Monday, July 21, 2008

The world is now your office

You know, I remember reading once somewhere that there was a time in business where when you walked out the door at night you were done for the day. If there was a dire emergency at the office you might get a call at home, but that was the exception. If you left for a week’s vacation, well, either someone else had to figure it out, or it would wait until you got back. Those were the expectations, and they were universally accepted.

Not anymore, of course. The office is no long a single place. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the whole world is now your office. That’s the new expectation. And if you can’t live up to that expectation? Well, customers, prospects, and business partners will find someone who can.

What got me thinking about that was reading one of the case studies on the my1voice web site. We have a customer, Chris Biber, who operates a small business called SearchingWorks that helps its customers with search engine optimization, search engine marketing, pay per click advertising and Web analytics. All very cool stuff, and all very important in today’s marketing world.

The thing is, a lot of Chris’ business happens outside of the office. First of all he has a distributed workforce, including one person in Romania. (I always picture going there as being like landing in the middle of a spy movie.) Then there are the client visits. Even if everyone was in one location, the nature of their business takes them out of the office a lot anyway. Which means they could be tough to reach at any given time. Add in the fact they’re all over the place and it was really tough for their clients to figure out who to call where. And when.

That’s what brought Chris to my1voice. He wanted to be able to give out a single phone number to every client, partner and supplier, then have an auto attendant funnel the calls to the right extension. Not only would that make things more efficient, it would also present a more professional appearance than handing out multiple phone numbers for each person. While he had looked into a traditional PBX (private branch exchange) phone system like many small businesses use, he found it was very costly. It also only worked for people who were in the same office as the equipment. Furthermore, if someone left the office there was no way to forward an important call to a mobile or home phone.

Glad to say my1voice solved all of that for him. He was able to set up extensions for people inside and outside of the main office, just as though they all worked in one office spanning the world. He also has taken big time advantage of the find me/follow me feature – his personal favorite – that rings his second office, mobile and home phones either simultaneously or in a particular order (depending on how he sets it up). my1voice has helped SearchingWorks improve their response time to clients, and has made them a lot more reachable. In the fast-paced world of Internet marketing, that’s huge.

My generation (and those that follow) will never know what it’s like to just leave for the day and be completely disconnected from the office. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. But as long as the expectation is there, it’s good to know that technologies such as my1voice are around to make it a little less painful – and a lot more convenient.

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