Virtual Receptionist Answers the Call
By David Mack
If you have a Web site, especially an eCommerce site, you expect to do most of your business without human interaction. But for customers who have questions before they buy, it s nice to be able to pick up the phone and ask a question or two. There s only one problem: You don t have anyone who can devote their time to answering the phone. eVoiceReceptionist is meant to solve that problem for you without costing a great deal of money. Best of all, you don t have to buy hardware or software for their solution. In the month I ve had the system I ve learned a lot; hopefully informing you of the good and bad will help you decide if this product is right for you.
I decided to shop for a virtual receptionist for my Web site because I felt a toll free number would potentially boost sales. I have a full-time job and don t have the time to sit and answer phone calls which I anticipated would be sporadic. I chose eVoiceReceptionist because the price was right. For $30 I got my own 800 number, 1,000 minutes, and three independent extensions. You can t pick your own number, but you can pick the numbers for your extensions. For example, you can say 1 for sales or 11 for sales . You also get your greeting professionally recorded. When signing up you give them the wording you want read; after a few days your greeting will be ready for your review and approval. After I got off the phone with the associate, I expected to get a confirmation e-mail but I didn t get one. That was annoying because I wasn t sure if my order had actually been completely processed.
Once my greeting was in place, I got a control panel on the eVoiceReceptionist site. You can configure the system to ring up to three phone numbers simultaneously or sequentially when someone calls. You can configure it to e-mail you when someone leaves a voice message. You can see your call history. There s also a call-screening feature that makes the caller identify themselves when they call. When the phone rings, the system will play back the name they used to identify themselves (if you activate this option).
There are a few important things to note on the eVoiceReceptionist Web site. Each extension has its own login. There isn t a master login page that lets you control all your extensions. This can be good or bad, depending on how you view it. I d like to be able to control all the extensions in one screen. You can only see the caller history of the extension to which you are logged in, which means I must log in three times to view calls.
There are some configuration items that ARE NOT on the control panel that you should know about. For example, if you ring numbers sequentially, the default time for ringing one number to the next is 32 seconds. That means it rings for 96 seconds before it hits voicemail. That s a long time; most people aren t going to let a phone ring that long. The site doesn t mention this, but if you call customer service they can change it to whatever you want. They can also change what appears on your caller ID. The default is your 800 number, but if you want the customer caller ID to show up you have to ask customer service to change it. If you didn t know they could change this, you d be stuck with the 800 number.
Customer service is hit or miss when I ve called eVoiceReceptionist. It appears the eFax purchased OneBox and repackaged a product that OneBox offers at a lower price. Sometimes I would call customer service and I d get OneBox support and they d transfer me eVoiceReceptionist. Sometimes I would get a customer service representative who wasn t very knowledgeable and couldn t even find my account. I d hang up and call right back and get someone who was helpful. I had that experience at least three separate times. I don t know if it s growing pains with the new acquisition of OneBox or if it s simply par for the course. There is definitely room for improvement with customer service.
Within 45 minutes of updating my site, I got a phone call about a product. I was pleased because the caller ID showed my 800 number. I answered the phone and was notified by the system that I had a call for sales . At that point I was given a choice to accept the call or direct it to voicemail. I accepted the call and closed a sale.
Is it worth the annoying issues? Absolutely; my sales have doubled in the month I ve had the system. The good thing for you is eVoiceReceptionist is offering a free trial for 30 days. Compared to similar solutions, it s not that expensive it simply has some issues to resolve.
David Mack is a Senior Software Engineer for Northrop Grumman-TASC. He has 12 years of development experience. He loves classic cars and enjoys a 10 handicap on the golf course.
Web Site: http://www.evoicereceptionist.com
Price: US$30/per month