For The Record
You've probably closed lots of deals over the phone. Most of the time, the projects pan out and you're paid. But sometimes you'll run across someone who denies a deal was made and refuses to pay the invoice. In the past, you'd simply be out of luck; it was your word against theirs. But now, thanks to computerized voice-logging systems, you can have an incontrovertible record of deals and transactions made over the phone.
Prices vary for these logging systems. For instance, Monrovia, California's DynaMetric (http://www.dynametric.com) prices its record/playback system at $59.95, while Record/Play Tek Inc. (http://www.cyberlink-inc.com/rpt) of Bristol, Indiana, offers a system that starts at $750 per user. The primary difference is the level of service from the company. Record/Play Tek will integrate the system for you, while DynaMetric's system is usually installed by the user.
What all these systems do is compress voice messages and store them for later retrieval. Some systems are PC-based; others are based on PBX phone network technology.
Of course, you have to tell customers when deals are being recorded, but if they protest, you probably don't want to do business with them anyway.
Gene Koprowski has covered the tech industry for 10 years and writes a monthly computer column for The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition. Contact him at email@example.com
Soho of the Future
In-home tech for the 21st century
Will the home office of the next millennium look like something George Jetson would appreciate? The Telework 2000 Project (http://www.future-at-work.org), sponsored by AT&T, the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program and the Office of the Future Consortium, recently put together a complete teleworking exhibit, including a model SOHO of the future, to give us an idea of what we can expect. Located in Seattle's Columbia Seafirst Center, the innovative office includes the latest versions of everything a homebased entrepreneur could dream of--stand-alone video conferencing, wireless voice and data connections, flat-screen computing technology, document management equipment and high-speed data connections--all working together seamlessly.
One of the benefits of incorporating this kind of technology into the home is a 25 percent potential reduction in employee turnover for your company, the consortium says. The reason? Why leave a company when you've got the best of both worlds--a great job and a great homebased office environment?
Always On Call
Put all your numbers in one place.
You're out of town, and a client wants to send you a fax. He wants to send it to your hotel, but by the time he tracks down the hotel's fax number, you've already checked out. Fortunately, Linx Communications (http://www.linxcomm.com) in Holliston, Massachusetts, is helping eliminate this common frustration with its new Universal Number service.
The service integrates voice, fax, paging and other communications functions for on-the-go types. How does it work? When a caller dials a user's Universal Number, the system rings up to three specified numbers simultaneously and announces the caller. The user can then choose to take the call, send it to voice mail or transfer it. Alternate numbers (like hotel fax numbers) can be programmed in advance.
The service, which costs $24.95 per month, is currently available in Boston; New York City; the San Francisco Bay area; and Washington, DC. Linx says it will expand its Universal Number service to 15 more cities this year, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.