Social Media and the Global Culture: Who Should You Be Targeting

Social Media and the Global Culture: Who Should You Be Targeting
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Social media as a method for targeting key audiences is standard practice among Internet marketers nowadays, but as social media itself continues to expand beyond domestic borders, so too does the reach of your company. Addressing a global audience of various cultures, languages, and preferences is no simple task and its mishandling could hurt your reputation overseas.

The sheer scale of international brand messaging carries certain inherent obstacles. A primary obstacle is the language barrier While English is certainly more of a universal language in the business world, this does not always apply to the consumer. If all of your content is in English, it will not only be lost on those who don’t understand, but it will send the implied message that their market is an afterthought, never mind the lack of specific content for their region.

Social Media and the Global Culture: Who Should You Be TargetingRound up your analytics and monitoring tools to pay closer attention to how your brand is being mentioned. Google Trends can give you a good idea of how people search for related products and merchandise based on geographical location. Once you’ve identified what is important to each region, you can tailor your content to their interests.

Once you have a system in place, you’ll want to consider how you will expand your communication to handle the increase local demand. Best practice says the spoke-hub distribution is most effective. Build a central point of contact, your English blog for example, then direct all channels to link back to the main hub. This is the largest source of your content and sets the standard of content by which all subsequent branches behave.

Create a second tier whose primary objective is servicing the target communities. This branch will have a clear understanding of their individual foreign markets, what appeals to them, and what will not work. They will be responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the translated text and other cross cultural issues that could arise.

Your third tier will consist of those on the ground, so to speak. Here are the people manning your social media channels, responding, listening, and engaging your foreign audience in their own language and timezone.

Social Media and the Global Culture: Who Should You Be Targeting

The content you put out will be viewed by a global audience. Avoid content that will be irrelevant or too region specific. Operating content from a central hub in this way reduces the need for multiple social media accounts, which not only dilutes the strength of your online presence but creates more moving parts with the potential for miscommunication, misinformation, and increased resources in terms of oversight.

Expansion creates the potential for more problems as you bring on new staff and find your footing in untested waters. Take the time to create a thorough and clear map of proper behavior for your employees and departments to follow across the entire spectrum of Customer interaction, including when and how to handle escalation, crisis management, guidelines for acceptable content, and inter- and intradepartmental communication. The devil is in the details, and when it comes to a global campaign, he’s in joints that link your infrastructure together.

New markets will require refinement so monitor the effectiveness of your strategies to ensure that you are delivering the highest caliber of content for each specific market. Adjust content or protocol as necessary to hedge against your losses.

Internet marketing provides a means of global communication unprecedented at any other time in history, but it also carries the added risk of large scale public failure. Keep a tight rein on your system from the ground up to avoid too much freedom in how content is distributed and with what language responses are issued.

Maintain Your Business (Not Your PBX) with Quality Virtual Phone Systems

Maintain Your Business (Not Your PBX) with Quality Virtual Phone Systems
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Maintain Your Business (Not Your PBX) with Quality Virtual Phone Systems

In every business, there is the potential for new technology to usurp the old in terms of cost, functionality, and efficiency. It’s important to keep a close eye on the trends so that you might discern which are worth investing in compared to those which need to further mature. Phone systems have long been a staple of office-based business, but they can be costly to install, maintain and upgrade without necessarily generating a worthwhile ROI. Technology, in this instance, has surpassed the need for a hardware-based system altogether by way of a Virtual Phone System. The benefits are clear.

In years past, Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, the private telephone networks used within the companies, were cost prohibitive to any but the largest of businesses. As the cost of implementation has become cheaper, smaller businesses have started to use them as well, but they are still hardly cheap. When you factor in the cost of the hardware, features and installation, the average PBX system can cost $1,000 dollars per employee. As the cost is affected by the quantity of devices, a smaller business with less than 100 employees would likely pay even more.

What’s in a Virtual Phone System?

A Virtual Phone System includes a wide array of features, lines, and extensions at a fraction of the cost. Such services operate within an existing infrastructure that essentially gives you numbers specific to your business that can be linked to any existing phone system within your business, including cell phones, by way of call forwarding. A company wide system can save you tens of thousands in overhead cost, just from the initial installation alone. This doesn’t even take into account the total cost of ownership which includes the added cost of upgrading or the hidden cost of downgrading.

Changes to the size of your system, including both quantity and quality, as well as the doubling of your installation costs during a relocation or expansion to a new building, can set you back thousands of dollars, and that only with respect to your phone system.

In every business, there is the potential for new technology to usurp the old in terms of cost, functionality, and efficiency. It’s important to keep a close eye on the trends so that you might discern which are worth investing in compared to those which need to further mature. Phone systems have long been a staple of office-based business, but they can be costly to install, maintain and upgrade without necessarily generating a worthwhile ROI. Technology, in this instance, has surpassed the need for a hardware-based system altogether by way of a Virtual Phone System. The benefits are clear.  In years past, Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, the private telephone networks used within the companies, were cost prohibitive to any but the largest of businesses. As the cost of implementation has become cheaper, smaller businesses have started to use them as well, but they are still hardly cheap. When you factor in the cost of the hardware, features and installation, the average PBX system can cost $1,000 dollars per employee. As the cost is affected by the quantity of devices, a smaller business with less than 100 employees would likely pay even more.  What’s in a Virtual Phone System?  A Virtual Phone System includes a wide array of features, lines, and extensions at a fraction of the cost. Such services operate within an existing infrastructure that essentially gives you numbers specific to your business that can be linked to any existing phone system within your business, including cell phones, by way of call forwarding. A company wide system can save you tens of thousands in overhead cost, just from the initial installation alone. This doesn’t even take into account the total cost of ownership which includes the added cost of upgrading or the hidden cost of downgrading.  Changes to the size of your system, including both quantity and quality, as well as the doubling of your installation costs during a relocation or expansion to a new building, can set you back thousands of dollars, and that only with respect to your phone system.  Inherent to a virtual system is the lack of upgrade/downgrade costs or hassle. As the entire hardware side of the system is handled by your provider, it’s not something that even has to factor into your budget. If you expand and require additional lines, it may not cost you anything if you’re still within the hundreds of lines often included in a normal virtual phone package. If you need to purchase more, it’s still a drop in the bucket of your telecommunications budget when you compare it to the traditional cost of upgrading a PBX system.  PBX systems usually require a specific type of compatible phone hardware, which can be expensive when considering each employee requires the same hardware setup. Virtual Phone Systems are compatible with any SIP phones, in addition to the call forwarding feature.  Good for Business  The byproduct of a reduced cost to expansion is an increase to scalability. A reduction in expenses allows not only for a wider profit margin, but the also the ability to readily expand without affecting the existing bottom line. Consider the minimal cost required to upgrade and expand a virtual phone system versus the prohibitive cost of a PBX system, add to that the increased customer volume possible with a larger system and you can easily see how quickly your scalable margin would increase. Your fixed costs will shrink dramatically while your growth will open up exponentially.

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

Inherent to a virtual system is the lack of upgrade/downgrade costs or hassle. As the entire hardware side of the system is handled by your provider, it’s not something that even has to factor into your budget. If you expand and require additional lines, it may not cost you anything if you’re still within the hundreds of lines often included in a normal virtual phone package. If you need to purchase more, it’s still a drop in the bucket of your telecommunications budget when you compare it to the traditional cost of upgrading a PBX system.

PBX systems usually require a specific type of compatible phone hardware, which can be expensive when considering each employee requires the same hardware setup. Virtual Phone Systems are compatible with any SIP phones, in addition to the call forwarding feature.

Good for Business

The byproduct of a reduced cost to expansion is an increase to scalability. A reduction in expenses allows not only for a wider profit margin, but the also the ability to readily expand without affecting the existing bottom line. Consider the minimal cost required to upgrade and expand a virtual phone system versus the prohibitive cost of a PBX system, add to that the increased customer volume possible with a larger system and you can easily see how quickly your scalable margin would increase. Your fixed costs will shrink dramatically while your growth will open up exponentially.

Give Your Business a Boost: Leveraging 800 Numbers to Grow Your Customer/Client Base

Give Your Business a Boost: Leveraging 800 Numbers to Grow Your Customer/Client Base
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ADMIN JUNE 27, 2014 Give Your Business a Boost: Leveraging 800 Numbers to Grow Your Customer/Client Base

As a small business owner, you may find yourself discouraged by your inability to afford an effective advertising campaign and stifled in your efforts to expand your customer base. There is, fortunately, a way that you can increase the perceived size of your brand without taking on unnecessary debt or funding a national ad campaign, and that is through the addition of a toll free 800 number to your business. There are plenty of benefits to this often overlooked tool.

Memorable

Toll free numbers have the inherent quality of being easy to remember, which by itself, helps you combat one of the least reliable aspects of customer care: their memory. Potential customers who learn of you before they are ready to make a purchase will have a greater chance of finding you if they already know how to get a hold of you, especially if it requires minimal mental effort.

Portable

One of the strongest benefits of a toll free number is the included forwarding service. It will forward to any second number, including your cell phone, allowing you to give the customer one way to contact you without tying yourself, or your employees, to a specific location. This is the same number you can use nationwide, which also eliminates any potential long distance charges for clients calling from outside your local area code. Call forwarding effectively extends your business hours, since you can continue to receive customer calls after you’ve left the office.

Convenient

Once you purchase a toll free number, it is yours for as long as you need it. It goes where you go, regardless of who your telephone provider is. If you pull up stakes and move to a different city, your number will stay exactly the same. Customers, both new and old, need be none the wiser and your business communication can proceed uninhibited during a transition. In a 2012 survey by clickfox, participants indicated that reliable customer service was the number one way to build customer loyalty.

Credible

A local number is like an advertisement for the small size of your company. Where big businesses have dedicated numbers for each department, your local number implies a lack of either success or experience that could turn some people off before they even meet you. While there are certainly other factors that contribute to your company reputation among unknown clients, your ability to maintain a polished, professional front has a direct effect on how your company is perceived.

Safe

For all the benefits a toll free number can bring your company in terms of customer base and increased business, it does so at only a marginal cost increase. The ability to expand your reach and customer base ought to far outweigh the price to ahieve it. WIth only a small amount of success, your investment in a number would easily pay for itself.

Marketable

An distinct advantage of a toll free number over a local number is the ability to create a vanity number. A vanity number will not only make your number even easier to remember, but it will also grant you the benefit of including brand phrases right into your initial communication. For example, a plumber might use the phrase “NO LEAKS” which has reputation and the brand message built right into the contact info, while also keeping the number itself simple to recall when needed. A toll free number will allow extensions that can be ad campaign specific. Different extensions can forward to different lines, which also allows for an increased volume of calls, which can lead to increased sales and increased ROI.

 

International Virtual Phone Numbers: Connecting Globally & Eliminating Borders

International Virtual Phone Numbers
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In the hyper-connected business world of today, the days of nine-to-five, normal operating hours have gone the way of the dodo. Between your website, your email and your social media accounts you are basically keeping your doors open at all times, so why should your phone be any different? You might have a voice mail setup for when you can’t answer, but that really limits your personal interaction with customers to the times when you are working. The US Chamber of Commerce says that 97% of all exports come from small-to-medium businesses (SME), so the odds are pretty good that if you run a small business, you’ll be dealing with different phone numbers and time zones on a regular basis.

It’s important that the people who work while you sleep feel like they are just as important to you as those who are on your schedule. International communication remains a problem even in today’s technology laden world. This is where a virtual number can facilitate several facets of your business’ communication.

International Virtual Phone Numbers

Time of Day Routing

With a compatible virtual number service, you can forward all incoming calls to any physical number you choose (even a cell phone) and you can set it up automatically by the time of day. Say you’re waiting to hear back from a client, but they’re in London and you’re on the west coast. They may be nine hours ahead of you, but that doesn’t mean you have to be impossible to reach during their business day. If you have an east coast office, you can- forward all early morning incoming calls to their number and keep business running smoothly for your London client.

Alternately, if you don’t have multiple locations, you can set it to ring your home phone or cell phone. This could be especially useful in a situation where you’re expecting a call, but can’t afford to spend time sitting around waiting for it to come in. Just set up your number to switch to your cell phone at quitting time and you never have to give it a second thought.

Simultaneous and Sequential Ringing

Everyone can be too busy for a phone call, but with one of the more popular ringing features, you can make sure a call is always taken regardless of when it comes in. With simultaneous ringing, you can forward to multiple lines at once that will all continue to ring until one of them is answered. This can be your own phone or one from the various points of contact you might have around the world. Your London, New York and Los Angeles offices can all receive the same call at the same time, or with sequential ringing, you can have them ring one at a time in a circle until someone is available to answer.

Some services offer a combination of these two features where a specific set of phones ring at once and then the call diverts to a sequence of additional lines, such as employee cell phones, or any numbers that serve as a backup.

Local Numbers

Part of the hassle of traditional international phone communication is the complicated phone numbers, country codes, and city codes that get in the way of a quick, important call. Unless you have them memorized, you probably don’t know how to dial France versus Italy, even if you have the local number in your hand.

A virtual number can be linked to a local number of your choosing, which then forwards through to your phone when dialed. It even includes their local dial tone so that a phone call to you feels as familiar as a call to their family.

There are many reasons why communication can get held up, so why add to that list with a poor telephone service. Reducing the potential for confusion and miscommunication will go a long way to not only developing stronger interpersonal relationships with your business, but to gain a more effective foothold in your international markets.

 

4 Apps for the iPhone That Perform Better Than Apple’s Apps

Apps for iPhone
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Apps for iPhone

There are over a million apps available for Apple iTunes store. If Apple added only one a day, it would take 2,700 years. That’s a lot of apps.   It’s common to wonder how to navigate through apps with 100,000,000 downloads compared to a few high school kids making an app for their 4-H club? (We’re not being critical here – we love to see these kinds of apps, they demonstrate the flexibility of technology) There are hundreds of different functions, each to serve a specific market.

While a computer can handle downloading a considerable amount on its hard drive, the storage space on an iPhone isn’t quite as expansive. Coupled with the mobility of a cell phone and the manner in which we use mobile devices, even the same app is used slightly differently between a Macbook and iPhone.  In light of this, here are 4 apps that work better on the iPhone than on a Mac.

Jelly is an app that allows users to submit questions using photos or images. Jelly has only been out for a few months now but has quickly amassed a large gathering due to its innovate ideas and ability for users to answer questions by either using the same image or simply text. This works in a forum similar to Yahoo! Answers, but the added ability to upload and edit pictures taken right from your camera before sending is a very unique and helpful feature.

Pocket is a great way to save articles videos, and other content for later or offline view. This allows you to take info directly from an app, website, news feed or other sources and downloads them, so that you can download them via Wi-Fi to avoid data usage, view them when there’s no signal, or simply just save a little battery. This is also helpful when you come across an article you want to read later, but don’t have time to delve into at that moment.

Speaking of data charges, Onavo Extend is an incredibly helpful way to cut the amount of data you use – without actually using less. This app compresses the incoming and outgoing data, and then decompresses the data to make it available for your phone. This way you can continue with your browsing and usage habits without drastically altering them or selling your car to pay your monthly bill.

Flipboard is a great app for news, social media, blogs, websites, and virtually anything else you would read or explore on a daily basis. It takes all of your most frequently used content and puts it in one place for you to flip through. It provides an aggregation of everything you read. It’s also very intuitive and learns your preferences for certain subjects, sources, and discussions based on what you already read.

It’s fair to say that “better” is a relative term, and we will begrudgingly agree – however, iPhones certainly have their advantages as well. In keeping with this logic, it also stands to reason of its own accord that there are a plethora of great apps for both the Mac and iPhone – a great many more than mentioned here. Whatever the case, we expect that these four will serve you well regardless of how you use your Mac or iPhone.

Comment below and let us know what your favorite apps are. What app do you think should be next on this list?

The Greatest 5 Benefits of Incorporating Cloud Telephone Numbers into Your Communications System

The Greatest 5 Benefits of Incorporating Cloud Telephone Numbers into Your Communications System
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The Greatest 5 Benefits of Incorporating Cloud Telephone Numbers into Your Communications System

Out of all the sectors that are being radically changed by cloud computing, the impact of remote hosting is perhaps most evident in the telecommunications field. Allowing third parties to build, maintain and secure infrastructure and software that would have otherwise been the responsibility of the enterprise, the cloud has put top-level technology within everybody’s reach.

Hosted PBX

Before the time of cloud hosting, private-branch exchange — or PBX — was a luxury enjoyed only by businesses that had both the resources and the knowledge to construct and maintain their own PBX network. PBX networks let businesses route their own calls. This used to require a major up-front investment in both infrastructure and IT, but by leasing access to a PBX network that is hosted by a third party, businesses can get the best of both worlds. Cloud-based PBX gives subscribers access to their own VoIP network without requiring them to purchase, secure and maintain the hardware on which it runs.

Mobility with Call Forwarding

Whether it’s based on SIP or PBX, VoIP networks give users access to features that would ordinarily have cost extra on a traditional phone system. One of those features is call forwarding. Not only are VoIP-to-VoIP calls free on Internet-based phone networks, but the cloud-based format of hosted VoIP means that incoming calls can be routed anywhere — even to mobile devices. For businesses with employees in the field, cloud-based VoIP can go wherever you go.

Virtual Numbers

The Greatest 5 Benefits of Incorporating Cloud Telephone Numbers into Your Communications SystemOne amazing result of the cloud propping up communications technology comes in the form of virtual numbers. Virtual numbers allow businesses to establish themselves in places where they don’t have a physical presence. With call forwarding and voicemail services included, a virtual number can come in the form of a local number, a toll-free number — even a vanity number. Either way, the point is the same. Someone calls a number they see in an ad, they place a call and — no matter where you are — that gets routed to you.

Unified Communications

Cloud technology’s impact on telecom is perhaps most evident in the concept of unified communications. Not truly possible before remote hosting, UC is the establishment of voice, messaging, text and video into a single entity. Cloud technology has allowed even modestly sized businesses to have full integrated communications in a single line.

Budget Reduction

The Greatest 5 Benefits of Incorporating Cloud Telephone Numbers into Your Communications SystemThe single biggest impact that cloud technology has had on businesses and their telephone systems is in cost effectiveness. There was a time fairly recently when you could tell a lot about a business by looking at their phone networks. The big, well-resourced corporations had the money to build and maintain complicated and expensive hardware such as PBX networks, and the little guys made due with less. But by removing the requirement that businesses purchase, install and maintain big, complex infrastructure — and then hire IT personnel to keep it running — remote hosting has put virtually every business on near equal footing. Cloud computing’s effect on telecommunications is visible everywhere in the industry. The secret is out — remote hosting props up businesses of all sizes. By putting exotic technologies in the hands of a even small businesses, cloud technology has leveled the playing field — and made the cost of doing business a whole lot cheaper.

4 Big Ways a Virtual Phone Service for Small Businesses Can Boost Overall Success

4 Big Ways a Virtual Phone Service for Small Businesses Can Boost Overall Success
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Saving money wherever possible and squeezing every drop of efficiency out of every dollar spent is the perpetual charge of the small-business owner. Telephone networks provide an excellent opportunity to do just that. A virtual phone service can not only save money, but can improve efficiency and dramatically reduce the need for staff, which would otherwise be required to answer and route incoming calls.

Virtual Phone Service

There are an endless stream of providers that offer virtual phone service with a range of different price structures, features and options — and they will all be happy to tell you why their service is the the best. The general function of them all, however, is the same. Virtual phone numbers — also known as direct inward dialing, or DID — automatically route incoming calls to a predetermined number or numbers. The service works with fixed landlines, Internet-based VoIP networks and mobile phones.

Go Toll Free

Virtual numbers give small businesses the chance to puff out their chests and appear larger and more sophisticated than they really are. By linking the virtual phone service to a toll-free number, businesses can achieve the polished credibility that comes with an 800 number. Taking it a step further, a toll-free vanity number is not only easy to remember and more likely to be dialed, but helps with branding and marketing.

Save on Hardware, Software and Staffing

Not only is the service software-based and remotely hosted, but businesses that subscribe to virtual phone numbers can link the service to their existing phones. This means there is no investment in either hardware or software. The subscription fee is the only fee. Once you get a virtual phone number, any calls placed to that number are automatically routed to the number or numbers chosen by the subscribing business. This central feature — routing calls to avoid having customers reach a busy signal or a recorded message — saves money on something that has long been prohibitive to small businesses: Building and staffing call centers.

Give Your Business Mobility and Flexibility

A virtual phone number is like a virtual receptionist that can answer and route calls — even to your mobile phone. If your business has closed for the evening, or if you’re a sole proprietor who works in the field, any call to your business will come to the phone you carry in your pocket. If you’re in a meeting, the service can forward your calls to a capable subordinate. If you close for the evening, calls can be routed to the landline at your house. A virtual number allows customer calls to go wherever you go.

Micro-Schedule with Time-of-Day Routing

Time-of-Day routing is an advanced feature that adds even more flexibility to a virtual phone service. Essential to companies that do business across time zones, time-of-day routing allows even more precision in scheduling. Calls can be routed to different numbers at specific times of day, or specific days of the week. If your office is on 4 Big Ways a Virtual Phone Service for Small Businesses Can Boost Overall Successthe East coast, and your business closes at 5pm, calls can be routed to a reception center in California until 8. If you’re closed on Sundays, calls can be routed to your mobile on that day, and that day only.

Virtual phone numbers give even the smallest businesses access to comprehensive communications networks that were — until recently — reserved for only the biggest and most sophisticated companies. Virtual numbers can be linked to both local numbers and toll-free numbers, and are routed without the customer knowing their call is being bounced to a different location. Small businesses must always search for ways to reduce cost and streamline operations. One of the first and best places to do both is with a virtual number.

There’s an App for That: Best Smartphone Apps for Online Companies

There's an App for That: Best Smartphone Apps for Online Companies
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Internet connection is established, an entrepreneur requires little more than talent, ambition, technical knowhow, luck and a little bit of money to launch a successful online business. But once it’s up and running, there are an almost-limitless array of apps designed to “make business easier” or to “streamline operations”. Some are buggy and clunky, others are overpriced, and some are truly irreplaceable tools that make the realities of owning and running an e-business easier to bear. Here is a guide to some of the best online business apps that 2014 has to offer.

Scan2PDF Mobile

From Scottish company Burrotech, Scan2PDF Mobile turns your smartphone’s camera into a mobile scanner. Paper clutter, the bane of far too many online businesses, can stack up — and spread out — quickly if you promise yourself you’ll do it when you get back to your home or office scanner. Receipts in the glove box. Invoices in a folder. Contracts in a briefcase. Scan2PDF Mobile turns your loose documents into the universal portable document format, or PDFs, which can be stored on your phone or emailed. Quicker than most actual scanners and photocopiers, a high-quality, color PDF can be scanned and created in less than a minute.

Fring

Why is your smartphone’s battery dying again? Probably because you have a million or so apps open at any given time — more than a few of them dedicated to communication. Fring is like a unified communications system for your phone. Get IMs and updates from AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ, Skype, Twitter and Facebook all in the same place. Fring imports and consolidates all of your messenger services into one location. With your employees on the free app, you can place unlimited free Fring-to-Fring calls or texts, and video chat with up to four users.

Flow

If your inbox has become a landfill, and communications are being missed or misplaced, there are a million collaboration apps available to give team members a virtual meeting space. Among them, Flow stands out because it’s more than just a file-sharing app. With this little app, you can manage tasks, hold meetings and manage the day-to-day collaborative requirements that your online business puts on your staff.

Cloze

Cloze has two components — both geared toward making social-media marketing, advertising, research and customer outreach easier and more efficient. First, Cloze consolidates all of your social-media platforms into a single inbox, filtering out social media “noise” by prioritizing your contacts, friends, followers, etc. This function allows you to keep track of what your customers and clients are saying. The second function of Cloze is not to listen, but to broadcast. When your business does something shareable, Cloze lets you easily and quickly get the message out to all of your employees, clients or collaborators, so they know exactly what content to share, where to share it, and when.

Zoho

The bookkeeping/accounting sector may be the most app-saturated category in the entire app universe. For small online, e-commerce businesses, however, Zoho stands out from the masses. A step up from the free, entry-level bookkeeping apps — such as Mint and Outright — Zoho isn’t much of a step up in price — and it’s light years ahead in functionality. Collaborate and share with your accountant, create professional invoices, track expenses, bank automatically and much more — all at a price far under those commanded by the full-service bookkeeping apps.

There's an App for That: Best Smartphone Apps for Online Companies

From organization to bookkeeping to social-media marketing, apps can make the business grind less, well, grinding. Always make sure the app offers a full-service trial period with access to all of the functions prior to buying. Always look for apps that reduce redundancy (they allow you get rid of one or more older, obsolete apps) and do some online research regarding bugs or bad updates before committing a large portion of your business’s operations to an unfamiliar program. When you find one you really like, don’t be afraid to upgrade to a more full-service version. The up-front expenditure could pay dividends big time down the road.

Staying Connected with Consumers: Utilizing Time of Day Routing

Staying Connected with Consumers: Utilizing Time of Day Routing
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Call forwarding allows businesses to field calls from customers or clients, no matter where the call originates or where it was intended to go. But there is an advanced call-forwarding feature that allows customers to reach a business no matter when they call, as well. Time-of-day routing, or TDR, allows businesses — specifically national and global businesses — to maintain control of their customer communications without having to open physical call centers scattered across different geographical locations.

Time-of-Day Routing

Time-of-day routing allows businesses to push calls to a specific, predetermined location or locations depending on the time of day or day of the week that the call was placed. This helps businesses improve operational efficiency by ensuring the proper routing of calls depending on when the call was made — and which line will be best able to handle that call given the business’s schedule. TDR adds another layer to a business’s call-forwarding plan, which is generally implemented to ensure that the right call will go to the right place. TDR ensures it will get there at the right time, as well — without the need for a receptionist or automated system to route the call. TDR can be applied to toll-free numbers, vanity numbers and local numbers.

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Time Zones

There are many examples of businesses using time-of-day routing to streamline their administrative operations. One of the most common is to stay ahead of time-zone problems that arise when doing business nationally or internationally. If an office is closed after 5 pm, EST, a time-of-day routing service could automatically divert all incoming calls placed after 4:50 pm to the business’s West Coast office, which would be open for another three hours. This plays an even more crucial role overseas, where time zones can affect entire days.

Days Off

The day-of-the-week feature is frequently utilized by businesses that are closed on a specific day on a recurring basis. Instead of leaving customers to the anonymity and unresponsiveness of a voicemail system, incoming calls could be routed to a dedicated, on-call employee’s mobile phone. If a software supplier is closed on Sundays, a TDR service could forward all calls to the software manufacturer’s offices on that day of every week.

Holidays

Likewise for holidays, time-of-day calling can allow businesses to close on certain holidays, but schedule calls to be routed to an employee who may not celebrate that holiday, or, again, to a third-party representative. For international businesses that must be aware of cultural nuances, time-of-day routing allows them to maintain sensitivity to local customs without losing customers. In New Zealand or Australia, for example, all incoming calls made on Anzac Day could be routed to offices in the U.S., allowing local employees to observe an important holiday without the business missing a call.

TDR is an advanced feature that is available through most providers of call-forwarding services. TDR gives even more control to businesses over how their calls are routed, allowing them to factor in not just where the call will land, but when it will land there. TDR is a valuable tool for enterprises that aren’t 24-hour operations, but don’t want to miss calls after hours or on days off. TDR is also a boon to businesses that operate in different time zones, but want to establish continuity across geographical regions. Like all call-forwarding features, TDR is essentially another layer of protection between a business and an opportunity missed due to a misplaced connection.

Free Phone Call Routing for iPhone and Android

free phone call routing
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Free phone call routing to iPhone and Android smartphones can be a handy tool for on-the-go workers, forwarding incoming business calls straight to any designated mobile device and keeping customer service optimal at all times. To activate call routing on your iPhone or Android, just use the following instructions:

How to Activate Call Forwarding

How you set up your call forwarding will vary depending upon your telecom provider. If your business has an advanced call forwarding or virtual PBX service, you can program call forwarding to designated phones through your online control center. To get started, just log on to your call forwarding control center, navigate to your phone line management section, and add the mobile line that you want to forward calls to. With advanced call forwarding, you can even schedule time/date forwarding activation and forward internationally at no extra cost. Advanced call forwarding users can also enjoy the benefits of failover routing, which forwards incoming calls to external lines in the event that primary lines are busy or disabled.

To forward calls to your iPhone or Android through your regular telecom provider, dial *73 on your business phone, wait until you hear the dial tone, and then enter the number that you want your calls to be forwarded to. Press the pound key (#) after entering your number, and forwarding will be activated. To deactivate, dial *73. Forwarding can be activated and deactivated as needed.

free phone call routing

iPhone Versus Android for Business

If you are a business owner whose services frequently require employee travel or fieldwork, providing employees with mobile business phones through call forwarding can help to dramatically improve customer service and business relations. iPhone and Android phones are both top choices for small-midsize businesses, but which one is right for your business?

  • iPhones for Business: iPhones and Androids are fairly close in their capabilities, with most reviewers concluding that the two providers offer equally effective devices. For business purposes, there are some small advantages to each. Some employers prefer Apple to Android devices because of the iPhone’s security advantages. iPhones have long been famous for their impenetrability, a major advantage for businesses with privacy concerns. iPhones can also claim a lower malfunction rate than Androids, and Apple offers incomparable user support

  • Androids for Business: Androids edge iPhones out in both screen size and battery life, factors to consider for businesses with remote employees or international business relations. VoIP video calling is preferable free phone call routingon Android devices because of the increased screen size, and a long battery life is particularly indispensable for on-the-road users.

Forwarding from iPhone and Android Devices

In addition to having the ability to receive forwarded calls, both Apple and Android phones can forward incoming calls. Incoming call forwarding can be activated directly through the “settings” menu on both devices. Many on-the-go workers utilize the ability shared by Android and Apple smartphones to forward calls only if the phone in question is busy or turned off–enabling clients who are trying to contact a specific employee to redirect concerns if necessary. There are even some handy apps available for smartphone users that offer SMS, email and external forwarding.