Small business PBX phone systems today are wildly more sophisticated compared to their humble roots back in the early 2000’s. And when you compare hosted VoIP services to a traditional service that you’ve probably grown used to, there’s really no comparison. Sure you’ll still get business-class features with both a VoIP and an analog, hard-wired system but you’ll also greatly reduce your ability to present a unified appearance, telework, customize your system and more. Here’s a quick comparison of a conventional PBX system and a unified communications system using a small business PBX with Hosted VoIP. Small Business PBX Traditionally, a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) was a physical telephone switching system that managed incoming and outgoing calls for a company’s internal users. The small business PBX was a physical piece of hardware stored at the business, and was connected to phone lines to automatically route incoming calls to specific extensions. It also shared and managed multiple lines. A typical in-house business PBX system included external and internal phone lines; a computer server or electronic console that managed call switching and routing; and a console for manual control. The PBX itself was not easily customizable, and any changes to extensions, additions, or feature upgrades required a maintenance person from the phone company to come to the business. Cloud Based Small Business PBX A hosted PBX can do everything a traditional small business PBX can do and more. It performs the switching and connecting of Voice over IP as well as landline calls. However there is no physical PBX equipment (except for the phones and perhaps a small router) to store at your location. All the features and functionality of your phone system are delivered over the Internet. Businesses can manage their own systems, without having to wait for a maintenance person to come to their location. Plus, you can use IP phones or softphones (which don’t require any phone hardware beyond a computer and a microphone headset). With a cloud PBX, you can connect employees all around the United States with the same phone system using the same extension setup and the same area code. You have an expanded ability to telework with work anywhere features and 24/7 online portals, and you also have the ability to fully customize your extension settings and add or remove features at any time. Moving Beyond the Basics Small businesses also require specialized features to support their particular workflows. With a traditional PBX, businesses had to pay for individual features, as well as for the minutes of phone usage, on top of buying the physical PBX itself. With a hosted PBX, you get unlimited calling for a flat monthly rate, all the features your business needs are included, and there’s no PBX equipment to buy. If your business does want to add an advanced feature like Call Monitoring, it’s as easy as simply calling Vonage Business Customer Support department. Instead of having to configure each employee’s phone like in the old days, advanced features automatically work (once configured) for each designated extension on a small business PBX account. Are you ready to learn about how Vonage for small business is a PBX option that can help your office expand or work from anywhere? Get a quote today! January 30 2014 ArchivesNo doubt, many business owners making the switch to a business VoIP phone system are asking themselves: What took me so long? After all, most are seeing immediate and eye-popping monthly savings. And the crystal-clear connections and hassle-free efficiency of VoIP are certainly refreshing – not to mention the freedom of leaving behind that closet-full of wires required by their old legacy phone system. While new VoIP customers may love their phone system, many have yet to discover the advanced features that can bring them new and profound business advantages. This wealth of agile VoIP phone system features is so intuitive and easy to build into daily business operations, it’s a shame not to. The fact is: If you’ve switched to a state-of-the-art business VoIP provider – you’ve now got features and capabilities at your fingertips that your legacy phone system just wasn’t built to support. It’s a brave new world to be leveraged! So let’s take a look at five of the top features your new VoIP system delivers right now. And more importantly, let’s talk about digging in and utilizing these features as soon as possible: Call Continuity Perhaps nothing keeps executives and IT managers up at night like the thought of extended downtime. That’s what Call Continuity is all about – maintaining service through unforeseen events such as a power outage or a disruption in Internet service. With Call Continuity, the system detects such events and automatically reroutes calls to pre-specified numbers for each extension (including cell numbers, if preferred). When the event is over, normal routing is automatically reinstated. While Call Continuity is comforting, the feature is not fully enabled until backup numbers are set within the system’s admin portal. It’s an easy setting that your company should get to immediately. Dynamic Caller ID The Dynamic Caller ID feature allows you to present a phone number of your choosing for outbound caller ID. Want to be sure a client recognizes your number even if you are calling from a different department inside your office? Maybe you want your number to appear local even though you’re making a cross-country call. No problem! Just assign a code for each of your numbers then use that code to select the one you want displayed during your outgoing call. Mobile Application With a leading-edge Mobile App, your mobile device is an extension of every tool you have at your disposal in the office. It’s an invaluable feature for companies with active remote workforces, or for any day an employee is unable to make it into the office. The mobile app provides the full functionality of your desktop in your pocket wherever you go, so you can listen to your company phone voicemail or check your extension’s call log, as well as perform numerous other important tasks while you’re on the go. It’s a transparent feature, so no one you speak to is aware you’re not in the office. Call Monitoring With this feature, you can help train or coach employees by monitoring calls for quality purposes and reviewing performance. With a secret PIN, you ensure only the employees you pre-select can use the Call Monitoring feature. You also have the option to use a customized legal announcement configured from your account portal. While employees are on calls, the administrators you select can: Monitor an employee’s call. You’ll be muted so that neither party can hear you. Whisper to employees to help them handle a challenging call. Only your employee can hear you with this feature. Barge, or jump in mid-call to assist both parties. Desktop Plugins A desktop application integrates your business VoIP phone system with your computer desktop – giving you more control and power than ever. The Desktop also supports a series of powerful Plugins that help you leverage the business-class tools you already use – such as LinkedIn, Salesforce.com, Quickbooks, Outlook and more. When you download the Desktop and begin using your favorite Plugins, many of which are free, you’ll gain incredible insight into each incoming and outgoing phone call. It’s the kind of productivity that wasn’t possible with your old legacy phone system. But now it is! Small to medium-sized businesses continue to look for competitive advantages, which is why so many opt for top-quality business VoIP phone systems. But once the system is in place, it’s worth your time to discover the many features you now have – built in and ready to go – that will help your organization compete and win. Did we leave out any of your favorite business VoIP features? Let us know! Call ContinuityUninterrupted business phone service through any emergency. LEARN MORE About Aaron CharlesworthAaron oversees all marketing and product management activities for the company and is an accomplished executive with deep technology marketing experience. He has a proven track record in lead generation, planning and product management, qualitative and quantitative research, search engine optimization, and creative collateral development. This secure feature uses PIN numbers to ensure that only approved users can monitor calls on their company’s account. For transparency, the option to use a built in legal announcement can be configured from your online account portal. With this setting, all callers will be notified that their call may be recorded prior to the discussion. Administrators can also track call monitoring behavior to ensure that the system is being used appropriately. How Does Call Monitoring Work? Administrators can monitor calls from the office or by calling into the system remotely from a cell phone. From there, you can: Monitor: Listen in on a call to monitor performance. Your line will be muted, and neither party will hear you. Whisper: Speak to employees to help them handle a call. Only your employee on your account will be able to hear you. Barge: Join in on the call to assist both parties. Who Uses Call Monitoring? Call Monitoring is an excellent training tool to either help new employees get acclimated with processes or to coach seasoned employees with new sales techniques. It helps to improve quality and performance, and helps sales teams increase revenue by increasing productivity. “As a call center that works with Medicare Products, the Call Monitoring product allows us to work compliantly by monitoring our agents. The whisper feature allows us to guide agents if needed or barge in completely letting the client know a supervisor is on the phone as well. A true value added product.” Shelly McGeoy, CEO SMJ Life Health Annuities For companies concerned about security and privacy, Call Monitoring’s service management tools ensure compliance. And companies with a mobile workforce can listen in on company calls anywhere in the world to ensure that a global employee base represents the company accurately. February 13 2013 ArchivesWe’re proud to announce that Nathaniel Collum has won the Technology Association of Georgia’s Rookie Product Manager of the Year award for 2012! Over the past several years, we’ve rolled out several innovative products for our customers including the Vocalocity Mobile apps for iPhone and Android, Company Call Recording and – most recently – Call Monitoring which won the INTERNET TELEPHONY Product of the Year award for 2012. Call Monitoring is a service that allows authorized account holders to monitor (listen in on), whisper (only the employee can hear them) or barge (both callers can hear a supervisor, in the event that they need to facilitate a conversation) into a phone call. This business-class phone service feature is invaluable for sales or support organizations who need to maintain a high standard of quality. This add-on service allows only authorized account holders to support – in real time – their team, ensuring that each and every call is handled professionally and within a set of standards / guidelines. Nathaniel diligently worked with our team of technologists to ensure that the product met customers’ demands, passed a rigorous QA process and was made available on time. And although the Rookie award went to a Product Manager with fewer than three years of dedicated product management experience, Nathaniel is no freshman to Vocalocity’s features or customer experience. He’s been with the company for over five years, and his unique blend of experiences with customer satisfaction, support, product development and production gives him an unparalleled advantage with the successful deployment of our products. Based on the work Nathaniel has done with Vocalocity’s Product team, these releases have helped our customers work smarter, faster and more flexibly from their desks or smartphones to stay in touch and be competitive in their field. Congratulations, Nathaniel! 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. December 4 2012 ArchivesCall Monitoring is a useful tool that Vocalocity rolled out earlier this year. It provides the ability to listen in on calls, “whisper” to the user being monitored, and also “barge” into the call so both the monitored user and the third-party can hear the supervisor monitoring. Many companies think this feature is the secret to their growth, and we definitely can’t argue. Did you know that with Vocalocity Call Monitoring, not only can you monitor the growth of your employees’ social interactions but you can also keep records of calls by exporting call monitoring logs? The ability to search by specific event type, event date, user name and monitored user is even customizable before a log is exported. It’s just one of the features that come standard on the Call Monitoring add-on. How to Export Data from Call Monitoring Log into your account at http://my.vonagebusiness.com. After clicking the “Phone Systems” icon at the top of the page, click “Call Monitoring” on the left-hand navigation bar. Scroll down to the “Audit Log” at the bottom of the page and type in your search criteria. Click “Run Search.” After the search has completed, click the “Export to Excel” button and a new window will appear asking you to open the Excel file. Click “Ok” and your Excel document listing your desired search results will open. Now you can keep records of monitored calls, track sessions for training purposes, and observe daily traffic. Vocalocity Call Monitoring is a secure feature that uses PIN numbers to ensure that only approved users can monitor calls, which means you are always in control. The ability to export the Audit Log is just one more step to manage and protect your business interactions. About Aaron CharlesworthAaron oversees all marketing and product management activities for the company and is an accomplished executive with deep technology marketing experience. He has a proven track record in lead generation, planning and product management, qualitative and quantitative research, search engine optimization, and creative collateral development.