Technology, some people fear it, some resist it, and others embrace it. As a small business owner, it could be the best thing that ever happened to your company. With the technology available today, small businesses are increasingly leveling the playing field between themselves and big business. With virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) telephone systems, small businesses are combining today's technology with traditional customer service to take their business to the next level.
It used to be that only Fortune 500 companies with hundreds of employees and 10- story office buildings could afford and maintain a PBX telephone system. But now, with toll free virtual PBX services, anyone with a telephone can reap the benefits of this powerful communications tool. A virtual PBX has all the advantages of a traditional PBX and more without the hassle, hardware and expense.
A virtual PBX allows small businesses to:
* Project a professional, more established company image
* Have one unified number for office phone, cell phone, fax, and pager
* Make information available to their customers 24/7
* Have web-based, real time access to their system
Small and home-based businesses are using all of these features to sound and operate like a Fortune 500 company everyday.
Project a Professional, More Established Company Image
Right or wrong, consumers assume a company with a toll free number is a more established and secure company. When a toll free number is attached to a virtual PBX with an automated attendant, that powerful image is perpetuated. An automated attendant answers all incoming calls with the same professional and courteous message every time, day or night. Professional greetings can be recorded by the business owner themselves, or even by a voice talent, and customized for the needs of the business. It doesn't matter if the business is operated out of a home office or the Oval Office. The caller hears a professional greeting each and every time they call.
Unified Voice and Messaging System
With a virtual PBX system, small businesses only need one telephone number. This number can be an office phone, cell phone, fax, and pager all in one. Gone are the days of having to put 3 or 4 different numbers on business cards. Now a virtual PBX toll free number can replace them all. When a call comes in, it can be routed to any local number. It can even be programmed to route to different numbers at different times of the day or on different days of the week. That kind of flexibility is unheard of with a traditional toll free number or a hardwired PBX. If the call is not answered, or is sent to voicemail, the virtual PBX system can even send out a page or email to let the user know that there is a message waiting for them.
The toll free number also acts as the fax number. When a fax is sent, the system recognizes it as a fax and can store it in a fax mailbox for later retrieval, forward the faxed document to a local fax machine, or even send the fax to an email address as an attachment. Unified messaging unchains business owners from their home or small office and allows them the flexibility to get out and build their business while still being available to their customers.
No matter how efficient a small or home-based business is, they simply cannot be available to their customers all the time. If a caller has questions they want the answers now. If they don't get those answers when they call, chances are they'll look some place else. Making sure information is available, even when a live person isn't, can be the difference between someone becoming a customer or moving on to the competition.
A virtual PBX allows the storage of an unlimited amount of information for callers to retrieve 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Menus broken down into what kinds of information a caller might need make it easy for them to navigate the system and get what they are looking for. Faxes can even be attached so the caller can request an automated fax back. These automated processes not only save time, but they also make sure callers can get the information they need when no one is available.
Web Based System Access
A toll free virtual PBX is just that, virtual. What that means for a small business owner is that one, there is no hardware to maintain or software to buy, and two, that they can access their system from anywhere with Internet access. Online system access is one of the biggest advantages of a virtual PBX system. Web-based system access allows users to check their voice and fax messages over the Internet or have their messages delivered directly to an email address. Of course, messages can still be checked from any touch-tone phone.
Real time reporting allows users to check the call logs of all incoming calls to their phone number and use the call capture feature to not only capture the phone number of the person calling, but many times their name and address as well. It also allows a user to run reports based on different criteria chosen. For example, reports could be run to show when the busiest time of the week is for customer service or if the call volume increased after a specific ad campaign was released. The applications are endless.
With all these powerful features, and most times more, it's amazing that virtual PBX systems can be found at a reasonable price. Most providers offer systems that are between $10.00 and $50.00 depending on the capabilities and size of the system. Many providers will offer a varying number of voice mailboxes and features. A quality virtual PBX service provider can also customize systems if needed.
Technology is ever changing in today's fast paced world. Many of these technologies allow small businesses to compete at a higher level along side their bigger competition. Small business owners should embrace them or risk being left behind.