Halloo Communications: Innovative IP telephony for one, a few, or a hundred.
Part 90 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services Halloo specializes in simple, quick-to-deploy PBX and call center services.
Halloo Communications, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, California, is a privately held company with a clever name and a simple mission: providing superior customer service, easy to use features, and simple service offerings.
Founded in 2002, the company caters to companies with 1 to 40 employeesserving a wide variety of professions and industries. Most of their customers are based in the United States, with some of these using the service to forward their numbers to a foreign country.
Halloo customers are able to choose among three service options:
Halloo for You enables solo practitioners to project a big company image including a toll-free number. Find-me/follow-me service, mobile visual voice-mail and fax-to-e-mail service are included in that offering.
Halloo for Groups includes features that can tie people and teams together in automated ways, adding hunt groups and auto attendant features that allow private call routing to either home or office destinations.
Halloo for Companies provides hosted call center solutions, including intelligent automatic call distribution (ACD) routing, and supervisor/agent capabilities for call center and help desk applications.
The Halloo auto attendant system has received solid endorsements from net managers because of its unlimited menus and simplified setups for complex applications. Some of these customers have developed some pretty clever applications for the auto attendantlike the realtors that have programmed it to route callers to audio property descriptions based on the propertys multiple listing (MLS) code. Another customer operates a nationwide taxi dispatch service, where callers enter their zip code, airport code or other means of identification, and are then routed to a local dispatcher.
Halloo also offers a click-to-call feature, named WebCall, which allows customers to post a CallMe button on their website, Facebook, or Twitter accounts, thus giving their friends and colleagues a convenient way to reach them with a single click. The system includes a configuration wizard that creates an HTML snippet that is then pasted in e-mails or on a website. This option is also touted as a privacy feature, as the system connects to the caller first, and then to the user at their private number. Callers never see the destination number, which can be helpful when doing business on eBay or Craigslist. Halloo also offers a free version of WebCall that includes 60 free minutes per month, with no setup charge.
Halloo offers two general categories of service plans: Solo plans for single users, and Office plans for 2 to 99 users. Solo plans range in price from $1.95 to $99.95 per month, depending on the system features and number of included minutes.
For example, the Solo M-500 plan is priced at $29.95 per month for 500 minutes of usage, and with additional minutes billed at $0.059. This plan includes a toll-free number, instant conferencing, call hold and transfer, click-to-call, find-me/follow-me service, voice-mail to e-mail, and mobile voice-mail (which allows the user to manage and listen to voice-mail through a mobile phone Web browser accessing the special halloo.mobi site.
At the high end is the Office M-2500 plan which includes 2,500 minutes of usage, with additional minutes billed at $0.039. This plan offers unlimited extensions, an auto attendant; hunt groups; dial-by-name, dial-by-extension, and dial-by-address directories, plus the all calling features included in the Solo plan.
All of the Office plans include an inbound fax number. Any of the plans have the option of adding an additional fax number for $4.95 per month, and a meet-me-conferencing service for $4.95 per month plus usage. Halloo claims that Solo accounts can be established almost instantly, with Office accounts set up in minutes to a few hours depending on the complexity of the auto attendant configuration. Administrative control over the accounts is provided through Web access with two levels provided: administrative and user.
Halloo has recently launched a Live Answering Service, an option that will be available to all Halloo customers. This offering combines the best of the Halloo hosted PBX service with the option of having unanswered calls going to live agents on a 24 x 7 x 365 basis. The service is intended as an overflow message taking service, with messages promptly e-mailed to the user. By combining this new service with the Halloo routing capabilities, customers are also able to choose which calls are routed to in-house staff, and which calls go to the answering service. Pricing for this service is $1.80 per call, with no monthly minimum. Halloo is targeting this service at entrepreneurs and small businesses that wish to present a professional image to callers, while still keeping a limit on head-count and communications costs.
Further information on the Halloo Communications solutions can be found at http://www.halloo.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.