CloudPhone Blog

Subscribe to Email Updates

Try CloudPhone!

Recent Posts

5 SMB Tools That Save You Time

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:32:57 AM

When you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, time is money, so wasting time just isn’t an option. If you are looking for tools that will help you handle all aspects of your business, from the mundane to the must-do, you’re looking in the right place.

iPhone SMB Tool

New cloud-based software, apps and mobile technology built for all aspects of small business operations are the perfect solution to increase productivity and get more done in less time. They allow you to run your business like an enterprise, without the high price-tag. Here are our top picks for SMB tools that can save you time:

Communication

Virtual numbers, like those available through Voxox Cloud Phone, are convenient for small business owners and entrepreneurs who don't have a receptionist or the time to sit in an office and field phone calls. It’s like having a professional phone service right in your pocket! Phone calls to your business number (virtual number you select) are simply routed to your cell phone. Virtual numbers can come with flexible features like call forwarding, faxing capabilities, extension options, and auto assistant, to name a few - so make sure you check with the service provider to see what perks are available with their virtual numbers solution.

Transportation

Meeting with clients and business partners can be stressful, so using an app like Waze to make sure that you're never late for meetings and don't waste time in traffic can be very useful. Even Uber can be a great time saver when it comes to transportation. Set up a pick up time, plug in your destination, and pay all in just a few clicks -- plus, you won't have to worry about parking!

Accounting 

We all like to get paid, but creating invoices and expense reports are rarely at the top of our to-do list. Luckily, there are apps and software that make it easy to keep track of incoming and outgoing funds – TouchSuite, ZenPayroll and Xero are a few of our faves. Xero, for example, let's you send professional invoices, accept payment, track sales and income, create expense reports, and reimburse employees all from an app you can access from both your computer and mobile device -- perfect for those on-the-go. 

Marketing

Marketing is essential to growing your business, but without a dedicated marketing team it can be a lot of work and not something most business owners can dedicate time to. Automation apps and services, like Hootsuite, MailChimp and WordPress, have given us the ability to schedule social media posts, newsletters, mailings, blogs, etc. ahead of time, rather than having to stop everything and hit the "send" button, saving small business owners countless hours each week. 

Scheduling 

Online scheduling tools like Calendly are not only convenient for customers and clients, they are also a time-saver for busy business owners and employees. Body shops, hair stylists, nail salons -- basically any business that runs by appointment-- can benefit from an automated scheduling system that allows customers to see what times are available and claim a spot without ever calling into your business, holding up the phone line or even worse, taking up your or your employees’ time. 

Do you have a favorite tool that allows you to devote more time to your most important projects? Share with us on social media –  FacebookTwitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

null

Topics: iPhone, Industry Trends, Android, Mobility, Small Business Productivity, Improve Your Business

Enjoying Summer Golf? A Cloud Communications App is a Hole-in-One

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:32:41 AM

It’s Friday afternoon and the beautiful weather has you dreaming about sneaking out of the office to meet your buddies for a quick round of golf. You’re entitled to a little work-life balance; you work hard to keep your company thriving.

Cloud Communication App

But what if a critical business call comes in while you are out smacking that little white ball around? You simply can’t afford to leave your small business office without remaining reachable to clients and colleagues.

A cloud communications application lets you enjoy your afternoon round without worrying that you might be missing a crucial or message back at the office. When customers call your business-specific phone number, they are greeted by an auto attendant that presents them with menu options. If they need to speak with you directly, they simply punch in an extension—the same way they would with a wire-based enterprise system—and the call rings to your mobile device.

Additionally, a cloud communications application provides features like:

  • Business-class voicemail-to-email notification
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Instant conference calling   
  • Easily accessible and adjustable web-based settings

A cloud-based system is maintained by a third-party vendor, meaning it is inherently reliable even during storms or other disasters. Best of all, with just one low monthly service fee to pay each month, you avoid installation and maintenance costs as well.

So as you’re making pars and birdies this summer, ensure you have the tools necessary to keep your company headed straight down the fairway. Because sometimes when you sneak out of the office and onto the golf course, important business follows you right out onto the first tee.

null

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

A Small Business Phone System: Handy for the Handyman

Posted by Ian LeWinter

May 10, 2018 10:31:21 AM

Whether you are working on fixing a customer’s broken cabinet, cleaning gutters, repaving a cracked walkway or any other job, the common denominator is that you are out working in different locations. As professional “Mr. Fix It,” you do all kinds of work for your clients, from month-long major projects to quick emergency repairs and you need a small business phone system.

Handyman Small Business

Considering how much time you spend out and about, spending money on a brick-and-mortar office doesn’t make much sense. Still, even if you decide to forego a traditional office, you need to be reachable to potential and existing customers. For instance, if you are out working on a roof somewhere, you probably aren’t going to want to reach down and answer a call coming in from a client who needs a walkway repaved.

That is where a small business phone system comes in to play. Rather than wasting money on space and equipment you don’t need and will never use, you can get a business-specific number using just your existing mobile number. Additionally, you can set up professional greetings for incoming callers and customize them any way you want by accessing your settings through the Internet. The entire system is maintained by the vendor in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about setup or maintenance.

On any given day, you could spend a morning putting in a new mailbox for one customer, an afternoon across town fixing a garage door, and the evening hours repainting a family’s living room. So you need communications capability that fits your mobile work life while also providing big business phone features. Because as you well know, you aren’t called a handyman because you sit on your hands—you are paid to use them.

null

Topics: Voxox, Cloud Phone, Cost-Effective Solution, Mobility, Mobile Productivity, Small Business Productivity

Are 800 Phone Numbers Still Relevant? History of the Toll Free Number

Posted by Natasha Grach

May 10, 2018 10:30:55 AM

The toll free number has evolved over the years from a novelty during the days when AT&T had a monopoly on them in the 1960s, to the ubiquitous customer service and marketing tool it is today. But the world has changed. Modern customers often aren’t as concerned with who is going to pay for a call, especially with many home phone plans now including long distance and mobile phones which will ding them for minutes no matter where the call is ending up. So it begs the question: are toll free 800 phone numbers still relevant today?

800 number cloud Phone

The early days

From the creation of 800 numbers in the 1960s to the 1980s AT&T held a monopoly on them, and charged a premium many times those of regular calls for the service. Fortunately that came to an end in 1982 when the monopoly that was “Ma Bell” was divided into more seven independent companies. The ensuing competition for long-distance rates, including 800 numbers, drove rates down. This opened the door for businesses that previously could not afford 800 phone numbers and many adopted them as a standard business practice.

Following the breakup is also when the vanity number cropped up. Customers could now select their phone number associated to numeric keypad codes and with it unforgettable corporate numbers. This innovation changed the way businesses marketed phone numbers forever. 800 phone numbers became so popular and such an accepted business practice, that by the late 1990s there were none left and thus the creation of 888, 877, 866, and, most recently in 2010, 855 numbers were introduced to meet growing demand.

The year 2000 and beyond

While the Internet age has delivered a multitude of voice options for consumers including various VoIP offerings and the growth of mobile phone usage has changed our communication patterns and business landscape, the need for toll free numbers is still present today. Even though the draw of the toll free number has less to do with cost to the consumer than in the old days thanks to the unlimited phone plans of today, toll free numbers still offer the perception of reliable customer service. They offer a professional image for businesses, as well as the ability to appear larger, either in size or geographic scope. This is especially important for businesses looking to represent themselves across various cities and states, but also for the smallest businesses who want to appear larger and more established. That combined with the advances in technology that allow for call forwarding with the aid of a virtual assistant make it an essential business tool even in today’s mobile world.

What’s next?

Some have even speculated that we may see 1-800 data in the future, where customers will avoid costly data usage to glean customer support via the web. We will have a front row seat to that debate, which is sure to continue. One thing is for sure, there is no replacement for talking to a live human being, whether that dialogue kicks off with a web search or not, you will want to make sure you have all the bases covered. Customers expect to be able to contact you in their preferred mode of communication and for some that still means picking up a phone and calling someone. For many businesses, offering 800 phone numbers means projecting a professional, larger appearance while also giving them the ability to pair it with many modern conveniences to route calls.

So yes, they are still relevant today, for many reasons. Wondering if you need a toll free number? Visit our recent post to learn more, 4 Ways to Gauge Whether You Need a Toll Free Number.

null

Topics: Industry Trends, Cloud Phone, Mobility, Toll Free Number

How a Virtual Phone System Could Give Your Etsy Business a Professional Presence

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:29:08 AM

ou're thinking about starting an Etsy business and one of the things you will need is a phone system. But, your team works from home− knitting scarves, making necklaces, crafting anything and everything− or you are a one person operation. For you, it just doesn't make sense to buy a traditional phone system so instead you’re considering getting a virtual phone system.

social-icons-01.png

What is a virtual phone system and what does it mean for you? A virtual phone system is a phone system that's entirely in the cloud - you get a dedicated business number and many powerful business-grade telephony features that are associated with it, but no hardware. All you need is your own existing mobile phone (or any phone, really!) − no special skills, or other equipment necessary! All calls to your virtual number (a.k.a. your dedicated business phone line) are directed to your mobile phone, and/or any other phone(s) of your choice, and can help your business convey a professional image, while staying connected and organized. 

Etsy_art1_supplies_business.jpg


Here are some features you’ll love: 

One central number that routes to different departments (customer service, sales, billing, etc.). Even if you don't actually have different departments, but your store carries multiple products, or you have multiple stores on Etsy, or several employees who handle different aspects of the business, it is convenient for you and your customers to have a central and clearly organized hub for communication. When your Etsy customers call about anything associated with your products, not only will they be directed to the correct line, allowing you and your team to address the inquiry quickly, but they will also get the impression you are a professional, booming business!  

Voicemail transcription helps you keep customer messages organized. If you’re a musician or a potter (or perhaps someone who manages an Etsy store as a side business to a day job) you know that answering the phone isn’t always possible – plus who wants clay all over their device?! So, rather than going through all your messages and listening for specific requests and call back numbers, voicemail transcription automatically creates text and email messages that you can easily read and reference.

Professional greetings give your business legitimacy. No matter what kind of store you own or how long you have been in business, customers receiving your professional voicemail message will have more trust in your operation. Customization also lets you change the message whenever you’d like, allowing you to brand your business and keep your customers up to date on important information – holidays, when you’re on vacation, if certain products are out of stock, etc.

Instant set-up means that once you decide you want a virtual phone system, you can set it up in minutes. There’s no need for professional help or maintenance, so your phone line will never be down, and your customers will never be without support. 

Scalability allows you to add lines or remove lines as your team changes − paying for only what you need and keeping your overhead low. This is the perfect solution for seasonal Etsy business like a Christmas décor store or a jewelry maker that brings extra team members on to help handle skyrocketing sales for Valentine’s Day.

Mobility lets you and your team to work from anywhere while still staying connected. If you want to go on vacation, relocate your business or hire a team member on the other side of the country, a virtual phone system has the functionality to accommodate all your moves without a hitch.

With all the professional perks and cost savings that come with a virtual phone system, your business (and wallet) can’t afford not to try it out. Give your Etsy home business a big business image with a virtual phone system and be sure to let us know how much you love it!  

null

Topics: iPhone, Industry Trends, Mobility, Improve Your Business, Cloud Phone Mobile App

A Small Business Virtual Phone for Virtually Nothing!

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:27:23 AM

It’s no coincidence that all phone commercials stress their competitive pricing, but only cloud-based phone services really provide just that.

Phone systems are an expense many businesses consider a foregone conclusion and a sunk cost. Additionally, downtime, hidden fees, and lackluster support are considered norms. But traditional providers sticking to that old-fashioned model are in for a rude awakening, because there’s a new sheriff in town—small business virtual phones.

Stack of Coins for Small Business

By offering service maintained by a host over the Internet, a small business virtual phone lets businesses slash hardware installation and maintenance expenses. Cloud technology also makes the service more reliable and less vulnerable to disasters. Better yet, the monthly fee associated with the service is peanuts!  

Small business phone service also take all the business features of a legacy enterprise system and make them accessible from the one thing professionals almost always have in front of them: their smartphones. Those features include:

  • A digital text box for customized greetings that can be adjusted quickly on the fly
  • Voicemail transcription that lets you read messages when listening isn’t an option
  • Reach Me Anywhere call forwarding that ensures you are reachable anywhere
  • Instant conference calling that facilitates better collaboration
  • A business-specific number that you can start giving to clients right away

To review, small business virtual phone systems are less expensive than legacy service, and they are feature-rich. They are easier and faster to install and more convenient to use and maintain.

Remind us: why exactly would any business want to stick with a legacy system?

null

Topics: Voice Communication, Voxox, Cloud Phone, Cost-Effective Solution, Mobility, Business Phone Number, Improve Your Business

How to Improve Your Customer Service with SMS

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:23:31 AM

As a small business owner you know great customer service is very important for not only keeping your current clients happy, but also for attracting new business by way of referrals. You also know that providing top notch customer service isn’t always possible when you’re on the go or when you’re out working to build your business. So, how can you do both? With SMS.

SMS isn’t just for big corporations with mega marketing budgets. It’s actually a practical solution for small businesses looking to provide stellar customer service. SMS is an affordable and simple way to reach and be reached by clients. When your business phone number is connected to your smart phone, you’ll always be able to help.

Here are a few ways you can use SMS to improve your customer service.

businessman-2056031_1280.jpg

Provide Speedy Service

Texting is a quick and convenient way for clients to communicate a problem or ask a question. Likewise, it’s often quicker and more convenient for you or your team members to respond to a text than answer a call.

Here’s a scenario:

Say you own a two person car repair shop. You have a client at the front desk paying for a repair and your mechanic is out in the garage working on a car. At this same time you receive a text and a phone call – which one are you more likely to respond to in the moment? Our bet is on the text.

Rather than listening to a voicemail, calling back and playing phone tag, the text allows you to read the question or comment and reply immediately – you could even include a photo (ie: a snapshot of your mechanic working on the client’s car). Prompt responses make customers happy. Phone tag does not.

Record Keeping

Texting gives both you and the customer a record of the conversation, conveniently storing important information right on your phone. Have you ever been in a situation with a client where referencing a text saved you face or helped you provide better customer service? So have we. Not only is it handy to know what you and a client have discussed but having the ability to easily pull up important information like an order number or an address straight from a text makes staying on top of customer care easy.

Here’s a scenario:

You own a small screen-printing shop and do work for all your local schools. Baseball season is right around the corner and the team has ordered new jerseys. A pre-season game was added to the roster last minute and they need the jerseys stat! The client texts you with the order number asking if it can be rushed. You research the order number and see that only half of the jerseys have been printed. You assure the client you’ll have them ready by the end of the week – plus you’ll even drop them off. The client messages you the address and you’ve not only made their day, but also made it super easy on yourself to map your route on your phone’s GPS. 

Skip the Hold Music

Texting allows you and your clients to reach one another directly. No waiting on hold, no phone tag or leaving voicemails that go unreturned for days – or for eternity. Ease of communication can make or break a business deal and can cause current clients to love or leave your business.

Here’s a scenario:

A potential client of your PR company is coming into town to meet you and your team. The client is arriving early and wanted to bump the meeting time up. They call to let you know but are stuck on hold. Out of frustration they hang up and call again. After several attempts and a voicemail, they show up at your office annoyed (and two hours early). You’re in the middle of a conversation with another client and have to cut the call short in order to accommodate the in-person meeting. Now – imagine all of this would have been avoided if your potential could have texted to let you know they were arriving early!

Help Multiple Clients

Juggling phone calls isn’t easy, but messaging several people at once can be. Whether you have a steady stream of messages or experience bursts during busy seasons, you’ll find SMS to be a customer service life saver. 

Here’s a scenario:

You run a small floral shop and are always slammed around the holidays. While you’re able to take orders over the phone and in person, text requests are easy and allow your clients to message in an order without waiting on hold, reaching a busy signal or coming into the shop. Once the order comes in, you can send a confirm number, ask any questions and also get card messages, verbatim. Plus, once the order is ready you can send a text alert, or even give them a heads up when the order is delivered.

Your small business already has a reputation for providing exceptional customer service, so keep it up and make it easier on yourself with SMS. Learn more about SMS for business here and get started today. It’s fast, easy and your customers will appreciate it!

Find out more about Cloud Phone features!

Topics: iPhone, Android, Cloud Phone, Texting, Mobility, Business SMS

Three Ways Cloud Communications Saves Your Business Money

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:21:17 AM

As a small business owner keeping a close eye on your company’s fiscal health is a fact of life. With a limited budget, your ability to turn a profit rests heavily upon how well you allocate your resources.

With the advent of cloud communications, small business owners are increasingly turning away from legacy PBX systems to realize major savings. A cloud-based phone system provides big business features like an auto attendant, voicemail transcription, virtual extensions and voicemail-to-email notification through a web-based service—all without breaking the bank.

Here are a few of the primary ways you can save your company some hard-earned cash:

Saving Business Money

No Installation Fees

Deploying a traditional wire-based system typically requires an on-site visit from a technician. By the time equipment and labor costs are totaled, phone service installations tend to get costly. With cloud communications, however, there is no hardware involved. Without hardware there is no technician visit and without the visit, there is no hefty bill.

Third-party maintenance

In much the same way that cloud communications help you avoid installation fees, the lack of on-premises equipment also wipes out upkeep costs. The vendor takes care of maintaining the system so you can worry about growing your critical business processes.

One small monthly bill

Legacy phone systems can be rife with hidden charges and add-ons. But with a best-in-class cloud communications application you get one bill each month for your service with no surprises or tricks. In other words, you can stop opening your phone bill with fear in your heart. 

Running a small business is never easy, but throwing away money on expensive legacy phone systems makes it harder than it has to be. So take a closer look at cloud communications begin your journey towards major savings right away!

null

Topics: Cloud Phone, Mobility, Small Business Productivity

Give Yourself the Gift of Cloud Communications for Father's Day

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:20:47 AM

Every June, sons and daughters present their fathers with cards, ties, sweaters and various other presents to show their appreciation for their dads. But whether you are a father or not, if you own a small business, this Father’s Day is as good a time as any to give yourself the gift of cloud communications.

Father's Day Gift

Cloud communications can help your company cut expenses and boost productivity by offering big business functionality at a reasonable price. A cloud-based phone service, for example, is maintained by a third-party over the web, meaning you can invest in this gift without paying for a complicated installation or any hardware upkeep. Additionally, the phone system’s settings are also accessible through the web which allows you to make changes on the fly.

The vast array of features you can leverage with a cloud-based system lets you project a big business image even if you are a sole proprietor. For instance, top-shelf products offer:

  • A toll free business-specific phone number to give to customers and contacts
  • Reach Me Anywhere technology that connects your incoming business calls anywhere you choose on any device
  • An auto attendant that greets callers professionally and presents them with menu options
  • Voicemail transcription that lets you read your voicemails when you can’t listen
  • Business-class voicemail to email that ensures you never lose an important old messag 
  • Instant conference calling that facilitates collaboration among your employees

So even if your schedule is full this Father’s Day, find some time—maybe between breakfast in bed and dinner on the town—to investigate cloud communications. Because although Father’s Day comes only once per year, your company needs best-in-class business tools the other 364 as well.    

null

Topics: Voxox, Cloud Phone, Cost-Effective Solution, Mobility, Mobile Productivity, Business Phone Number, Small Business Productivity