One of our favorite products is Parliant’s PhoneValet; a highly advanced automated answering machine application for your Mac.
Parliant takes Interactive Voice Response one more step with PhoneHerald. It’s personalized group dialing, message delivery, and automated response collection—on your Mac.
Step by step the Mac makes its way into business with exciting applications like PhoneValet, which we’ve used for a couple of years.
Think of PhoneValet as an answering machine system on sterioids with more features than Jim Carrey. It makes your Mac answer the phone and it’s been flawless for our home office use for years.
Parliant recently introduced the next step in Interactive Voice Response systems for the Mac with an add-on application called PhoneHerald. This is the perfect application for automatic group dialing, personalized message delivery, even automatic response collection.
And it all works on your Mac, making it a truly sophisticated telephony system with a number of notable traits. First, it works. Second, it’s affordable. Third, you can actually figure out how to use it without a three week course.
Back in the day when voice mail first hit the business world, I hated it. All those menus just to leave a message left me frustrated. Times change.
Today, voice mail is a valued necessity for many. That’s what you get with PhoneValet. Increasingly, we’re receiving automated notifications and surveys over the telephone.
My, how times have changed. What used to be both annoying and remarkable, is now commonplace, even worthwhile and beneficial.
Parliant’s PhoneHerald is an “automated group dialing” application which works on your Mac. In summary, PhoneHerald will dial out using a phone number list, leave personalized messages where needed, collect specific responses, and track every step along the way.
I was apprehensive about doing a review of PhoneHerald because the very thought of “outbound” calls sounds as if technology has developed a way to annoy more people in a shorter period of time.
That was yesterday’s view. Today, IVR applications are sophisticated, easy-to-use, highly productive, and very personalized. Even better, more people recognize the advantages, and accept the experience.
My review problem is that Jack and I don’t run a business with a call list of 5,000 people and we don’t have 10 outbound phone lines. It’s just us and a few lists of phone numbers of friends, a handful of civic groups, the local PTO, and so on.
That turned out to be more than enough to test PhoneHerald’s capability to dial plenty of people, leave a message, get a response, and track all the details.
As with PhoneValet’s voice mail capability, PhoneHerald worked flawlessly. In fact, the only issue we ran into in a month-long test was setting up the phone numbers.
Our phone numbers are not as organized as they should be; ranging from Post-It stickies, to spiral bound notebook, to AddressBook, to a list stuck on our lone Windows PC (left over from another life).
Other than that, PhoneHerald was a breeze to set up. We started PhoneHerald with my soccer-mom list. There’s about two dozen soccer moms who get called regularly for driving schedules.
I warned them ahead of time that I was trying out something new and automated and told them not to get angry, hang up the phone, or call me back with new words from the Dictionary of Insults.
Jack and I set up PhoneHerald with 22 names and numbers, set up a message, and some basic instructions. Click. PhoneHerald called everyone, dialed alternate numbers when necessary, delivered the schedule notification, and collected responses (which we could hear when scanning PhoneHerald’s final results).
That was easy. The whole process took a few hours, though all we did was set up the names and numbers.
The second test was the PTO list. That’s a few hundred names and numbers and took longer to set up. Again, once it’s set up and running, there’s not much more effort.
PhoneHerald would make the call, play the message you record, and call back if there’s no answer or a busy signal. Each person on the list can have multiple numbers, so a person can be “tracked down” to make sure a message gets delivered.
The real power is not so much the automated process of delivering a message, but the database of information that gets tracked and stored. Parliant uses the sophisticated OpenBase relational database on your Mac.
What you get is a searchable database record of everything PhoneHerald or PhoneValet does. You can also set up PhoneHerald to make future calls according to a schedule, so you don’t have to be there when the calling begins.
The schedule is so sophisticated, that specific periods can be set up for different people; some are daytime business numbers, othes are nighttime home numbers, others are cell phone numbers. You choose.
If you don’t want to record your own message, PhoneHerald uses the Mac’s text-to-speech capability and literally reads the text message to the person you call.
One of Jack’s favorite features is the email followup. It works both in PhoneValet and PhoneHerald. When a call is completed or received, the application sends you email notification. We’ve used it hundreds of times and it just works.
There’s more to PhoneHerald’s sophisticated group dial than just phoning a list of numbers. Callers can also select from choices in a main message, enter the appropriate number, and get more choices or leave information.
If you, your business, or an organization you belong to has a need to call people—customers or members or employees—PhoneHerald is a straightforward Mac tool that just works.
The learning curve is nearly perfect. We had our first soccer-mom list up in just minutes and phoning out within minutes after set up. A larger list may take a bit more time, as will some of the custom features such as individual and personalized messages.
Once it’s setup, using the list again isn’t much more than a click or two. I used to spend hours on the phone dialing everyone on the list. Now it’s just minutes and I can do something else.
If your time is worth something to you and the contact list is growing, the few hundred dollars for PhoneValet or PhoneHerald is money well spent.