By Eric Guth
Recently an important client of ours called us in Israel from his cell phone on the Long Island Railroad. He had just met with his marketing consultant who asked him how he could be reached when he is on the road, especially when he is traveling abroad every week. Being instantly reachable is extremely important to our client, since he wanted to project an International but connected image.
Within an hour and by the time he arrived back in his New York office, Efrat Networks set up a local telephone number in New York that would reach him anywhere in the World, as well as a toll free number that anyone in the USA could dial to reach him free of charge. Of course, his marketing consultant was highly impressed and used his toll free number in an article about his mobile life abroad. The test was that he landed a big contract from a client who was able to call him and reach him while he traveled on the airport shuttle in Israel.
So why go this trouble to be reachable?
From statistics on line, only 20% of US Citizens have passports to travel outside of the USA. This means to me that 80% of US Citizens do not travel internationally and a large percentage of those may have no international experience. Those of us that live abroad know that calling across the World is commonplace. However, the majority of Americans, almost 80% of them, never leave the USA. Therefore, a prospect calling our client while he travels abroad may seem to a lot of folks like calling the moon. However, calling a toll free number like 800, 888, 877, 866, or even a local New York number is a piece of cake. For prospective clients, we want to lower the barriers of accessibility. A toll free number is a “risk free” method to call our client since the prospect does not loose a dime to make the call. In our client’s case, his prospects will reach him anywhere he travels in the world, without spending their dime.
So, What is the Big Secret?
Our secret is that we now are using WEB based Internet telephony services to create solutions for our clients. These services are feature rich, work almost anywhere in the world, and can be purchased quite cost effectively with a major credit card.
Our Favorite is WEB based commnications tool is Skype
Click http://tinyurl.com/ah69y to get to Skype
Skype is one of the best Internet voice services around. Founded by the original developers of Kaaza (experts in PC to PC communications), it has become the tool of choice for Efrat Networks and many of our clients. It has tons of features, almost all of which we use frequently. The audio quality is by far superior to just about any other service that we have tried. Skype engineers wanted a HIFI communications solution – and they delivered.
The first version of Skype was a purely PC to PC voice service. Lots like AOL Instant Messenger with a highly improved voice service. We started using Skype early on as an intercom between ourselves during the workday and with our families, abroad. In the last year, Skype has added SkypeOut service to allow calls from our PC to any telephone in the world for the most competitive rates found on any telephone service. The new SkypeIn service provides a regular telephone number from any State in the USA and many foreign countries for a yearly flat rate of under $40.00. Using all of the Skype services makes it easy to build International conference calls, send instant messages, do file transfers (hey look at my presentation), and even now do simple video conferencing PC to PC.
Skype, for us, has become the ultimate collaboration tool while working on projects, especially when we are in different offices. We are able to talk back and forth, now with video, send files, and instant messages. We also use it inside the office since it allows us to send a file that we are working on back and forth almost instantly.
To make our instant communications solution for our client, we used SkypeIn and SkypeOut services to give him the local number in New York as well as the ability to forward his calls to his cell phones, both in the USA and his international GSM phone. Our client uses the Skype program on his laptop to manage his calls, messages, and forwarding numbers from any place in the World through the Skype program where he can connect to the Internet.
Skype is easy to set up and use. Follow this link: http://tinyurl.com/ah69y and download the free program. It is available in both PC and MAC format. We have even installed in on a Pocket PC with great success. The installation is simple and requires that you register a user name and password similar to other instant messenger services. You are not required to give personal information for the public directory. You can choose your security level to prevent wrong numbers and unsolicited calls from other users. You just need a computer headset or microphone and speakers to get started. I use an inexpensive headset to use Skype since the distance from your lips to the microphone is critical for excellent audio pickup and quality. You can even use a test number, ECHO123, to test your setup over the Internet to be sure your Skype is working.
To set up the toll free number for our client, we used an Internet based services called Kall8. Kall8 is a premier provider of toll free numbers that can be forwarded to any telephone number, anywhere. Our client’s toll free number from Kall8 is forwarded to his SkypeIn number in New York. It can be used to call our client from any of the 50 States. At Efrat Networks we use toll free numbers from Kall8 forwarded to our office and cell phones in Israel. When our kids are traveling in the USA, we use Kall8 toll free numbers to make it easy for them to be in touch with us. Kall8 also provides an entire menu of telephone services including hosted automated attendant with multiple extensions that forward to any number, voice mail to email, and fax to email. Kall8 allows us to create an American business presence even while living abroad.
Skype plus Kall8 made our client very happy in just a few minutes of work. If you are looking for a great value that is expandable and flexible, check out both services. Integrated together, these services provide a high in value for a modest price.
For more on Skype, click on http://tinyurl.com/ah69y
For more on Kall8 click on http://tinyurl.com/obzet