When setting up or starting a small business, the need for a fax machine seems like a no-brainer. After all, every business requires a means to send and receive faxes. I’m going to suggest that buying that fax machine may actually not be the best choice. In todays world, you can get a fully functioning Internet Fax solution with your Virtual Phone System for no additional cost, and it’s actually going to cost you less and be easier to manage!
So what is an internet fax solution? Well, it allows you to send and receive faxes as electronic documents, normally delivered to your email but it can also be to an online account you have with your provider. You can then print these documents, however you don’t have to. Many systems will even notify you when you’ve received an incoming fax so that you never miss that important fax that you’ve been waiting for.
As I mentioned, with most systems, incoming faxes go into your online account first, and then get delivered according how you have configured your preferences – email, pda, phone, etc. The best part about these systems, is that the actual faxing does not tie up your phone lines, and callers will never hear a busy signal. Again, with these systems your faxes are stored in your online account for some set amount of time, but you have the ability to download them to your PC for permanent storage.
The advantages of internet fax are:
- it requires no additional dedicated phone line(s)
- no upfront purchase of a machine
- no ongoing expenses for ink, toner or paper
- never miss an important fax because it gets left on fax or thrown away
- no feeding paper into machines, dialing numbers, or waiting for faxes to print
- no need for cover pages
- no jammed or miss-fed pages
In today’s world, where electronic signatures are legally valid, and email is a main form of business communication, internet fax is making paper documents less necessary. However, you may still be concerned about being able to print these documents for legal purposes, and you still have that ability. Rest assured that they are easily downloaded, where you can then print them, and store them as you would any other document.
RingCentral is one vendor that also provides a few additioanl features that other providers don’t. In addition to being able to receive faxes, you can also send faxes by simply entering the fax number in the email address field, and adding “@rcfax.com” to the end of it – e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org. They also provide a free set of tools that allow you to add text, graphics or a signature to your documents, as well as create custom cover sheets with your personalized logo. All of this from the convenience of your desktop, and every extension has it’s own custom setup.
RingCentral also have an optional feature you can add which is called Fax on Demand. This feature allows you to upload common documents such as price sheets, FAQ’s, parts lists, or installation instructions that customers can then have faxed to them. You assign the documents to individual extension numbers, and when a caller dials the extension number, a prompt will ask them to enter the receiving fax machine telephone number. They enter their fax number, and receive the document. It’s just that easy.
Another provider, Phone.com also offers Internet fax, but currently only on the inbound side. However, I’ve had a reliable source within Phone.com inform me that they will be coming out with Fax-Out capabilities within the next month or so. WOO HOO! When Phone.com completes their offering with out-bound faxing, it will be a major addition to their feature list and have then knocking at RingCentral’s door, if not barging right on through! At that time, I will most likely be updating my ranking for them. If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of these guys! Once they round out their feature list, I think they will be hard to beat!
**** UPDATE – October 28, 2008 – I just received an email today from Phone.com stating that they now have outbound Faxing working! You can access it via a simple “Send Fax” button on your extension page via the control panel. This is great news. You can see the “Send Fax” button in the screen shot below.
Below is a screen shot of Phone.com’s on-line account management system. It allows you to visualize how faxes are represented in their system. RingCentral has a similar type on-line account management system. As you can see, the fax document shows up as a .pdf document and is downloadable.
So, all in all, I predict that in the very near future the traditional fax machine will suffer the same fate as the typewriter, and simply cease to exist as it’s replaced with a faster, easier, and more integrated soft solution, called Internet Fax.
Start saving yourself time, and become more efficient by utilizing an integrated internet faxing system, while also providing the best customer experience you can to your customers. Compare Virtual Phone Systems today, and select the one that’s right for you. You have nothing to lose because most offer 30 day Free Trials!
To your Business Success!
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