A woman writes a love letter.

These features will make you fall in love with business phone systems.

Do you like your small-business phone systems? Love them? It seems like a silly question, but with Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s worth taking a look at five phone features that transcend average attractiveness and interest to really capture the hearts of small-business owners.

Here is a list of five stand-up pieces of tech you’d be willing to bring home to meet your mom:

1. Virtual Receptionist

What do customers want when they call your company? They want the ability to speak with a real person. As a result, many organizations still spend on in-house or third-party receptionists to answer incoming calls, direct requests, and handle basic inquiries.

While this makes sense on the surface, there’s actually a better way to increase the value of business phone systems — the virtual receptionist. It works like this: You set up as many pathways and answer trees as you want, making it easy for callers to quickly find the person, department, or automated answer they need, and you can customize call rules by time of day or to accommodate employee out-of-office days. What’s more, admins can log in to the virtual receptionist portal anywhere, anytime, to make changes on the fly.

The result? Callers get straightforward and specific options that eliminate the need for generic (and costly) routing from traditional receptionists. In addition, they reach the “end of the line” — their intended department or staff member — faster. All in all, it’s a match made in heaven.

2. Visual Voicemail

According to Hello Operator, SMB owners and managers spend a significant amount of time listening to voicemails. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take your relationship with voicemail to the next level?

That’s the idea behind visual voicemail, which converts all incoming voicemails into text. This text — along with the caller’s number and attached audio file of the original voicemail — is then packaged into an email and sent to your assigned email account. Instead of putting a hold on other business while you call in and check your voicemail, you get an email that lets you quickly scan for relevant details and decide whether an immediate callback is warranted or you can address the issue later.

3. Paperless Faxing

It’s 2017, but companies are still using fax machines. Some prefer the classic “bzzzzz-weee-o-weeee-o-vzzzzzzzzzht” of paper-based faxes, but most wish they could break it off with their long-term fax machine and find a communications companion that better meets their needs.

Meet paperless faxing — it’s suave, smart, and is much more pleasant to listen to. It’s also simple. If you’re sending a fax, you just scan or select your document, attach it to an email, and send it to the paperless fax email address. If you’re receiving a message, the fax comes in via phone number but gets routed to your email and sent as an attachment. Think of it this way: Original fax has a lot of things you like, but new fax is just a better fit.

4. On-Demand Call Recording

Many SMBs have a love-hate relationship with data. They know how important data is in a digital-first world, but collecting data — especially from communication channels — can be time-consuming and difficult. The solution? On-demand call recording.

Employees or managers can decide when and where to record calls, and recordings can be turned on for all calls or implemented on a call-by-call basis. Data is stored online and is easily accessible through a secure web portal. As required, staff can send recording attachments through email. It’s like getting something in a new relationship you never knew you needed — suddenly, data is easy to capture, reference, and utilize.

5. Admin Access

Sometimes love isn’t flashy or loud, and it’s the simple things that make all the difference. That’s the idea behind easy admin access, which lets you fully manage and customize business phone systems. You’re able to easily configure the virtual receptionist, set up individual extensions for employees, configure user access, and customize individual features. Put simply? The heart of your Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system is in your hands — cue the slow music and dimmed lights.

Communication is absolutely vital for small business, so why settle for a phone system you only tolerate when you could have one that you fall more in love with every day?

Are you ready to take your business phone system relationship to the next level? Contact Vonage Business today — representatives are always happy to play matchmaker.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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A close-up of a person's hands, using a smartphone.

Business phone systems have changed dramatically thanks to smartphone technology.

What would your daily life be like without technology? Adding a meeting to your calendar, ordering pizza, emailing your boss and checking your social feed: nearly everything you do uses technology. An entire day — Jan. 6 — has even been set aside officially as National Technology Day. So, it’s the ideal time to consider the massive, major changes business phone systems have seen as technology has made everything faster, easier, and more automated.

From Party Line to Mobile Phone

At the center of this technology explosion is the telephone. Just a few generations ago, the telephone didn’t even exist. When it was invented, households had to use a party line shared with other people, meaning that others could (and often did) listen to conversations. Soon, the party line evolved into private lines, but the phones were attached to the wall with a cord. If you wanted to make a private call in your house, you had to snake the telephone cord under a nearby door. And to make a call, you had to turn a rotary dial, which is where the expression “dialing a number” came from.

Fast-forward to the next evolution of telephones: cordless phones, push-button dialing, and then mobile phones. All three became popular at about the same time. However, first-generation mobile phones looked very little like today’s versions, as they were up to two feet long and weighed as much as 40 pounds. Over time, they thankfully shrank in size and weight until we had the flip phone, which was smaller, mobile, but only made– you guessed it– phone calls. You know the rest: flip phones ultimately gave way to the smartphones we know and love today.

Smartphones: A Changing Way of Life

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the invention of the smartphone changed life as we know it. The smartphone changed how people conduct both their personal and work lives. Today, you’re reachable anytime, anywhere, not only by phone but also via video call, email and texting. Even more than that, this palm-sized device has become a hub for everything, including finding directions, checking the weather, taking photos, and posting on social media. It isn’t just a phone — it’s a control center for your life.

And the significance of this smartphone goes far beyond these uses. It sparked the invention of other technological tools like the tablet, the smart watch, fitness trackers, Google glass… What’s more, the smartphone has become such an important tool in today’s culture that many people who previously were resistant to using tech tools have become more technologically proficient and even depend on them in their daily lives.

Business Phone Systems Innovations

On the business side, smartphones have changed consumer expectations. Companies are using apps to communicate with customers and conduct transactions. They’re creating experiences that work across devices for both employees and consumers. Employees can also seamlessly manage their connections with customers, regardless of the device, thanks to cloud-based CRM integrations. And business phone systems were influenced, too: new, advanced features have innovated in workplaces so that employees have the same excellent functionality and seamless experiences they’ve grown to expect from their personal devices. Modern business phone systems offer features like virtual receptionists, paperless fax, and voicemail transcription, enabling employees to work they way they want.

Without the invention of the telephone, today’s culture would look very different. Thankfully, you don’t have to imagine a reality without this vital piece of technology (you could just watch the Walking Dead).

Just for kicks, celebrate National Technology Day by counting every time you use a device related to the telephone. You might surprise yourself.

For more information on how a sophisticated business phone system can help your team, contact a Vonage Business representative.

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.

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business phone systems: New Year 2015 ImageIt’s that unique time of year: first Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday, now the holiday season.  While holiday shopping may be on the minds of most business owners now, many will overlook the ripe opportunity to do some business shopping. Yes, shopping for your own business – seeking smarter business tools that will put your company at an advantage come 2015.

In fact, if you’ve been thinking about a new business phone system, the weeks before the New Year can be the perfect time to make the switch to a hosted VoIP solution – especially since switching is easy and savings can be substantial. Here’s why now may be the best time to move your business phone system to the Vonage Cloud:

1) Start 2015 with a New Competitive Advantage

If your resolution is to improve business operations and serve customers better, why not start the year with a more capable phone system?  With over 40 Vonage business features, you’ll quickly enjoy the efficiency, mobility and overall ease of use.  Plus, it’s easy to switch to a business VoIP system since cloud-hosted systems like ours don’t require in-office installation. It’s simply plug and play.

2) Immediately Cut Business Expenses

It’s not often you can cut costs and actually get a better product. With the Vonage system, you can build fresh savings into your long-term budget. You’ll save at least 30% over traditional solutions*, month over month, and more when you consider the time-saving and task efficiencies that come with many of our VoIP business features.

3) Binding Contracts are So 2014!

What a relief it will be to start the New Year without a long-term contract that binds you to your business phone system.  Vonage Business believes you’re going to love your new business phone system. Plus, without the expensive “closetful of wires” that traditional providers require, there’s never a need for service visits. So why ask customers to sign an annual contract? Vonage doesn’t.

4) Get Acquainted with Your New System

Late in December, some businesses get to wind down a bit and/or employees take holiday time off.  So if you switch to a new phone system now, you’ll have some time to get to know the system before the New Year. Granted, systems like ours are easy to use – but we always recommend taking time to explore our calling features, sit in on a live Admin Portal Training session, and get familiar with our extensive Support Website. Right away, you’ll be able to set up users, configure your Virtual Receptionist and much more. And since you’ll have password-protected Admin Portal access to the system from anywhere, you can log in while you’re home for the holidays, on the weekend or whenever you have a spare moment.

5) Integrate Other Business Tools with the System

If you’re already using business tools like LinkedIn, Salesforce.com or QuickBooks – consider integrating them with your new phone system with our Desktop Plugins, which enable real-time information about your callers to show on your computer screen with every call. Many plugins are free, such as Caller Location, Google Contacts, LinkedIn, Call History and Google Search. The holidays are a great time to explore each one and quickly activate your favorites.

6) Think Ahead to a Better Teleworking Program

By putting a Vonage business phone system in place now, you’ll have the advanced features that make teleworking a better choice for your business. So start thinking about 2015 enhancements to your work-from-home program now! With a plug-and-play system like ours, employees simply plug their office phone into their home Internet and connect seamlessly into the office phone system, with all the same features they enjoy back at the home office. Teleworkers can also use our Mobile Apps and mobile-friendly features such as Simultaneous Ring and Voicemail to Email.

7) Gear Up Your Sales Team

Get your on-the-go employees geared up for a more productive new year. That means Mobile Apps that give your teams access to the full office phone system wherever they are. And, all their calls will register on Caller ID as a call from the company, not their personal cell phones. Plus, there’s no need for your on-the-go pros to use their personal phone minutes when they’re doing business. So think ahead to more mobility and more productivity in 2015!

Why Wait? Shop Now!

Maybe you’re ready to make the move to a more productive, less expensive hosted VoIP phone system. If so, there’s no time like now to get a new system in place and rock in the new year. If you’re still shopping, we invite you to use our Business Phone Solution Buyers Guide to help you navigate the marketplace and find a system that’s right for you. Discover why so many businesses are enjoying the business efficiencies of hosted VoIP solutions. What are you waiting for?

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