Many people take their business phone system for granted and assume that there isn't much more to be done with it than the functionality their 20th century phone system provides.  They can place calls, they have an auto-attendant that can route incoming calls and they have voice mail.  What else would you need?  This is a classic case of not knowing what you're missing!


The idea for FacetPhone was born on a snowy day in 1999 when most of our employees were not going to make it to the office (it doesn't take much snow to disable Dallas Texas).  Voice over IP was a budding technology and it seemed like the perfect solution to this problem.  Simply extend the phone system to any location with broadband Internet and nobody would need to get out on a snowy day and the company would be up and running as normal.  Heck, we're software developers - let's make that!  So we started working on FacetPhone in 2000 and by 2003 we had a full-blown distributed phone system ready to sell.  After that, a bad weather day never had much of an impact.  Not only that, but the added convenience of being able to telecommute has saved our employees much on commuting expenses and commuting stress.  It also greatly increases our availability to our customers.  When there is no commute involved, some people regularly show up for work early!  We have all of the convenience of being able to work almost anywhere and yet we are on the company phone system and not sending out our cell phone or home phone caller ID when we make outbound calls.  This has allowed us to drastically downsize our office space for a considerable savings in rent.  If your phone system doesn't do this, how much do you suppose that is costing you?


If the company is distributed, it also seemed like a good idea for the phone system to show everybody's status and whether they were on a call.  In fact a company doesn't have to be very distributed at all for this to be a useful feature.  So, from the very beginning, FacetPhone has included a computer user interface that allows you to see a descriptive status of all the users, see the calls in progress and manage calls intuitively with your mouse instead of button sequences on the phone.  With this user interface, we never have any "phone tag" between employees.  The user interface also includes company-wide instant messaging allowing you to ask a quick question of someone when either or both of you are already on a phone call.  This saves putting customers on hold just to get a quick bit of information you need to help them.  If your phone system doesn't do this, how much do you suppose that is costing you?


Since a 21st century business phone system runs on a general purpose computer, with a little work it can interface with many other software applications.  This allows employees to dial out of their customer management software, perhaps save recordings of calls in the customer database and automatically provide information to callers from databases.  Your customer service agents' work is streamlined and your small or medium sized business can give callers self service access to information just like a large enterprise would.  If your phone system doesn't do this, how much do you suppose that is costing you?


A modern phone system should also have extensive auto-attendant capabilities to get callers to the correct person as soon as possible.  We were recently on a call to the phone company with a customer who was getting new phone service.  We were transferred 4 times before we got to someone who could help us.  With FacetPhone, we can setup skills based routing and callers can respond to a few menu options to get to a person who has all the skills to help them.  This saves a little bit of employees' time but it mainly reduces aggravation for the caller.  I don't know how to calculate the cost of aggravated customers!


Finally, a 21st century phone system can save money on telephone service.  SIP trunks allow you to get your phone service over an Internet connection at rates that are usually much lower that traditional phone service.  If your phone system can't utilize SIP trunks that it is actually pretty easy to figure out how much that is costing you!


So how long do you suppose it would take for a new 21st century phone system to pay for itself?