These days, virtually everyone has a smartphone. It’s certainly a must-have item for the modern entrepreneur, regardless of trade or industry. From decorators and cupcake bakers to financial advisors and marketers, a multifunctional smartphone is a vital business tool.
But there are times when even a smartphone isn’t quite smart enough. It might be the engine room of your business, but do you really want to publish your cell phone number on the Internet and social media? That makes it far too easy for spammers to find your number. Once that happens, the robocalls start coming thick and fast.
The best way around it is an automated attendant feature. Cell phones don’t offer this feature, so that’s where a VoIP phone system comes in handy.
A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone is hosted online, which gives you the flexibility to take calls from multiple devices, wherever you are. You can take calls from your smartphone, your home phone, or even a computer, and stay productive while you’re on-the-go.
Alliance offers a low-cost, cloud-based VoIP phone system for just $30 per month, which comes with 50+ features to streamline your communications. To help you understand the system and how it helps your business, here’s a rundown of the top 20 VoIP features from Alliance.
1. Call Screening
What is it? An audio announcement for an incoming call that provides specific caller information.
Why is it useful? Find out who’s calling just by looking at your screen. If you have multiple phone numbers, you’ll know exactly which number your caller is trying to reach. That means you can greet your caller in a specific way, or transfer the call to the relevant person.
2. Call Forwarding
What is it? Forward calls made to your extension to any other number.
Why is it useful? This function helps you cut down on missed calls. It allows you to direct calls to other phones or numbers – such as your home, office, or cell phone, which means you’re no longer tied to a specific location.
3. Menus (IVR)
What is it? Create a custom message for your callers. For example: “Press 1 to reach Sales. Press 2 for Customer Service…”
Why is it useful? Guide callers to the appropriate extension quickly and easily, without spending time manually transferring calls to the right place. A great menu helps your company appear more professional, and you can also use it to educate callers. For instance, set up your menu with a customized recording giving important information such as business hours, company directory and any other useful details.
4. Custom Greetings
What is it? Create personal audio messages for your callers.
Why is it useful? Personalize the caller experience and educate them about opening times, department contact details and so on. Record an audio greeting with menus directly from your phone, or by uploading your own audio files. You can add your own choice of music, too.
What is it? Schedules allow you to route calls based on the day and time the call is received.
Why is it useful? Set a schedule according to your own working hours. Route incoming calls to different numbers, extensions, greetings, or menus, based on the day and time the call is received. For example, a call received during business hours can receive your normal greeting while a call received after business hours can have a different greeting, which educates callers on your opening times and alternate contact details (email address, website URL, and so on). You can also set your schedule to incorporate vacations and seasonal events.
6. Address Book
What is it? Import, manage, sync and route your business contacts with your virtual phone.
Why is it useful? This feature lets you keep all your business contacts in one place. Import existing contacts from your email account, enabling you to call or send SMS messages directly from within your virtual phone account. You can also assign custom call handling rules for your contacts and create personalized messages, numbers, voicemail and more.
What is it? This useful app lets you turn any computer into a phone.
Why is it useful? Place and take calls from your computer without the need to pick up a handset or cell phone. You can access your address book and phone settings, just like any normal phone, except you can now talk and work, hands-free. It’s great for those times when you need to take notes or multi-task.
8. Call Blocking
What is it? Screen and block incoming calls from telemarketers, unknown numbers or specific area codes.
Why is it useful? Prevent distractions by stopping unwanted callers from reaching you. You can block a caller during a call, or easily add them to a blocked call list.
7. Follow Me
What is it? Follow Me lets you direct calls to single or multiple numbers and have them ring all at once, or one after the other.
Why is it useful? Decide who can ‘find you’ and at what time of the day. Their calls will find you at any location, which means you’ll never miss an important call from your VIPs.
10. User Extensions
What is it? Create an unlimited number of extensions for your team.
Why is it useful? Give every employee their own dedicated extension number, which allows you to route calls to multiple destinations including cell phones and home phones or other features such as caller menus or queues. Each extension has an address book, voicemail, greetings and more.
11. HD Audio Conferencing
What is it? Conference calling software for up to 300 people.
Why is it useful? Every employee has their own conference bridge with this intuitive software, which is compatible with any phone system and provides HD (High Definition) voice quality. Ideal for remote teams or for staying in touch with home-based workers, freelancers, and travelling sales employees.
12. Call Handling Rules
What is it? Customize incoming calls by setting rules, which automatically sends callers to the right extension or voicemail.
Why is it useful? Provide a more efficient experience by using Call Handling Rules to route incoming calls to a specific destination. Or, send calls to different destinations based on the day and time, or the caller’s ID.
13. In-Call Features Including Call Holding and Transferring
What is it? Numerous features to help you deal with calls more efficiently, including placing callers on hold, recording calls, and transferring calls to another number.
Why is it useful? Save time by making quick actions during a call, such as forwarding to voicemail or blocking a number. In-call features include: attended transfer; grab back transferred call; transfer to voicemail; place call on hold; record a call; and call blocking or unblocking.
14. Voicemail Transcription
What is it? Voicemail Transcription gives you the ability to read your voicemail messages rather than listen to them.
Why is it useful? Perfect for anyone who doesn’t like listening to voicemail. Choose from an automated transcription, or upgrade to a premium human-assisted transcription. Either way, you have the ability to read your voicemail rather than listening to the actual message, enabling you to read your voicemail messages while on the phone or carrying out other tasks.
15. CRM Integration
What is it? Integrate with popular CRM software for easy click-to-dial, screen pops, and more.
Why is it useful? Enhance business performance by utilizing call data, screen pops, click-to-dial and tracking – all from within your browser. Get better analytics and improve your lead capture with the system’s smart note box, which uses natural language processing to improve follow-ups and collaboration.
16. Video Conferencing Service
What is it? Hold face-to-face video meetings with up to 25 people.
Why is it useful? Video conferencing is ideal when you work with remote teams or clients. The system enables you to screen-share and present information in real time to remote workers via a web application, which means no downloads are required. The program does not replace your audio conferencing channel; it simply adds a video component to it.
17. Call Recording
What is it? Record calls and listen to them at a later date.
Why is it useful? Ideal for interviews, complex calls, or training. Choose which calls you wish to record – such as incoming calls, outbound, all calls, or custom requirements – and download the audio file from your phone system, ready to play it back anytime you need it.
18. Dial-by-Name Directory
What is it? Callers can search for a person’s extension by using the automated dial-by-name directory.
Why is it useful? Help callers find the right extension with the help of a computer generated auto-attendant. Callers are asked to enter the first or last name of the person they’re trying to reach, using their dialpad, and the system will read out the person’s name and extension to the caller.
19. Hold Music
What is it? Choose the music your callers listen to while they’re on-hold or in a queue.
Why is it useful? Improve the caller’s experience by selecting from a variety of quality music tracks that play while they are on hold or waiting in a queue. Standard options include film soundtracks and classical music, while premium subscription options include popular artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, and The Beatles. You can also upload your own hold music recording to your account as a greeting (note, you must have the copyright to broadcast music on your phone system).
What is it? Run your own mini call center and put callers ‘on hold’ until they can connect to the next available representative.
Why is it useful? Call Queues allow you to route incoming calls to a specific group of phone numbers. While callers are waiting to be connected, the system will greet them with your custom message and play your selected hold music. Queues are ideal for customer support, sales departments, help desks, and for making reservations and appointments.
There’s more where that came from! Take a closer look at all the features included with an Alliance Virtual Phone plan here.