AccessDirect: Customized phone and messaging services for very small businesses.

AccessDirect, Inc., headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, was founded in 1997, and since that time has been providing voicemail, fax, and hosted PBX services to customers across the United States and Canada.

Somewhat surprising in these challenging economic times is the fact that AccessDirect does not use a sales force of any kind, and does no direct advertising. Instead, the company relies upon the referrals from their satisfied customers, letting the results of their customer service and benefits of their phone systems speak for themselves.

The company’s mission is to provide small businesses with the benefits of system capabilities that have heretofore been reserved for much larger enterprises, including auto attendant, call forwarding, find-me/follow-me, multi-location systems, professionally recorded greetings, voicemail, and toll-free and local phone numbers.

Furthermore, the company prides itself on the benefit of having its customers work directly with a live person, assisting that customer with finding the optimum system and solution. Their services have been deployed across a wide variety of vertical industries, and include customers in the accounting, architecture, engineering and construction, franchising, financial services, food service, health care, medical, non-profit, real estate, and retail industries.

Using the interesting slogan Making Businesses Sound Bigger, AccessDirect has provided communication solutions to a number of customers that need this bigger persona.

For example, a real estate company relocated all of its employees to home offices to cut expenses, and then used the AccessDirect system’s auto attendant with its dial by name directory to reach the appropriate realtor’s home or cell phone, all without revealing these details to the caller.

A financial services company’s system included the capabilities for individual fax numbers for all employees, thus routing faxes directly to the recipient, without the need for an administrator to sort and file the volume of incoming documents that were processed on a daily basis.

A franchise business, with scores of locations across the country, was plagued with different call response and voicemail systems in each location, which led to customer confusion and the lack of a consistent response. The AccessDirect application was designed to deliver consistent greeting, including the capability for employees to transfer callers between locations, thus eliminating the customer frustration of having to hang up and redial another telephone number.

The solution for the IT department of a manufacturing company, which was getting overwhelmed with the volume of technical support calls, was to design a multi-level system of calling menus. The system then re-routed non-urgent calls, and through the menu selection process, provided faster access to the person most capable of solving the problem at hand.

AccessDirect offers four different hosted PBX solutions, plus a recently announced VoIP hosted PBX service that utilizes Polycom phones.

The first, called Direct Messaging, provides voicemail and fax services or one-person businesses. This service provides an incoming messaging system that incorporates both voicemail and an incoming fax inbox that plays a greeting to callers, and then allows them to either leave a voice message or send a fax, which is then auto detected and received. Voicemail messages are e-mailed to the recipient, and can be retrieved through a computer or smart phone device. Faxes are e-mailed as PDF attachments that can be viewed, saved, or forwarded as necessary. Both local and toll free numbers are available.

The Direct Executive plan is designed for entrepreneurs and other hard-to-reach individuals and adds intelligent call forwarding to the system’s voicemail and fax capabilities. This option allows companies to create a local presence with one local phone number, with the system transferring incoming calls using a find-me/follow-me routing algorithm to the mobile professional. It also includes capabilities for call screening, after-hours greetings, and music on hold.

The Direct Receptionist plan provides a virtual PBX phone system for small business, and includes a professionally recorded auto attendant greeting that then routes the caller to the appropriate end station, including office lines, home phones, cell phones, or VoIP phones. It adds multiple extensions, information-only extensions, multi-level menus, dial-by-name or company directory, and disaster recovery capabilities.

Finally, the Direct Enterprise plan provides a complete virtual phone system for larger businesses, including the ability to connect multiple offices with one number, support for over 50 extensions or users, and group or broadcast messaging capabilities.

Base prices of the AccessDirect solutions range from $9.95 to 19.95 per month for Direct Messaging; $19.95 per month for Direct Executive; $39.95 to 99.95 per month for Direct Receptionist; and $99.95 to 399.95 per month for Direct Enterprise.

Further information on the Access Direct solutions can be found at Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.

Author’s Biography
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.

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