, outdoor venues, tailgating—all the things you dream about during a long, cold winter.  Whether you’re attending a three-day music festival or a one-night show, listening to live music fills you with the kind of joy you can’t find anywhere else.

As the owner of a new small business, however, it seems like you might have to skip this concert season to make sure you are available to deal with anything that comes your company’s way. But don’t cancel those ticket orders just yet, because with a cloud phone small business phone number, you can see all the shows you want and keep your business rocking.  

Concert Scene

A cloud communications application helps you manage your business on-the-go  by providing communications services through your mobile phone, smartphone or laptop. So as you wait for your favorite band to come out on stage you remain reachable to colleagues and customers alike with mobile features like:  

  • Reach Me Anywhere. Cloud communications connects incoming business calls to you or your staff wherever you choose, on any device. If you and your friends decide to catch the concert’s opening act and you know you’ll be unable to answer the phone, you can have calls routed to multiple employees, ensuring that someone will be able to answer.
  • Auto Attendant. No matter where you are, when customers reach out to you they are greeted professionally and presented with menu options to connect them to the correct department. If you need to close your office unexpectedly on a given day you can alter your greetings digitally from anywhere you have an Internet connection.
  • Voicemail Transcription. Voicemails are automatically transcribed and delivered to your email, allowing you to read messages like an email. So if you are unable to hear an urgent message due to the fact that 120 decibels of music are invading your ear canals, you’ll be able to read it word-for-word in your email and answer the call immediately if necessary. 

With all these great features you might think only rock stars would be able to afford cloud communications, but in fact, it will help you cut your current phone expenses. With a system maintained by a third-party host you don’t need to worry about paying for installation or equipment updates, which means you’ll be able to afford all the concert tickets you have your eye on. 

There are few feelings as frustrating as being stuck late at work on a beautiful day while all your friends are out having a good time. When you adopt a cloud-based phone service you never have to experience that feeling again, because you can manage your business from any location, even if you are surrounded by your fellow music-lovers as they dance the night away.

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Topics: Voice Communication, Improve Your Business

Virtual Numbers: 10 Frequently Asked Questions, Answered! (Part 2)

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:53:30 AM

Our two-part blog series on virtual phone numbers continues as we answer more frequently asked questions. Read on to understand the benefits that a virtual number could have on your small business! 

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5. Do I need any special software or equipment to make it work?

Virtual numbers work exactly the same as any other phone number – once you set up forwarding through your virtual numbers provider, all you need is your existing phone! 

6. Can I forward multiple virtual numbers to a single calling device?

You can get as many virtual numbers as you want and they’ll all reach you at the phone of your choice.

7. Can I forward a single virtual number to multiple calling devices?

Yes! Typically, when you're setting up call forwarding, you can indicate that you'd like the call to forward to multiple phone numbers that are associated with specific calling devices (e.g., your cell phone, desk phone, home phone, softphone on your computer, etc.), either sequentially or simultaneously.

8. What happens if I don’t answer?

If you miss a call to your virtual number, the caller will be forwarded to your virtual number voicemail box. You can customize this voicemail greeting to reflect your brand and provide callers with more information about your business.

9. What features come with a virtual number?

The beauty of virtual numbers isn't just convenience and cost-savings, it's also the advanced features you get that go beyond your typical mobile phone features. Each virtual numbers provider has a slightly different list of features, but just to give you an idea, here's the Cloud Phone list:

  • Auto Attendant
  • Call Forwarding
  • Call Screening
  • Extensions / Users
  • Fax (Inbound)
  • International Call Forwarding
  • Local Phone Number
  • Management Portal
  • Outbound Calling
  • Professional Greetings
  • Reach Me Anywhere
  • Toll Free Numbers
  • Voicemail
  • Voicemail Transcription

10. Can I still use my regular phone number? 

Yes, of course! Your regular phone number will function just the same as always –if not better. Now that you have a virtual number to field your business calls, you can keep your cell phone number private and make your voicemail greeting as goofy as you’d like. 

Now that you’ve got the virtual numbers FAQ, you have all the information you need to put your business on the path to communications success. Do you currently use virtual numbers for your small business? Or, do you have any questions on how to get your business set up with a virtual number? Post in the comments below or connect with us on social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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Topics: Virtual Phone System, Cost-Effective Solution, Mobile Productivity, Business Phone Number, Small Business Productivity, Improve Your Business

5 Ways Virtual Numbers Can Keep Your Team Productive During the Summer

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:53:23 AM

With warm weather and sunshine enticing you and your team to play hooky, summer months can be some of the least productive of the year. Thoughts of travelling, hitting the beach and enjoying the outdoors can leave employees feeling unmotivated and drained. So why not let them fulfill their summertime dreams, all while keeping productivity up? You can with virtual numbers.

Technology and mobile gadgets allow us to travel and work from anywhere, all while keeping in touch with globally dispersed teams. Virtual numbers are a convenient and inexpensive way to take important work-related calls with you while you’re on-the-go – and maybe even allow you to extend your vacation!

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Here are 5 ways your team can use virtual numbers (and all the features that come with them) to keep productivity up during the summer months.... and still enjoy the sunshine

1. Call Forwarding

If you want to work outdoors and won’t be around the office, call forwarding lets you take calls straight to your cell and avoid the risk of missing an important call.

2. Call Screening

Maintaining a professional image is essential for building rapport with clients, and that means giving out your cellphone number, no matter how dedicated it may seem, can backfire. By receiving work calls to your business’ virtual number, you will know when you’re fielding a business call – and if you’re not prepared to answer, just send it to voicemail – saving you face in case they caught you waist deep in margaritas! 

3. International Extensions

If you are planning to travel out of the country, you can set a 3 digit extension to follow you no matter where you are in the world. Say you're based in California and are planning to go to Belize on a family trip. As a business owner you're not able to unplug for too long, and luckily Belize has only a 1 hour time difference from your usual work day hours. You can set your virtual number to forward to your hotel or a local cell phone you rented, and the caller (who is dialing your main business line and extension will be able to reach you (if you want them to!). A great way to balance work and play and make the kids happy to stay abroad longer.

4. Voicemail

If a caller ends up at your voicemail, for whatever reason, they won’t be the wiser that they called a virtual number linked to your cell phone – as they’ll be prompted to leave a message by your custom, professional voicemail greeting. And you can easily and quickly pick up the voicemail, no matter where you are.

5. Voicemail Transcription

Listening to a voicemail isn’t always easy, especially when your cell service isn’t strong. But voicemail transcription lets you read your voicemails via email or text – so as long as you can grab a wifi signal you’ll be in the loop.

If you’re feeling a summer slump in workplace productivity or are looking for ways to avoid it all together, provide your team with the tool they need to succeed – a virtual number! With the right service, set-up is easy and because the benefits of virtual numbers go far beyond mobility, you’ll be reaping the rewards all year long. 

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Virtual Phone System, Mobile Productivity, Business Phone Number, Small Business Productivity, Improve Your Business

Increasing Productivity with a Small Business Phone System

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:53:13 AM

As a small business owner with limited resources, improving productivity is likely at or near the top of your priority list. But if you type “how to improve productivity for a small business” into a search engine, the number of results you’ll receive will probably be similar to the number of stars in the universe.

New articles and videos filled with tips and tricks for improving operations are constantly popping up on the Internet and while many offer quality suggestions, the sheer volume can be a bit overwhelming. Implementing a dozen different strategies at once is probably not the best idea, so we suggest you start with one—adopting a small business phone system.

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Photo Courtesy of Flikr User Sebastiaan ter Burg

A phone service designed specifically for small and microbusinesses can increase productivity—specifically mobile productivity—by putting the power of an enterprise system in your pocket. With a cloud-based phone service you can use your mobile phone to get:

  • A business-specific line where you can be reached no matter where you are
  • Voicemail to email that ensures you get important messages even while you’re traveling
  • Professional greetings that can be customized from anywhere you have Internet access 

On top of productivity gains you’ll see your company can also cut costs with a small business phone service. Monthly fees are reasonable and because the service is web-based and maintained by the vendor you’ll avoid installation and maintenance costs altogether.

When you own a small business, you simply can’t afford to let valuable time go unused—fortunately you don’t have to.

Want some tips on creating a great mobile workforce? Take a look!

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Topics: Voice Communication, Cloud Phone, Improve Your Business

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.

Launch_Successful_Startup

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, Cost-Effective Solution, Improve Your Business

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

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

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: Voice Communication, iPhone, Android, Cloud Phone, 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, Virtual Phone System, Mobility, Mobile Productivity, Small Business Productivity, Improve Your Business

Cloud-based Phone Systems + One-Person Businesses = A Winning Formula

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:50:58 AM

Let’s be honest: owning a one-person business can be overwhelming. Not only do you represent every department—from sales to marketing to accounting—but you are also wholly responsible for earning your own living. Given the challenges you face, any product or application that can make your life a little easier is probably more than welcome. As it happens, we have one in mind—a cloud-based small business phone system.

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So what exactly do you get with a cloud phone service? How about all the features of a wire-based system from a large provider at a price your single-person company can afford? With leading-edge cloud-based systems you can setup extensions to simulate different departments to enjoy the appearance of a mega corporation. Customizable digital text greetings, conference calls and voicemail to email are available as well!

Not only can a virtual phone system offer top-of-the-line communications features at a low monthly cost, top-flight services are exceedingly easy to set up using just a mobile phone. Furthermore, because the system is Internet-based, it requires no hardware, no ongoing maintenance and is less vulnerable to downtime. 

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there are 22.5 million one-person or “non-employer” businesses across the country—so we know there a lot of you out there looking for any edge you can get. Cloud technology can remove some of the burden of running a one-person business from your shoulders—you just have to let it. So consider adding a cloud-based phone system to your top-notch product, work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. You’ll come away with a winning business equation.   

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Improve Your Business