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Voicemail was invented by Gordon Mathews in the late seventies to manage electronic messages in digital format. His invention was patented in 1982. He set up a company called VMX in Dallas for his voicemail systems and sold his first commercial voicemail system to 3M. VMX stands for Voice Message Express. VMX was ultimately purchased by Lucent Technologies and later became known as Avaya.

Traditionally voicemail is a system which records and plays back caller’s messages. The original VMX voicemail system was proprietary and so expensive that only very large corporations could afford them.

As a result it was not widely used until the introduction of PC-based voice processing boards. This significantly reduced the cost of voicemail systems as software developers could create voicemail software that work on industry standard personal computers. The affordability of voicemail puts it within the reach of the masses.

Voicemail grew to be very popular and over the years, it has become a common offering for most phone systems.

The traditional PABX is not integrated with a voicemail system. In order to bundle a voicemail system into its package, a third-party voicemail system is connected to the main PABX.

The basic voicemail system provides the following functions:
  • recording of voice messages by callers
  • playback of voice messages
  • When a caller calls a user and the line is busy or when the user is unable to receive that call, the following happens:

  • The system plays a standard greeting to inform the caller that the user is unable to receive the call and to offer to the caller the option of leaving a voice message for the user.
  • After a pre-determined time period after playing the message, the system plays a signal (for example a beep tone). This signals the beginning of the recording phase.
  • The system goes into recording mood at the end of the audible signal and records all noises from the phone line until the expiry of a pre-set time period or when the call is terminated, whichever is earlier.
  • When the user accesses the system to retrieve his voice messages, the system performs the following:

  • The system plays voice prompts to guide the user into entering the mailbox number and password information through the phone handset and validates the data.
  • Once the entries have successfully been validated, the system plays prompts to offer services such as announcement of the total number of voice messages, playing back the recorded messages, and saving or deleting the messages based on the user’s decision.
  • Over the years, the functions have broadly expanded into the following areas:

  • use of personal identification number (PIN) to access mailbox
  • remote access of voice messages. These include phone, cell phones, etc
  • recording of personalized greeting. It is not uncommon for users to record at least two types of greetings.
  • selection of choice of greetings.
  • notification via a wide range of channels and devices such as email, pager, ICQ, mobile and ordinary wired phone.
  • call forwarding. These include forwarding of incoming calls to user’s home, any extension within the office or cellphone.
  • Although voicemail is now a basic offering for any telephone system, it is not an inherent part of the traditional PABX system. It is an external add-on to the traditional PABX system. In order to include voicemail functions, a voicemail server need to be installed on a separate and proprietary computer telephony (CT) box. It also requires dedicated phone lines to the main PABX system.

    On the other hand, voicemail is one of the features of the PowerX2011™ telecom server. The message is automatically processed by the voicemail without any loss of time routing the message back and forth between the PABX system and the external voicemail subsystem before recording and retrieval.

    The voicemail system in the PowerX2011™ telecom server offers many advanced features that are useful for the busy executive in today’s fast paced environment. Some of the main features are as follows:

  • options for notification of incoming messages
  • options for local or remote access to mailboxes
  • options for local or remote maintenance of mailboxes
  • replying to message
  • forwarding of messages
  • options for review of messages
  • options for sending of outgoing messages
  • options for recording personal greetings
  • SMDR recording
  • call forwarding
  • Notification of incoming messages is one of the features offered by the PowerX2011™ telecom server voicemail system. As you note, the voicemail facility within PowerX2011™ telecom server incorporates rich features. Not only is it able to provide notification of new messages, it is able to offer options on how users wish to be notified.

    System settings for outdial notification includes the following:

  • maximum number of retries if the connection is unsuccessful
  • retry delay, that is the time period for the PowerX2011™ telecom server to make the next notification attempt from the time of the unsuccessful attempt
  • interval between each mail check. As the average busy executive receives many daily messages, it would be a nuisance to the user if the system notifies him immediately when he gets a new message. His pager, for instance, would be beeping non-stop. Hence a more practical method is to check for new voicemail, say, every 60 seconds. The setting for the interval is determined by the company and can be easily changed.
  • The user can easily configure receipt of his notification from any of the following devices via the key telephone set and change the setting as often as he pleases:
  • mobile or cell phone (handphone)
  • pager
  • normal telephone at another location
  • SMS (Short Message Send service)
  • The user can playback an existing notification and then replace it. He can also check on the status of the notification feature.

    Local and remote access to voice mailboxes is also provided by the PowerX2011™ telecom server. This ensures that users can continue to attend to customers when they are out of the office.

    Local or remote maintenance of the mailboxes can be achieved using the PowerX2011™ telecom server. Some of the maintenance tasks available remotely are:
  • changing of PIN (personal identification numbers)
  • maintenance of voice messages
  • recording of different types of greetings
  • Review voice messages in the context of the PowerX2011™ telecom server is more than merely playing back voice messages. Many options are offered to users when reviewing their voice messages. Of particular interest are the reply and forward features. Some of these options are:
  • repeat playback of messages
  • ability to save messages
  • ability to delete messages
  • option to move to the next message before the first message has ended
  • reply messages
  • forward messages
  • forward messages with comments
  • record comments to be forwarded with messages
  • delete comments to be forwarded with messages
  • modify comments to be forwarded with messages
  • cancel reply or forwarding of messages
  • interval between each mail check.
  • Replying to message feature saves users much time. Instead of having to redial the caller or search for the caller’s number to return his call, this can be quickly achieved by pressing the telephone handset numeric button thanks to the PowerX2011™ telecom server. No time is wasted in searching for the caller’s phone number or exiting the voicemail retrieval system and then return the phone call.

    Forwarding of messages is another feature which saves users' time. Sometimes it may not be convenient for users to return customers’ calls immediately, for instance, if they are on business in the United States and the customers are in Asia where the time difference is about 12 hours. In such circumstances, they may have to delegate the return of the phone calls to their colleagues in the home office in Asia. By facilitating the forwarding of voice messages with comments, the PowerX2011™ telecom server enables their colleagues in the home to listen for themselves the original voice messages. At the same time, the users who are away in the United States can record comments to the customers’ voice messages and forward both the messages and their comments to their colleagues in the home office for action. In this way, the colleagues in the home office can be instructed to return the customers’ phone call in the way the user desires.

    Sending messages to colleagues’ voice mailboxes through the PowerX2011™ telecom server voicemail server is also possible. As in the case of forwarding voice messages, the advantage of this feature is that the user who is sending the message does not have to wait for the line to be connected to record the message. The PowerX2011™ telecom server takes care of delivering the voice message to the mailbox of the other party after it gets recorded.

    Users are also not confined to a singular recipient mailbox for voice messages. The PowerX2011™ telecom server empowers users to the following choices of mailboxes not unlike an email system:
  • send voice message to a single mailbox
  • distribute voice message to a group of mailboxes
  • broadcast voice message
  • Recording of greetings is a breeze with the PowerX2011™ telecom server. Users can record more than one greeting for use at different occasions. Some of the choices available to users are:

  • record different personalized greetings
  • edit each personalized greeting
  • delete each personalized greeting
  • select greeting
  • The choice of different greetings makes it more convenient for users to switch amongst the different greetings for each occasion. For example, a user may have a normal greeting for callers whenever the line is engaged or when he is away from his desk but within the company premises.

    When he goes on vacation, he may want to leave a vacation message for callers. If he is constrained to only one personalized greeting, he has to replace the usual greeting he has with his vacation message. When he returns, he has to undergo the hassle of re-recording his usual message.

    By allowing more than one personalized greeting, the PowerX2011™ telecom server effectively eliminates this hassle. The PowerX2011™ telecom user can keep a usual personalized greeting as his personal greeting and actively replace the message for an absence greeting as required by the occasion. If users do not wish to record their own greeting, the PowerX2011™ telecom server is delivered with a standard greeting with option for users to include their names, if so desired.

    To record the greeting, the user performs the following:
  • The user dials into the system to access the functions of the voicemail system. The system plays the instructions of the pre-recorded prompts to obtain from the user the extension number for which the greeting applies.
  • The system plays an audible signal (for example a beep) to indicate to the user the commencement of recording of the greeting.
  • At the end of the audible signal, the system goes into recording mood and records all noises from the phone.
  • The recording period is usually pre-determined. The system stops recording once this time line is reached.
  • The user then plays back the greeting to edit it.
  • SMDR recording is also enabled in the PowerX2011™ telecom server. The capturing of SMDR (Station/Storage Management Data Requester) data provides greater enhancement to the call data. The call data can be used for call analysis as well as furnish details for reports.

    The PowerX2011™ telecom server administrator console provides an interface for the system administrator to select from the following list of data he wishes to collect:

  • date of call
  • date of call
  • duration of call
  • response time (time phone was ringing before call was answered)
  • extension
  • trunk group/member
  • prefix dialed
  • number dialed
  • type of call
  • forced account code (FAC)
  • account code
  • called area
  • classification
  • cost of call
  • markup price
  • The PowerX2011™ telecom server administrator console also offers options such as the setting of the number of days for recording of SMDR data and transferring the data output via serial ports.

    The PowerX2011™ telecom server is a very flexible system. The system administrator can choose the calls to capture SMDR data. It does not have to collect SMDR data for all calls. The selections include the following:

  • incoming calls
  • internal calls
  • outgoing calls
  • Call forwarding is simple to set and maintain through the PowerX2011™ telecom server’s follow me feature. With this feature, the incoming calls to a user’s extension can literally “follow him” around the company premises. For example, a user has to attend a meeting in another building within the company’s premises. At the same time, he is expecting an important business call. The PowerX2011™ telecom server‘s follow me feature can achieve both tasks. All he has to do is transfer all incoming calls intended for his extension to the extension in the meeting room. In this way he can attend his meeting and also receive the important business call.

    Call forwarding in the PowerX2011™ telecom server is not confined to telephone extensions. Users can forward calls to any of the following devices:

  • cell phone, handphone or mobile
  • external trunk line (outside of the company, say, user’s home)
  • extension within the company
  • Users need not activate the follow me feature from their physical handsets. They can launch the feature from any handset within the company premises. Likewise they can also cancel the feature from any handset within the company premises. In the earlier example, the user has to attend a meeting as well as receive an important business call. Once the meeting is over, the user can “remotely” access his follow me feature and forward all calls from his extension to another extension where he is expected to be at. Hence he will not miss any call.

    Benefit of Voicemail
    The purpose of voicemail is to enable customers to leave messages for company’s staff from any location 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This is important as the customer can relay messages to company employees at their convenience and continue to go about their other chores. Without voicemail, customers have to write down the purpose of their call somewhere and remind themselves to call the company lines whenever they have time to do so. With voicemail, customers can leave word for company staff to return their calls or even leave a message of the purpose of their call. This saves time for both customers and company resources. After leaving the messages, customers can proceed with other tasks while the company employees can act upon the verbal instructions left by the customers.

    Voicemail offers many benefits to users. As a fully integrated solution, the PowerX2011™ telecom server is built with a voicemail system. Some of the benefits are as follows:
  • Reduction in cost of operation: The PowerX2011™ telecom server’s unique architecture with many useful features including voicemail makes it possible for companies to lower their costs of operation. Companies can save on hiring additional telephonists during peak hours as customers can leave messages in the voicemail system. This greatly reduces the permanent overheads associated with recruiting more manpower.
  • Increased sales: Having satisfied customers is one way of retaining customer loyalty and encouraging repeat sales. By installing a voicemail system, companies are providing customers an avenue to access the company's information and services round-the-clock.
  • Accessibility: By providing an avenue for customers to leave messages makes the company more accessible to customers.
  • Support: This accessibility assures customers of the company’s commitment to support customers.
  • Reliability: Voicemail is a secured way of communicating with the company staff. Once recorded, the customer can be assured that his message reaches the company staff. Without voicemail, the customer must commit his message to memory or write it on a piece of paper and keep calling the company until his line is connected. By then, the customer may have forgotten in part, if not in total, the purpose of calling the company employee.
  • Convenience: Call forwarding enables users to continue to answer calls wherever they are. This convenience gives users freedom of movement to carry out their tasks and yet be able to service customers.
  • Versatility: The PowerX2011™ telecom server voicemail system offers users choice of personal greetings which they can record and edit. Together with the standard greeting provided by the PowerX2011™ telecom server, users decide on the greeting to playback and change the selection as and when users desire.
  • Comprehensiveness: Besides recording of voice messages, the PowerX2011™ telecom server is able to record SMDR call data. Such information provides completeness to call data. If caller ID is also provided, the user can obtain more details at a glance about the incoming call. Such information includes caller ID, name of caller, etc. This enables the user to greet customers before they (customers) even start speaking and puts the user in a very positive light.
  • User-friendliness: Voicemail systems are generally easy to operate with minimal training required. The steps for invoking the basic functions do not differ very much from one voicemail system to another. As the learning curve for using the voicemail system is short, it is usually popular and widely used once it is implemented.
  • Confidentiality: Messages left in the voicemail are protected by password and not exposed to the public eye as is the case with written messages left on the users’ desks when there is no voicemail system.
  • Quick and direct: Communication using voicemail is quick and direct. As there is usually a limited time period for customers to record their messages, the messages are short and concise. The system captures the full content of customers’ instructions. This is important especially for, say, stockbrokerages.
  • Elimination of inaccuracies: As voicemail is a recording, the user (agent) can keep playing back the message until he is very clear about the customer’s instruction before acting on it.
  • Clarity: Many systems are equipped with facilities for users to increase the volume of the message for clarity.
  • Saving of time: The presence of the voicemail system frees up time for both the customer and the company employee as the customer need not keep redialing the company’s number until the employee picks up the phone. At the same time, the employee does not have to physically position himself besides his phone handset in order to receive customers’ enquiries.
  • More effective resource allocation: Having a voicemail system enables users to receive customer’s feedback and instruction without interruption to the users. This frees up time for users to focus on the task on hand, for example in joint development of a new marketing strategy or designing a new product. The user does not need to disrupt his thoughts and answer his call immediately. At regular intervals, he can play back his voice messages and attend to customers’ requests at a more appropriate time.
  • Longer operating hours: As customers can leave voice messages at all times, companies are invariably extending their business hours to 24 x 7 (24 hours a day seven days a week).
  • Reduction of abandoned calls: Not only does voicemail enables the company to receive customer’s communication 24 hours a day, it reduces call drop.
  • Higher productivity: By ensuring that as many calls as possible can be answered, a higher ratio of calls is received per staff compared to a similar company without voicemail system.
  • Higher staff morale: From the employee’s perspective, having a voicemail system to relieve him of the task of answering all calls whenever he needs to be away from his desk is more discreet than waiting for a colleague to be available before he can leave his work area.
  • Greater flexibility in resource utilization: Voicemail offers great possibilities for automating many tasks which the agents are currently performing such as answering FAQs (frequent asked questions) and scheduling. For instance, the high volume of routine enquiries can be assigned to voicemail. Customers can also schedule and re-schedule their own appointments to visit their preferred dentist. This frees up the live agents’ time to devote to valued customers with more complex concerns.
  • Increased customer contact effectiveness: After a customer has left a voice message, the company employee can go ahead to act on the instruction of that message. When the customer calls again or when the employee returns the customer’s call, the employee is equipped with answers to respond to the customer.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: The efficiency of the company in handling customer calls leads to greater customer satisfaction.
  • Greater market share: Improved customer satisfaction not only generates repeat orders, it also leads to growth in customer base as words spread of the improved service provided. After all, the most convincing recommendation comes from a friend.
  • Multi tasking: A company employee can also widen his job scope and undertake a greater variety of tasks. Instead of a sales clerk, he can extend his work scope to sales fulfillment or even scheduling and shipment. This helps reduce the monotony of performing only one task, that is, answering enquiries. This also saves the company the costs of hiring specialists for each task.
  • Increased staff mobility: If the voicemail system comes with call forwarding such as the case with the PowerX2011™ telecom server, company employees are not confined to any physical location when carrying out their work. The calls to their extension can literally “follow” them wherever they go.
  • Returns on investment: With so many benefits to be gained by installing a voicemail system, it is safe to conclude that voicemail gives companies good returns on investment.
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    Features of Voicemail

    The voicemail module within the PowerX2011™ telecom server comprises the following exciting features:

  • Real time availability of voicemail: As the voicemail module is fully integrated into the PowerX2011™ telecom server, the voicemail messages are automatically processed without any loss of time routing the message back and forth between the phone system and the voicemail module before recording and retrieval.
  • Options for notification of incoming messages: Not only does the PowerX2011™ telecom server offer automatic notification of new voice messages, it provides users with choices on how they wish to be notified, choose from a range of communication devices such as mobile or pager or an external phone at another location, SMS (Short Message Service), etc., check on status of notification feature.
  • Options for local or remote access: Users are not confined to accessing their mailboxes from their extension. They can access their mailbox from any phone within the company or remotely by dialing in to their mailboxes from anywhere around the world as long as the location can be connected via phone or auto roaming.
  • Selective review of Messages: The PowerX2011™ telecom server gives users control over the review of messages and enables users to terminate the playback of the first message and move to the next message before the entire message is played back.
  • Options for reviewing of messages: Review of messages goes beyond playing back the message. Some of the options include saving the message, replying to the message, forwarding of the message, etc.
  • Options for local or remote maintenance of mailboxes: Users can dial in to change their PINs (Personal Identification Numbers), maintain their voice messages or even change their greetings remotely.
  • Replying to message:: The PowerX2011™ telecom server enables users to reply to messages via the humble phone handset. There is no need to waste time to wait for the line to be connected to the caller before the user can speak his reply into the microphone in his handset. The system takes care of the delivery of his reply (message) to the caller. The system also allows users to cancel the reply.
  • Forwarding of messages: Sending of messages is easily achieved within the PowerX2011™ telecom server. Users do not need to wait for any line connection. They can simply leave voice messages in their colleagues' extensions via their own handsets and the PowerX2011™ telecom server takes care of the delivery. More time can be saved through the use of this feature.
  • Options for forwarding of messages: Various options are provided for forwarding of messages such as forwarding of messages with comments or cancellation of the forwarding of a message. The system also allows users to cancel the forwarding.
  • Recording of comments: The voicemail facility also enables users to record comments to be forwarded with each message. Control is given to the users to manage their messages. The comments can also be modified or deleted.
  • Sending of messages: The user can record a message and send it out without waiting for the line to be connected.
  • Options for sending of outgoing messages: Users have a choice of mailboxes to send to not unlike email systems for example, they can choose to send a message to a single mailbox, distribute it to a group of mailboxes or broadcast the message.
  • Options for recording of greetings: The PowerX2011™ telecom server enables the recording of more than one personalized greeting so that the user can quickly switch on his overseas greeting whenever he is away and switch back to his normal greeting when he is in town.
  • SMDR Recording: The PowerX2011™ telecom server, on the other hand, provides a comprehensive list of SMDR (Station/Storage Management Data Requester) data to add richness to analytical reports. To assist the system administrator in selecting the data to capture, it is built with a user-friendly graphical interface with the list of SMDR data.
  • Multiple Devices: Voice message notifications from the PowerX2011™ telecom server can be received via different types of devices such as pagers, cell phones, etc. With unified messaging, another powerful feature offered by the PowerX2011™ telecom server, the voice messages could also be translated into written formats and received on multiple platforms, let alone multiple devices.
  • Delivery modes: With the incorporation of unified messaging, the messages need not be confined to voice formats. The voice messages can be converted to text format for dispatch through email, ICQ, etc. As the PowerX2011™ telecom server is a fully integrated system, it can easily offer such options to expand the market horizons of users through multiple platforms.
  • All-in-one solution: The voicemail functions in the PowerX2011™ telecom server are built-in and can be integrated into the PABX without any need for additional hardware or software investment. The value of this integration is that it enables the PowerX2011™ telecom server to offer more advanced useful features to the customer than a mere voice recorder.
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