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Several companies are offering a new kind of communication service designed to help far-flung personnel better keep in touch.

Nothing can be worse for a field representative than to have to play telephone tag with the home office when an order is at stake, unless it's being told, "Please hold."Although the communication is not instantaneous, it is indeed the next best thing to being there.

Pioneers in this new communication method include Voice-Tel with 300,000 mailboxes, Tigon with 180,000 and VoiceCom with 150,000. The big telephone networks have not yet signed on to the idea and may not be able to provide the distinctive services offered by the new networking companies.

Here's how the largest system, Voice-Tel, works.

No hardware is required other than a touch-tone phone. No computers, no special telephone systems, no internal hookups. The system is controlled by high-tech telephone switching systems in more than 170 cities in North America, which means fast local access to the system for the user.

No software is required for the same reason. The only items required by the user are a touch-tone phone, the telephone number to gain system access and a private pass code.

The service provides your firm with a national or international mailbox that has almost no limitations on the number of calls you can receive at any one time.

Each individual has his or her own mailbox pass code to receive messages. An individual can leave a message for another individual, group, or all members on the network. The system will remember the caller and will automatically route return calls.

One special feature is the ability to answer messages. You can add your accountant, attorney or brother-in-law to the system. The system stores the telephone number of the originator whether from your firm or outside, and will automatically call that number at the push of a button for you to answer the message.

The prime use is as a worldwide voice messaging system for everyone in your firm. Messages can be originated or picked up from anywhere there is a touch-tone phone. You can have the same system for people outside your firm.

Many motivation trainers feel that nothing excites and motivates a sales staff like a personal message.

For more information, contact Voice-Tel at 1-800-247-4237.