The Vonage Business desktop is software that can be installed on PCs and MAC computers to boost the productivity of your business. It interacts with the Vonage Business VoIP phone service to give you complete visibility into your incoming and outgoing phone calls.
Currently Vonage Business has 11 fully supported plugins but this list is growing. Most of these plugins were created because of customer feedback so if you have additional needs, let them know.
Before discussing the desktop in detail, there may be some confusion on what it is and indeed what a hosted phone service is, so let's have a quick refresher.
Hosted VoIP Refresher
First let's take a step back and consider what a hosted service actually is as this may help your understanding when we then jump in and discuss the desktop plugins.
Our phone service used to be analog based and sent over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The analog nature of this made it very difficult to do anything other than make and receive calls. Now that most of us have high speed Internet service, this opens us up to digital telephone service, namely hosted VoIP service. A hosted service is one that is hosted in the cloud, at a VoIP service provider's data center. They handle all of the call routing for your business phone service and all you need is an Internet connection and IP phones.
When you make a call or receive a call it is actually all routed by the hosted service provider to your IP phone. Your phone numbers are registered with them and they known the IP addresses of your IP phones so it essentially becomes an Internet routing service. The information is all carried as digital data packets where these packets are essentially made up of coded words with 1's and 0's. This is the language that computers understand and let's face it, an IP phone is essentially a small computer. The IP phone therefore is a small computer but with a telephone mic and speaker which translates analog speech into a digital format that is transmitted across the Internet by your hosted service provider.
Computers and Hosted Service
We now know that the phone call is routed across the Internet in a digital format which is understood by IP phones. Well it is also understood by computers, since they speak the same language. This means that with some additional software installed on your computer, it can communicate with a hosted service too - this makes your phone service very powerful. For example, when an incoming call comes in it rings your phone but also your computer can intercept it and perform a look-up into your CRM to find out who is calling you. Sure your IP phone can display the phone number and some basic information using caller ID, but the computer and CRM database can give you so much more information as a pop-up on your screen. It could tell you the persons name, their company, when they last called, what their last purchase order was, how much money they currently owe, to name but a few.
Vonage Supported Plugins
Hopefully the sections above helped show you the power of a digital hosted phone service and how it can communicate with your computer to enhance your productivity. Now, let's look at the currently supported plugins for the Vonage Business desktop so you can see which ones may be applicable to your business.
The Vonage Desktop Quickbooks plugin enables you to view customer or vendor financial information for any incoming or outgoing call. This is an automated process so no need to look up information when a customer calls, it will immediately appear on your computer as soon as your customer calls. You can also control permissions for financial information so only certain items are visible. This plugin costs $4.99/month per extension at this time of writing.
Sugar CRM is a very popular Customer Relationship Management tool that allows you to manage all aspects of the sales process. The SugarCRM plugin opens customer information at the same instant in time as the call is received or placed. This can be a very effective tool for your sales teams and only costs $2.99/month per extension.
Microsoft Outlook integration is a key element of the Vonage desktop. Whenever someone calls you, your callers details will appear in Outlook at the same time your phone rings. You can then add or edit information or create an entry on items discussed during your call. Your contacts will love that you remember all details of previous calls. This is a free plugin.
LinkedIn is a hugely popular social media tool for business networking. When a call or made or received, the LinkedIn plugin uses Caller ID and connects with the LinkedIn servers to display your contact's professional details on their profile page. It is also a great way to remind you to connect with a person as we all have good intentions on connecting with a business contact we met, and then forget! This is a free plugin.
Use Bing search on any incoming or outgoing call. It will perform a Bing search on the person at the other end of the line, verify their details such as an address or get a map of their business location. Great instant research tool and completely free.
Similar to the Bing search plugin, this one uses the Google engines to perform instant searches on the person at the other end of the phone line. Use Google maps to find their location, verify their main office number, get real-time news on the person or company. Another free plugin.
Caller Location, Weather and Time
One very useful free feature that the desktop provides is the caller location plugin. Ever been on the phone and needed to know the persons location and more importantly the local time there? This can be useful for setting up appointments so you can determine the time zone differences in real-time. This plugin also displays the current weather for the callers location - something which may be useful for certain businesses, for example couriers.
Method CRM is another popular CRM tool used by businesses to manage customer information. The Method CRM plugin only costs $2.99/month per extension. Use this plugin to instantly view customer information for a caller or indeed someone you have called. Update opportunities in real-time, view previous discussions and much more. This can really help set you apart from your competition as you appear to be on top of your game.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
The desktop also supports the Microsoft Dynamics CRM so you can manage your caller's details in real-time while a call is made or received. Costing only $2.99/month per extension this plugin can make your workforce more productive and win more business.
Google contacts integration is a free plugin with desktop. Whenever a call is picked up or made, it can interface with Google contacts and a pop-up appears with all of your contact information for this person. View email history with the caller or take or edit notes from your call. If no existing contact info you can create one while on the phone. This is a free plugin.
Set up unique web page URLs for your calls and open this website when an incoming or outgoing call occurs. For example a realtor may wish to launch the MLS when a call comes in. Again, a free plugin and used to enhance your workforce productivity.
Hopefully you found this article useful and have a better understanding on hosted VoIP services and the productivity enhancements that can be made with a digital phone service. No longer is your phone service just a means to make or receive calls, with VoIP your phone service integrates with your business tools to make your job easier and more productive. The Vonage Business desktop and plugins are proving to be very popular among customers and Vonage is already working on the next generation of plugins to help your business become more successful.
If you are interested in a quote for phone service please complete the quote request form at the top of this page and we will provide you with competitive, no obligation quotes.