Is VoIP Right for You?

The technology offers another option for phone service.

These are exciting times for businesses across the country, as the infrastructure supporting technological advancement has expanded dramatically.

Thanks to the introduction of superfast internet speeds by Google Fiber and other providers, businesses can now make technology choices they were not able to in recent years. Businesses are taking advantage of this opportunity to invest in cloud applications and technology to improve their processes as well as margins. This includes investments in voice over internet (VoIP) systems and service.

So, why are businesses moving to hosted VoIP systems and services? Simply put, hosted VoIP is an affordable way to advance companies’ communication practices, driving a host of direct and indirect benefits back to the business.

Affordability // The phone system is actually provided in the cloud by a hosted VoIP provider. Businesses no longer need to invest in a system on a wall in their business. They only need to purchase the VoIP phone handsets. Thus, they are receiving an enterprise-level phone system at a fraction of the cost.

Obsolescence and Maintenance // These concerns and costs are removed with hosted VoIP applications. It is the responsibility of the provider to continue to invest in their system and evolve their service. Finding parts for an old phone system or paying for repairs as a system ages is no longer required. The only hardware exposure is with the handsets themselves. If they ever need replacing, the cost is a minor expense. As time goes on, new VoIP phones may be available in the provider’s lineup, and they can be mixed in if and when replacements are required.

Expansion and Growth Considerations   Businesses no longer need to worry about sizing their phone system to account for business growth. This is especially beneficial to startups, as they don’t need to overinvest on a phone system nor replace an undersized and under-featured system as they grow. With hosted VoIP, you only need to deploy the number of handsets based upon the number of employees needing phones.

Flexible Deployment // Because this is a cloud-based system, business can deploy the phones outside of the confinement of the walls of their office. This frees the business to enable a remote workforce, whether those employees are at home, in a remote office or highly mobile. Calls to these associates can be made with internal extensions. To the external caller, they will have no idea that calls are made and received outside of the business location. Additionally, highly mobile employees can have a duplicate account of their desk phone, or a stand-alone account if they don’t have a desk phone, on a softphone application on their smartphone or laptop. Thus, they can make and receive calls from these devices and deliver the caller ID for the business.

Advanced Features // There’s a huge feature set available with hosted VoIP systems. Examples are voicemail to email, call recording, direct dial numbers, external transferring, find-me/follow-me, paging solutions, call detail records and much more.

Call Flow // One of the greatest attributes of the hosted VoIP phone system is that it is essentially a software program. Good hosted VoIP providers work with their customers to design a call flow that matches their unique requirements and improves their communication practices. You shouldn’t have to conform to how the system works. Ring groups, call queues, time of day routing and on-call programming are among the many tools available to have calls handled just the way you want them.

Automated Attendant // Many bristle at just the idea of an automated attendant. However, when deployed correctly, this can be a powerful tool available to a business. First, you have a choice of whether you deploy the automated attendant before or after a ring pattern. Thus, it can serve as your call traffic cop or as a backup to your initial call groups. The goal is to be able to route callers to the person who will best handle their needs.

VoIP phone systems also have great appeal among businesses with multiple branches or locations. They are able to consolidate the provider of their service, create consistency among locations, create efficiencies through extension dialing and transferring or even some function efficiency.

For example, you can centralize a function, say the reception function, so incoming calls from all locations are funneled to a central group for distribution. Or you can decentralize a function, such as customer service, so that the related ring group or queue is distributed across multiple locations for more efficiencies. To the external caller, they have no idea that their call is handled in a centralized or decentralized approach.

There are instances were VoIP is not a good fit for companies. For example, there are some areas where the internet service is not stable or the bandwidth capacity is not able to handle the data requirements of the business. In these cases, the VoIP experience would be poor. Additionally, if the company employees have been challenged to embrace changes associated with new technology, VoIP systems may present a managerial challenge to the company.

Hosted VoIP providers are positioned to get to know your business and will recommend call flow programming and features that will enhance your business communications. Interview a few providers, compare their approaches to customer service, and find one that matches the way you do business.