The ability to send faxes from your email is an important function for any business that needs to communicate with a range of clients and business partners around the country or internationally. Executives at major enterprises and institutions rely on faxes. It is not a matter of whether to add an online fax service to your professional toolkit. The question is which online faxing solution will fit best with your current and projected profiles of fax usage. There are plenty of options for free fax by email services, but not many that are able to do everything your business needs at a reasonable cost due to the many variations in cost structures.
Make sure you pre-examine the features of fax services before you start. Once the free trial begins, spend enough time faxing to make certain that the service performs to the level that your business requires. If the online fax service you select for your one-month trial really is a free service, then you have nothing to lose except time. On the other hand, time is the most valuable and non-renewable businesses resource you have. Make sure you maximize the value of your time investment. Narrowing down your options before you begin can save a great deal of evaluation time in the long run.
It won't take long to begin to reap the time and expense savings from sending faxes through existing internet connections, rather than paying for a dedicated telephone line for faxing and maintenance for a traditional fax machine. The speed of an online fax is faster by an order of magnitude. You can send the same fax to multiple destinations while you receive faxes from other businesses at the same time. Your email filters will become like an office administrator, filing the important faxes and alerting you to ones that need immediate attention.
Some operating systems such as Windows 7 will allow you to send faxes for free if you have a fax line installed. This is counterproductive because the best part about free online faxes is being able to send them from anywhere that has an internet connection – freeing you from the restrictions of a land line. An online fax service shouldn't need you to download any special software or purchase any proprietary equipment. Faxes will be able to be sent directly from their own website or from your existing email accounts. Most services restrict the number of emails able to access the fax software. Should you have an entire sales staff that you need to be part of the trial, you may have to open several accounts. As long as you keep careful records and cancel what doesn't work for your company, the free trial shouldn't turn into an unwarranted expense.
There are plenty of services for faxing online. Many of them offer free fax service up to a specified allotment and charge for each fax above that number. Most of them offer a free trial period to demonstrate how it will best serve your business needs. A standard 30-day free trial includes free incoming and outgoing faxes during your free month, as long as they fall within the limits stated in the offer.
The first step, before you even begin evaluating free fax services is to determine about how many faxes you send and receive each month. Think about how many pages you send on average and which international locations you are likely to contact. Think about how much your current faxing will need to expand for you to meet the goals in your upcoming business expansion plans. This will give you an indication of how much you can expect to spend in monthly fees and extra charges.
The best carriers offer you a selection of local fax numbers in different parts of the country or internationally. This can be very attractive for clients in those locations who need to contact you by fax. Talk to your marketing and sales staff to make sure they understand this is a temporary trial. At the end of the trial if you are satisfied with service, then this will become your permanent fax number.
Read the terms of service carefully for each fax service you are evaluating. Some free fax providers pay for the service by issuing a 900 number. This means that your valued customers and prospects would have to pay to send you a fax. Not only will this discourage faxing, it can negatively impact your company's brand image.
More commonly, free fax services pay for their software by selling advertising space on the fax itself. Naturally, you will have no control or approval of what companies are advertising on your fax. Even if the advertisement is not objectionable, you may not want to give your customers the impression of running free software. It could come across as unprofessional or unnecessarily stingy for such a vital business tool.
Search the site for hidden charges. If your business faxes internationally, or intends to start, read through some of the restrictions and limits on international rates. Slower phone lines in other countries can be a significant source of extra fees if you don't have a local number. Your business needs will certainly change as you grow. That means that extra charges can grow from an annoyance to a deal-breaker. Keep a careful record of your limits and charges.
The best providers will give you support by around the clock. Look for provider who can offer live support rather than a call-back service or email only assistance. More complex faxing requires experienced professionals to help you through technical issues and unexpected problems. When one of your business partners or customers calls you about a problem they have had with your fax, you will need to have good support to resolve the issue quickly and efficiently.
A challenge that you could encounter when evaluating certain fax services is that some only offer a temporary fax number. If a customer loses touch and tries to fax you again in the future, the document could be denied as disconnected or go through to a different business. Throughout the free trial, your customers shouldn't be disadvantaged or given a poor impression of your reliability.
Test out how the software performs on your mobile devices. An Ultrabook, tablet, or even a smartphone with a professional data package can become your mobile office. Quickly and easily connect by fax to your most valued partners from any spot with strong Wi-Fi or cellular signal. Some online fax services are very obviously designed for desktops and only adapted to mobile as an afterthought. This can lead to awkward or difficult design features on a smaller screen. Mobile fax is the real power of online services. You will want to make sure there won't be any surprises in using your online fax service when you are on the road.
You need to know your fax arrived on time at the right address. Confirm what level of detail is included in the logs. Look for error messages in plain language, time/date stamps, and confirmation of the address for the destination fax. The most common extensions for faxes that you receive online are .pdf or .tif. Find out what kinds of documents your online fax service can handle. The most used documents for business will include Microsoft Office extensions, but there are plenty of otherdocument types that you may use. Investigate what types of documents are common in the industries that you will be contacting on a regular basis. Remember that if your company uses proprietary software for forms or if you use a format that needs to be converted before it is faxed, it will eat away a great deal of the time savings that make an online fax service so valuable.
Look for reviews of fax providers; though don't believe all that you read. There are quite a few new startup fax companies that advertise as free fax providers, but may well be unreliable. Make sure you are partnering with an established company that has a history of service.
During your free trial, try out how your email displays and handles the faxes you receive. Your email filtering technology should be capable of filtering faxes as they come in and delivering them to different folders. Set up alerts that can buzz or ring you when a certain type of fax arrives. Your computer can become a kind of office administrator, dividing the faxes according to what needs to be done with them in the normal business flow.
Some of the faxes you receive will need further processing by other members of your administrative team. Print out the faxes and take a good look at the print quality. It should be equal or better to the print quality of a traditional fax.
The freedom to send and receive faxes by email is a powerful incentive. This freedom also will translate quickly to savings in terms of time and operational expenses. Reserve a fax number for your business online today and send your first email fax using the mBox™ FREE 30 Day Trial. Our free 30 day trial program gives you the opportunity to try all the features of sending and receiving faxes over the internet first hand.