Today smartphone are ubiquitous are they are becoming vital business tools not just for mobile communications but also for running business mobile apps. Executives and entrepreneurs alike run their businesses using nothing more than their smartphones and this has revolutionized the way they do business. By using mainly, mobile apps or more likely, for SMB and larger organizations cloud apps employees can work from anywhere and at any time. This mix of work/play time creates they say a more harmonious balance between the home and the office.
Such has been the uptake of mobile devices by the public that most now prefer to use their own devices within the workplace and this phenomenon is called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). In this business case, employees request to use their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops to do their work. There are some security issues, such as data leakage from the company into the cloud, and these need to be addressed but in most cases BYOD results in improved efficiency and morale.
For the business have employees work from their own devices has its own obvious advantages, lower costs, higher efficiency, less expenses on software and maintenance, all these and more contribute towards the benefits derived from BYOD. However, one use of mobile phones in the business is not advantageous and that is ironically when employees use them to make and worse receive business calls.
The problem with employees using their own devices to receive customer calls is the loss of the control the company has on the customer relationship. In fact, the relationship will develop between the customer and the employee for better or worse and that is never a good thing in any business.
Therefore, the goals of many startup, SMBs and even medium enterprises are to find a way to utilize the employee’s smartphone without them operating out with the business telephone system. The preferred method would be to have a second number, which could somehow create the effect of two phone lines on one phone. The way they can accomplish this is through a virtual telephone system, and there are several vendors offering possible solutions.
Google voice is an online VoIP PBX that works from either a new or an existing mobile number and it can transfer calls to one or more additional phone lines. The idea behind Google Voice is that it will work as a central phone number, for in our case a business, but then transparently redirect the incoming call to one or several phones (extensions). Google Voice rings all the extensions simultaneously until the user answers or it sends the call to voicemail. For outbound calls if the user has opted for a Google Voice number then that number will show as the caller ID on outbound calls. This is okay for a startup getting a new business number as you could use the Google Voice number as the central customer contact number or you could port your existing business number to be the Google Voice number. On all other calls not using the Google App, I.E. the employee’s personal calls would then be handled (inbound and outbound) using the mobile’s own number.
Grasshopper is a virtual telephone system that uses an overlay on the public telephone system the PSTN. The way Grasshopper works is by transferring incoming calls to a business number via an auto-attendant to a selection of other phones. This works much like Google Voice, however with Grasshopper you have an auto-attendant to offer the caller a choice of extension, which can be configured to represent departments and other employees so it works like a company switchboard redirecting calls to other employee’s phones. This feature makes handling incoming business calls very efficient as Grasshopper never lets a call go unanswered and if they cannot get an answer on a specific extension, Grasshopper will pass the call to voicemail.
The only drawback with Grasshopper is that it is for incoming call management only, it does not supply a dial tone so any outbound calls will need to use the Grasshopper’s mobile app. That is a minor inconvenience, when you consider all the advantages you get with Grasshopper. Features such as call hold, transfer, conferencing, call announce and voice-mail transcription to email or SMS.
Grasshopper starts at $12 per month
Visit Grasshopper for further details.
RingCentral has two main business products it’s cloud based PBX services called Office aimed at SMB and larger organizations and it virtual telephone servic3e Professional which is targeted as entrepreneurs and SMB. RingCentral is very similar to Grasshopper in the way it works and the features that it supports. The primary differentiator between Grasshopper and RingCentral is that RingCentral is cloud hosted VoIP.
RingCentral starts are $20 per month
Visit RingCentral for further details.
Line2 is another possible solution to the second mobile phone number issue. Line2 allows for a second number that lets users send and receive calls on a compatible device. Line2 features include call waiting, call transfer, voice & video conferencing, visual voice mail and a desktop client for a PC or Mac. There is an optional auto-attendant.
Line2 Pro starts at 14.99 per month
Visit Line2 for further details.
You can get a second number for a mobile by installing the OneSuite Business app on either an iOS or Android device. OneSuite comes with all the standard features such as call history, call waiting, call conferencing and call transfer. OneSuite Business can be used as a personal service, or it can be set up to support multiple subaccounts. Configuring sub-accounts allows multiple employees and departments to be supported in much the same way as Grasshopper uses extensions.
Visit OneSuite Business for further details.
Skype for Business
A basic Skype account is free and while it allows outbound calls to regular phone numbers all inbound calls must go through the Skype app. However, any Skype user can have those incoming calls diverted to a landline or mobile number but at fee per minute.
In addition, Skype Business has many extra features as it supports voice and video as well as being tightly integrated into the Microsoft Office product. Being part of Outlook, Word and Excel for example makes it a great tool for collaboration in business. Furthermore, its video conferencing tools make it ideal for meetings, presentations and interviews. Additionally Skype Business has a desktop sharing tool, which makes it great for remote training and distance learning.
Skype Business starts at $2.99 per month.
One final recommendation is that Skype can work really well with Grasshopper, as Skype is primarily an outbound service and Grasshopper an incoming call service they complement each other beautifully.
Visit Skype for Business for further details.