Well, the simple answer is “yes”, but let me explain a bit more about what a Virtual Phone System is, and then how it will accomplish these things.
Originally, PBX’s were designed and installed in large companies, and required a staff of people to maintain them. However now there is alternative for companies embracing VoIP who also want to utilize the full features of a PBX system, but need an affordable means of doing so. These systems are “hosted pbx’s” (virtual phone systems), where the PBX and VoIP system are actually hosted at the providers location, rather than being located at the business owners physical location. This now makes it highly affordable for small and very small businesses, as well as SOHO’s and traveling professionals to be able to take advantage of the full features of a VoIP system without having to maintain the system itself, and hire the staff to keep that system running.
Ok, so by now you are asking… How does this virtual phone system save me money? Well the obvious answer is that you aren’t spending the money on installing and maintaining a physical PBX system, which can be very expensive in equipment alone, not to mention the staff you would normally need to hire to keep it going.
But let’s say you weren’t planning on purchasing and installing a full-blown PBX, anyway. Then your immediate cost savings will be realized by the fact that with these systems, you don’t have the need to hire someone to answer your phones. They all come with an auto-attendant that answers with a professional greeting and routes your calls for you.
Another thing to consider is, how much is your personal time worth? Could you be more effective or efficient if more of your calls were routed to your virtual assistant, and then he/she worked the interruptions into your schedule?
Example: Let’s say you could spare yourself the constant interruption of phone calls by routing those calls to your virtual assistant (who by the way is located in another state, or maybe even another country) for 2 hours during the morning. This now allows you to focus on that presentation you need to finish for a high profile client meeting you have that afternoon. But of course if that important client you are working on the presentation for, just happens to call, you will want to take that call – well no problem, you can just have his/her calls ring through to you. Now that would save you some time, some frustration, and some stress I bet?
Let me ask you yet another question. How much do you calculate a missed call or misdirected call costs you? Let’s say you no longer have missed calls or you can quickly get a misdirected call to the correct person without requiring the person hang up and dial another number? Normally this is a big problem with a company where you have team members located all over the country, or possibly even the world. How do you make sure the right calls get to the right person without publishing every person’s long list of phone numbers? What if an employee want’s their personal phone number kept confidential? That’s understandable. Well, now you can quickly, easily, and affordably handle this problem, here’s how:
- Simply give your customers either your toll free number, or your local number for the region the customer is located in
- then set up extensions for each of your employees, regardless of where in the world they may be located
- simply assign each employee’s phone number(s) to the extension, whether it’s their home phone, office phone, or cell phone, whatever they prefer, or even all of them in a particular calling order.
Now when the customer calls and selects an employee’s extension the call is routed directly to that employee and the customer is never the wiser that you aren’t all located in the same office. Now that not only saves you on missed calls and misdirected calls, but what an image that presents to the customer – they can easily reach anyone on your team, regardless of where they are in the world.
Now let’s talk about never having to miss another important call. With virtual phone systems, you can set them up to find you no matter where you may be. This is feature is called “Find Me”, and allows you to configure an automatic routing that will ring a predefined set of numbers in a particular order. With some systems, you can even set the number of rings it will ring before moving on to the next number. So now you have no excuse for missing a call, but on that rare occurence when a call does go to voice mail, you can also set up message alerts to notify you that you’ve just received an important message or fax.
Ok, so now you’re asking, “But how is this virtual phone system ever going to possibly keep me organized?” Because these phone systems no longer just integrate phones, but also faxes, computers and other equipment, they now offer some pretty advanced features. For example many of them offer Outlook integration, where you can access your contacts and address books via one location. You can even send your voice mail messages to email so that you can store and manage your messages all in one place, and you can also place calls directly by clicking on the contact in Outlook.
All of these systems also provide online web management accounts, that allow you to track and manage all of your call data online in one place. This can be huge not only in keeping you organized but also in assisting you with billing and budgeting.
Now to things that are just plain cool and come under the heading of improving your business image.
With all of these virtual pbx systems, you get an auto-attendant that will answer your phone with a professional sounding greeting whether you are in the office or not. This projects a big company image, even if you are a one man/woman show. As I mentioned before, you can set up the system to find you no matter where you are. So the customer never needs to know that you are actually sitting at your son’s soccer game – unless of course you tell him.
Some of these virtual phone systems offer what are called “click to call” buttons, that you can place on your websites, in your emails, or in your social networking profiles, that allow your customer to click the button and connect directly with you by phone, without costing them a dime. This can be huge in improving customer service, technical support, or just opening communication with your customers.
Again, if you have team members located in various locations, a virtual phone system can make it much easier for your customers to locate and contact the person they need, and again presenting a much more professional image to the customer. This also makes it much easier for you also to connect your team via teleconferences as needed.
Although a virtual phone system may not be right for everyone, the prices are now making it a very affordable means for SOHO’s, small and very small businesses, and traveling professionals to get a feature rich VoIP business phone system to meet their wants and needs now, and grow with them as they grow and expand.
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