Once upon a time the slogan “Follow Me” referred to an excellent leadership technique, most dramatically the image of a military officer charging up the hill while yelling out to his men to “follow me.”
And of course any techie, or would-be techie, can tell you that these days “follow me” is a plea to get someone to listen to your Tweets, or read whatever comments you choose to make on Facebook, no matter how inane or sage those comments are.
But the ‘follow me’ I’m most enamored with is the VoIP feature which lets you send calls from one phone to another. I’m not talking about simple call forwarding. Rather I’m talking about rules-based forwarding, enhanced by features such as call screening. Phone.com offers those features across its line of VoIP business phone and residential phone plans – Virtual Office, Home Phone Plus and Virtual Number.
On the most basic level, ‘follow me’ sends any call to my home number that doesn’t get answered to my cell phone. And the way I have it set up, my home phone also rings a second time. I can pick up either. Potentially, I can get even fancier, and if I don’t answer the cell phone I can send the call to yet another phone.
Now here’s where things get interesting.
I can also use the call screening features, so that follow me only works for certain callers – say from Mom – that I don’t want to miss. All others go to Phone.com’s voicemail service, not to my cell phone. Given the number of recorded political announcements I’ve been getting that I do NOT want forwarded to my cell phone, that’s not a bad idea.
If the caller leaves a message, it is transcribed automatically, creating ‘visual voicemail.’ The transcription is sent to my eMail, which I can access on my cell phone. Then, if I deem it really important, I can call back.
By the way, I get even fancier. I use rules to prevent callers from ringing my home phone at certain inconvenient hours. And, of course, combined with call screening those callers I do want to reach me 24×7 can get through at all hours. That’s particularly important because I have international phone service from Phone.com, since I have family overseas. We have overseas numbers that ring in the U.S., and a U.S. number that rings overseas. Callers don’t always understand the time difference, and this keeps my phone from ringing at 2 a.m. Plus – I can program the Phone.com virtual pbx to have calls ‘follow me’ overseas!
I started using Phone.com’s ‘follow me’ features more than half a year ago, and truthfully it would be tough to go back to the old days when I’d walk in the house and my first action was to see if the message light on the phone was flashing, wondering whose call I had missed.
Stuart Zipper is the past Senior Editor of TelecomWeb news break and a contributing editor to Communications Technology.