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Setup Voice Mail & Fax

Setup Voice Mail & Fax

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Published by: chepimanca on Apr 11, 2010
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MAY TECH
s
 VOICE MAIL
oice mail is an essential technol-ogy for any office today. In a smalloffice, you might be able to get by  with an answering machine. Butif you’re trying to project a more corporateimage, an answering machine doesn’t cut it.One alternative is to take an old comput-er—or buy a new, low-end system—andthrow in a couple of voice modems and voice mail software. The resulting voicemail system will project the image of a ma-jor corporation. While you’re at it, use thesame system for fax service—a notable im-provement over using a standard fax ma-chine.The best strategy for setting up a com-puter for voice mail and fax depends large-ly on your telephone system: how many in-coming lines you have, how busy they areand whether you have a phone switch (a de- vice that lets you add more extension lines within the office to supplement the actualnumber of external lines connected to thephone company).In this article, we’ll cover a range of al-ternatives, from a single incoming phone line with no phone switch to as many as 8 in-coming phone lines with a phone switch andas many as 32 internal extensions. Althoughdetails will vary depending on the particu-lar hardware and software you have, youshouldn’t find it hard to map the suggestionshere to the specific commands and features in your chosen hardware and software. Forthe purposes of this article, we’ll assumethat you want to use standard modems with voice and fax features rather than specialisedhardware. You can find any number of pro g ra msthat work with a standard voice modem forboth fax and voice mail, complete with mul-tiple mailboxes. Most such programs—in-cluding FaxWorks (Thought Communica-tions, www.faxtalk.com) and SuperVoi c e(Pacific Image Communications, www.su-per voice.com) — are limited to controlling a single phone line. A few, such as Talk Works Pro (Symantec, www.symantec.com), canhandle two lines. Even fewer (SuperVoiceCommunications Server is one) can handlemore.One way to increase your options is to getseparate programs for faxing and voice mail,a strategy that will let you use a separate linefor faxing even if the programs support only one line each. It’s hard to find a voice mailprogram that doesn’t include faxing, but inmost cases, you can turn off the fax fea-tures or ignore them. Most fax programs,however, don’t include voice mail. The faxand voice mail programs that we’ve testedtogether co-existed successfully withoutproblems as long as they weren’t both as-signed the same modem. But check withboth vendors beforehand to find out whether there’s a compatibility problem.If you don’t have a phone switch, there’slittle more to say. You need to pick soft- ware that can support not just the numberof lines you have now, but the number youexpect to need in the foreseeable future . You should also make sure the software
If you want to project a professional image to the world, you’ll want to establish voice mail and afax sy stem for your office so that, should no one be in the office, there’s a virtual re p re s e n t at i v ea l ways at hand. In this guide we detail the options that are available to you to set up a sy stem thatf i ts your needs. You’ll find that it’s simpler than you thought it would be.
seup
voice mail & fax
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 VOICE MAIL
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 will work with the voice modems youchoose. Look for a list of supported modemson the software vendor’s Web site. With more than two modems—or even if  you’re adding a second modem in a sys-tem that uses a serial mouse—you’ll have to worry about hardware conflicts. PCs offerfour serial ports, but com 3 normally uses thesame IQas com 1, and com 2 normally usesthe same IRQ as com 4. With these standardsettings, you can’t have an active connectionon both com 1 and com 3 or on both com2 and com 4 at the same time. Any voice mail program that supportsmore than two modems will also offer a way to sidestep this conflict. This is typically accomplished by way of a multi-modemcard, which includes multiple modems us-ing one IRQ, or by way of a multi-portcard,which offers four, eight or more serialport connections for external modems. Makesure you know what the solution is for thesot w are you’ve chosen and that you get hardware to fit that solution. The software vendor may even sell the appropriate mo-dem or multi-port card. If so, life may be eas-ier if you get both the hard w are and software from the same source.If you’re mixing programs—one for faxand one for voice mail—you may need amo re creative solution. One possibility isto get USB modems from a company suchas Zoom Telephonics. This assumes thatthe system you’re using is new enough to of-fer USB support, the operating system(preferably Windows 98) offers USB support and that the voice mail and fax software will work with USB modems.
 A WORD ABOUT SWITCHES
Most of these issues also apply if you havea phone switch because each modem plugsinto one of the switch’s phone lines, just asit would plug into a phone jack coming di-rectly from your phone company. The key difference is that with a switch you don’tneed a separate modem for each line fromthe phone company. And conversely, youdon’t need a separate outside line for eachmodem.If you have more than two voice lines, you should seriously consider getting aphone switch. For this discussion, we’ll as-sume you have a programmable switch thatcan accept standard phones and modems— a description that applies, for example, toPanasonic’s Digital Super Hybrid systems( w  w  w .panasonic.com/consumer_electron- i c s / c o m m u n i c a t i o n _ s y s t e m s / i n d e x . h t m ) .Note that if you have an all-digital switch, you will not be able to use modems with itunless the switch can support analogueports as well.Phone switches are based on the propo-sition that you’ll rarely, if ever, need to makeas many simultaneous connections to theoutside world as you have phones in youroffice. As long as that assumption is true, youcan conveniently share a small number of external lines from the phone company’scentral office (CO) among some larger num-ber of internal extensions. Incoming callsrom any of the CO lines can connect toany of the internal extensions and outgoingcalls can connect to any of the CO lines. Asa bonus, you can dial from any of the internalextensions to any other without having topay for a phone call. A typical switch for a small office will al-low from 2 to 8 CO lines and 8 to 32 inter-nal extensions. (If your phone system needsare much greater than this, your voice mailneeds will probably outstrip the capabilitiesof voice mail software and standard voicemodems.) Most switches also provide somelevel of programmability, often by way of aproprietary digital phone using the keypadand LCD. Typically, you can designate whichinternal line should get the incoming callsfrom each CO line, which extension a callshould bounce to if there is no answer ona given internal line and whether calls shouldbe treated diff erently depending on the day of the week or the time of day.
 VOICE MAIL SCENARIOS
Consider what you can do with just thesecommands programmed into the switch, areceptionist to direct calls and a voice mailprogram that handles just one line and of-fers nothing beyond answering machinefeatures with multiple mailboxes.The modem controlled by the voice mailprogram gets plugged into one of the in-ternal lines. You can set each CO line tosend all incoming calls to the receptionist’sextension from 9 to 5 on weekdays but sendthem to the voice modem at all other times.f your voice mail pro g r a mincludes an auto-attendantf e a t u re and your switchincludes the ability to trans-fer calls, you can put together a moresophisticated messaging system. First,make sure that the software and theswitch support the same feature fortransferring calls. A common choice,for example, is a flashhook com-mand, which is the equivalent of tap-ping the hang-up button on a stan-d a rd phone. An auto-attendant feature will notonly give the caller a way to find theright extension but will dial the exten-sion using the switch’s call transferf e a t u re. Most auto-attendants will alsomonitor the call to see whether it ispicked up. If not, they tell the switchto hang up the line, re t u rn the callerto the voice mail program and givethe caller an opportunity to leave amessage in the appropriate mailbox.
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