January 24 2017 Industry TrendsBusiness phone features can help you stay connected and work more efficiently, wherever you are. A phone system used to be just that — a collection of telephones that made and received calls without a lot of extra phone features. Yet this definition is far from the reality you currently live in. It’s too bad that no one has come up with a catchy new term that makes more sense, but maybe you can finally come up with one today in your free time. Voice calls are actually much less frequent now, and the phone has taken on many more new and innovative roles. Small businesses that think of their business phone systems primarily for voice are seriously missing out on many opportunities to increase productivity and provide a higher level of service to their customers. By using a cloud-based communication system, the telephone system is not physically installed at a location, which allows employees to access telephone functionality and features regardless of where they are. Cloud-based phone systems help employees be more productive, since they are afforded the flexibility of not being tied down to their desk in order to conduct business. Are you looking for ways to save? Here are four phone features to use today: 1. Transcribe Voicemails People tend to ramble on voicemail (but not you, of course). When you get a voicemail, you just want to know the main point immediately. A phone system with visual voicemail can transcribe messages into text and send them right to your email. No more standing in a hallway outside a restaurant straining to hear a soft-spoken caller amid noisy sports fans cheering in the background. You’ll have the facts when and where you need them. 2. Take Your Business Phone System with You Say you’re leaving a client meeting and walking to the train. You’ve been tasked with coming up with a brilliant solution to your client’s problem before you get back to your office so you can demonstrate how awesome your company is. To do this, you need your best brains on the job. With a modern, cloud-based business phone system, you can pull out your smartphone, open your mobile app, and have access to all the same calling features you have in your office, such as conference call services. Three touches of a button later, and you’re talking to your team and brainstorming solutions — all before you even leave your client’s ZIP code. 3. Use a Virtual Receptionist Even if your company has living and breathing receptionists, they’re human. This means they have to go to the bathroom, take lunch breaks, and occasionally even go on vacation. Oh, and big surprise, they probably go home at night. However, your customers really don’t care. By using a phone system with a virtual receptionist, customers are greeted with up-to-date information and can be seamlessly routed to the right employees to solve their problems — no matter if your receptionist has the stomach flu or is laying on the beach drinking fruity drinks with paper umbrellas. 4. Teleport People Around the World Well, not really, but wouldn’t that be nice? A phone system can do the next best thing through video technology, which makes people feel like they’re in the same room even if they’re time zones apart. When it comes to teams collaborating on a project, in-person meetings are sometimes the best solution. Unfortunately, costs and schedules often make in-person face time impossible. With video conferencing, you can see caller’s faces and read their body language– no expensive plane tickets or lousy airport food required. You can have an almost face-to-face meeting with people from multiple locations and get the job done. Voicemail transcription, mobile apps, virtual receptionist, and video conferencing are just the beginning. A modern, cloud-based business phone system chock full of features can help improve communications and boost efficiency in your office. Do you want to learn more about business communication systems? Visit Vonage Business. About Jennifer Goforth Gregory Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. Linkedin | Twitter January 11 2017 Industry TrendsAutomation technology can make sure your customers can reach the right people, whenever they call. You can set up your outside lights to go on every night at the same time, order laundry detergent to arrive every month, and do many other important tasks using automation technology. However, in many ways, that makes the human interactions in your personal and business life stand out even more. As much as technology can do for you and your customers, it can’t replace a sympathetic expression or knowing a real person cares about your problem. At the same time, the only way to keep your doors open is to keep costs low and service high, two things that seem to counteract each other. The answer? Strategically combining human and automation technology to provide the highest level of service possible. Here are three scenarios in which the human touch is especially important for a small business: 1. Potential New Customers Think about how you buy a new product or service. You most likely spend a considerable amount of time doing research online and getting recommendations. Then, you make a few calls, inevitably leave a bunch of voicemails, and wait to see who calls you back. The first company that returns your call and helps you solve your problem at an affordable price is often the one that gets your business. As a business owner, you don’t want prospects leaving voicemails in an inbox that may not be checked until Monday morning. By using a virtual receptionist to greet callers, potential customers can be routed to the specific employee who can best help that exact prospect’s needs. And, when your employees are out of the office, the call can be routed to their mobile devices using one business identity. The call gets answered, the customer is happy, and you maintain a consistent business presence and brand experience. Obviously, there are going to be times when no one is available. Maybe your team is putting together its own Mannequin Challenge attempt and everyone is frozen in place. Enter another automated technology: visual voicemail. With this voicemail transcription, all messages are transcribed to an email format and sent directly to the proper employee. Even when they’re off the clock, employees tend to obsessively check their phones, and they’ll likely see the email pretty quickly and be able to get right back to the prospective customer if it’s urgent. 2. Upset Customers No matter how fantastic your product or service is, a customer is eventually going to get upset with you at some point. When that happens, the last thing you want is for them to feel like no one cares about their problems. With a cloud-based phone system integrated with a CRM, your employees can access all of their files no matter where they are and get all the information they need to help unhappy customers from whatever devices they happen to be using. This allows employees to know the full story of a customer regardless of where they are taking the call or accessing the information. You’ll also want to know exactly how well your team handles each touchy call. By using a call recording feature either randomly, on specific associates, or on-demand by associates when a customer is upset, you’ll have a record of exactly what happened. Since delicate calls often escalate to management and the customer service rep and customer often have very different versions of how the call went down, having a record of the call allows you to hear exactly what happened. 3. Closing Sales It used to be that most deals were signed in person because contracts had to be in pen and ink. However, technological advancements have now made it possible for two parties to sign without ever seeing each other. If customers need to send your team a signed contract or other paperwork, paperless fax is a great option. It allows customers to send documents directly to your team’s email inbox without having to hunt for fax machines. Despite this, it’s sometimes nice to get some face time with the people you’re working with by using video calls. After all, when you can put a face to a name and see expressions, it creates a bond that just can’t be forged over email and voice. You can better communicate your passion for your customers and your products when they can see it in your eyes, and it’s a great way to get a hopefully long-lasting business relationship off to a great start. Automating processes helps you make the most of your time and resources so your team can focus on making great products and providing great services. For more information on business communications systems, contact a Vonage Business consultant. About Jennifer Goforth Gregory Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. Linkedin | Twitter February 11 2015 ArchivesNot too long ago, the thought of a small company moving its business systems to the cloud was novel. Cloud technology was reserved for larger organizations with IT teams, according to many business owners. But what a difference just a few years makes. Now, businesses of all sizes are actively improving operations with cloud-based CRM tools, email systems and certainly business phone systems. The mystery and apprehension toward cloud solutions has not only dissipated, these tools now represent competitive advantages for savvy businesses. In a recent interview, Pie Shop owner and Vonage customer Mims Bledsoe discussed why she moved to a hosted business VoIP phone system: “Technology is generally moving toward the cloud, which basically means being able to access it from anywhere,” she said. “You don’t have to be sitting at your office desk. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can connect to the things you use most … so putting your phone system on the cloud makes just as much sense as having email.” View the Pie Shop Customer Success Video now. Ms. Bledsoe’s simple description underscores how comfortable small business owners have become with cloud systems. In fact, she relishes the conveniences the Vonage system provides her business. She logs on to the online Admin Portal to adjust call settings or to change voicemail settings remotely. She uses the Vonage Business Mobile app when she’s on the go. And she likes that when she makes calls from her home office, the system reflects her business identity on caller ID. While these are go-to features for her business, they’re also great examples of a key benefit of cloud hosting – the ability to access the phone system from anywhere, on any device. For many businesses, this is the most liberating and enabling aspect of a cloud-hosted system like Vonage’s. Businesses are also liberated by the lower cost. The Vonage system, for example, saves businesses at least 30 percent over traditional providers,* which also has a lot to do with cloud hosting. You see, the system’s PBX – the nerve center where call routing is accomplished and call features are enabled – is hosted in the reliable Vonage Cloud instead of in the business’s server closet. Therefore, there is no expensive equipment to maintain, and no need for annual service contracts or technician visits. The system is managed virtually, allowing much more control for the business. Learn why businesses of all sizes benefit by moving their business phone to the cloud. Speak to a Vonage representative about the easy switch to the Vonage Cloud, 1-844-324-0340. Success Story Video: See how a thriving bakery makes the most of the Vonage business phone system, even when they’re away from the shop. January 27 2015 VoIP Phone FeaturesIn the face of serious winter storms, business owners are first concerned for the safety and well-being of their commuting employees. Many are also thinking of possible lost work days if employees are unable to make it into the office – and resulting lost revenue when inbound calls go unanswered. For countless companies, the business phone system is the lifeline to customers. Particularly with most traditional phone systems, if you can’t get into the office, you simply can’t receive incoming calls. At that moment, the prospects of lost productivity and lost sales are very real; it’s a situation many businesses simply cannot control. Why You Should “Never Miss a Call” It’s often during the toughest conditions that business owners realize the advantage of hosted VoIP phone systems. When the system is hosted in the cloud and connected through the Internet, as the Vonage system is, you can access your full phone system wherever you are – and never miss a call! What you can do right now. If you can’t make it to the office, the next step is easy with the Vonage system. Simply log into your password-protected online User Portal, choose one of the “Never Miss a Call” features, and direct your office calls to ring on your cell phone or other phone. You can even access the User Portal from your cell phone. Or, your company’s administrator can adjust settings for anyone in the company using the system’s Admin Portal. Either way, it’s fast and easy. What is Never Miss a Call, and what are my options? Never Miss a Call is a suite of features that help you stay fully connected to the phone system when you’re away from the office. Feature options you can select from the online portal include: Call Forwarding: Redirect calls to your mobile or other phone. Enable Simultaneous Ring: Have your cell phone or other phone ring as soon as a call comes in. Enable Follow Me: Forward calls to multiple numbers that will ring in a designated sequence. Send Calls to Voicemail: Securely check your messages from anywhere, including online. Just choose the Never Miss a Call feature you prefer, and truly, you won’t miss a call. It’s just that simple. What About Lost Power or Internet? If you do make it into the office, only to discover lost power or Internet – you’re still fine if you’ve configured our Call Continuity service. This patent-pending service ensures calls are rerouted to your cell phone or other phone in the event of lost power or Internet. IMPORTANT: While Call Continuity can be vital in the event of an emergency, it must be configured in advance on the Admin Portal to take effect. Customers are advised take the easy steps to configure and activate the service immediately. Another Easy Way to Keep Connected As many employees do the day before an expected extreme weather event – they take their IP desk phones home. Since the cloud-hosted Vonage system is “plug and play,” users can take their office phones home, plug into high-speed Internet, and have the same phone system access they have back at the office. Whether it’s a debilitating winter storm or hurricane conditions that keep your team away from the office, the good news is that you don’t have to miss calls. It’s the beauty of having a reliable hosted VoIP phone system. Success Story Video: See how one customer “found a better way” with the Vonage system following a debilitating winter storm. June 9 2014 ArchivesSmall to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are generally more challenged with limited time and resources than larger enterprises. But despite the chaos that can ensue when pushed to capacity, today’s SMB owners must still find time to evaluate their mission-critical business systems. You can believe your competitors are making time in their schedules to do so! One key item for evaluation is your business phone system. The conclusion many companies reach is that moving from their legacy wire-based system to a cloud-hosted business VoIP phone system will help improve business operations and save money. With the rapid adoption of business VoIP phone systems, today’s SMBs are discovering all-new capabilities and efficiencies not available with legacy providers – plus seeing substantial savings. And since switching to a business VoIP system is so easy and inexpensive, there’s really no reason to wait. Monthly Savings to Boost Your Bottom Line The more time you spend idle, the more money you risk wasting on your legacy phone system. Consider that Vonage Business customers save at least 30 percent on their monthly service when they switch from a traditional carrier.* Plus, with no contracts required, the Vonage solution offers additional peace of mind. Not only this, but when you’re ready to grow, you could be limiting profit and risking customer retention because your wire-based infrastructure is not as scalable as a cloud-based solution. Increased Business Productivity The features offered by top business VoIP systems are so robust that many SMBs actually build critical business processes around them. For example, the Call Monitoring service from Vonage helps managers hone their training and compliance by listening to customer calls to identify pain points and areas of improvement. Standard features such as Virtual Receptionist, Dynamic Caller ID and Call Forwarding can also bolster an SMB’s stature as a competitive and extremely competent business. Mobility features and Vonage Business Mobile apps keep telecommuting and on-the-go employees productive and synched with the main office. And desktop reporting capabilities help keep tabs on phone usage and productivity. Value of Reliable Service: Business Continuity Service reliability is another extremely valuable asset associated with Vonage’s cloud-hosted business phone system. We run multiple, redundant call-handling clusters in data centers across the country with systems and protocols that consistently produce 99.999% uptime. Also, in the event of a power outage or loss of Internet, our patent-pending Call Continuity service can detect the moment a user’s phone loses its connection – and automatically re-route calls to a cell phone or other number. This level of performance and uptime reliability promotes business confidence, and more importantly, business continuity. A Support Team to Ensure Success A reliable support system is critical to making the most of your business phone system. With a cloud-hosted solution like the Vonage system, there is no need for a dedicated, on-site IT professional – our experienced support team handles all your requirements remotely. Support representatives are available daily – and after hours for emergency needs – and extensive online support resources are always just a click away. Our large support team is as efficient and reliable as our business phone system, affording business owners one less thing to worry about. Why Wait on a Better Solution? If you’re a business moving forward in the modern era: Can you afford not to have the features and reliability of an industry-leading, cloud-hosted business VoIP phone system? Can you afford not to have the savings and ongoing support that comes with such a solution? As the business world embraces cloud-hosted business VoIP phone solutions, the important question is: What’s holding your business back? *Savings based on the average monthly recurring charge for unlimited nationwide business calling plans from leading wireline service providers. Comparison excludes promotional pricing, fees, surcharges or taxes and assumes a customer already has broadband internet service. Check your phone bill to determine the savings that would apply to you. About Chris RabbuChris Rabbu is the Vice President of Marketing, Lead Generation at Vonage Business Solutions, the fastest growing provider of cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems for business. He resides in Atlanta, GA and is working on his tennis serve when not dreaming up ridiculously effective marketing campaigns. May 6 2014 ArchivesEasy Money for You, a Better Business Phone System for Referrals. Have business contacts or friends in need of a better business phone system? Refer them to the Vonage business phone system. With the small to mid-sized businesses rapidly moving to cloud-hosted business VoIP phone systems, now’s the perfect time to get involved in the Vonage Business referral program. Introduce your business contacts and friends to our business VoIP phone system and you can earn $200 to $2,500 when they sign up for our service.1 Tips for Referral Success It’s no surprise that our referral program’s most successful participants are current Vonage Business customers. Most switched from traditional phone providers, they know firsthand how productive and economical our system is, and they’re passionate about it. But the program is also open to anyone interested in referring businesses to our business phone solution. These tips will help you build a continuing base of referrals: Reach out to your network. You already have a network of business colleagues, vendors and industry friends (including your LinkedIn network). Tell them about the Vonage business VoIP phone system. Do your homework. Learn all you can about cloud-hosted business VoIP solutions, and become an expert. And remind your network about the qualities that set Vonage Business apart from others in the industry: savings, business features, service reliability and support. Think industry-specific. You may already know that some business categories are particularly ideal for business VoIP – insurance, law and physician practices, marketing agencies, real estate offices and many more. Consider targeting a specific industry(s) to develop your referrals. Generate conversations. There have never been more opportunities to participate in business conversations, whether it’s an online discussion group or a local chamber of commerce meeting. Take advantage and offer yourself as a resource. Tell your story. Great referrals often result from talking about your own experiences and giving simple advice. If it’s genuine, you’ll seldom need to oversell to generate a quality referral. Be yourself and tell your story. A business referral is essentially a meaningful endorsement from an industry peer. The Vonage Business referral program was developed to show our appreciation for every referral. We like participants to think of the referral program as a “win-win” opportunity – easy money for you, and a better and less-expensive phone system for the businesses you refer. Learn more about the program on our website or call: 1-855-236-0106. 1Vonage Business will distribute referral payouts 90 days after the referred account has been an active and paying customer. The referred account must be a current active paying customer and in compliance with Vonage Business Solutions Terms of Service. About Autumn Calhoun April 1 2014 ArchivesI have to admit, it took me a while to get used to coworkers and industry colleagues referring to our business phone system as “disruptive.” Disruptive makes me think back to my 6th Grade classmate Todd Thrasher, the wild man who made noises in class, interrupted our lessons and refused to sit still. But a business phone solution? Disruptive? I’ve seen firsthand what a great business VoIP phone system can do for businesses, so I would tend to describe the system with words like, “empowering,” “easier” or “next-generation” – and for many businesses the most accurate description would be: “transformational.” Why Our Business Phone Solution is “Disruptive” I know now that applying the word “disruptive” to our solution is a matter of perspective. It’s true, a cloud-based business VoIP phone solution like ours absolutely disrupts the industry status quo that has long been controlled by legacy copper wire-based phone service providers. The fact that SMBs are leaving their legacy providers in record numbers is understandably alarming to these providers. And the marketplace is quickly shifting in favor of reliable business VoIP solutions that offer more features and better pricing than old-school wireline services. The Landscape Has Changed Forever The contrasts between our solution and those of traditional providers are so striking, they remind us just how fundamentally business telephony has changed in recent years. Following is a quick list of some of the ways our “disruptive” approach assists businesses every day: Easy Setup: Once businesses have the basics needed to use our service – high-speed Internet connection, a router and compatible phones – a specialist can walk a customer through the easy setup in as little as 15 minutes. We port existing phone numbers and the transition is usually made with no downtime. No Contracts: We don’t require contracts, setup fees, activation fees or cancellation fees. Savings: Customers regularly save 30% or more* on their monthly phone service when they switch from their traditional, wire-based phone service carrier. They also enjoy international long distance rates that are 75 percent lower than traditional carriers.** Maximum Features: Our system comes preloaded with over 30 features such as Virtual Receptionist, Dynamic Caller ID, Mobile Apps, Desktop Plugins, Voicemail to E-mail and Call Conferencing. Add-on features include Call Recording, Call Monitoring, Paperless Faxing, Call Queues and Voicemail Transcription and many more. Mobile Capabilities: Outstanding mobile apps for iPhone and Android give employees the flexibility to make and receive calls anywhere, as if they are sitting in the home office. Online Applications: Major applications like our free Desktop extends all the power and control of the business phone system to the user’s computer desktop, enabling powerful plugins and other features that boost business productivity. A Cloud-based Solution. As companies around the world move their business systems to the cloud, our hosted PBX solution delivers a reliable, less-expensive and liberating alternative to traditional phone service. And you likely won’t miss that closetful of wires from your legacy system. Reliability: Our system configures to allow business continuity through events such as loss of power or Internet outages. We also run multiple, redundant data centers with systems and protocols that produce 99.999% uptime. Super Support: We pride ourselves on having expert support and training resources and the knowledgeable customer care team to assist any time – from customer onboarding to troubleshooting to any customer need that arises. Our Customers are Disruptive, Too! As proud as we are of our business phone solution’s role in shaking up the marketplace, we get even more excited when our customers use it to enhance and transform their business. After all, our objective is to help our customers compete, succeed and grow their businesses. So anytime our customers are “disruptive” – making waves in their respective industry marketplaces – we’re there to support them and cheer them on! *30% savings claim is based on the average monthly recurring charge for unlimited nationwide business calling plans from leading wireline service providers. Comparison excludes promotional pricing, fees, surcharges or taxes and assumes a customer already has broadband internet service. Check your phone bill to determine the savings that would apply to you. **75% lower rates claim is based on comparison of the per-minute rates to the top 50 markets of the top three leading wireline carriers. Rates and savings vary by country. See rate locator for current rates to numbers called. About Dave MorrisDave is a content strategist and writer at Vonage Business Solutions, working with teams across the company to build communication programs that enable our customers and assist our prospects. He enjoys living in Atlanta and is an avid gardener, restaurant enthusiast and live music fan. March 18 2014 ArchivesIt’s often a moment of surprised silence or an inquisitive “Really?” These are typical reactions when we tell prospective customers about our “month-to-month service contracts” policy when they select our cloud-based business phone system. Especially for businesses switching from traditional phone providers – where expensive, lengthy contracts are the norm – business phone service without a binding contract does sound liberating. But contracts aside for a moment, today’s businesses are actively comparing their legacy phone providers to hosted business VoIP phone services. And they’re discovering exactly why the future of business telephony is in the cloud. For Vonage Business customers, our revolutionary business phone system offers a business-enabling competitive advantage – with many capabilities that traditional systems simply cannot support. While our low-term-contract approach gets a lot of attention, we offer it because we believe in our solution’s ability to empower and transform growth-minded businesses. In fact, here are four clear reasons – or, customer benefits, if you will – that permit us to stand proudly behind our “month-to-month service contracts” policy: (1) Savings Customers can save on average 36% on their phone bill* when they switch from their traditional phone service carrier. There are also no setup fees or activation fees associated with our service. Plus, with Vonage Business, our customers enjoy low international long distance rates. (2) Feature Set Our business phone system provides among the most powerful business phone features in the marketplace, including Virtual Receptionist, Mobile Apps, Dynamic Caller ID, Desktop Plugins, Call Queues and many more. Our product development teams constantly refine features and introduce new ones, which are seamlessly migrated onto the system. (3) Service Reliability We focus on business continuity for our customers, and our system’s uptime reliability and performance are key strengths that instill customer confidence. In the event of emergencies such as power outages or loss of internet, our system can automatically re-route calls to avoid downtime. We also run multiple, redundant data centers across the country with the systems and protocols that consistently produce high levels of uptime. (4) Support From the moment of becoming a Vonage Business customer, our seasoned support teams are there to assure the experience is as productive as possible. We provide live new customer orientation sessions and Admin Portal training, and our online support resources are comprehensive and accessible any time. Our objective is to help our business customers succeed, compete and grow – and we think they deserve this level of ongoing support. Customer access to a better business phone system should be easy. And our solution lives up to this standard. The system is easy to activate, porting of existing numbers is a simple process, and customers can leave behind that closetful of equipment required by their legacy phone provider. What’s more, they also leave behind the requirement of a lengthy contract. Experience shows us that the way to keep customers is to: (1) deliver a superior business phone system at a great value, and (2) provide world-class service. We strive to deliver on these promises every day. Learn more and compare traditional phone service to cloud-hosted service in our “Inside the Business VoIP Revolution” eBook. *Savings claim is based on the average monthly recurring charge for unlimited domestic business calling plans from the top three leading wireline service providers. Comparison excludes promotional pricing, fees, surcharges or taxes and assumes a customer already has broadband service. Check your phone bill to determine the savings that would apply to you.