Getting Started for Small Businesses (3-10 Employees)
From VoIP.ms Wiki
This guide has been made for small-but-growing businesses (3-10 employees).
Below you will find a complete setup guide for your business phone system including:
- A few recommendations for a desk phone and a softphone to place and receive calls,
- A custom toll-free number,
- A voicemail greeting for your business and for your employees,
- A digital receptionist (IVR),
- Call flow time conditions to forward calls during and after your business hours,
- Recording phone calls for your records,
- Setting up your own conference bridge,
- Sending and receiving faxes through virtual fax, and
- A few security recommendations.
Here is a quick visual representation of what your phone system could look like based on the guidelines below, but please note that the phone features listed in this guide are interdependent. We recommend following the setup steps in the order they are presented.
Setting up Your VoIP.ms Account and Devices
Understanding VoIP.ms Pay-as-You-Go Pricing
You may be scared by the Pay-as-You-Go model, but it allows you to actually make ssignificant savings and is much more flexible than traditional phone providers. Let's walk through pricing together, but keep in mind that VoIP.ms splits its pricing into two parts, inbound and outbound calls.
First, you will need one (or many) phone numbers. Say that you are a Canadian-based business, a toll-free number will cost you $1.25 per month.
Second, you get to pay per minute, thus you will pay $0.027 per minute.
As soon as your devices are set up, you can already make calls, you do not necessarily need to have a number associated to it. You will simply be billed according to your usage with 6-second increments. From our example above, outbound calls with toll-free numbers are free of charge (there are, indeed, some rules to the game!).
So how much is this costing you?
Say that in a given week, you and your team speak on the phone 4 hours per day (making outbound calls to generate sales!) and receive calls 2 hours per day. That is 6 hours per day, 20 business days in a given month, that is 2,400 incoming toll-free minutes (billable) and 4,800 outgoing toll-free minutes (free!). Therefore, your monthly recurring bill would be $1.25 for your toll-free number and $64.80 for all your business calls during the month with a fully hosted phone system, which yields $66.05 for 120 hours over the phone!
Please note that VoIP.ms charges in U.S. dollars. While it is true that we are a Canadian company, since the company started back in 2007 we adopted the USD as the global currency solution in order to reach and satisfy as many customers as possible.
Ready to get started? Keep on reading.
VoIP.ms has a Bring Your Own Device policy, thus you may either already have something handy or may decide to buy a new device.
Phone Numbers (DIDs)
Once you have your devices, you will either get toll-free or local DID(s) or transfer your current one(s).
1) To get DID(s), you may get a vanity number which consists of a custom toll-free number (e.g. 1-800-1-OFFICE) or a regular toll-free number. You may also order a simple local DID if you wish to do so.
2) You may also transfer your DID(s) from your current provider with our portability tool. This process usually takes up to 5 business days, so one way to work around this is to ask your current provider to do a call forwarding to your new VoIP.ms DIDs in the meantime. Moreover, porting local and toll-free DIDs is free with VoIP.ms across Canada and United States.
Don't forget to activate your E911 services!
In order to set up your devices, you will need to create sub-accounts. Sub-accounts allow you to register your devices as well as to create internal extensions for all your team. Sub-accounts are free and you can have as many as you want.
With your DID(s), your devices and your sub-accounts. You are now ready to build a cloud phone system tailored to your specific needs.
Building a Tailored Cloud Phone System
Digital Receptionist (IVR)
First, you want to implement the IVR feature, since your team is growing and your business is starting to take off, one easy way to enhance overall customer experience is to implement a Digital Receptionist (IVR) with Calling Queues.
Say that you now have 5 employees, 3 for sales, 1 for support, and 1 for accounting. You could easily guide the customer to dial "1" for Sales, "2" for Support, and "3" for Accounting with the Digital Receptionist feature. The Calling Queue will allow your customers to wait on the line for their call to be picked up.
We strongly recommend to draw it out first, and then implement it - it eases the entire process!
In the case where your business is multi-language you could also use the IVR feature with different language recordings. For instance, your caller could press "1" for English and "2" for French.
Note that you will need voice prompts in order to set up your Digital Receptionist. If you are not sure how to approach your scripts, take a peek at our blog article.
While it is highly likely that as a small team you are working more than regular business hours, you can establish your own call flow with time conditions where you can where decide to send your calls outside business hours and on weekends.
Call Hunting is a great extension of the Call Forwarding feature. Call Hunting can be described as a logical flow to enhance the call answering rate. Let's take our example from above and say you have a team of 3 employees dedicated to answering the sales calls. At a given time, for whatever reason, they cannot pick up the phone, you could set it up so that after 20 seconds in the Ring Group you created, all sales calls are forwarded to your desk phone.
In fact, you could easily create the following logical flow:
- send the incoming call to the general phone line which is linked to a Ring Group (your 3 sales employees!), if no answer (e.g. within 20 seconds)
- send it to your desk phone, if no answer
- send it to your mobile phone, if no answer
- send it to your general voicemail.
Call Hunting could also be leveraged with the Time Conditions feature discussed above. Say that you have an outside business hours emergency line for your key customers, you could simply input the escalation list in the Call Hunting feature.
You may be at the office, at home, or on-the-go, but you should always benefit from unified communications and therefore to increase the likelihood of getting all your calls, you should activate the Call Forwarding feature. If you do not pick up your desk phone within a specific delay, the incoming call will be redirected to a number where you have more chances to answer (e.g. your mobile number).
As you start hiring more employees, now is a good time to implement our Ring Group feature. Say that you have a team of 3 employees dedicated to answering the sales calls to your toll-free line. By setting up a Ring Group, our system would ring everybody's phone at the same time until somebody picks up... making sure that your call answering rate is at its best!
Note: this is an alternative to our Calling Queues feature discussed above. The more your business grows, the better to go for Calling Queues.
You will need a voicemail to make sure you are not missing any leads. Here are some tips from the VoIP.ms team to have the perfect voicemail prompt. We strongly advise you to take the full benefit of our voicemail system and activate the voicemail to email feature where all voicemail messages are forwarded to your email address as an MP3 attachment.
You can then create a voicemail for every employee that has an extension, you can simply upload the recordings directly to our portal.
In order to get the best answering rate possible in your outbound sales activities, set up a Caller ID Number and Caller ID Name so that your potential leads and customers pick up the phone.
If you wish to maintain recordings of all calls made and/or received, our Call Recording feature allows you to download the recordings, send them to an email address or simply store them in your VoIP.ms portal.
Setting up your Conference Bridge
You may have employees working from home, or a discussion with multiple people that need to be bridged altogether - this is where our Audio Conferencing solution comes handy. It offers a user-friendly dashboard to monitor and control different aspects of the conference call in real-time.
Just like your regular calls, you may also decide to record your conference.
Sending and Receiving Faxes with Your Virtual Fax
Finally, if you or some of your suppliers are still leveraging faxes, you can definitely benefit from our Virtual Fax system where you can send and receives fax through a user-friendly interface instead of having a conventional fax in your office.
You may also push this feature to the next level by activating the Email to Fax feature where you will be able to send and receive faxes directly through your email.
Increasing Your Security
VoIP.ms offers a plenitude of security features to add an extra layer of security to your account. Here are some of our favorites:
To prevent unauthorized calls from your account:
- IP Restriction: When enabled, the system will only allow outgoing phone calls from the IP address or IP address ranges provided.
- POP Restriction: This feature mimics the IP restriction, the system will only allow outgoing phone calls from the server selected.
- Allow International Calls: Are you or your team only making calls in USA/Canada? If so, when disabling this feature, calls placed to other destinations will be automatically rejected.
- Allow Calls to Countries: Only making calls to Europe? Not a problem. Disable all outbound calls apart from your desired target region.
To prevent unauthorized access to your customer portal:
- Foreign IP Guard: With this protection, every time there is a login attempt from a country other than yours, the customer portal access will be temporarily disabled from that IP address.
- Two-Step Verification: This feature is an extension from our TOTP feature, when selected, you will receive a 6-digit code on your e-mail which will be required to login to your account.
After following this guide, you are fully ready to do business while using VoIP.ms as your business phone partner. However, if you still need help or have any questions, our team is available and ready to support you 24x7.
- Tickets directly through your portal.
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tickets directly through your portal.
Sales and General Information
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Tickets directly through your portal.
- Phone: USA/Canada toll-free 1.877.786.4767 or 1.214.615.8599 worldwide