By Alok Saboo on April 29th, 2012
Almost every business or company has a fax system, so why shouldn’t you have one too? Many “technologist” felt that the fax system would fall away because of email, but faxing has remained strong. Faxing documents used to be handled using antiquated methods; however, through the years, faxing has evolved with technology helping to make it a preferred method of communication for many businesses. Understanding what makes online faxing systems essential should be a high priority if you want to remain competitive in today’s business world.
What to look in an Online Fax Provider
When choosing a Fax provider, it is critical to know what your faxing needs are and then establish a minimum requirement. Once this is established, you can now judge each provider and eliminate any provider that does not meet your standards. The main criteria when searching for a fax provider are costs, ease of use, and the fax providers hosted network.
Every penny counts when your business is starting out and you make think it is a good idea to forgo installing a fax system to save, but you should not fall into this trap. Online fax systems remove the need for bulky, expensive fax machines. Also, you will not need the special inks or toners. Although online faxing will lower your costs just by switching to the new technology, it is very important to not choose the lowest cost provider with out research. This provider may have lower costs because they are delivering a lower quality product. The technology you are purchasing may be the same as the next company, but the customer service and online network may be much worse than the next cheapest company. Also, be sure to check the difference in month-to-month plans and purchasing a year worth of faxing upfront. The one-year plan is always cheaper and many of the companies will refund and prorate the balance back to you if you are not satisfied. Using the month-to-month plan is more expensive and there is no contract holding you to this plan. The least expensive and most reliable in the industry today is Nextiva’s vFAX 500 plan. At a low rate of $4.95 a month and an average page cost of three cents, this beats the next highest rated service (according to Faxcritics.com) of RingCentral and the RingCentral Fax plan at $7.99 a month and six cents a page. In terms of costs, these are the lowest cost providers with the highest reviews.
Ease Of Use
Remember having to load the document a “special way” into your fax machine…no more. Remember having to configure your fax machine using a twenty page instruction manual…no more. Remember the hassles of entering all of your contacts for use later…no more. Online faxing has evolved so much that the process could not be simpler. You simply log in to your fax account, attach the document to be faxed, and send. When evaluating faxing providers, be sure to search for or ask for a YouTube video from the provider to show you how to use the online faxing service. Many providers will claim their service is the easiest to use, but to many novices, easy may mean it is a struggle. MyFax’s system is as simple as sending an email with the recipients fax number as the destination. On the flip side, receiving an email is just as simple. When setting up your fax number with MyFax, all you need to do is coordinate your old fax number with your email address. Now your email inbox is your fax machine.
An online faxing system has many built-in safety and security features too. When you send, or receive, a fax it is stored in your own online storage account. So, if you accidentally shred that critical document, you can simply go online a reprint it. Another great feature is privacy. Fax machines of old were generally located in the most heavily trafficked areas of the office where everyone could see. So, if you were receiving a confidential document, it really was not all that confidential. Now, no one but you will see what was sent to you since it is stored in a password protected account, where only have can see what have been sent. This in it self entices many businesses to purchase the new technology, but if a business is not careful, they could choose the wrong provider. Some provider’s online networks have a high outage ratio, meaning their network is down for a lot of the time. Nextiva claims their “up-time” is 99.999% and when looking at their reviews, it seems that all customers are satisfied with their network. Nextiva has the upper hand in this category because they also run a business VoIP network with three data warehouses.
Finally, if you have ever had to move, you know how expensive changing your phone lines really can be. With an online faxing system, you can move into a new office every week, and your number does not change. You do not have to move any bulky equipment, and you can receive faxes immediately (as a matter of fact, you could receive faxes even while you were moving). It is now a standard for all fax providers to allow mobile faxing through an email client. A smart phone has the ability to send and receive faxes as long as it is set up on the smart phone. One Provider is taking this technology to the next level with a mobile app to make the process even easier. eFax has created an app for its customers to be able to download on their smart phone. The app allows you to attach files on your phone, input the fax number and send it. It cannot get any easier than this.
Saving costs and staying ahead of your competition should be a top priority. An online faxing system has proven to be a cost-effective business essential for any business; as technology continues to grow, so will online fax systems. Regardless, you should be aware that most businesses have migrated to these newer online fax systems, so why are you still waiting? Make the right “call” … it could be the difference between success and failure.
This post has been contributed by Adam Fox. Adam is a business VoIP and online fax blogger. He is most interested in seeing small businesses incorporate this technology to save money and become more efficient. He currently blogs for Nextiva and other providers to promote their technologies.