Part of practicing from anywhere is being reachable anywhere. This is certainly true of e-mail, but what about phone calls? If you aren’t at your office desk to pick up the ringing handset, what do you do?
You could set up call forwarding to send all calls to your cell phone, but what about outgoing calls (assuming you don’t want people to have your cell phone number by getting it from caller ID)? Also, you must remember to turn off the forwarding when you get to the office.
VoIP Phones Are the Answer
Clearly, your phone system must be virtual as well. This means getting a VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system. I did this a couple of years ago, partly to get away from the high prices of the traditional phone company, but also to make it easier to work from anywhere.
There are several vendors out there, including RingCentral, Nextiva, Vonage, GoToConnect, and DialPad. Which one you choose is up to you, but you should be sure to get at least the following features from the service.
Key Phone Features
A PBX Equivalent. If you’ve ever had one of these, you know what I’m talking about! If you have staff, you need to have a main line and (depending on your call volume) one or two “hunt lines” for calls to roll over to if the main line is busy. It should also have “extensions,” or unique numbers for each member of your staff.
These lines can either ring through to a VoIP-capable desk handset or to that person’s computer for calls on a headset. Each should have a separate voicemail box with the ability to e-mail the voicemail message to the user. If you still have a PBX, a VoIP system will provide considerable savings.
Free Fax Line. Fax is not dead (just dying), so you will still need one of these. You will have incoming and outgoing faxes. All you should have to do is use the vendor’s software to type in a fax number, attach a cover sheet (if needed), and select one or more PDFs to send out. Then just click “send.”
Receiving faxes is also easy! Their software should give you alert of its arrival on your computer and your phone/tablet. You would then view/save the PDF that is the “fax” to your cloud drive. You never have to touch paper again for faxing! I can just pull out my phone, wherever I am, and view an incoming fax to see if it needs immediate action!
Make Your Cell Phone Your Office Phone. Their software should also reside on your cell phone, allowing you to make outgoing calls without revealing your cell phone number; it will just spoof your office number! By doing this you can make calls from anywhere comfortably.
Texting. I am not a big believer in texting for case-related communication because there is usually no way of preserving those texts with the case file. However, some clients prefer texting for some types of communication, and routine stuff (like a note to you that traffic is heavy, and they will be 10 minutes late to their appointment) can be communicated easily without giving the person your cell phone number!
Your Phone is Anywhere You Are!
Having these features means that you don’t have to mess with call forwarding. Calls can come through on your computer (or headset) or ring to the vendor’s software on your smartphone, so you can receive (and make) calls from anywhere. Having a VoIP system has saved me money and allowed to kick my service and availability up a notch! It can certainly do the same thing for you!
Virtualizing Your Law Practice
Getting a VoIP phone system, so as to be able to take your office phone anywhere is just one step in having a virtual law practice. There’s lots to do to get one up and running. As such, this isn’t something you should rush into.
If you’re not clear on where to start or how to formulate an effective strategy to doing this, I can help! Just give me a call at 856-345-9699 for a no obligation consult to discuss your situation. I may well be able to assist you in mapping out a path to a virtual practice that will make you more effective, efficient, and profitable going forward.
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