Archive for May 30, 2012

Virtual Phone Numbers for Your Business

So I bet you’re wondering what exactly ARE Virtual Phone Numbers?

Sometimes people hear the word ‘virtual’ and they assume it is something hi-tech or sci-fi and tend to shy away from it. Have no fear – here’s a simple explanation that should remove the mystery surrounding it.

A virtual phone number is a real phone number. It can be either a local number with an area code in a specific city/state or a toll free number with an 800, 855, 866, 877, or 888 area code.

What makes it virtual is that it does not ring to a specific line – it is not tied to a landline or a mobile phone. Instead, it rings to a virtual phone system like iTeleCenter.

Calls made to a virtual number are processed by the system and follow whatever call forwarding rules you have set up on your account. If you have direct-connect set up, the calls will forward directly to the cell phone or landline you designated on your account. If you have call screen and announce activated, callers will be prompted to record their name for you to hear before accepting or rejecting the call. If call forwarding is off or you reject or simply cannot take the call, the caller will be sent to voicemail.

And the benefits of using a virtual number?

  • Make your business sound more professional with the use of a toll free number that is not tied to a specific physical office.
  • Provide a local presence in any city or state without having to physically be there.

Tips for Gathering Leads with Your Virtual Phone System

The best way to get callers to leave their contact information is to give them something free in exchange.  You need to offer them something of value. For example, if you own a carpet cleaning company, you might offer a free report about stain removal. Or if you are a real estate professional, you may offer a report of tips and tricks to get your home listed and sold in 30 days.

Whatever your business is, offer a related report or other free item that will e incentive for the caller to leave their contact information in order to receive it.

Here are the steps to setting up your Virtual Phone System to gather that information.

  • Record an engaging greeting that callers will hear when they first call your number.
    Welcome them to your business and explain that if they press extension 1 (or 5 or 100 – whatever extension you designate and set up), leave their name, email address and phone number, you will promptly email them the free item.
  • Set up a Message Taking Extension (extension 1, 5, 100 – whatever you set up be sure to include in the main greeting) that prompts callers to leave their Name, Email Address, and Phone Number.
  • Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!
    Use local print advertising, post listings on Craigslist in your area, list your number with the free report information on your website, print flyers and distribute them via other non-competing local businesses. You get the idea – be creative and get your info out there!

Once it’s all set up and you’ve started advertising, your calls will start coming in. Be sure to check your messages regularly so you can get the free item out to the callers in a timely manner.

Tips for Making Callers Feel Valued Even When Leaving a Voicemail Message

We all know that the best thing for your business is to get every caller to a live person on their first try. But the reality is that we cannot always pick up every live call. However, the calls that do go to voicemail need to be treated just as importantly as those we answer directly.

The key is to make your callers feel important even when they are leaving a voicemail message. Your recorded instructions should make them feel this way. It’s a pretty big turn-off for a caller to simply hear “Leave a message at the beep.” Instead, record instructions that guide them through leaving the important information you need that will also make them feel valued.

Try something like this… “I’m sorry I’m not available to speak with you right now. Please leave your name, phone number, and the best time to call you back so we can connect. If there’s anything you need me to look into before I return your call, leave me the details so I can be prepared to discuss them with you.”

Even if you’re on vacation and a team member is handling your calls, you can reassure the caller that they are still in good hands. “Hi, you’ve reached Bob’s voicemail. I am away for a few days, but my assistant Doug will be picking up my messages and returning calls in my absence. I brought him up to speed in all open orders before I left, so he’ll be able to help you. Please leave your name, number and the best time for him to return your call. Thanks, and I’ll be in touch personally when I return.”

Remember that the caller is listening to this recording before leaving their message. Anything that sounds more personalized to fit the reason they would be calling you will make them feel like a welcomed and valued caller.

Don’t Forget How New York Phone Numbers Can Help Get More Local Business

Time for a quick friendly reminder about using Local Numbers in major cities around the country to help build local business.

We know how important a toll free number is in establishing your business’s credibility and giving you the big business image you need. But don’t lose sight of the local business you could be missing out on by not using a local number in a big city.

By advertising New York phone numbers or Chicago phone numbers, you can grab some of the big city local business without stepping foot there. Add a local phone number to your iTeleCenter service and start advertising locally in that city.

We currently have numbers available in New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Phoenix. We even have some of those hard to find area codes that local businesses are dying to get. Why not get local numbers in all of these cities and watch your business grow!

Route Calls Easily with Virtual Phone System PBX Extensions

Virtual PBX extensions are part of a virtual phone system. Using this technology, you can route calls easily to any phone in any location! Imagine the convenience this can bring you if you’re a busy businessman who’s always on the move! 

How Do Virtual PBX Extensions Work? 

The system creates virtual—rather than physical—extension numbers that can then be registered to people as they wish. The system allows calls to be routed to any phone without having to worry about extra hardware or complicated physical construction of routing lines. Each extension can be set up to forward to that department or employee’s landline of mobile number.

How are Virtual PBX Extensions Useful? 

You can route calls easily, which means you can have virtual extensions for your employees that they can set up with a forwarding number that is the most convenient for them to access. Here’s an example of how you can route calls easily with Virtual PBX extensions:

1. John Smith is a traveling salesman for The Johnson Widgets Company. Because of his job, he is often on the move, relying on his mobile phone to stay in touch with people back home.

2. Mary Jones is a tech support specialist with The Johnson Widgets Company. She typically works from home but does not want to give out her home phone number for privacy reasons.

3. When clients call The Johnson Widgets Company, they may want to reach Mr. Smith in sales at extension 101 or Ms. Jones in tech support at extension 102.

4. Mr. Smith can have his extension automatically route to his cell phone. So, when Mr. Smith is a thousand miles away from the company’s building and receives a call, his cell phone serves as his extension, and clients who want to speak with him can get in touch with him.

 5. Ms. Jones can have her extension automatically route to her home phone. She gets the calls she needs to help her customers and her home number remains private.

Call Transfer – An Added Benefit 

Remember those tech support calls Ms. Jones is handling? What happens if something is truly beyond repair and the customer needs to purchase a replacement?  

The customer does not need to call back in to reach Mr. Smith. Instead, Ms. Jones can conveniently place the customer on hold and transfer the call right to Mr. Smith’s extension!

Stop Annoying Calls with Call Blocking

Do you have annoying ex-boyfriend, charity, relative or just some random caller that just won’t stop calling you? Sometimes, telling a person to stop calling you won’t work: you’ll have to stop annoying calls with call blocking, a rather useful feature for virtual phone systems. Call blocking, otherwise known as call rejection, is a process by which the user can make the caller believe your number is no longer in service. 

Is Call Blocking Legal?

Of course it is. The reason why call blocking is legal is because people are entitled to their privacy; they have a right to protect themselves from annoying or possible threatening phone calls. Furthermore, this is also an issue of privacy. Have you ever heard of the “do not call list?” This list exempts you from receiving phone calls from most telemarketers in the United States. If there is a list such as this in place, then it is definitely legal to block individuals who you don’t want calling you.  

How Do I Set Up Call Blocking?

Setting up call blocking to stop annoying phone calls using iTeleCenter is a rather simple process:

1. Find the telephone number you want to add to call block’s rejection list.
2. Access the Call Block option under the iTeleCenter Manage Settings Menu
3. The phone number you want to block, click add, and repeat for all numbers you want to block.
4. If you want to remove any number from call block, simply check the box next to the blocked number in the list and click save.

Stop annoying calls with call blocking, and you won’t regret it.

Get Your Toll Free Voicemail Messages Emailed to You

If you’re someone who spends more time on your computer than you do on your cell phone (which is a lot of you, actually), then you will be able to see the advantages in having your toll free voicemail messages emailed to you. If you get your messages emailed to you, then you will be able to simply open your email to find your messages. Here’s how traditional voicemail works. 

  • On your cell phone, you have a voicemail phone number you have to call in order to reach your messages.
  • On your home answering machine, you have a physical box that stores your messages so that you can listen to them when you arrive at home. However, your voicemail box at home can fill up, preventing more people from leaving messages.

With each of those methods, you either have to consistently clear your voicemail, call using your cell phone, or otherwise go through a process to reach your messages. However, if you use a virtual phone system with the ability to email your messages, you’ll be much happier. The benefits of having your virtual phone system messages emailed to you include:  

  • Unlimited, instant access to your messages at your computer (or on your smart phone). If someone leaves you a voicemail that is sent to your email, you can immediately access it. You can view the caller ID, click to listen to the message right from the email and if you turned on the transcription service, you can READ your message!
  • An easier process of access. Rather than calling your voicemail box or manually sorting through voicemail at home, you can simply open up the audio file in your email and listen to your message (or READ it).
  • One location for all of your messages. If you have all calls come through your virtual phone system, all voicemail and notifications will be stored in one place. 

It is becoming a necessary process in this day and age, and, as we spend more time dealing with our email, we need to make sure we have everything sent to it.