Virtual PBX and Toll Free Glossary

Virtual PBX and Toll Free Glossary

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There are a lot of features available with the toll free plans, some of which are very unique in their attributes. Keep in mind that while each toll free company is constantly adding new features, none of them offer all of the features.

If you can't find something that you're looking for, email me and let me know!

A

Access by Phone
Almost every toll free provider permits you to access your account by phone in addition to web access. All of the most important call features should be accessible via phone. Watch out! Most of the access calls to your account are charged against your available minutes.
ACD Queuing
Automatic Call Distribution or ACD Queuing allows companies to route all calls to the appropriate departments and staff. Quality ACD systems will allow for variables, prioritization of staff, on-the-fly management by a supervisor and custom information while on hold. More advanced than Hunt Groups. Also know as queue.
Auto Attendant
This is the first thing people hear when they call your toll free number. It is usually recorded by you or many of the plans have professional voices you can hire to create them for you. This initial greeting tells people which button to push... Push 1 for Billing, Push 2 for Technical Support, etc.

C

Call Announce
When a call is forwarded to you, a computerized voice will announce the call for you and ask what you would like to do with it... Answer it, Send it to voice mail, forwarded it to someone else, etc.
Call Block
Have a pesky customer or person you would like to keep from calling you? Plans with call block allow you to prevent someone from a particular number to reach you.
Call Forward
Allows you to forward the call to someone else on "the fly". Great for companies with more than one employee. Also know as just "forward".
Call Hold
You guessed it - just a simple hold. Callers are placed in a "standby" mode while the receiver prepares to speak to the caller. Most systems play music for your customers while on hold. Also known as "hold".
Call Reports
A detailed list of incoming and outgoing calls accessible through your online account.
Call Screening
This feature requires the caller to speak their name before they are transferred to the appropriate extension. This allows the person answering the call to know who is calling. This feature should be used sparingly as it can frustrate some customers.
Call Transfer
The ability to send your caller to a different telephone number. Most only allow transfers to a number within your organization. Also known as "transfer".
Conference Calling
The ability to have a telephone conversation between at least three parties, speaking on three different telephones, with three different telephone numbers.
Cardless Calling Card
Many companies allow you to use your 800 toll free number to call as you would with a pre-paid calling card. The minutes used count against your monthly minutes.
Custom Hold
Some companies allow you to provide custom hold recordings that play while customers are waiting to speak with someone. Great feature for companies that would like to inform customers of specials, store hours, etc.

D

Dial By Extension
Virtually all plans offer this - "if you know your party's extension, you may dial it at any time...."
Dial By Name
Gives your customers to type in part of the name of the person they are calling and be transferred to their extension.
Dedicated Toll Free
Your 800 or toll free number is yours alone. You will not share it with any other company.
Dedicated Fax
In addition to your toll free number, some companies will provide you (free or for a fee) a dedicated fax number that is different than the main toll free number.
Direct Connect
This call feature allows calls to be routed directly to the destination number you choose, circumventing 2 legged billing. Choosing this option almost always means you lose the option for call announce, call hold, call transfer among other features.
Direct Inward Dial
Direct Inward Dial (DID) Allows callers to reach a staff member directly without going through the auto attendant. Real PBX systems provide for this automatically and can be seen as a drawback to hosted PBX plans. VirtualPBX and onebox are the only companies known to provide this option to its customers.

F

Fax on Demand
Callers are able to request a faxed document from you automatically. Callers will be routed through options, ultimately selecting a document and entering their fax number. Once complete the document is automatically faxed from your system to the caller. Have a parts list or assembly instructions that your customers frequently request? Set it up as Fax on Demand to save countless staff hours.
Follow Me
Calls can be routed to multiple numbers to make sure you never miss a call. Most often, users will also set a "call order" of the numbers you will most frequently be at, i.e. Office, Cell Phone, Home, etc. The telephone numbers and the order can be preset via the website or on the fly using your phone and calling into your voicemail center.
Forward
Allows you to forward the call to someone else on "the fly". Great for companies with more than one employee. Also know as "call forward".

G

Group Voice Messaging
Do you have many people in your organization that you would like to leave the same message for? Group messaging allows you to send one voice mail message (either one you create or one you forward) to multiple people in step. No need to re-record the message multiple times.

H

Hold
You guessed it - just a simple hold. Callers are placed in a "standby" mode while the receiver prepares to speak to the caller. Most systems play music for your customers while on hold. Also known as "call hold"
Hold Music
Simply means that your callers will hear music while they are on hold.
Hunt Groups
Hunt groups are primarily used for call centers, either real or virtual. Calls are routed to an appropriate group of employees in either, random or a predetermined order. The system will "hunt" out the next available agent so that the call is answered in a timely fashion. If one agent is busy, the call will go to the next in line until the call is answered. This is feature is not as advanced as ACD Queuing.

I

Integrated FAX
Plans with this feature allow your caller to fax directly to your standard toll free number - no need for a second, dedicated fax number. The systems are intelligent enough to know if the call is coming from a real person or a fax and handle the call appropriately.
IM Console
Toll free providers with IM Consoles (Instant Messenger) integration allow the user (you) to be notified of new incoming calls and faxes. You can choose how you would like the call to be routed via the IM Console.

L

Local Numbers
In addition to receiving a toll free number, some plans allow you to add a local number too. Great for companies looking to service customers in specific regions. You do not need to live or work in the area you choose to have a local number, calls will be forwarded to whatever number you choose same as your toll free number.
Legs
All calls to your toll free number require two legs (or connections). The first leg is from the caller to your toll free number and the second leg is from the toll free company to your designated number. Companies will bill your minutes for just one leg or both - check to make sure what the company you're considering does before you sign up.

N

Non-Blockable Caller ID
Provides you the phone number of callers who have paid to have their numbers "unlisted" with caller id.

P

Pager Alert
An alert will be sent to your pager when a new voice mail message has been received by your toll free voicemail system. It is important to note that almost all pagers have an associated email address. For those companies that don't offer pager alert, but do offer email alert, you can simply send a message to your pager instead. Does anyone use a pager anymore???
Personal Hold Message
This is similar to "Custom Hold". You can provide a hold message that provides your own information or music.
Porting
If you already have a toll-free number you can "port" it to a new carrier. There is usually a Transfer Fee involved (about $25).

Q

Queue
"You are now third in line." If you never want to miss a call, make sure that your package includes call queuing. When receiving multiple calls at the same time, your callers will be placed in a queue until the next available agent can answer the call. This better known as ACD Queuing.
Questionnaires
If your looking to collect information from your callers, then consider a plan with questionnaires included. Callers are asked a series of questions that you design. Their answers are entered by pressing numbers on their keypad and the responses are stored digitally so that you can review the information in Microsoft Excel or similar program.

R

Random Hold Music
The system rotates through different genres of music for the callers on hold.
Return Calls
This useful feature allows you to connect a call from your voice mail. While listening to the message, simply enter the appropriate keys and you will be connected to the number responsible for the message. This is a lot like *69 but for your voicemail.
Ring To
This is a "true" call forwarding feature. Calls to your toll free number will be routed directly to the number you choose without all the bells and whistles attached. Customers of companies that charge for both legs of the call can use this feature to reduce the billing legs to 1.

S

Schedule Enabled
For some, this will be a very important feature. Schedule enabled allows you to set the times of day that you wish to receive your phone calls, all other times calls are directed to voicemail. This is great for offices or people that have "operating" hours and want to be left alone all other times of the day/week.
Setup Fee
You guessed it! Some companies will charge you a 1 time setup fee for 1 or all of the features. There are even some that will charge you to setup your initial account.
SMS Notification
If you have a cell phone with SMS enabled (text messaging), you will be able to get a text message when an event happens on your virtual pbx system.
SOHO
Acronym for: Small Office - Home Office
Storage
Each plan offers different storage options or limits for your voicemail messages and faxes. Storage capacity can be measured by: Number of messages, total time of messages, or size of the digitized file. Some plans offer unlimited storage. Also, be sure to check your plans requirements as some messages are automatically deleted after a certain time period.
Supervisor Control
Managing a call center? This feature will allow supervisors to monitor where the calls are routed, to which agents and even allow the supervisor to "listen in" on conversations. Most companies use this feature for "quality assurance" and training purposes.

T

Transfer
The ability to send your caller to a different telephone number. Most only allow transfers to a number within your organization. Also known as "call transfer".
Transfer Fee
Have a toll free number already, but want to move it to your new toll free provider? Most companies will charge you a one time fee to transfer your number from one service provider to another. Transfering an existing toll-free number to a new toll-free plan is also known as "porting".
True 800
Not all toll free companies offer the original 800 toll free numbers. Most will be issuing you 888, 877, 866, etc. numbers. However, for a fee, many of the toll free providers will give you a true 800 number.

V

Vanity Numbers
Vanity numbers incorporate a name, word or phrase into the toll free number design. Used to help customers remember your toll free number. Requests for vanity numbers usually come with a fee associated with it.
Voice Mail
A virtual answering machine for your phone line. Messages are taken "virtually" and stored in digital format. They can then be emailed directly to you or stored for later retrieval
Voice Mail Email
Voice mail that can be delivered to your email.
VOIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol
VOIP is the general term for voice transmission over the internet. The most significant benefit of VOIP is that callers can significantly reduce or eliminate the cost of making a traditional phone call. Quality of a VOIP phone call is impacted by many factors including the speed and quality of your interenet connection, internet traffic and distance.

W

Web Interface
Access all of your account features via the web. Check messages, view call history, balance, change your billing information, set and change your calling features. Make sure your plan allows you to check voice mail online as you will incur charges to check messages through your phone.

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