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Grasshopper is a virtual telephone system whose marketing has come up with this bold phrase in order to support their belief that their virtual telephone system does indeed match the requirements of the consumer and the small medium business (SMB). However, does the service match the hyperbole? In this article, we will take an in-depth look at Grasshopper’s virtual telephony service and examine exactly what it can do for the consumer and the small medium business (SMB).
Who is Grasshopper’s Target Market
Grasshopper targets the entrepreneurs and small business owner who require a professional telephone PBX solution at an affordable price. Indeed Grasshopper’s catch phrase is; The Entrepreneurs Choice.
To meet the expectations of that market Grasshopper provides a cloud based PBX system that is always on and provides 24/7 technical support. Grasshopper is a good fit for the small business start up or for businesses with a few employees, with little capital to spend on technology, especially those with remote or home based employees.
Grasshopper as a Virtual Telephone Service
The first thing we must consider is what is the Grasshopper virtual telephone service? Furthermore, what are the benefits and facilities that it provides? In order to understand Grasshopper’s service we have to understand that it is not just another VoIP service that focuses on free or cheap outbound calls, such as Skype or Google Voice. Instead, Grasshopper bases its business model not on VoIP but on an overlay of the traditional plain old telephone system (POTS). Therefore Grasshopper can redirect or forward calls to any real telephone number, whether landline or mobile (Cell). However, because Grasshopper’s service is tightly integrated with those physical PSTN networks, it means it can also receive calls from any POTS or Mobile (Cell). So what are the benefits for the consumer or SMB?
The Benefits of Grasshopper
Grasshopper is a telephony service focused on incoming calls. Grasshopper has designed its business and technology model around answering incoming telephone calls, providing a professional answering service and redirecting calls to a subscriber’s mobile or landline. This of course is beneficial to the very small business or the SMB as it permits mobility without the fear of missing important calls. Grasshopper is cost efficient, as the SMB no longer requires a receptionist/operator to handle incoming calls. A Grasshopper subscriber when away from his office or home can have their incoming calls redirected to their mobile (Cell) phones. What is more the subscriber can configure the answering service to provide the caller with a menu; 1 for sales, 2 for customer care, 3 for accounts, etc. Each of these departments or groups, are then configured to forward the call to a specific mobile, landline or VoIP number, redirecting calls from the answering service to the correct employee to handle the call, wherever they may be. Additionally, voice mail to email is a popular function as it allows missed calls to be captured in text format, which can then be read whilst in meetings without disturbing the proceedings.
However, Grasshopper is much more than just an answering service it is also a means of obtaining a real local telephone number and a toll free number, which relates to a presence and credibility within the community.
Local Number or Toll Free (how it works)
A great benefit of the Grasshopper service is that it can supply a local, national or toll free number. When initially subscribing to Grasshopper the customer goes through four simple steps:
- Pick a number for the business (local, vanity or Toll free).
- Record the custom answering service greeting.
- Add Departments or employees to the answering menu & forward to real telephone No’s.
- Receive Calls, Voice mail and Faxes anywhere.
This facility enhances the credibility of the business as well as providing a convenient and cheap method for customers to contact their business. In addition to local numbers, there are also vanity numbers available. Providing customers with local, vanity or toll free numbers for their convenience gives the initial impression of a larger company.
Additional Grasshopper Functionality
- Grasshopper also has a mobile application whereby outgoing calls can be made which display the caller ID as being the Grasshopper virtual number rather than the users mobile number.
- No additional hardware is required to install. Grasshopper works on all mobiles, landlines and office PBX phones.
- Receive Voice mail by email or Fax (MP3 or PDF).
- Conference Calling.
- Unlimited Call Handling.
- Music on Hold.
- Fax on Demand.
- Store and Forward.
- Transparent Call forwarding.
- Call Screening.
Pricing & Plans
Grasshopper has four plans:
- Pay as You Go – $12 a month and 6 cent a minute, one toll free or local number, free activation and full features.
- RAMP – $24 a month and 500 minutes free, one toll free or local number, free activation and full features.
- GROW – $49 a month and 2,000 minutes free, two toll free or local numbers, free activation and full features.
- MAX – $199 a month and 10,000 minutes, three toll free or local numbers, free activation and full features.
More Benefits of Grasshopper
With a Grasshopper virtual phone system, you can work from anywhere. Incoming calls are redirected to your mobile phone; missed calls via voice-mails are delivered to your inbox as an MP3 or in text format; furthermore faxes are forwarded to your e-mail client as PDF attachments.
Employee productivity and efficiency – Employees can now work anywhere, they are no longer tied to the office of to a 9 to 5 work day they can be contacted at anytime, anywhere.
Redirect and Call Screening – When answering a call there are several options; 1) answer the call, 2) send the call to voicemail or 3) listen to the Caller ID. These tools allow you to screen incoming calls however, Grasshopper also supports seamless and transparent call transfer which enables calls to be transferred to another employee. There is also an ‘away’ status which can be set to prevent receiving calls.
Provides a professional image – this is especially important to start up operations that may be working out of temporary or even garage locations. Local, Toll free or even vanity numbers portrays the company in a better light.
Unlimited extensions – for the SMB catering for growth is very important, Grasshopper offers unlimited extensions, and each can be configured separately by the end user.
Maximizing Cost Savings – There is no hardware costs (Capex) and reduced operational support costs (Opex), and the company sounds like a fortune 500 company at an affordable price.
No long term contracts.
30 Day money back guarantee.
Now for the Cons
Grasshopper is primarily an incoming answering service it does not supply a dial tone so outgoing calls or faxes must be made through another telephony supplier. Grasshopper themselves admit to this via their frequently asked questions:
This is of course a problem unless Grasshopper is being used solely as a solution for the smallest of companies – where small means a few employees, rather that financial turnover. The reason for this is that employees will be required to use their own phones, which is not ideal. This is because at the end of each month employees will expect reimbursed for outgoing calls, which will create work for the accountancy function – how do you determine what are personal and business calls, without causing unnecessary friction?
Grasshopper is a cloud based virtual telephone system targeting entrepreneurs and SMB’s that require a robust, feature rich PBX without any initial hardware outlay. To that end, Grasshopper delivers an excellent service with all the features that an SMB requires especially if their employees are remote working. Grasshopper answers incoming business calls on a local or toll free number and redirects the call to an assigned telephone number, whether mobile or landline. Grasshopper offers four price plans that will match the requirements of most customers. Its downside is it lacks a service level agreement, it is lacking in outbound services such as fax, and is only accessible in some countries.
Visit Grasshopper.com to signup and for further information.
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