LET YOUR PC DO THE WALKING
DIALING 411 OR 555-1212 IS so easy, so convenient--even if you have the appropriate phone book handy. But these directory-assistance calls can add up quickly when thousands of employees are taking the same shortcut. Many large companies spend $10,000 or more per month on such calls, according to AnswerSoft Inc., of Plano, Tex. So, the company has come up with SoftPages, which lets companies bypass the operator and gain instant and low-cost access, via PC, to the telephone companies' own electronic directories.
SoftPages works over PC networks, which the law says can be connected to the phone companies' directory systems for a monthly, usage-based fee. Such connections can be made either directly or, for low-volume customers, via a service that AnswerSoft offers through its own computer.
Entering queries through a Windows-based program, an employee can search for numbers by city or region, address, zip code, or even SIC codes, which indicate the industries a business is in. The cost: as little as 15 cents to 30 cents per query, depending on volume, vs. about $1 per operator call, according to Jeanne Bayless, AnswerSoft's CEO, president, and co-founder. What's more, SoftPages can sort lists of numbers by various criteria and hand them off for use by other computers, such as those used to guide outbound telephone sales campaigns.
EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITY
Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.