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Cut The Strings! A Small Business Telephone System That Works!

Microsoft has silently been rolling out a new product for customers that just might recast the software industry leader much the way the XBOX provided an entirely new line of work. This product, Microsoft Response Point, is a small business telephone system that supports up to 50 users. In this article, I will define the product and leave you with a consulting opportunity!

Microsoft has silently been rolling out a new product for customers that just might recast the software industry leader much the way the XBOX provided an entirely new line of work. This product, Microsoft Response Point, is a small business telephone system that supports up to 50 users. In this article, I will define the product and leave you with a consulting opportunity!

Expectations Exceeded!

I have worked with and used Response Point for the past six months inside my company of seven employees. We love it! Previous to Response Point, we were saddle with a big league enterprise-level telephone system. The service provider supporting us was accustomed to much larger accounts and higher bill rates. Adding a new employee to the telephone system took one billable hour for which we were charged $150 USD! Combined with a telephone system that was so sophisticated it did not completely work and you can imagine that I was one frustrated CEO of my small business.

Enter Microsoft Response Point. The day we received this telephone system, we were setup within one hour – DIY style (do it yourself). Granted – I am a small and medium business (SMB) consultant so the setup is easy for me to accomplish and I do recommend you engage a SMB consultant if you are a business owner to efficiently implement Response Point.

So just what is Response Point. The nuts and bolts of this product are:

  • 1. Response Point phone systems come complete with a base unit, voicemail, software and desktop phones.
  • 2. Microsoft Response Point includes:
  • 3. Phone and service configuration wizards
  • 4. Phone auto discovery
  • 5. One-touch voice commands via the Response Point button
  • 6. Speech activated
  • 7. Call forwarding
  • 8. Call transfer
  • 9. Call parking
  • 10.Directory
  • 11.FAQ
  • 12.Automated Receptionist
  • 13.Built-in voicemail
  • 14.Voicemail to e-mail forwarding
  • 15.Incoming call notifications on your PC
  • 16.Microsoft Outlook contact integration
  • 17.Two-click backup and restore
  • 18.Customized call plans

There are three manufacturers for the Response Point base unit: Syspine, Astra and dLink. The telephone system is purchased by a SMB consultant from a distributor (CMP, D&H, etc.) and then sold to the customer.

KEY POINT: The key asset in the Response Point system is the voice recognition. For example – you can call my office and ask for someone by their given name (Cyndi) or some silly nickname you create (Rock-and-Roll). We have found this level of sophistication – truly amazing for a small business telephone system – is an early *win* when implementing this system.

ANOTHER KEY POINT: Blue button. Another key point is the blue RP button. This RP button is your buddy to using the telephone system. In theory, nearly every action can be performed by your voice by pushing the RP button. There is limited need to use the actual telephone numeric dialing pad. For example, during a call, you can simply push the blue button and recite “transfer to Jenny” and the active call is transferred to Jenny (who has the nickname “motorcycle”).

So what are the drawbacks for Response Point? Few. The system is new in the marketplace and a much anticipated Service Pack 1 (SP1) will ship sometime this spring with full Voice over IP (VoIP) support. Telephony gurus used to $50,000 USD telephone systems at the enterprise-level like to point out what Response Point cannot do. However – this same gurus often overlook the baseline, one-time price of $2,500 USD for a five user system!

For the right price and performance, Response Point deserves your serious study at www.microsoft.com/responsepoint.
New Opportunity

So far – the above words could be eagerly eaten by both small business owner and SMB consultant. This section is for SMB consultants and I will have another follow-on article for partners soon about Response Point consulting opportunities. Suffice it to say – Response Point offers the SMB consultant the opportunity to do more for their clients. Sure – you have already implemented a capable small business network such as Small Business Server – good stuff! But have you had the telephone talk with your client yet? This is an additional piece of the small business technology puzzle you can provide.

Harry Brelsford is the CEO of SMB Nation, a events and publishing company based on Bainbridge Island, WA. He will be hosting a two-day Microsoft Response Point workshop in the NYC area on March 29-30 (www.smbnation.com).

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