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If you want an IP-based phone system solution for your business that is affordable and easy to use, then Fonality Connect may just be perfect for you.

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A Polycom Soundpoint IP550 came with our Connect package

According to the company, this cloud-based solution will provide small or medium businesses access to advanced phone features such as in-house conference calls and the ability to unify multiple offices and home workers in one system. From $39 (excluding GST) per user, you will get an IP phone, unlimited local & long distance calling, a free local phone number, call forwarding, voicemail-to-email, web-based managements, and call reports. Additional options include conference rooms, toll free number, virtual extensions & mailboxes.

Fonality Connect has been designed as a ‘plug-and-play’ solution – all we had to do with the handset we obtained from the company was to plug it to an available Ethernet port (and to the mains as well). The unit automatically configures and updates itself, and instantly allows a user to call local or international numbers (depending on what you sign up for).

The ‘heart’ of the product is a control panel that can be accessed online. There are five main tabs on the panel: AutoAnswer, Users/Extensions, ACD (Auto Call Distribution), Reporting and Options.

 
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Click to enlarge
Customise your AutoAnswer system with pull-down menus

The AutoAnswer tab allow users to create an automated system that picks up the phone, plays callers a message, and gives them choices (such as “Press 1 for Sales, Press 0 for Operator”). It comes with five different options: Edit Call Menu – what callers hear when they call your business; Scheduler – makes your call menu act differently based on time of day/week; Voice Prompts – voice prompts are the messages played to callers in the Call Menu; Music on Hold – music (or other audio) played to callers while on hold; and Sub-Menus – management of Submenus from within your call menu.

Creating a call sequence, keypress option, schedule, as well as voice prompt and on-hold music is easy to do, thanks to its drop down menus. We were able to create an automated system that automatically picks up the phone and directs a caller to a contact (in this case 0 for operator and 1 for sales) during work hours in less than one hour.

Those who want to add more ‘rules’ such as inserting an automated message saying that ‘office hours are from 8:30am to 5:30pm’ can also be added for added versatility. Users can even add a rule to say that the ‘office is closed due to a public holiday’ in advance, allowing users to set and forget.

Moving on to the Users/Extensions tab allows a user to view all users and extensions on a Fonality Connect Server; add a new user to a Fonality Connect Server; view current status of all extensions; manage incoming and outgoing phone numbers; and manage permissions on a per extension basis.

 

Those who are in the customer support business can check the ACD tab (Auto Call Distributor) and gain access to statistics such as: people on hold, list of agents, status of agents, and even recordings. This feature is good for bigger businesses but was not available for us to test.

Other features found on the control panel include reports and billings, editing of customer data, and settings.  In case a user needs help in configuring a system or learning more about a particular service, he/she can instantly read the ‘Knowledge Base’ on the website.

Call quality was good, with us not experiencing any echo on calls to both mobile and landlines. The person on the other line said that it calls didn’t sound like it came from the Internet.

For $39 (excluding GST) per user, you will get the IP phone, unlimited local & long distance calling, a free local phone number, call forwarding, voicemail-to-email, web-based managements, and Call Reports. Additional options include conference rooms, toll free number, virtual extensions & mailboxes. 

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