Tag Archives: small businesses

The Virtual Business: The New Age of Cloud Communications

by Phone.com

brighttalkMore and more companies are moving away from a centralized physical structure and allowing employees to work from home or remotely when traveling on business. In 2013, there were an estimated 28 million small businesses in the United States. These businesses have generated over 65 percent of net new jobs since 1995.

So how do small businesses or, for that matter, businesses of any size keep up with competition in the US and abroad? One way is to incorporate virtual-business strategies and employ some of the rapidly evolving technologies that fall under the umbrella of cloud communications.

On Wednesday, February 26, at 11:00 AM PT / 2:00 PM ET, Joel Maloff (VP, Channel Development) and Aaron Rosenthal (API Product Manager) at Phone.com will host a webinar in conjunction with BrightTalk.  They will discuss the ways cloud communications might make sense for your business.  Some of the topics they will be tackling include:

  • Telecommuting: Ways employees can work from home or in transit, yet appear as if they are working from the office.
  • Be Local, Act Global: The ability to expand into new markets and countries without having to expand your number of office locations.
  • Contingency Planning: How a virtual business can be more resilient when natural or man-made disruptions to business occur.

Click here to read more about the webinar and to sign up.

Customer Feedback Is An Opportunity For Awesome

by Jenny Dempsey

This post was originally published on Communicate Better Blog, our customer service blog.  Click here to read the original article.

we're listeningHere at Phone.com, we respond to both POSITIVE and NEGATIVE feedback. Yup, both are equally important. We want to thank customers for taking the time to share their experiences with us, both good and bad.  Feedback is a gift that helps us learn and grow into an even better company. Plus, there is power in recognizing our customer service team for their hard work, as it builds motivation and inspiration to keep serving others.

We call our positive feedback Smiles. Why? Well, it makes us smile of course! We collect smiles here at Phone.com after all! We have an internal document where we keep all of the monthly Smiles for each representative. We share all of this feedback in our employee newsletter so everyone can be aware of the great feedback coming from our customers. We are also working on incorporating this into a monthly incentive program.  Read my recent post titled, What Keeps Your Employees Ticking.

We call our negative feedback, Opportunities for Awesome (OforA for short). Why? Well, the fact that someone took the time to share what they don’t like means another opportunity for us to improve and find ways to do more of what people do like. We track each OforA that we receive to see how the situation affects the customer experience as a whole. Then we make feature requests for our research and development team to put these ideas into action in our phone service. We are thankful for the unique opportunity to see our service through the eyes of our customers.

After responding to a customer’s Smile earlier this week, I received this feedback:

It’s nice to know that your feedback actually gets read by management! I’m very glad for [your representative], that she would receive recognition for a job well done, as it is well deserved. And a job well done to you, as Phone.com has good management that recognizes both a job well done (as well as a job poorly done), you generally keep very good company culture…which is a snowball effect in the positive direction! Happy employees make for happy customers, and right back up to management! 

I basically got a Smile in return for sending a smile her way. So much smiling going on! I was blown away by this and it just reinforced the fact that we are on the right path in the way we handle feedback.

So, if this short article inspires anything today, may it be a desire to respond to every bit of feedback that customers send your way. Remember, they didn’t have to send it and yet they still took the time to do so!

Google Drive: Seven of Sixteen Secrets

by Jeb Brilliant

secrets_google_driveMany small business owners use Google Apps for email, calendar, contacts, advertising and a whole lot more, including their Google Drive service.

Google Drive includes word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation, form-creation and drawing services. Previously called Google Docs, the service is an indispensable tool for business people around the world. I came across an article this morning titled 16 Secrets of Google Drive in the online MACWORLD magazine. I don’t think all of these secrets are that secret but here are seven of my favorite tips from the article.

1. Search by Person

One of Google Drive’s best features is the ability to collaborate with others on a document in real time. With so many comments flying back and forth, however, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the one you’re looking for. Recently Google added the ability to search not only your documents, but to find documents by the name of people who share those docs with you. This is perfect if you can’t remember a document’s name, but you do remember who shared it. To use this feature, navigate to your drive in a web browser, click the Shared with Me link to the left, and then enter a person’s name in the search field. All documents owned by that person (or shared between the two of you) will appear.

2. Search Google Docs and Gmail

If you use Google Drive, it’s also likely that you use Gmail. If you want to save time and use Gmail’s search box to search both places, navigate to Gmail, click the Gear icon, and then choose Settings from the menu. Click the Labs tab and enable the Apps Search option. Now when you use Gmail’s search box, any relevant Google Drive documents will appear beneath your Gmail results!

3. Keep the Conversation with Your Document

Having a conversation about the details of a document in an email thread and then switching over to that document to make changes is just not cool. Know what’s cool? Collaborating on a document in real time and having that conversation right there in the document. When you see one or more collaborators’ names appear at the top of the document, click the Chat button that appears to start a conversation to the right of what you’re working on. Plus, that conversation stays with the document as you work on it, share it with new collaborators, and move it around in your Drive.

4. Obligatory Keyboard Shortcuts

What list of tips for a productivity suite as large as Google Drive would be complete without a mention of keyboard shortcuts? So here is a great list of keyboard shortcuts to help you work faster in Google Drive.

5. Customize Google Forms

Google Drive’s Forms let you build surveys and collect data for just about anything you can imagine. You can turn a spreadsheet into a form or use the new Create > Form option in your Drive. To make these forms even more useful, Google recently added customization options that allow you to add elements like progress bars, data validation and the embedding of YouTube videos.

6. Easy Table of Contents

If you need a way to navigate large documents or simply add a table of contents, the Insert > Table of Contents menu item has you covered. Apply headings to content from the Format > Paragraph Styles menu to build your table.

7. Edit Documents, Presentations and Drawings Offline

Want to access your Google Drive documents even when you’re offline? This set of instructions will let you install an app from the Chrome Web Store to take Google Drive offline should the need arise. You can currently work offline in your browser to edit documents, presentations and drawings, but only view spreadsheets and presentations.

Not a Google Drive fan? If you or your company is more Microsoft oriented, I recommend checking out Outlook.com. They have a reasonably robust suite of comparable services.

What do you use in your business—Google, Microsoft or something else? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Which Cloud Storage Solution is Right For Your Business?

by Jeb Brilliant

in_the_cloudBusiness owners hear about the benefits of cloud storage all the time. The cloud can save you money, offers mobile access, helps your team work more cohesively, reduces infrastructure costs, and so on.

The two most popular business solutions currently are Box and Dropbox. Both have good offerings but take a high-level look at some of the more important features.

In the comparison table below, you can see that Box seems a superior service. But when it comes to media and syncing features, Dropbox is the clear winner. It’s important to keep in mind that Box was created with enterprise as its main focus.

Available Features:

Service Strength:

Security wise, Box is stronger, and probably the right choice if you are dealing with private records or payment information. Dropbox seems to have dropped the ball in this category.

But upload size matters and Dropbox blows away the competition in this category. Box only allows maximum file size upload of 5 GB with any of their plans and much less on their free offering. Dropbox lets users upload files of any size as long as it doesn’t exceed their storage quota.

The make-or-break statistic for many companies is price, and both Box and Dropbox offer a free, basic service that I highly suggest signing up for and using before making a final decision. Dropbox starts at $99 per user per year for 100 GB for each user. Box is significantly less expensive at $60 per user per month, though users share 100 GB of online storage.

In conclusion, both solutions offer great features at a reasonable price. Your needs will dictate which service will work better for you. What are your considerations when choosing storage? Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

Note: Phone.com does not endorse either of the services in this article.

It’s Time To Consider Inflight Wi-Fi

by Jeb Brilliant

inflight_wifiAnyone who’s flown in the last decade knows that as soon as the plane touches down, people switch on their phones, and the buzzing, beeping and vibrating begins. I fly for business throughout the year and, until recently, would land and be bombarded with email and text messages.

I tend to only fly American Airlines and in the last year or two onboard Wi-Fi has become available. I didn’t think I needed it. I figured it would be nice to relax, catch up on reading and writing, but I was wrong. Yesterday, I wrote a Phone.com blog post at 38,000 feet and emailed it off to be edited and published. I stayed productive, which kept me from feeling stressed when I landed. My phone didn’t even beep when I turned it on after landing!

Just like mobile hotspots, inflight Wi-Fi is a tool that is changing where people do business.  I’ve decided that if you can afford it or your company will allow you to expense it, it’s a great tool.

What about you and your employees? Can you justify inflight Wi-Fi? What would your return on the cost be? Talk to your employees and see what they think—they may consider their flight time a near-sacred disconnection, a benefit of travel.

What do you think about onboard Wi-Fi. Is it for you? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter, or in the comments below.