Protus IP Solutions, the company best known for the myFax Internet fax service, last spring launched its virtual PBX service my1voice, targeted at entrepreneurs and small businesses. In the time since the launch, the company has continued to expand the functionality of the offering.
Kevin Baker, Protus’ product marketing manager for my1voice, says one of the most obvious benefits of the service is flexibility. “You could be in one office today, a different office tomorrow, working from your home the next day, in Starbucks one afternoon… and as long as you have a phone that is set up within your my1voice destination list, you can be connected to the phones wherever you are,” he says.
And as a company grows, Baker says, the same single number can be used to reach all employees through any number of extensions. “It’s one number for your business,” he says. “So if you have different employees that work in different locations, or maybe one person works from their home and one person works from a different office in a different part of the city… they can all be connected via one main number.”
For small and growing businesses, Baker says, ease of use is another key benefit, particularly in comparison to a hardware PBX. “We’re really targeting the small business user that’s not really a techie type person—they’re just interested in their phone doing what they want it to do… with my1voice, you’re creating the account online and you’re good to go within about two minutes of the signup process,” he says.
For all of its offerings, Baker says, Protus makes it a priority to release a set of significant enhancements at least once every four or five months in response to customer feedback. The most recent launch of new features for my1voice took place this past summer, with enhancements including direct delivery of incoming faxes to a designated e-mail address, advanced call screening features, enhanced call menu functionality, and improved flexibility of find-me/follow-me functionality.
Part of the advanced call screening functionality, Baker says, is a feature called request routing, which allows users to set up rules to redirect calls based on data entered by the caller. “The customer can hear an initial greeting saying, ‘Please enter your zip code’—that’s just an example—and the caller would type in their zip code on the phone, and they would be routed to a specific person, let’s say a salesperson in that zip code… it’s another way to route or direct a caller to a specific person or department,” he says.
The market for virtual PBX solutions is growing increasingly crowded, with key competitors including RingCentral and Phone.com, among many others. In that marketplace, Baker says, one of my1voice’s strongest differentiators comes down to pricing—the company strives to keep its pricing as straightforward as possible, and to provide slightly more than its competitors at each price point.
As part of the enhancements launched this past summer, Protus increased the number of minutes included in its $10 entry level plan from 100 to 150, expanded its $50 plan from 1,500 minutes to 2,000—and added unlimited extensions to every plan. “That speaks to the whole scalability issue… as you grow and you add a couple of people, you add two or three extensions—and a year from now, you can add 20 extensions—and we won’t charge more,” Baker says.
A number of other features are also included for no additional fee; For example, there’s no fee for a toll-free number, and every customer receives a professionally recorded custom greeting for free. “One of the things that a lot of our customers wanted was the ability to have their main company auto-attendant greeting recorded by a professional voice… so we’ve launched a service where we can have the recording done for the customer,” Baker says.
The larger point, Baker says, is that Protus works to make sure that its plans are easy to understand. “We don’t have any a la carte services—everything within the my1voice package is included—so we’ve made it really simple for someone doing their due diligence and reviewing different companies: we don’t pick and choose what we’re going to charge for,” he says.
Baker says Protus plans to launch its next series of enhancements to my1voice in late November or December. “I think the whole market space is absolutely ripe for huge growth, and that’s why there are so many competitors in this space right now… and we’ll constantly be adding new features, new enhancements, looking at other services and other ways that we can add value, and add interesting and unique ways to help small businesses get more value out of the product,” he says.