Keep In Touch

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While there's a perception that paging isn't necessary anymore because of digital cellular services that offer similar functions, there is still an important place for paging in many small businesses. Pagers are useful for companies with simple transmission needs--those that don't require in-depth communications but just want to stay in touch. Today's pagers relay messages in a variety of ways and deliver them in a reliable manner.

Two-way paging: One of the biggest complaints about paging is the inability to respond to urgent messages. Two-way paging eliminates that problem by allowing users to answer by hitting a button and sending back a simple alphanumeric message (see below) or a variety of pre-programmed messages. While coverage is limited in most markets except for major metropolitan areas, two-way paging is becoming more commonplace.

Voice paging: Voice-paging service is also offered in limited areas. Voice paging works like a portable answering machine. Usually, callers access an 800 number, enter a personal identification number and then leave a message that is forwarded to the voice pager. Pages are received in the caller's voice and can be listened to immediately or stored.

Alphanumeric: These are the most commonly used types of pagers and are useful tools for small businesses. Alphanumeric pagers use a type of memory that stores both letters and numbers. Because of text capabilities that allow callers to relay simple messages, the need to call back for more details is often eliminated. When using an alphanumeric pager heavily, keep in mind it's easy to drain the battery in a few days.

Numeric: Numeric pagers support numbers only. Even so, giving out your pager number to clients or placing it on business cards is an effective way to stay in the loop.

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This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Keep In Touch.

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