When you run a very small company, a professional image makes it possible to compete against much larger companies. A PBX phone system with sophisticated call-routing and auto-attendant features is one way to let potential customers know that you're a serious business, but the cost can leave a small guy out in the cold.
However, companies such as Virtual PBX offer enterprise-level PBX services in a hosted form at a fraction of the cost. What's more, the company recently added two new features it said can help small businesses to better manage call priorities and to increase productivity.
Caller ID is nothing new, but according to Greg Brashier, vice president of marketing at Virtual PBX, it just displays the number of the incoming call while SmartID provides a much more customized experience. For example, you can assign a prefix or a suffix to be displayed with the caller ID information for each call that comes through Virtual PBX. This lets you see which calls are business-related and which are personal.
SmartID also provides verbal caller ID, which Brashier said comes in handy when you take a call from a phone that doesn't have a caller ID display. It will also display the number of the business being called (useful for people who run more than one company), and it will indicate which department in the company the call is intended for (sales, customer service, etc.).
"Many small business people, especially in companies with fewer than 10 employees, handle multiple responsibilities," said Brashier. "Knowing the department a customer is calling before you pick up the phone ensures that high priority calls get answered first. You're more prepared, and you can answer appropriately depending on whether it's a sales, service or support call."
Other SmartID features include sending the companys business number ID during outbound calls no matter what phone you use to make the call and overriding blocked caller ID numbers.
"SmartID's customization capabilities let small businesses make better decisions, better manage their priorities and be more productive," said Brashier.
Virtual PBX designed this feature to let customers record, upload and manage a library of auto-attendant greetings. Recording Manager makes it easy to switch between greetings at will, said Brashier. "It helps small businesses communicate information such as changes in business hours, holiday schedules or special promotions to their customers immediately," he said.
The company said that the feature is designed to let you record new messages several different ways: over the phone, synthesized from text or recorded in a studio and uploaded to the system.
Virtual PBX targets its hosted PBX services at two small business groups. The first is very small companies with fewer than 10 employees that don't want to buy, install or maintain PBX hardware and who typically spend a lot of time out of the office.The second group is small companies with 10 to 500 employees who are typically distributed across a geographic area. Brashier cited, for example, a company with work-at-home employees or branch offices. You'll find more information at the Virtual PBX Web site.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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