Virtual Phone System, Voicemail Service & More
Below, you will find the features of the Grasshopper hosted PBX system. After you read about Grasshopper’s features, you will be able to make an informed decision if Grasshopper is right for your small business.
Toll-Free and Local Virtual Phone Numbers
When you signup for a Grasshopper account, you have the choice of choosing a toll-free number or a local number for your small business phone service. You can even purchase unlimited additional local numbers for $5 per month, per number.
Grasshopper allows you to purchase local phone numbers in a variety of different states and markets, giving your small business a local presence wherever you want to do business. This allows customers in markets where you don’t have a physical presence think that you are a local company. Each local number you purchase has the exact same features as your main phone number, and can be routed to any location in the world.
You can forward your existing local or toll-free numbers to your Grasshopper virtual phone number account to take advantage of Grasshopper’s features.
Outbound Phone Calls
Please note: Grasshopper virtual phone number service is only for inbound phone calls. You do not use this service for outbound phone calls. Outbound business phone calls are made through your current telephone service provider.
Virtual Phone Number Minutes
Not all of the four Grasshopper virtual phone number services come with included minutes, which are used for receiving inbound calls and inbound faxes. Only the three more expensive plans come with included minutes, with their cheapest plan having none, which means you pay an additional amount for each minute of use. The included minutes range from 100 to 10000 on the three more expensive plans, depending on which Grasshopper small business phone service plan you subscribe to.
Grasshopper bills usage charges in six-second increments with an eighteen second minimum. You will be charged usage minutes for all inbound calls, including when customers leave voicemail messages and when you call in to check voicemails.
Grasshopper virtual phone number service bills only for one leg of phone service. Every time a call is made to your Grasshopper virtual telephone number, and the call is connected to one of your employees, there are two legs of phone service being used. One leg is the call into your Grasshopper small business phone service. The second leg is when Grasshopper forwards the call to whatever phone number for that particular extension.
There are some virtual phone system providers that will quote you a small, per minute charge. However, they are billing your for each leg of the phone call. In other words, if they say they only charge you 2.9¢ per minute, but charge for each leg, you are really being charged 5.8¢ per minute. (You have to be very careful when you are comparing small business phone services.)
Each time you go over your plan-included minutes by 1000 minutes in a month, your credit card will be charged. Otherwise, you will be billed monthly for minutes used over the virtual phone system plan-included minutes.
Additional minutes are purchased at the rate of 6¢ per minute.
Virtual Phone Number Extensions
All Grasshopper plans offer an unlimited number of virtual phone number extensions.
When customers dial your Grasshopper virtual phone number, they will be directed to specific extensions, depending on who they want to talk to or what they wish to accomplish.
An extension is assigned to employees or departments, regardless of their location around the country or around the world. The customer’s call will be forwarded to the correct phone number to get a hold of the employee that is assigned to the extension. It doesn’t matter if the employee is at home, traveling on business, or at the office, the call will be routed to the phone number where the employee is currently reachable.
All extensions have the full capabilities of your Grasshopper virtual PBX phone service. This means that every extension can forward calls, take voicemail messages if the employee is currently unavailable, as well as do anything else that your Grasshopper service allows.
An extension can also be set up to give out information or ask a series of questions and deliver the answers to you via an email.
Auto Attendant For Your Small Business Phone Service
The Grasshopper auto attendant functions much the same way that a receptionist would. It is the job of the auto attendant to make sure that the incoming call is routed to the appropriate department or employee.
When a call is made to one of your Grasshopper virtual phone numbers, the virtual auto attendant answers with a professional recording (this could be a default recording, one you record on your own, or one you had recorded for you). Callers will hear options such as “Press 1 for service, press 2 for sales, press 3 for accounting”, or “Press 1 for Bob Jones, Press 2 for Sally Smith, Press 3 for Mike Davis”. The Grasshopper auto attendant is fully customizable, so the choice of what the caller hears is up to you.
Incoming faxes are automatically detected and accepted. There is never a busy signal. Once the fax is received, it is delivered to your email inbox or your online account, depending on how you have it set up.
When a caller enters an extension number for an employee or department, the call will go to whatever phone number you select for that extension. This can be a business phone, home phone, cell phone, or whatever phone number someone is currently reachable at. The inbound call can also ring a sequence of phone numbers, or multiple phone numbers at one time.
Voice Mail Systems – Voicemail Service
You can be notified via email, text message, page, or phone call when you have a new voicemail service message. You can set up your Grasshopper virtual phone number account with an online voicemail feature which sends you emails with MP3 or .wav attachment files that allow you to listen to your voice mail systems directly from your email. You can call from a phone to listen to your voice mail service, or you can listen to them from the Grasshopper online interface.
**NEW** Read your voicemail – Grasshopper has introduced a new, low-cost ($10 per month) optional feature that gives you a transcription of your voicemails, so that you can read your messages if you are unable to listen to them. With this optional service, your new messages can be emailed to you as readable text, as well as the normal audio file attachment. A computer will do its best to convert your messages to text, allowing you to read your message via email when you are unable to listen to the actual message (for example, you are in a meeting). For no additional monthly charge you have the option of having an actual human transcribe your message, which may result in better accuracy, but someone will actually be listening to your messages, which you may or may not be comfortable with.
You can record a new greeting for any of your voicemail boxes from any phone or upload a greeting online. Or, you can have greetings professionally recorded by Grasshopper’s Voice Studio, which is then uploaded to your virtual voice mail service.
You can separately set up the voice mail systems for each of your Grasshopper extensions, giving each its own Internet answering machine. You can control the length of an individual voicemail with available recording time up to 2 minutes per incoming message.
Your Grasshopper voicemail service account will hold an unlimited number of voicemail messages, with each being held up to 30 days.
Grasshopper’s faxing system is limited to only receiving inbound faxes with the exception of the Fax on Demand service explained below. If you need to fax a one-time document, you will have to use a separate fax service.
Grasshopper virtual phone service is able to receive faxes over your toll-free or local number. Once you receive a fax, it is converted electronically so that you can access it online, forward it to another fax machine anywhere in the world, or have it emailed to you in PDF format.
With Grasshopper’s Fax on Demand service, you can set up extensions to automatically fax documents to callers or customers. You pre-load documents such as real estate listings, restaurant menus, or anything else you want to readily fax to any caller. The caller then calls that extension and your pre-recorded greeting explains what the caller can have automatically faxed to them. The caller enters their fax number and automatically receives the document without any interaction from your company.
At this time, Grasshopper does not have plans to implement a traditional outbound fax system.
Grasshopper’s virtual hosted PBX phone system offers a dial-by-name directory feature. This allows for a caller to dial the first few letters of a first or last name and be connected directly to that employee.
You control which employees are included in your Grasshopper dial-by-name directory through the online interface. Setup is quick and you can instantly add and delete employees from the directory.
Virtual Phone Numbers Call Forwarding
You can route callers to any phone you want, anywhere in the world, and you set up forwarding options for each extension separately. You also can set up the remote call forwarding services based on the time of day. Calls could go to your office phone during normal business hours and to your home phone in the evenings.
You can set up to six phone numbers per extension for the call forwarding feature. Grasshopper will try one phone number after the other until it comes to a number that you can be reached at.
You control call forwarding/routing via the Grasshopper virtual PBX system online interface. Setting up and changing your call routing is quick and easy.
The routing is transparent to the caller. The phone rings and someone answers. The caller thinks that the employee is in the office. They have no way of knowing the employee can be anywhere in the world.
ACD Call Queuing For Your Small Business Phone Service
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) queuing allows you to route inbound calls to the appropriate departments and employees. ACD queuing allows for timely answering of calls by the appropriate departments, or employees, while minimizing the hold time for the incoming call.
With Grasshopper virtual phone system’s ACD queue, you can have up to 6 employees associated with a calling queue.
So, rather than have callers go to your small business voice mail, they can be put into a Grasshopper queue and placed on hold until the next available employee can take the call. A caller in queue can be routed to any extension, anywhere in the world just like any other incoming call.
Virtual Number Call Screening
You have three options of how to handle an incoming call. You can take the call, send the call to the business voice mail service, or listen to the caller’s phone number via caller ID. You can also have the Grasshopper small office phone systems ask a caller to state their name, which you will hear before you accept the call.
Hold Music and Messages
With the Grasshopper small business telephone system, you have the option of having callers listen to music while Grasshopper rings your phones to locate you or an employee. You can also record a message to play while callers are on hold, or you can set the system to let them listen to just the ring tone.
Virtual Phone Number Call Logs
Grasshopper keeps call reports, which are searchable for different criteria, including call type, extension, and date range. You have instant access to the last three months of call records. Older records are archived and require 30 minutes to one hour to retrieve.
You have the option to export the call data in your call reports.