A few months ago I signed up for a new service from Verizon called Iobi. This system is designed to keep mobile professionals connected while away from the office, and with me being a solo with no secretary, I was always worried about the calls I was missing. As a result, when a Verizon rep cold called me about it, I was very interested. I went online and discovered several interesting features that would allow me to:
- Use a web site (or downloadable software or my phone) to forward calls from my office to my cell or my home office number. This could be done on demand or scheduled for the future, like programming a VCR
- Access voicemail from the web (or the downloadable software or by phone).
- Forward or save voicemail messages to my computer.
- Maintain an online address book that would provide customized Caller ID information on my computer screen whenever anyone called and synchronize that address book with the Outlook database on my computer. I could also add callers to my address book on the fly.
- Maintain an online appointment calendar that can also be synchronized with Outlook.
- Both the address book and the calendar can be accessed on a web site, through the iobi software, or by phone.
I have the Verizon voicemail system, and would ordinarily have to call a particular number and listen to the messages sequentially. With iobi, I can check the messages on my computer, listening to them on the machine’s speakers. This allows me to see who left the messages first and listen to them in any order, thus getting to more urgent messages before the more routine. It also does not tie up a phone line and allows me to take new calls while I am listening to voicemail.
Before I leave for work, I can have my calls forwarded to my cell, so I can make and receive calls during my morning commute, thus taking advantage of ordinarily dead time as well as making me more accessible to clients. If I decide to work from home one day, I can have my calls forwarded to my home office line, so I never miss a beat. If I later decide to go into the office, I can change the forwarding to my cell until I get to my desk.
Verizon charges by the line for this service, so it can get expensive for a multi-line office. However, for offices like mine, it can be invaluable in keeping you in touch, even when you are not behind your desk.