Many startup companies in the “garage operation” stage want to appear larger and more professional when interacting with customers by phone, but they do not have the money to invest in the hardware required for a conventional PBX phone system. Other startups have distributed operations, with employees working on cell phones from home or on the road, and want to enable effective communication between employees and with customers. RingCentral addresses these needs by providing a virtual PBX phone system, which includes multiple extensions, toll free numbers, automated greetings with menu trees, dial-by-name directories, and call and voicemail forwarding. You can use their online interface to create “rules” that define call routing based upon time of day, number dialed, type of caller, or whether the call was answered. Your greeting could say “Press 1 for technical support, press 2 for sales”, etc, but all options could forward to a single cell phone!
In this interview, Praful Shah gives a detailed overview of the RingCentral features and pricing, and provides some great examples of both large and small companies that have used their product. He also gives an overview of his own unique role in the company as VP of Strategy, and what responsibilities the position involves.
There have been some great reviews of the product, and it was even recommended in Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek as a good solution for automating receptionist activities and professionally managing business calls while traveling and working remotely. This year RingCentral closed a second round of VC funding, so I’m sure we’ll hear plenty more about the company in the months to come! Check out a recent post on Expand2Web for a great overview on virtual phone systems and the benefits for small businesses.