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A Different Kind of Phone Service

Ari Rabban and I go way back - like five minutes. The president of Phone.
Written by Dave Greenfield, Contributor

Ari Rabban and I go way back - like five minutes. The president of Phone.com (wouldn't you like that domain name) has agreed to meet me at the Short Hills Hilton to talk about his newest venture. Rabban is a long time hand in the VoIP space having worked at progenitor of all things VoIP called Vocaltec. He's can banter away about law and economics (a former lawyer from the Holy Land though that doesn't make him a Holy Roller) and then dive deep about the intricacies of Internet telephony. But he's not a techie, he assures. Right.

As all young CEOs, Rabban loves his company. Phone.com is going to revolutionize the way small companies pay for their phone service, he enthuses. The company's Virtual Office replaces the function of the PBX with an cloud-based phone service. "We provide great customer service, great features and low prices," he says to me. Pardon me if after hearing a million and two startups say the same thing if I'm not a tad skeptical.

The story isn't without merit though as I soon learn. Phone.com has added voice-to-text messaging to its Virtual Office service, he tells me. Leave me a voice mail and I get it in my inbox as a e-mail message. Pretty cool.

In September, the company added call recording, call screening, and call voice tagging. With call screening, Virtual Office tells you whose calling when you answer the phone and you can decide whether or not to accept the call. With call tagging, you can associate each of your extensions with a label, such as "marketing". This is particularly helpful in SMBs when you're representing different departments. So now when your phone rings, you hear the label (marketing) and can answer appropriately. ("Hi, this is the marketing department. Can I help you?").

Rabban  leans back. We're about finished talking and I need to book. I move to leave the hotel lobby and run past as the Hilton front desk as hear her answer the phone saying "Front Desk". Call tagging in use? I wonder. Probably not. The Hilton is too big for that, but not for my office and  probably not yours.

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