Verizon today took the wraps off One Talk, a new service for select existing and new business plans the blurs the line between full-featured desktop phone systems and smartphones.
Large companies have long benefitted from advanced phone systems that ensure an answer for practically every call from clients and potential customers. They guide callers to a desired department and expertly navigate complex and expansive phone trees until they find a helpful staffer. Apart from calling outside of regular business hours, there's an excellent chance callers will get in touch with someone who can help.
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The small business community, on the other hand, is "overburdened and under-served," according to Catherine Sugarbroad, executive director of small business product innovation at Verizon. The roughly 28 million small businesses in the U.S. represent a major portion of our economy Sugarbroad noted. She and her team went to work to give "SMBs a straightforward solution and help to level the playing field," she told Small Business Computing. According to the Small Business Administration, small companies generate 54 percent of the country's sales.
A Mobile Twist on Small Business Phones
Small businesses are a mobile bunch. "About 88 percent of [the aforementioned] companies have employees that work away from their business location," Sugarbroad said. In effect, the desk phones and advanced business calling functionality that workers use back at their home base remain largely out of reach for roaming workers with smartphones clutched in their hands.
One Talk for Verizon closes that functionality gap—even in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments where employee-owned iPhones and Samsung Galaxies connect to the networks of other wireless carriers.
Business Calls that Hunt You Down
Waiting for that make-or-break call? The last thing anyone wants during touchy contract negotiations or when hammering out the details of game-changing deal is a round (or two or three) of voicemail tag.
"A missed call is missed revenue," said Alex Doyle, product director at Verizon. With One Talk, calls to business phone numbers reach employees, even if they step out for lunch or happen to be working from the road that day.
One Talk from Verizon supports hunt groups and executive assistant line-sharing, two features that help ensure a voicemail is the last thing an important caller encounters. Better still, they work seamlessly over both One Talk-capable desk phones and mobile devices using the One Talk Mobile App for iOS and Android.
The app makes it possible for employees to use their own phones to answer calls made to their business phone numbers and access the One Talk service's features, even if Verizon is not the carrier attached to that device. "Fundamentally, you're putting two numbers on the [employee's personal] phone," Doyle said.
Somewhat ironically, even with explosive mobile phone adoption rates among both business users and consumers, missed calls are more prevalent than ever.
"In today's mobile and digital world, customers expect to interact quickly and easily, and yet 80 percent of business calls go unanswered or are put on hold. And when it's your business or your customer, seamless, reliable and personalized experiences matter. That's why we created One Talk—so that small businesses will never miss a call or an opportunity," said Mike Lanman, senior vice president of IoT and Enterprise Products at Verizon, in a prepared statement.
Desk-to-Mobile and Back, Seamlessly
Sugarbroad calls One Talk's capability to seamlessly transfer calls between devices a stand-out feature. "The phone call is present on all your devices," she said. With a tap of a button, you can transfer a live call from your desk phone to your smartphone, and vice versa, with zero interruption.
Need to get a jump on the evening commute or running late to pick up the kids? With One Talk you can get up and get going in the middle of a call—without anyone being the wiser.
And those calls are crystal clear, said Doyle. One Talk includes "built-in HD audio and HD video calling," he said. "We've done a lot of innovation on the network," including implementing Voice over LTE (VoLTE), which provides higher-fidelity wireless communications, he added.
Verizon One Talk is available now from authorized resellers, the company's 1,500 retail stores, or online. One Talk prices start at approximately $25 per user per month. You'll find a rundown of supported plans and other details in this company FAQ.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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