Earlier this week, Telephony2 announed general availability for their CallButler platform. CallButler is an IP Telephony solution targeted at small businesses. It combines PBX, IVR, voice recognition, a scriptable environment, multi-lingual support, call screening, find-me / follow me, music on hold, Outlook integration and much much more in an off-the shelf .NET telephony solution. It's flexible and easy to use, as well. Moreover, at $199 for an unlimited user license, the price is very very attractive. If you've been attracted to the economics and flexibility of Asterisk, but find the prospect of configuring and managing a Linux server daunting, then CallButler may be the solution for you.
At ETel I grabbed an hour with Telephony2 CEO Jim Heising to learn more about this remarkable product. We started with configuration, and then moved on to advanced topics like database integration and voice recognition.
Heising claims that the entire system can be configured in just 10 minutes. It certainly looked that way to me. I timed Jim's demonstration, as he whipped through setting up extensions, and then configuring call flow. Call flow configuration, by the way, is very natural. A simple wizard guides you through setting your phone system up.
Pre-configured with a multitude of tree types, and call flows, each leg of the call flow requires that you specify a prompt, actions and next steps. Prompts can either be articulated by the built-in Text To Speech support (which is very natural sounding), or you can record your own prompts. If you choose to record your own, the wizard allows you to enter a message script which you then read back when the recording has started. It's a great way to avoid the fluffed prompt reading you hear on so many small business IVRs.
Need a phone number? Call Butler also makes that easy. You can configure it to work with any SIP provider you like, or (and this is the first time I've seen this), CallButler uses a web service to query a carrier, see what inventory of numbers that carrier has in your area code, and assign you a number. If you've ever fooled around with configuring an ATA, or Asterisk for a new phone number, this is a blessing.
Jim also showed me the advanced modules the system has that allow it to be fully programmable. For instance, with a little skill, you can have CallButler fetch and articulate entries from a database — imagine systems to automate doctors offices, or real estate agents listings, or collect credit card payments.
Frankly, I was blown away at the functionality Telephony2 has jammed into CallButler, and even more amazed at the price. If you need a business phone system, and can manage simple Windows based tasks like creating PowePoint presentations, or spreadsheets, then CallButler may just be the solution for you.