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How SMEs can take control of their communication

Too many numbers mean too many ways to confuse your customers, right?

Well, now there's a solution to this digital dilemma for small- and medium-sized business workers.

Bell Canada has introduced a new service called Single Number Reach, a kind of personal assistant that follows you and your fellow mobile workers wherever you go, so you get better control over your communications.

"From wireless phones to faxes, Canadian business people are struggling to manage a complex array of communications devices," says Karen Sheriff, president of Bell Canada's Small and Medium Business Market unit.

"Using this service, [they can] improve their business relationships and increase their productivity by improving the way they manage and access information."

Single Number Reach streamlines the management of your customer calls to a single point of contact -- a virtual telephone number that integrates messaging and real-time call processing.

That means you can direct calls to a specific wireline or wireless handset, even voicemail if you can't answer the call.

Single Number Reach uses an Internet Protocol network-based encrypted system, so it can offer some helpful features such as enhanced call notification via instant messaging, the Internet, short-message service or your pager.

The service can also be integrated with your computer, so an instant alert will pop up on your screen and you can quickly see who's calling and divert the call to the nearest phone -- even if the caller is in the process of leaving a message.

You can also access voicemail messages, and even forward them. Single Number Reach also solves the problem of how mobile workers can receive faxes when they're on the run. Its fax messaging centre automatically receives faxes, so you can send them to any fax machine of your choice -- or to a printer though a Web interface.

Perhaps Single Number Reach's most helpful feature, though, is the ability to program a weekly schedule, so customer calls will automatically be directed to wherever you are, depending on the time of day.

Single Number Reach service is currently available in Toronto, Ottawa/Hull, Kitchener, Ont., London, Ont., Hamilton, Montreal and Quebec City. The basic service costs $14.95 a month, enhanced service $19.95. Visit for more.

© The Globe and Mail

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