Working from home has many benefits, but when you have a web site with published phone numbers as I do, one annoying thing is that you may be woken by phone calls in the middle of the night. These are invariably from Americans who have no idea where NZ is, much less that it is in a Time Zone so many hours out of synch. with business hours in the US.
These callers typically expect anybody on any phone number in any country to be ready to take their call at a moment's notice, regardless of such considerations as time zones. One particular caller phoned at 5am and my wife answered the call, only to be asked: "Is the engineer available?". "No he's sleeping", she said, "Please phone back in 2 or 3 hours and he will be happy to talk to you". Needless to say, we never heard back from this person.
When I used Telecom phone lines, I had to remember to turn my answerphone on every night, and then remember to turn it off again in the morning. However, after switching to VFX, and experiencing all the cool features such as Voice Mail -> E-mail, I got to thinking that it would be really cool if some sort of Scheduled Call Diversion function could be added.
It turned out that Phil and his team at WxC had been beavering away behind the scenes on just such a facility. Upon logging into my Xnet Voice Portal, then clicking on Incoming Calls, I was presented with the following Advanced options:
Call Forwarding Selective
At first I tried the "Selective Rejection" function, but that was a little too "In Your Face" for my liking. Callers were told that: "The party you are trying to reach is not accepting calls at this time".
I decided I would prefer that callers be diverted to Voice Mail, so at least they could leave a message for us to deal with later in the day. After a bit of help from Phil at WxC, I got things set up the way I wanted them by means of the Call Forwarding Selective function. First I had to set up a Time Schedule via my Profile:
The Time Schedule is completely flexible and in my case I set up a schedule called "After Hours" for obvious reasons. Having done that, I was able to set up Forwarding of All Calls to Voice Mail at any time during the After Hours period:
Callers who try to reach our business after hours are now told politely that we are not available to receive calls at this time. They are then given the option to leave a message. Perfect for my situation where I work from home!
There are many more options available within Call Forwarding Selective which allow only specific phone numbers, or only numbers without Caller ID (such as those pesky survey companies who always call at Dinner Time), to be forwarded to Voice Mail.
In fact there are so many of these new Advanced Features, it takes some time to get your head around all of them. Others of note are:
Lets you choose one of four states for your VFX Line:
In the Office / Out of the Office / Busy / Unavailable
You can separately define the actions to be taken for each of these four states:
Calls may Ring Your Phone and/or Another Phone, be Forwarded, Sent to Voice Mail, and/or Notified by E-mail. Two different greetings may be played to callers. Suffice to say, there are a LOT of options in there, and I haven't had time to play with many of them.
Sequential Ring / Simultaneous Ring
A pre-defined list of phones can be set to ring one after another, with a preset number of rings before the next phone starts to ring. Or they can all start to ring simultaneously -- or not -- if you are already on a call.
By using this feature, small businesses have the equivalent of a distributed PBX without needing to make any capital investment.
I have given just a brief overview here of the Advanced Features currently under trial for WxC's VFX service. There are various others under consideration as well.
My impression after using these features for the past three weeks, is that's NZ's smartest phone service just got a whole lot smarter!
Comment by tonyhughes, on 23-May-2007 18:58
With simultaneous ringing, what happens if one of those numbers goes straight to voicemail - will the other ones still ring?
This is very exciting stuff!
Comment by tonyhughes, on 23-May-2007 19:22
Comment by Snikch, on 24-May-2007 09:27
In the immortal words of Borat - I LIKE!