When Ed Flynn was missing an insurance form required by his pharmacist, the good old fax machine bailed him out. Flynn, a systems engineer for Cleveland-based Warwick Communications, called in to the company's fax-on-demand system and had the necessary form faxed directly to the pharmacist.
"I didn't have to mail them the form or wait for my prescription," says Flynn. While the Internet may be the main conduit for information now, the old reliable fax machine can still play a role.
"Web pages are nice if you have Internet access," says Flynn, who designs fax-on-demand systems for Warwick. "A lack of Internet access may still be a factor for some people. You have to access to view the information on the screen. Fax machines are still more common than Internet access, and some people just prefer to have the information in their hand."
Before setting up a service, you need to research why people are calling you and what information they are requesting.
"If the documents they are requesting are static, such as technical information on setting up a product or product specs, you can put it on a system where it can be easily accessed," says Flynn.
Document requests don't necessarily have to be coming from external sources. Many companies use a fax-on-demand system to help technicians or salespeople in the field. Technicians might be able to access fixes for common problems or get product specifications to aid them in a repair. Salespeople can access contracts, rate sheets or a credit application. Systems can either have a verbal directory that lists all documents available, orcan have a table of contents document that can be faxed first.
For example, a caller would request the table of contents document listing all available information, then find the number corresponding to the specific document he or she needed and request it. A company can also have hidden documents, meaning the numbers aren't published, but the information is available to those who know the numbers. A credit application might be put on the system but kept hidden, that way only salespeople know what the codeis to request it.
Installing a system may be easier than you think. Many voicemail systems are pre-configured to set up fax-on-demand, and if you can fax directly from your computer already, then a system can probably be installed with a minimum of extra hardware.
"Before buying, look at what kind of tech support you get and the ease of use," says Flynn. "But these systems are typically 99.99 percent reliable."