With an increasing number of small businesses, home-based businesses, and mobile professionals in the workplace, many companies are turning to virtual PBX and hosted unified communications services to provide service to their customers.
The challenge, especially for small businesses, is to find a way to quickly boost a business legitimacy with items such as local phone numbers, toll free numbers, fax lines, and voice mail systems, without investing thousands of dollars.
There are many providers available offering this type of service. One example is Intellicom, which offers Innoport (www.innoport.com), a hosted unified communications system targeted at small businesses. With this package, which can run less than $35 per month, members receive the following features (and more) including:
- the convenience of holding a virtual telephone number with universal accessibility
- personal toll free and local phone numbers that serve as both a voice and fax number or may be designated for use as just one or the other
- a system that automatically distinguishes between a voice call and fax signal, so callers do not have to press any additional keys
- a phone number that can be used purely for messaging or enable call routing for forwarding calls to reach a member no matter where he/she is
- Members can also establish a virtual PBX system to transfer callers to different extensions
- Receiving voicemails and fax messages via email
- The ability to specify any email address for delivery and for each phone number, users can assign up to four email accounts for simultaneous message distribution
Another example is Vonage (www.vonage.com), which offers small business plans either an unlimited plan for $49.99 per month or 1500 minutes per month plan for $39.99. These plans offer services such as:
- A dedicated fax line at no additional cost
- The ability to listen to voicemails either online from any personal computer or via email as downloadable WAV files (without having to ever pick up a phone)
- A way to easily forward calls from your Vonage line to a mobile phone when youll be away from your office and to provide a backup number if the Vonage service is ever not available (for example, a business loses their internet connection) that allows service to customers to remain uninterrupted
- Caller ID and call waiting
- An adapter to take your number with you anywhere you travel that has a broadband connection
Clearly, with some research and smart consumer shopping, these days a small business can offer the same great service of a larger corporation at a fraction of the cost.