Speech Technology Magazine

Cbeyond Launches Cloud-Based Virtual Receptionist Listen to this article in TTS, powered by Loquendo

The service offers call answering, call routing, voicemail integration, company directory, and more.
By Leonard Klie - Posted Dec 18, 2009
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Cbeyond, a provider of communications and IT solutions to more than 48,000 small businesses across the country, has added Virtual Receptionist to its suite of productivity-enhancing applications. Virtual Receptionist uses speech technologies to answer calls and intelligently route customer inquiries.

John Harmer, Cbeyond’s senior product manager for messaging and collaboration, calls Virtual Receptionist “an auto-attendant on steroids.” It features an interface that uses text-to-speech technologies from Nuance Communications and several customizable features to make small businesses’ day-to-day operations more productive. The system can provide prerecorded information, based on a schedule and routing that is controlled by the small business. Dial-by-name company directory, driving directions, hours of operation, voicemail integration, and unlimited scheduling options are some of the many features that help automate and simplify a small business’ operations.

“The TTS interface is easy to use. It’s click-and-type to the Web, so an [administrative assistant] can do it. She doesn’t have to rely on the IT staff to come in, and she’s not required to record and rerecord the greetings every time there’s a change,” Harmer says.

The service is hosted in the Cbeyond cloud. Nothing is housed on the customer’s site.

Like all of Cbeyond’s products, Virtual Receptionist is geared toward small companies with fewer than 250 employees. “Small business owners are busy, wearing many hats. Virtual Receptionist enables the owner to focus on the business while knowing all calls coming in are handled appropriately,” Harmer says.

Rhino Tech, a manufacturer of products for the screen printing industry, was involved with beta testing of the Virtual Receptionist solution. Todd Michaels, the owner of the company, was very pleased with the results.

“From the easy setup to the customized feature set, Cbeyond’s Virtual Receptionist has helped my small business run smoothly by allowing me to focus my attention on my core business operations,” he said in a statement. “I feel like I don’t have to stress over the system; it works on its own, making it less taxing on me than most technology implementations I have experienced.”

Harmer sees another benefit. “It gives our customers the opportunity to have a voice brand that is so critical to dealing with customers,” he says. “It provides that big-business image right up front. It’s a very professional voice brand for a small business.

“As a consumer, when I see a phone number on the side of a truck and I call, with Virtual Receptionist I have no idea whether I’m calling a three-person shop or a 500-person corporation,” he continues.

Cbeyond’s solutions portfolio includes more than 30 applications, such as local and long-distance voice, broadband Internet, and mobile, service, broadband laptop access, voicemail, email, Web hosting, fax-to-email data backup, file-sharing, and virtual private networking. Cbeyond delivers these services over a 100 percent private all-IP network. 

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