Recently, our team presented a webinar that addressed the shift to remote work and some Phone.com features that make it possible to get work done from anywhere. In case you missed it, the video and a condensed transcription are below. Enjoy!
Brent Barbara—Phone.com Senior VP of Business Development
Thanks, everyone, for joining us today.
Work has dramatically changed in the last couple of months, and we want to take this afternoon to talk a little bit about how we have adjusted to this new normal.
The way people work has changed, although COVID has set us towards a tipping point of remote work. We here at Phone.com been doing this for quite a while. We have facilitated a work from home and remote work since we were founded many years ago.
We’re going to talk a little about how our platform can help you, your colleagues, and your customers communicate better during this time in history. We’re going to show the technologies that we have within our platform that will help you communicate better, collaborate better, be more productive and be more responsive to your customers, to your colleagues and your vendors on.
Phone.com is a platform that allowed you to work from anywhere. We truly believe work is no longer a place we go; it’s a thing we do. And Phone.com is the platform that can help you work where you want to work, whether it’s in your living room, in your basement, in your bedroom. It truly doesn’t matter where you are anymore. And we will talk about that today.
Business Phone Numbers
It starts with what type of phone number are you going to present to the public? Do you want to use your personal cell phone number? Probably not. That is not, in our opinion, the best practice approach to having a business conversation.
We have over 20 million phone numbers that you can choose from to create a great business impression for your customers. A business phone number gives a much more professional appearance than your personal cell phone.
Enterprise Features for Small and Growing Businesses
Our platform is designed for small to midsize businesses. Still, it has enterprise-class features that you can take advantage of, from professional greetings and automated attendants to giving your customers an on-hold experience. That’s what you would expect in the consumer and commercial world. Some world-class features like video, text messaging, and APIs allow you to do things that are above and beyond what you can on your mobile phone.
It’s up to you whether you choose to use our service or use the platform as a do it yourself solution, it is designed for that. Or perhaps you want to take advantage of our award-winning US-based 24×7, 365 support and service team to handle our experience with you more as a managed solution. You choose your own adventure, do it yourself, or take advantage of our team to help you design, configure, implement our platform the way you want to work. We will help you plan and configure this over time. If you sign up with us today, you design a platform or a call flow experience or an auto attendant for today, and next week you’d like to change it. Please, we encourage you to do it yourself or call us and we’ll guide you through that experience.
Phone.com Video Meetings
What we’re excited about is a new second version of our video meeting platform. This is in high demand, certainly, as we’re all adjusting to this new normal, video meetings is often accompanying all our meeting invites. If you can’t be in front of your customer or your colleague, showing your face over video is the second-best thing.
Our browser-based, no-download-required platform makes it easy to join a meeting. It is designed with security in mind. There’s been a lot of news about some other services out there and their lack of security capabilities, but ours has been designed with security from the ground up with AES, 256-bit encryption, and some other capabilities. It’s ideal for healthcare professionals who want to ensure that their patient conversations are kept private with locking mechanisms and pin code access.
Features That Enable Remote Work
Our platform is designed for small business but comes with enterprise-class features. Certainly, today, as we’re moving to this work at home environment conference calling, is one we’re very excited about if doing a video meeting isn’t what you prefer. We have included for free with all of our plans, unlimited high definition conference calling. A lot of our customers come to us using some of the free conference call services, and we don’t think that’s a great idea to have your customers hear, “Hi, this conference call is hosted by Free Conference Call.com.” That’s an excellent free service, but in the business world, that’s probably not the greatest first impression you want to give a customer. Our platform includes free, unlimited HD conferencing, so you don’t need to use a free service.
All of our phone numbers are textable, both with SMS and MMS. MMS is where you can attach an image or a video. It’s great to be able to seamlessly send and receive messages, just like on your mobile, on your business platform. For example, in specific industries like real estate, you can send a picture of a home and have that from your business number, not your personal number. A really nice addition.
Another very popular feature is voicemail with speech to text transcription. The ability to read a voicemail message and respond quickly is what we all have on our mobile devices. That is also available through our business platform. Very exciting feature, high-quality transcription like we all get today.
We are designed from the ground up with safety and security in mind, and we are thoroughly HIPAA compliant. Collaboration, audio, video conferencing service. That means for healthcare professionals, your protected health information or PHI is secure, and we will execute a business associate’s agreement, a BAA, with you. You should have comfort that your patient information is kept safe.
I’m prepared to demonstrate some of our products and services working here out of my home in Northern New Jersey. So I’m going to bring into view one of the first tools here.
This is my personal softphone. Whether you choose to communicate using a physical desk phone, we have a large inventory of phones that we support in our platform or prefer to have a clean desk and use your computer, your PC, or Mac. You can do that here. I’m using my Mac.
I can click to call any of my recent contacts. I can access my voicemail here, which has also transcribed to texts. I can play the audio. The softphone is a really great compliment to the Phone.com platform, and it comes free of charge.
Perhaps here you prefer to operate on your mobile phone. Maybe you’re in the field all the time, and your one and only devices is your smartphone. I’m an Apple guy. And this is what my phone looks like.
My messages, the same text messages I had on my app, are available here. In advance, I sent myself a picture of myself shopping the other day. So this is me at a local supermarket.
Your recent calls are here. You have access to your contacts, your voicemails, again, transcribed to text, as well as access to your conferencing. And you can even send a fax and receive a fax through the app if you prefer. So if this is your preference, we’ll cater to that as well. A really great compliment to the toolkit.
What’s nice about having the mobile phone as well, is when you get an inbound call and you’ve separated work from personal, you’ll know when you’re getting a business call as opposed to a personal call. So when an inbound call comes in, it says via Phone.com and you get a little screen pop here so you’ll know you can answer the phone appropriately. You’ll know to say, “Hi, this is Vandelay Industries. How can I help you?” as opposed to, “Hi, this is Brent.” Say you missed a call, you can quickly one-click dial back from the notifications on your smartphone.
This application is called My.Phone.com. It’s another place that you can access your text messages. If you’re in an institution or organization that sends a lots of messages from multiple parties, you may prefer this experience. Here are the text messages as I get when people join my conference bridge. Here’s that same message I sent earlier with a picture of myself.
Now let’s have a look at the Video Meetings.
So here is a conference login screen; no downloads required. This is a conference bridge that I’m going to join that has security in mind putting in the password that the host of this meeting told me to join a login. I can join in through the web if I just want to call in, or maybe I don’t need audio, and I wish to view, I have those options and allow me to use my microphone.
Now I’ll allow my camera and, and here’s me live. We can do gallery view kind of that Brady bunch tile view. We have three services. One is designed for small, informal meetings with up to 10 participants. The next that goes to 25 participants, and our biggest plan goes to a hundred participants. And as you go up in plan, the price goes up. On our premium plan, we include transcription and an artificial intelligence keyword analyzer, both audio and video recording, which is great.
Those are just a small taste of some of the capabilities of a platform. If you have questions or want a more deep demo, we’d be happy to go through this with you.
The last service we want to just talk about is our Live Receptionist Service. This is a premium service. It is not included in our base plan. It is designed for businesses that want to create an excellent first impression. If you cannot afford or unable to answer a phone call live, and that is important to your business, our live receptive solution is ideal for you. Starting at $90 a month for up to 50 calls, you can have a professional operator who is working at home these days answer for your business the way you want, and they can take a message.
They can transfer the call as a warm or a collaborative transfer. They can even filter spam calls if that’s what you’re suffering from today. But it’s a lovely professional service, a great way to give a great first impression to customers.
So just the taste of what we can do for you here at Phone.com on now, like to hand it over to Amber, who’s going to give some best practices around working remote and collaborating from apart. Amber.
Remote Work Best Practices
Amber Newman – Phone.com Director of Marketing
Hi Everyone, I hope you all are staying safe and well. For so many companies, the switch to remote work was unplanned and urgent. You should pat yourselves on the back for becoming functional at all. But now that some of the dust has settled, it’s a good time to think about how to improve on what’s been done. I’ve been working remotely and managing remote teams since 2005. The technology that Brent described has made doing so much easier, but there are a few other things I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to share.
Setting Up for Success
The first priority is to ensure that all team members have what they need to function from home. Some folks may need more internet bandwidth, a new headset, and potentially office accessories to ensure an ergonomic setup. Investing a bit in this sort of stuff now can have big productivity payoffs down the line.
Make sure that everyone’s phones are optimally configured and that they know how to get the most out of all the great features that Brent just mentioned.
Next, consider implementing a visualization tool to help people keep tabs on the flow of work from wherever they are. There are many great products on the market at every price point, including Trello, Asana, and Basecamp. If you already have a project management and tool in place, make sure everyone is trained and versed on how you will use it now that everyone’s remote.
Finally, remote meetings require next-level planning to be effective. The first order of business is to make sure you have the right people in every meeting. It’s not good if people are wasting time in meetings when they are not needed, it’s also a problem if decision-makers are missing, so think carefully about the attendee list. It’s smart to appoint a moderator who can keep the agenda moving and make sure that everyone has an opportunity to get involved. And keep the agenda focused and relevant. If people care about the content of the meeting, they are more likely to stay engaged.
Rules of Engagement
Remote teams lose many of the visual queues that foster communication when everyone’s in the same space. If someone has their door closed, for example, you know not to disturb them. Those clues are missing in a remote situation, so it makes sense to set up some rules of engagement.
We’ve talked about a bunch of ways to communicate. Have a conversation with your team about which modes make the most sense for each situation. Perhaps some things can be done over text or chat, but others need the more formal documentation of email. Complex or emotionally charged conversations should probably be reserved for phone calls or video meetings. Your team will be glad to have a playbook on how to stay connected.
It’s also a good idea to check in with the team on optimal times for meetings. Maybe your Thursday at 8:30 AM team meeting that worked perfectly in the office isn’t ideal anymore. Many people have children at home with schooling schedules, or other factors may make a different meeting time better for everyone.
It’s also essential to define roles and roles and authority. One of two bad things can happen to remote teams that don’t have a clear set of roles and responsibilities. Either everyone makes their own decisions without consulting others, and chaos ensues, or everyone is so afraid of making the wrong choice that nothing gets done. Don’t let that happen to you. Everyone should know their responsibilities and what decisions they can make on their own and which require consultation.
Special Considerations for Video
You’ve probably seen or read a ton of advice about looking great in a video meeting, which is great, but there are a few basic “rules” that we recommend for teams.
The first is to eliminate distractions. Poor audio quality is a significant distraction, so make sure everyone has and uses a headset for the best results. Also, think about the background. Not everyone has a gorgeous home-office set up, which is fine, but people should make every effort to ensure that family members won’t be milling about in the background. Of course, the unexpected does happen, so it’s best if everyone who isn’t speaking stays on mute.
We’re probably all guilty of multitasking on conference calls, but it’s a real problem in video meetings. Bringing someone back to attention takes time and slows momentum. You’re more likely to make a mistake on whatever else you are working on anyway, and it’s very obvious when someone is looking at their phone. If you’ve done a good job getting the right people in the right meeting with an agenda they care about, eliminating multitasking shouldn’t be very difficult.
When it comes to the number of active participants in a video meeting, don’t ask how many the technology will let you have, ask about how many make sense. For a presentation like this one, where you are sharing information, you can manage hundreds of participants. Still, for conversations where everyone will participate and make comments, it’s tough to handle any more than ten active video feeds at a time.
And the last thing I’ll say is that it’s essential to set reasonable expectations. Times are tough for everyone, and for many, remote work and video collaboration are new. You can still get work done and meet your goals, but it’s the perfect time to be realistic and compassionate with your team and yourself.
Q & A
Is your video solution and just generally your solution, HIPAA compliant.
Absolutely. All of our capabilities, features, and solutions are HIPAA compliant. We go through an annual audit of all of our interfaces, our technologies, even our back-end, and our data centers to ensure that we are compliant with the protected health information and the guidance around HIPAA. We have partnered with the Compliancy Group to certify that we comply with HIPPA. We go above and beyond what’s required. We take advantage of not just the video but audio and mobile. The encryption is incorporated here as well as other types of transport layer security, TLS, and secure SIP. For anyone that wants to talk more about security, we’d be happy to bring on some of our security experts.
How many employees do you guys help get up and running? If I’ve got five employees and we’ve got firmly defined call management capabilities that we want to structure, how does that happen with phone.com?
Terrific. Good question. Yeah, we’re just limited by your imagination as far as what you can do with Phone.com. As I mentioned earlier, the platform was designed for DIY. Our easy to use interfaces are there, and you can run with it. Or if you’re new to business communications and want to know the best practice approach to designing an auto attendant or creating a ring group or setting up a queue. Our experts are available 24×7, 365 days a year. They are US-based in Poway, California, just outside of San Diego. And they’ll guide you through a design and config as often as you like. So give our team a call.
What if we have a mix of people working in an office and also remote workers, how does that handle can you support desk phones as well as some of the tools that you showed us and the demo? How does that work?
We support a mix of desk phones, mobile devices, browser-based applications. So, you can configure how your call flows and how your team works together based on who you’ve got and where they like to work. So we do expect after, you know, a few more weeks of most people being remote, people will start to migrate back into the office to some degree or another. And we can certainly support any mix of devices and locations.
Can you talk a little bit about security in a bit more detail other than just the brief mention you had during video?
The host of the meeting has the control. You can send a meeting link out with no restrictions, and anybody that finds this link can join. That is not what we recommend. We offer password protection and the meeting lock capability. That means once you’re in a meeting, just like if you were in a physical office conference room, you could lock the door, and no one can join. When it comes to technology, we leverage transport layer security, TLS, secure SIP, also known as secure real-time protocol. Our video service offers multiple layers of security and uses those same SIP and TLS security protocols as well as other encryption protocols. It is rock solid.
Do I have to have a phone.com phone number to use the video service?
Yes, you do. All of our capabilities or features, including video are compliments of our core voice platform. And if you’d like to use our video service, it is available as an ala cart feature per user. Plans start as low as $4.99 a month and go to a maximum of $14.99 a month. The base plan includes up to 10 participants. When you move to the middle plan, you grow to 25 active participants and have recording, and our premium plan at $14.99 includes the transcription.
I mentioned audio and video recording AI analysis of your call. That’ll let you know who spoke the most what words were spoken the most on. You can even jump to certain parts of the meeting if you want to know who talked about corona, you can find every portion in that meeting that corona was mentioned and just advance ahead. It’s, it’s a pretty advanced platform, and we’re excited to bring that to market just a couple months ago as a new service.