Halloo is a privately owned business established since 2002 and based in San Francisco CA. The Halloo service is a unique mixture of a cloud virtual phone service with built in CRM and collaboration tools. This may not be unknown with high end IP/PBX cloud systems such as RingCentral where CRM an Collaboration tools have been integrated for some time, however the difference here is that these are not integration with Salesforce, Sugar or Outlook these are actual Halloo inbuilt tools and this greatly simplifies things for small businesses.
However, as Halloo provides a virtual telephone service as well as excellent collaboration tools we need to review both separately so that one does not overshadow the other. Therefore, we will look first at Halloo as a cloud based virtual telephone system.
Halloo Virtual Telephone Service
Halloo as a virtual telephone system is only available in the US and Canada which is not uncommon but for those out with North America you can probably stop reading now. Halloo will supply toll free numbers such as 866, 877, 888, and 800. There are also Vanity numbers, which are available for a $30 setup charge. They will also supply local numbers, which you can choose if you are on a payment plan, if you are on the free service offering you will be assigned a number.
That leads us to examine what price plans there are, especially as we have just indicated there is a FREE service plan!
This is not a typo there is actually a free service plan that can support up to 3 lines or users and it comes with 300 free minutes.
The Biz plan is not free but it comes in three varieties a starter plan with 100 minutes designed for those with light usage or just checking out the system as you can easily upgrade at any time. The mid-level Biz option is for moderate users and offers 300 free minutes. Finally, there is the Ultimate pricing option, which offers 2000 minutes with a local number but only 750 with a toll free number assigned to the account. There is no unlimited free minutes price plan and that might well be because Halloo charges 5.9c per minute for any additional minutes used. Now remember, Halloo are counting both outgoing and incoming call minutes against you free allocation and will charge 5.9c on both outgoing an incoming call once the free minutes are exhausted. This is of course common practice with virtual telephone and IP/PBX service providers, but where as RingCentral charge 3.6c per additional minutes Halloo are charging a whopping 5.9c. So be warned!
With regards functionality, Halloo provides most of the common functions expected from a cloud virtual telephone service. It provides a call answering service, more on that later, and an auto attendant with customized greetings and call forwarding to any mobile, landline or desk phone. Moreover, Halloo allows the user through a web interface to customise the list of extensions and add remove or reprioritise an extension on a queue. Therefore, a user can prioritise their desk phone to receive any incoming calls, but if there is no answer to ring their mobile phone next and failing that their home number. Alternatively hey can have them all ring simultaneously.
Halloo can also receive inbound faxes, but it is unable to send them. Users can use the mobile app to make outgoing calls using the business number as the calling ID, even when using a Toll free number. This is because Halloo use an extended Toll Free number, which is not redirected to a real local number but has all the built in functionality required redirecting and receiving calls. This is a great feature, as customers will then see the toll free number on their display and records so they can use that in future communications.
Another interesting feature with Halloo, which is somewhat unique in the marketplace, is their way of handling conference calling. Halloo has two option one is free and standard and this allows the user to add up to six other calls to the original call. Bear in mind each participant’s minutes on the call counts against the originators free minute allocation. However, again that is the standard way of doing thing. However, Halloo also has another call conferencing system that comes at an optional cost and requires a separate local or toll free number, and this comes at an additional charge. Therefore, if six calls are insufficient for your call conferencing requirements you are going to have to pay extra.
In summary, Halloo is a perfectly competent virtual telephone service, with basic functionality and features but with some additional fees and expensive additional minutes. So what about these inbuilt collaboration tools, is this what customers’ will be paying for?
The most outstanding features of the Halloo service are the inbuilt collaboration and CRM style tools that come inbuilt with every service plan, even the free one. Therefore, what makes them so attractive to small businesses? The answer to that one is simply it provides collaboration and CRM tools previously only available to customers of high end IP/PBX system that could integrate with their own CRM and Messaging services, such as Outlook. Halloo, provides the inbuilt tools for even the smallest non-technical company to have these hugely valuable business tools free of charge.
As an example of the power of these inbuilt tools, halloo collects all the users contacts through interfaces with Google+ for example or Outlook and does not just import the contacts but creates a history with every call. The user can enter notes during the call or even record the call and save an audio file or transcript against the contacts name, thereby creating a call history for each contact. Furthermore, Halloo recognizes the caller ID when it answers an incoming call and can display the callers name and simultaneously upon answer display their details, and call history. This can save a huge amount of time as the user can see from the call history, what the issue s and the conversation can resume where it left off on the previous call. In addition, email and messaging can also be integrate so that on your display you will not just have call records but emails, messages, SMS, and any other data you have chosen to integrate. Such is the potential that these tools present I could write about them all day, and only scratch the surface of the possibilities they present small business.
In summary Halloo is a capable virtual telephone service with some basic features and limited pricing plans that could prove expensive in the long term if users are not careful. However, Halloo’s collaboration and CRM, tools have huge potential especially for small businesses. What is more it is free for up to three users.
Do these great collaboration tools make up for the failings of the virtual telephone service … you bet they do!