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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

Going on a Summer Vacation? Get a Cloud-based Phone Service

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:47:53 AM

To most everyone’s delight—particularly after a nightmarish winter--summer has finally arrived, meaning a lot of folks will be getting ready for that long-awaited summer vacation. The salty Italian air, waves crashing on the beach, tan skin, hot sun’s rays—you have been dreaming about it for weeks!

Summer Vacation Cloud

The only thing strong enough to break you out of this dreamlike haze and bring you back to reality is the remembrance that you are the owner of a small business, and while you do trust your colleagues, you also know that as the head honcho it is always possible that something only you can handle could come up.

This is a problem scenario, but one with a solution—a cloud-based phone service. A small business phone service offers an array of capabilities that will benefit you and your business no matter where you may be traveling this season.

Let’s take a look at some of the fantastic features that a cloud-based phone service offers:

  • Auto Attendant: Customers are greeted in a big business manner, guided to the correct department. So you can rest assured that even if you are touring the Vatican or at a winery in Florence your customers are being well served.
  • Reach Me Anywhere: Connects your incoming business calls to anywhere, on any device. You won’t have to worry about missing important business calls overseas because your cloud service will connect them all to your phone. Relaxing on the Italian coast? No problem! You are still in reach for “can’t-miss” calls.
  • Voicemail Transcription: Voicemails are converted to text before they’re delivered, so you can read the message if listening isn’t an option—and on vacation, sometimes it simply isn’t.

Using a cloud-based phone service allows your small business to conquer all of the problems travel presents for a small business owner like Roman Empire conquering Italy. And doesn’t every business want a phone system that helps it triumph over all challengers?

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Voice Communication, Voxox, Business Phone Number, Auto Attendant, Improve Your Business, Mobility

6 Business Phone Features You Need in 2017

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:45:16 AM

Being the tech savvy and business smart entrepreneur that you are, you know that a nimble, easy-to-use business phone system is a must-have to stay connected in 2017 -- so why is it that although communications technology continues to make strides every year (both in terms of convenience and cost-effectiveness), we continue to see antiquated phone systems in small businesses around the country? Let's do more this year to leave the old behind and rally around change for the better!

One key to making business communications effortless is to incorporate what you already have and use with what's new and simple. For many small ventures, "business phone system" doesn't have to revolve around special phone equipment and/or expensive contracts with local carriers.  There are services that quickly, easily, and affordably allow you to set up a business phone number and advanced business calling features. For example, with a virtual PBX service (like Cloud Phone!) you can instantly set up a business phone number that routes to your existing phone(s), among many other handy business features. This means you can easily use one device for all calls, but still keep your personal and business phone presence separate.  

So what are some of the awesome features of such a virtual business phone system? Here are 6 of our faves:

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  1. Extensions

Something that's a basic but important feature within a traditional business phone system is the ability to set up extensions, in case your callers need to reach a specific person or department within your small business.  The nice thing about the business phone number (called a virtual number) that you set up through a virtual PBX service is that you can also set up extensions that route calls to the cell phones of your business colleagues and/or employees, thereby bypassing the traditional type of business phone system setup entirely without losing the necessary connectedness.  It's so easy and doesn't require any special equipment -- just makes efficient use of everyone's existing phones, cutting out the expenses and keeping up with customer expectations.

  1. Business SMS

Texting is the new calling – and has been for a while – so why are some businesses so anti-text? Maybe because their current business phone systems don’t support it. But there are virtual PBX services that do. For example, two-way texting is complimentary with Cloud Phone subscriptions, allowing you to quickly and easily send and receive text messages from your business number. 

  1. Voicemail Transcription

Voicemail transcription puts all your voice messages into text so you can easily read them, then delete or save for later. One of our all-time favorite features, voicemail transcription is a great tool for busy people because it allows you to read a message if you’re in a meeting, check in on past messages without sorting through annoying voice files, or even forward the message to someone who can take care of the matter – all with just a click of a button.

  1. Management Portal

User experience is important because it can make managing and customizing your business phone system simple and easy (as opposed to a waste of  precious time!).  With the right virtual PBX service, the management portal allows users to quickly access call logs, update settings, change billing info, upgrade plans, add numbers / extensions, contact support - and best of all, you can access it from any location or device.

  1. Conference Calling

With a solid virtual PBX service, you can connect several callers at the same time on one call – which means even with dispersed team or clients across the country, you can still get work done. Conference calls save time and confusion from relayed messages, plus in 2017 we all know collaboration is the key to success. 

  1. Call Recording

Have you ever been on a call only to hang up and then instantly forget an important detail? Or have a client call in with a support issue you wanted to forward to your tech crew? With call recording you can listen in on your past calls to review details like new phone numbers or confirmation numbers, monitor support issues, and to forward a recording to a colleague.  Bye-bye paper and pencil!

Among your New Year's resolutions for your small business: re-evaluate your current phone communications approach and try simplifying!  From the joy you feel when not spending a fortune on your business phone system to the points you'll score with your team and clients for staying on top of business communications, we know adopting new phone communications tools like a virtual PBX service will make 2017 better and brighter. 

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Mobility, Virtual Phone System

Bring Remote Teams Together with a Cloud-Based Phone Service

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:45:07 AM

When choosing a phone service for your business, there are many factors to consider. You want reliable service with sophisticated calling features your customers and team members expect, all at a great price. While some phone services might have a few of the qualities you’re looking for, most traditional business phone services / landlines don’t measure up to new technologies with respect to flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

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In today’s world, where physical businesses, team members and even customers are located all over the globe, a cloud-based phone can be a life saver when it comes to keeping the lines of communications between team members open and affordable – no matter where they are.

Here are three ways a cloud-based phone service can help bring your dispersed team members together…

1. Connect with Team Members All Over the World

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A cloud-based phone service can offer you an effortless way to keep team members connected whether they are in a different hemisphere or just down the road. Many cloud-based phone services work with the mobile phones your employees already have, which empowers them to keep in touch effortlessly. There’s no need for multiple mobile devices or complicated (and expensive!) traditional hardware, just one single cellphone that will connect wherever your team members roam. Also, some cloud-based phone services (like our very own Cloud Phone!) offer a way to connect employees globally via a 3 or 4 digit extension, which can make those international numbers much easier to dial.

2. Save on Those International Bills

These days, many small businesses rely on virtual employees who work across the country or even around the globe. With a cloud-based phone service you can say goodbye to the days of high international rates, spending hours (or even days!) tracking down employees, missed messages and unreturned phone calls, because a cloud-based phone service is so flexible and affordable that a modern entrepreneur just can’t go wrong here when it comes to cost savings!


3. Sophisticated Calling Features

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Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop, a professional phone service is a must. Not only does it give customers the impression that you’re a bigger business, but it also makes staying connected much easier for employees and business partners. There are many compelling calling features that a cloud-based phone service might have that will help your workforce do their jobs effectively. Here are examples from our cloud-based phone service, Cloud Phone:

  • Dedicated business phone number (toll free or local) that forwards to any existing mobile phone or landline
  • Simple 3-digit extensions that forward incoming calls to employees / departments anywhere in the world
  • Voicemail transcription with email delivery
  • Auto-attendant
  • Call screening
  • Web Callback
  • And more!

If you’re still relying on outdated technology to keep your business communications afloat, it’s time for your company to move on to a more convenient, cost-effective and feature-rich business phone option like a cloud-based phone service. It will change the way your team members communicate, for the better!

Have questions about how to make the switch or want to share your cloud-based phone service success stories? Comment below or connect with us on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Mobile Productivity, Mobility, Cost-Effective Solution, Business Call Routing

Real Estate Agents: Cloud Communications Apps are Valuable

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:41:58 AM

We’re all familiar with the old adage that the three most important aspects of real estate are location, location and of course…location. Of course, we would never be so bold as to dismiss this tried-and-true idiom, but we do have a little something to add. 

Real Estate Cloud Communications

As a self-employed real estate agent, you probably spend much of your time running from open houses to apartment showings all over town. Working in a service industry also means you have to devote your full attention to each client and can’t afford to answer calls or listen to voicemail messages during an appointment. 

But as an independent contractor that barely has time to sit down during the day, maintaining a brick-and-mortar office doesn’t make much sense. So how can you ensure you don’t miss important communications about a client’s newly accepted offer or a great new property just coming on the market?

A cloud communications application can help you keep in touch with clients and project a big business presence even if you don’t want to spend money on physical office space or a legacy phone system. Top-shelf services offer a company-specific phone number that rings to your mobile number so there is no need to give out personal contact information. Additionally, a cloud communications application can also provide:    

  • Business-class voicemail-to-email functionality
  • Easy-to-configure professional greetings
  • Extensions for different departments, even if each department is only you
  • Settings that can be accessed and adjusted via the Internet

We’d like to reiterate that it is not our intention to rebuff one of the principle tenets of the real estate industry, but rather to add our own little touch. A cloud-based small business phone system can’t improve a property’s locale, but it can certainly help with your business communications as you move from location to location.

Maybe location is the key after all.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Cloud Phone, Voice Communication, Voxox, Business Phone Number, Mobility

Cloud Based Phone Systems Stand Up to Bad Weather

Posted by Natasha Grach

May 10, 2018 10:40:54 AM

We’ve written in the past about how virtual numbers can help you avoid a dangerous winter commute, but there are many other ways to leverage the benefits of a cloud based phone system in order to "weather the storm". Lately, we've been witnessing the power of Mother Nature at work, from the wet El Nino rain in the western states to the heavy snowfall in the east which has left many workers stranded. This has no doubt affected SMBs, forcing some businesses to close the doors early. In many cases though a cloud based phone system could have prevented any lost revenue by allowing them to keep the “doors” open virtually. Here’s how a cloud based phone system can help winter proof your business:

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  1. Call routing with a professional auto attendant. The Auto Attendant is the hub of automation for your cloud based phone system. It answers, routes, and manages your calls for you so your company always sounds professional. Easily add more numbers or extensions and control when and how your calls are routed and answered. This is particularly useful when your workforce is dispersed or when changes to the system need to be made remotely.
  2. Call forwarding with features. You can connect your incoming business calls to you or your staff wherever you choose, on any device. You can also have calls routed to multiple employees simultaneously. No more worrying who made it into the office, you can make sure no call gets missed. Although even if it does, the cloud based phone system also comes with Professional Greetings to give an optimal experience for callers.
  3. Outbound calling to make office calls from home. With some cloud based phone systems, you can place outbound calls directly from within the management console. For example, with Cloud Phone, you can simply enter the number you want to call and the number where you want to connect from. The system will dial the number, and once connected, it will also dial you. Why is this important? Well if you are snowed in at home you can still make calls to customers as if you are sitting at your desk miles away. (Hmmm, come to think of it maybe we shouldn’t wait for a snow storm to use this feature. Making office calls from the beach sounds even better!)
  4. Virtual numbers can offer temporary or permanent coverage. As we covered in our recent post, virtual numbers are phone numbers that are routed to an existing calling device, such as your office phone and/or mobile phone. If a call is missed, callers will be forwarded to voicemail, which can be personalized with a professional business greeting. These can be particularly helpful for seasonal promotions, special events or perhaps an after-hours support number that you publish to your customers.
  5. Disaster recovery: if a storm takes down your office, you won’t lose everything. Another perk of the cloud based phone system is when an outage occurs or natural disaster strikes, calls can be automatically rerouted to another office. Creating even more peace of mind and preventing financial loss, since the managed solution involves storage of activity, all of the call data can be backed up.

Taking advantage of a cloud based phone system can offer big upside for small businesses, especially during these winter months. These are just a few of the ways offerings such as Cloud Phone can help keep business communications flowing. We’d love to hear how a cloud based phone system has helped your business this winter. Share your stories in the comments here or on our social media pages - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Mobility, Virtual Phone System

Cloud Phone 101: How to Customize Your Cloud-Based Phone Service Settings

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:40:29 AM

For a small business on the go, the mobility that a cloud-based phone system affords can be a life-saver. Say you own a mobile car wash and detailing business. You have two employees who travel around the county washing and detailing cars by appointment. You don't have a physical office since your team is always at different locations. Instead you use a cloud-based phone service that works with your smartphone to keep you connected with calls to your virtual office and your employees through a single business line withextensions.

Someone on the team may prefer to receive voicemail notifications by SMS because they don't check email often enough, while others may prefer email communications, so as not to have any disruptions during an ongoing job. Also, some employees may find listening to full voicemails to be inefficient, and may instead opt for enabling voicemail transcriptions, such that the fully transcribed voicemails are emailed or texted to their mobile phones in order to quickly assess the urgency of the phone message.

As a cloud-based phone service, Cloud Phone provides the ability for you and your team to customize phone settings and access your voicemail remotely in whichever way is most convenient. Once the user is added, his or her settings can be personalized or updated at any time. Here's how it works…

Step 1: Sign into Cloud Phone and choose People from the menu in the upper right hand corner.

Step 1 Cloud Phone

Step 2: Once you’ve chosen a user, tap Update Personal Info.

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Step 3: Choose how calls are routed. Add new lines or change the configuration of existing lines.

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Step 4: Update your voicemail settings, including notifications and transcription, by choosing Yes or No when prompted.

Step 4 Cloud Phone

In today’s business world, where an office is anywhere you can get phone service or an internet connection, having a reliable and feature-rich cloud-based phone service like Cloud Phone is key to establishing a professional presence – no matter where life takes you or how you prefer to  stay in touch.

Plus, Cloud Phone comes with a 30 day free trial, is fully managed via web, with no upfront costs and no equipment to buy, so sign up today and see how it can change your business communications for good.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Mobility

Call Dad from a Cloud-based Phone Service on Father’s Day

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:39:01 AM

On Father's Day, sons and daughters everywhere will pay tribute to their dads on Father's Day with candy, breakfast in bed, fancy dinners and a host of other traditional celebrations. Unfortunately, it is a simple fact of life that not everybody will be able to celebrate this annual holiday in person. As a small business owner, sometimes important meetings or conference take you far and wide, even if the only place you really want to be is close to dad.

Father's Day With Child

If you are going to be traveling for business this Father's Day—or at any other time—you might want to consider adopting a cloud-based phone service designed for small businesses like yours. Leveraging cloud technology, these systems are configured and maintained by the provider but allow you to adjust settings online. You also get some top-shelf features like:

  • A digital text box for customized greetings that can be adjusted quickly on the fly
  • Extensions for other employees or departments, even if the department is just you
  • Voicemail to email service that ensures critical messages are returned in a timely manner

Additionally, the service can provide you with a company-specific phone number that rings to your mobile phone. With this feature, you can project big business presence even if you work alone out of a home office.

As long as you are going to be away from your dad this Father’s Day, you might as well call to wish him well from a phone system that will help your business thrive and grow. After all, you’re going to need all the money you can get so you can make up for missing dad’s day by showering him with gifts. 

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Voice Communication, Voxox, Android, Small Business Productivity, Mobility

Getting Through the Days of Summer with a Small Business Phone System

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:37:50 AM

Between warm weather, baseball games and the-late setting sun, summer is a season for fun. But during the work week, sitting at your desk day after day looking at the beautiful weather outside can seem like torture.

You’ve thought about breaking up your work routine to make this summer more exciting but you don’t know how your small business would run without you in the office. And that is why you need a small business phone system.

 A cloud-based phone service designed for small businesses lets you effortlessly manage all your communications entirely from your mobile phone, making it easier, less costly, and more efficient to do to business on-the-go. This kind of phone system allows you a little flexibility to your summerby letting you meet with clients out of the office, attend a trade show or anything else that piques your interest. 

Summer Sunset at Beach

A small business phone system also offers the features and functionality of an enterprise service, such as:

  • An auto attendant that greets callers professionally and presents them with menu options
  • Reach Me Anywhere technology that connects incoming business calls to any location you choose, on any device
  • Voicemail transcription that turns voice messages into text that can be read when listening is not an option
  • Instant conference calling, so even when you’re out of the office, it will be like you never left
  • A business-specific number that you can give to clients and customers instead of your personal number

So consider deploying a small business phone service and introduce a little variety to your summer—nobody wants to be stuck in the dog days for months on end. 

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Voxox, Mobile Productivity, Mobility

A Small Business Virtual Phone Makes Telecommuting Powerful

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:35:10 AM

Often times, the size of a company is inversely proportionate to the amount of downtime the owner gets. The fewer employees the business has, the more responsibilities fall to the person in charge.

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If you own a small or microbusiness, we understand you shoulder a lot of the burden for getting things done. Still, in order to stay productive during the hours you do work, you need some time away for yourself. So here are five things you can start doing right now to achieve better work-life balance:

Find time to get away...completely

We understand that sometimes a 15-hour day with no lunch break is simply unavoidable. But it becomes a problem when those days become the norm. Finding time to shut off all your devices, turn your brain off and just relax will get you recharged when it’s time to get back to work.

Work from home

Even if you’ll be busy conducting business, it’s nice to spend time in comfortable surroundings and with people you might not see as much as you’d like. Working from home gives you more face time with loved ones, which is invaluable. Today’s technology makes telecommuting easier than ever as well. You can use a cloud-based small business virtual phone, for instance, and none of your customers will have the slightest idea that you’re talking to them from your living room.

Let others carry the load

As a business owner, you may have the urge to make sure you work closely on every project. But if you hired employees, you have to trust your own judgment and believe they can handle the responsibilities you throw at them. Not only will working yourself to the bone burn you out physically, the quality of your work will suffer as well. Simply put, nobody can be two—or 20—places at once.

Figure out when you work best

For whatever reason, some people do their best work at 6 a.m. while others are more productive at 10 p.m. It doesn’t really matter as long as you know when you work best and schedule accordingly. Don’t schedule a crucial client call during a time you usually feel a little low energy.

Take care of your health

In the short term, skipping meals or cutting down on sleep might seem like a way to increase productivity, but it’s likely to come back to hurt you down the line. Cutting out lunch, for instance, may just leave you with less energy during the afternoon hours. Not sleeping enough can hurt your productivity on a given day, but it also weakens your immune system. When your defenses are down, you’re more likely to get sick and miss significant chunks of time.

Some of these practices may be difficult to put into place, especially if you have contradictory habits deeply ingrained already. But these suggestions will put you in a better frame of mind and help you achieve better focus. In turn, your business will grow and thrive—and that’s the reason you work so hard in the first place.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Voxox, Small Business Productivity, Mobility