Why use VoIP?
Many businesses are beginning to embrace voice over IP (VoIP) technology. VoIP is changing how businesses use phone services and is reducing costs, improving phone functionality and providing companies with a variety of useful features.
VoIP uses the Internet to transmit phone calls. Traditional landline phones send their signals over copper wire networks established and maintained in local areas by phone companies, with local and long distance calls often using these legacy networks. VoIP upends how traditional phone calls work by translating voice into data packets using Internet Protocol (IP) and then transferring these signals over the Internet.
Advantages of VoIP:
- Build Your Business Phone System—You can quickly and inexpensively build a call center, hosted private branch exchange (PBX) or other business phone system.
- Scalable Technology and Services—VoIP scales easily, so as your business grows you can readily expand your phone system.
- Reduce Phone Costs—Cut your costs by switching to VoIP. Since VoIP uses the Internet, you can avoid the expensive infrastructure of traditional landlines.
- Use Software Integrations and Advanced Features—many VoIP systems have integrations with popular software platforms such as customer relationship management (CRMs) systems and applicant tracking systems (ATS).
In this article, we will help you decide if a VoIP system can help your business. We will introduce a few uses of this technology and share a few tips and tricks for getting your VoIP account up and running quickly.
- Benefits of VoIP
- Is VoIP Right for You?
- Finding the Right Technology and VoIP Service Vendor
- Getting Started with VoIP
- Tips and Tricks for Using VoIP
1. Benefits of VoIP
Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are looking to save money on phone services without compromising on features, sound quality or functionality. VoIP is a flexible technology you can adapt to the needs of your business. You can add traditional phone features, create virtual extensions that add extra lines, record your phone calls and accomplish a variety of other tasks.
Here are a few common VoIP features:
- Conference Calls–VoIP systems can handle more than two callers, so you can have conference and group phone calls.
- Call Recording–Record your phone calls.
- Caller ID–See who is calling.
- Call Transfers–Send your caller or recipient to another line or phone number.
- Virtual Extensions–Provide extensions for every employee, department or purpose.
- Call Analytics–Track and analyze call statistics.
- Call Logs–Save information about your phone calls.
- Auto-Attendant/Virtual Receptionist–You can set up automatic answers for your phone calls and leave messages.
- Voicemail to Email–A transcription service is frequently available so you can have your voicemails transcribed with transcriptions sent to your email.
- Local Numbers and Toll-Free Numbers–You may be able to get numbers that are local to where your business operates, or get a toll-free number.
- International Calls–You may pay more for international calling, but it will likely be significantly cheaper than a traditional landline international call.
- Call Queues–Callers can be placed into queues, so the right call center personnel can answer each call in order.
- Hold and Wait Time Announcements–Callers can find out how long they will be waiting to speak with someone.
There are many other features available, allowing you to create an effective business phone system that fits your needs and budget. With an online portal, you can easily and quickly change settings and monitor your account. You can even create a call center, have calls reach cell phones or other phone numbers when employees are away from the office, or create a distributed team with remote workers.
2. Is VoIP Right for You?
If you want to figure out if VoIP is best for your business, start by carefully considering your needs and how your organization is structured. Organizations with high call volumes, international calling and a consistent use of phone services for business may benefit the most from VoIP. Even if you have a smaller business, you can probably find a VoIP service that fits your needs. SMB owners and solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and startups may benefit from the low upfront costs of VoIP software and equipment. Many vendors cater primarily to small and medium-sized businesses, also, so you can get features that are more relevant to your specific needs and preferences.
3. Finding the Right Technology and VoIP Service Vendor
Many vendors are available, so where do you begin? It seems like a new VoIP vendor is born almost every day. With all the options, it may seem confusing at first. You may want to start your research with some basic questions and a list of features you need. Beforehand, think carefully about what you really want your phone service to help you accomplish. If you have a call center, your needs are probably different than they would be if you were a startup with two employees and no plans for a call center.
Frequently, businesses want a phone plan that helps them handle incoming customer calls and answer inquiries to different departments. Basic VoIP plans have the features to help you provide extensions for everyone in the office. You can also allow incoming calls to be probably managed and forwarded to the right people.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What is your budget?
- What features do you need?
- Do you need local/toll-free numbers?
- How are you planning to set up your phone tree/queue? Any specific needs?
- What types of equipment will you use? You may be able to use standard analog phones with a special adapter, or you can use computers or Internet Protocol (IP) phones.
4. Getting Started with VoIP
To get started, you will need to choose a vendor. Your VoIP vendor can help you decide what type of equipment you need, what service plan is right for you and how you should begin the deployment process.
If you already have equipment or choose a bring your own phone service (such as standard analog phones from your old landline account), then you may need to hire independent technical support at some point. They may be able to help if you have support questions that are specific to your hardware.
5. Tips and Tricks for Using VoIP
You can use Wi-Fi with VoIP, but you may get more consistent call quality by using an ethernet connection. Keep in mind that Wi-Fi signals cannot always maintain their strength after passing through walls or traveling an extended distance.
Make sure your Internet connection provides enough bandwidth for high-quality VoIP calls. If your network has a large number of uses online, that can cause delays and interferences.
If your speakers are causing too much feedback in your call audio, you should consider turning down the speaker volume as much as possible. Choosing a low frequency phone may also help you fight feedback and focus the audio on the recipient and caller.
Consider upgrading your headset if you have low-quality or inexpensive equipment and you experience issues with your calls. This may help improve sound quality.
Find ways to open more bandwidth for VoIP calls by avoiding downloads while someone is on the phone, saving bandwidth-heavy tasks for a slow period and by monitoring bandwidth use so there is plenty for your phone conversations. Planning out your workflow and Internet use to improve VoIP call quality may not be a bad idea.