Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Kall8's Auto Attendant is a Virtual PBX or Switchboard

One of the ways that big companies sound big is through their sophisticated telephone systems. They've paid megabucks for such automation as PBX (Private Branch Exchange) systems, switchboards and Auto Attendants or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems.

What would you say if I told you that you can have these same phone system features and more without any of the capital expense or staffing? You can with the Kall8 Auto Attendant. It's a perfect solution for businesses that have a few, a few dozen or even a few hundred employees.

Kall8 is the company that made inbound toll free numbers practical for smaller companies and even independent professionals. You can get your own toll free number for as little as $2 to order, $2 a month, plus 6.9 cents per minute to or from anywhere in the continental United States.

If you are an independent professional or family business, a Kall8 toll free number with its built-in voice mail and inbound fax might be all you need to project an appropriate business image to your customers. But if your company is big enough to have people in different functions or departments, you need a system that's more sophisticated. Years ago, you would hire a phone receptionist and have him or her announce callers over public address system or intercom: "Call for Tom on line 1. Tom, line 1."

Nowadays, the receptionist is generally a computerized automatic attendant with recorded announcements. You probably recognize how this works from your own experiences of calling companies to place orders or get customer service. You call a toll free number and a pleasant voice greets you and then offers a menu of options. "To place an order, press 1. To reach technical support, press 2. For billing issues, press 3. For all other needs, press 0 and an operator will be with you shortly."

With the Kall8 Automated Attendant, you can set up a "calling tree" like this. Each step is called a menu. For instance, if the caller presses 3, the system might say "To pay your bill, press 1. To correct a billing error, press 2." The call can be directed to additional menus or to specific people or departments depending on which phone button is pressed. I say departments, because all 5 or 10 of your technical support people can be placed in a "hunt group." The system will hunt for the next non-busy technician and ring their phone directly. If nobody is available, the call will be sent to voicemail. Each extension can also have it's own voicemail.

Now here's something you might not expect. The Kall8 Auto Attendant can be programmed to ring phones that are not co-located. Your technical support group might have one technician in Dallas, another in Seattle, two in Miami, and another in Chicago. They can all be in a single hunt group and give the impression that they're sitting side by side at corporate headquarters. If your company is a virtual company with your colleagues scattered throughout the country, this system can let you offer one or more toll free numbers to your clients. The Auto Attendant will then provide your callers with access to anyone in your company, regardless of where they are physically located.

There is no equipment to buy, since Kall8 hosts the Automated Attendant on its servers along with other toll free number features. You will need to order at least one Kall8 number, such as the toll free inbound number I mentioned earlier. You can then order the Automated Attendant for a setup fee of $50 and a monthly fee of $25. Kall8's customer service department will help you get the IVR portion of the Auto attendant set up to your satisfaction.

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