Much has been written about how the millennium bug may stop older computers from operating at the turn of the century. Billions of dollars are being invested to combat the problem. But even if you've already fixed your computers, your telecommunications equipment may still fall prey to the Y2K problem.
According to Leon Kappelman, a member of the International Y2K Cooperation Center's steering committee, long-distance and interoffice phone systems alike need to be evaluated for Y2K compliance since phone networks are powered by software programs similar to those used by computers. Kappelman recommends having your office phone system checked by a service representative or a computer consultant to make sure there are no Y2K-related problems. Also ask your long-distance carrier what it's done to alleviate the Y2K problem, especially if it's a smaller provider. A recent survey by the U.S. State Department showed that as of March 1998, of 113 international long-distance phone carriers, less than half had resolved their Y2K problems. That kind of unpreparedness could lead to a phone failure, which might seriously affect your business. Don't wait until January 1 to find out if you have a problem.
Gene Koprowski has covered the tech industry for 10 years and writes a monthly computing column for The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't Miss That Call!
Stay connected with toll-free call forwarding.
As soon as you leave the office, an important call comes through. In the past, the caller just left a message, and that was that. Then call-forwarding services that located you and sent the caller your way, no matter where you were, changed all that. Now another development is emerging, one that will make customers even happier: toll-free call forwarding.
Here's how it works: Subscribers to toll-free forwarding services like those offered by Harcom Corp. (http://www.harcom.com) in Irvine, California, specify up to eight alternate phone numbers where they can be reached. Important clients and other callers are no longer given your office number as your main contact point; rather, they call a toll-free number and hear a recording that indicates you're away from your desk but will be found in a moment. "Then the device dials each of your alternative numbers, such as your car phone, your home phone, your office phone, or a hotel where you're staying," says Dan Harris, president of Harcom. If you're not available at any of the numbers, the system forwards the call to voice mail.
Subscribers pay 7.5 cents per minute for Harcom's service, but only for time spent talking to the client or prospect--there's no charge for search time. Customers, meanwhile, not only save money on calls to you but are also more likely to actually reach you when they have matters that can't wait. And that takes your customer service to heights most clients won't forget.
A New Page
You've got mail--on your beeper.
Pagers are useful, but who wants to find a phone to return the page? Now you don't have to. With Two-Way service from Dallas-based PageNet (http://www.pagenet.com), you can send and receive e-mail messages anywhere in the United States via specialized pagers ($360 to own, $19 per month to rent). You can reply to pages with short messages, send messages to several recipients at once or link to your company's intranet. There are also features such as voice mail, operating dispatch service and PC connectivity.
Starting at $24.95 per month, PageNet's services are available throughout the United States, Canada and Spain.
Harcom Corp., (949) 770-5008, http://www.harcom.com