Remember, my complete blog is now at: http://www.SebbyLive.com/ (http://www.sebbylive.com/post/2007/10/New-Business-Tool-Category-How-does-Paradoxal-Press-Handle-it's-1-888-Number-and-Faxes.aspx)
I have decided to start a new category on my blog called "Business" or "Business Tools". The idea is quite simple... Share what I learn during the operation and growth of Paradoxal Press. Some of the posts will cover gereral "how-to" topics when it comes to running an online business. But other posts like this one will focus more on exposing some of the tools and services I make use of on a daily basis...
In this post, I wanted to start by covering two topics in one. How does Paradoxal Press handle its Toll Free number and Faxing needs.
From a faxing point of view, I do actually have a fax machine. But my past experiences have been dreadful and remember being woken up in the middle of the night by the screeching sounds of the fax machine. I did not retire my fax machine, as I still use it for outbound faxes, but decided that an online solution would be less intrusive and whould also offer me a few additional benefits. One of the most useful benefits for me is that the use of an online faxing service allows for all recieved faxes to be directed to my email and therefore have access to any fax as long as I have an internet connection. The other main benifit is that my fax line can be tied to my 1-888 number and I have the advantage of having a single fax number for both voice and fax calls. So far, spam faxes have not been an issue on my toll free number. Time will tell...
The other thing I wanted for my business is to have a toll free number. It may be somewhat overkill for a small business such as Paradoxal Press but I always thought that a business who offered a toll-free number appeared more legitimate and secure. Of course, this is a matter of perception, but I wanted to make it easy for my customers to reach me no matter what.
Throughout the few years that I have been running Paradoxal Press, I've had the chance to go through a few different services myself. And thought I would share my experience...
eFax: My review of their service is quite simple... AVOID AT ALL COSTS! They are one of the more "public and advertized" out there and I guess all this money spent promoting is taken away from the custommer service department. Their service works reasonably well overall but does not offer alot of flexibility and features. This is the type of company that reminds me of my Cellular phone carrier... Constant billing errors, long hold times for customer service, useless customer service representative and near imposibility to cancel the service without having to start disputing charges with the credit company. eFax business model seems to revolve more around sign-up volume rather than customer retention, so I would really stay away from them!
Voice Nation: After my experience with eFax, I decided to move on to a smaller company who would likely be more customer-focused than volume-focused, even if this meant a slightly higher per-month cost. I ended up getting a toll-free voicemail/fax combo from them and everything worked great. I have to admit that most of the phone setup had to be done on the phone itself, which was really tedious but beyond the setup difficulties the service ran great for about 8 months. Then all of a sudden, I start getting emails from another business to request that my customer's stop calling them. I was really confused at first butafter some research I discovered that the had (for some unknown reason) decided to pull the plug on our account and to simply reassign our number to a new customer. No notification on their part and they never returned our emails/calls about the situation. This is somewhat of a big snafu considering that this became a huge inconvenient for both business and we were unable to really fix the situation (short of getting a new toll-free number elsewhere and to have our customers update their contact information).
Ring Central: This is my new and current provider. They are relatively small (somewhere inbetween eFax and VoiceNation) but so far the service has been great for both Fax and Toll-Free voice. Their prices are really competitive (starting at $7.99/mo) and offer a wide variety of options so you can pick your service in a more "a la carte" way... There are several really neat features about their service. They not only allow to recieve faxes and voicemails but using their Call Controller app (shown below), you can also answer your phone calls as well as place calls directly from your computer (just as with a VoIP service provider). In addition, their Call Controller Application is really neat and gives you full controll over your account in a single location... It have been about 6 months now and I have to say I am still really happy with their service and pricing!
Here are a quick rescription of the different levels of services offered by Ring Central. As you can see, at the prices quoted, it quite often makes more sense to go with such a service than to have to pay for the additional infrastructure required to handle a 1-800 number and business faxing. I should also mention that they do offer a free 30 day trial on most of their products. So you should try it first to make sure it really meets your needs!
RingCentral Online - Starting from $9.99/month
A Web-based phone and fax system for small businesses.
What makes RingCentral different from traditional phone companies is that our toll free or local phone number comes loaded with business features, isn't connected to any jack or hardware and works through any phone and computer in the world.
An easy, secure, affordable and convenient Internet fax service for businesses and mobile professionals.
Get rid of your fax machine. Try RingCentral Fax