Wisconsin-based PBX (News - Alert)phone system vendor Schmooze Com makes it possible for businesses of all sizes to communicate effectively and efficiently.
The company's main focus centers on the usability of phone systems and special features that reduce the complexity of difficult tasks, including using one's voice to interact with the phone system.
I reached out to Tony Lewis, president of Schmooze (News - Alert)Com, to find out some more about the company, their offerings and Lewis' thoughts on the IP Telephony market.
Our exchange follows:
SV: Could you please share with us how Schmooze was founded?
TL: Schmooze was officially founded in 2006 by a group that brought together their experiences working in other businesses, most notably a printed yellow page company.
SV: What was the inspiration for entering the phone system market?
TL: Since the founders of Schmooze were previously involved in a printed yellow page company and were pioneers in the pay-per-phone-call market, when one vendor handling all call tracking closed it doors, we started doing some research and fell in love with products like Asterisk (News - Alert)and built our own softswitch tracking software.
Next, we also built some auto dialers to deal with collections from businesses who did not like to pay their bills, and then even built our own phone system and call center on top of these 2 features and the concept of our 'PBXact' was born.
Over time, all the local businesses in our town wanted one of our phone systems so we switched gears and went into the PBX market in 2006. The timing could not have been better with the yellow page industry falling off.
SV: What is the meaning of Schmooze? Is there any significance behind the name of your company?
TL: We wanted a fun name and when we sat down with our graphic artist and marketing contact, we asked for a list of names and logos for us to pick from. The coolest looking logo was the Schmooze Logo. After Googling the word 'Schmooze', we also found that it meant, 'to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection' - we thought this was a perfect fit for what the true use of a phone system should be.
SV: What industries or markets does a Schmooze product appeal to most?
TL: With our heavy investment in Call Center features and ACD reports, we have found a huge customer base in the 50-200 agent call centers. With features like hot desking - where users can log in and out of phones without the phone ever rebooting and loading their own custom layout of buttons - we really fit well in call centers and industries, like Real Estate, where you have agents coming and going from the office without a permanent desk. With us, they always have their own extension number and DID with voicemail.
SV: Which one of Schmooze's product offerings separate the company from its competitors?
TL: I would have to say features like Hot Desking, our Desktop client 'XactView' and Speech Recognition applications like IVR's and our flagship 'Magic Button,' which gives you full control over most day-to-day things like transferring calls, using simple speech commands.
Also, I think one of the neatest things we do, that no one else in the IP space has done to the extreme of PBXact, is to take everyday things like voicemail, call parking and transferring calls and give you 4-5 ways of doing each feature and letting each user pick which way works best for them from using XactView.
We also have some of the best presence management in the market that you can control through an app on your phone, XactView or speech commands.
For example, I can say, 'Where is Tony Lewis,' and the system will tell me where the contact is and if that person's status is set as 'away' - I can tell the system to notify me when the user returns back to the office.
SV: You offer an array of solutions, one in particular, 'XactView,' is targeted toward making the management of phone calls 'simpler'. Can you give some background on this offering and how it works?
TL: XactView is your ultimate desktop client. It uses JAVA so it is Operating System agnostic and allows complete control over your phone calls and the flow of calls through your company.
SV: For today's busy enterprise environment, how can XactView provide benefit? What are some of the key features available right from the desktop?
TL: With XactView, it possible to see which users are on the phone and who they are talking with, and with admin rights, it's also possible to barge in and listen on calls. In addition, simple drag-and-drop functionality makes it possible to transfer calls to other extensions, voicemail boxes or parking lots, conference rooms and queues.
Visually, it's also possible to see all voicemails and pick which ones to listen to or forward to other users - similar to how visual voicemail works on Androids or iPhones.
It's also possible, with the built-in chat feature, to have text chats with other XactView users and change and view other users' statuses.
Lastly, with XactView, users get real-time queue stats and can see how many callers are waiting in a queue or go in as an admin and manually drag calls out of a queue, to a specific extension during peak times, without having to log into the queue to receive calls.
SV:What can we expect to see from Schmooze this year?
TL: Well, we have a complete new Status Management portal coming out, that will give users more control over their statuses, and we are also working on more advanced speech recognition features and phone side apps.
In addition, Schmooze continues to invest in open source projects such as FreePBX - with its most recent module, which has given back to the community and a brand new company directory. Schmooze has also rewritten the Backup/Restore Module and continues to invest time, money and effort into a community it believes in.
SV: Do you have any special offers or trial programs?
TL: Yes. Through our recent partnership with .e4 Strategies, we are offering our XactFax application free on all systems ordered through e4 in the next 30 days. XactFax is valued at over $1000.00 - so it is a great way for new customers to save some money.
Visit: www.e4strategies.com/pbxact and www.pbxact.com for more information on PBXact and Schmooze.
SV: Last, where do you see the future of telephony?
TL: Telephony is a very broad term and can ultimately be boiled down to how people communicate. As communication evolves, and as social networking sites like Facebook (News - Alert)and Twitter also increase in popularity, we have also seen a rise in technologies, such as VoIP and the continued development of Asterisk.
As this continues to grow, we believe the future of telephony will be a true mobile convergence, where a desk phone will become obsolete and people will just carry a cell phone. That cell phone will then connect back to your company's PBX for advanced features - whether you are in the office or on the road. Overall, the team here at Schmooze is excited to see Telephony continue to evolve and we enjoy being at the forefront of the telephony revolution.
Stefania Viscusi is an assignment editor for TMCnet, covering voice and Voice over IP technologies. She also oversees production of TMCnet's e-Newsletters in the areas of Internet telephony and speech technology. To read more of Stefania's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi