How much are you paying for your business’s phone service? When each minute translates into a higher bill each month, it’s important to keep a close eye on those numbers. Some relief may come through the use of email and instant messaging resources, but there’s still a huge need for telephone contacts. That personal connection with customers can have a huge impact on boosting loyalty with your brand.
Unfortunately, there are some difficulties that come along with using a traditional phone service:
- Answering the phones takes a lot of manpower, and this is a problem when some of those phone calls don’t really require your attention.
- Communication with long-distance customers or employees may lead to additional charges.
- On-site hardware or phone line issues can derail the day’s productivity.
The good news is that Voice over Internet Protocol services are readily available, and this type of technology may go a long way toward solving your telephone communication problems.
What Is VoIP?
Depending on the VoIP service you choose, you may pay much less than you’re used to for long-distance and international numbers. Most systems hook up to a broadband connection and allow you to make phone calls from your computer, through a special phone, or over your traditional phone hardware.
Leasing Plans Help With Initial Costs
Ongoing savings is one of the main reasons business owners decide to switch from a traditional phone plan to a VoIP. A quick first look at the VoIP system can discourage some business leaders from pursuing the switch further. That first investment may require some planning and saving. However, some companies offer leasing plans that make it easier to replace older hardware with new hardware and software.
Many Features Available
Of course, you can expect the usual features of a traditional business phone setup, including caller ID, voicemail, and call-waiting and forwarding. You may also enjoy a fax feature, conferencing features, including video-conferencing, access to a 411 directory, a last number redial feature and unlimited long-distance calling. There are several advantages to making the switch to a VoIP, not the least of which is the chance to consider phone budget savings.
Reduced Setup and Maintenance Costs
Whether you’re opening the doors to a new business for the first time or you’re simply expanding into new offices, using a VoIP communication plan means that you don’t have to pay to install a new phone line. Instead, the phones are connected through your broadband network. In addition to saving money on setting up the new system, you’ll find that maintenance costs are reduced because the IT department that services the rest of your computer systems will service the hardware and software for your phones.
Cloud-based VOIP systems require less hardware than traditional phone systems. First, they use existing internet connections so you don’t have to run a physical land line across your building. Second, since the call is made through the internet, they can be connected to mobile phones, desktop computers which ultimately saves you the cost of placing a phone at each desk. However, many businesses like to have a digital or analog phone at the desk in addition to a computer for other reasons – it saves ports for peripherals, makes for easier dialing, and helps with multi-tasking.
Eventually, the centralized call processing helps businesses reduce the need for equipment (including storage, upkeep, and repairs) and brings uniformity to the company’s communication system. This leads to savings in productivity and increased confidence in the quality of phone calls.
When you have employees who work from home or who work while on the move (such as while traveling for work,) VoIP services may operate through a connection with VPN encryption. This provides an important element of security so that even when employees are traveling, they can communicate with the office without exposing the content of conversations to unwanted scrutiny.
Most VOIP systems have an automated system to answer and redirect calls to the proper recipient. These “virtual receptionists” can save your staff time on answering misplaced or unwanted calls, forwarding, and time on the phone. And in business time is money!
What About Cell Phones?
Home-based businesses may be fine with just using a cell phone. However for a small business owner with full time employees cell phones are generally more expensive. Some VOIP companies have mobile apps that allow you to answer your work calls and check messages on your cell phone. If you’re on a shoestring budget, Google Voice allows you to forward calls to an existing cell phone number or landline. However, the forwarding is limited to six numbers and it lacks many of the “standard” VOIP features that you would expect.
If you’ve found that you’re dissatisfied with your existing phone system or you have the chance to expand your business, consider switching to VoIP technology. After an initial investment, you’ll enjoy reduced communication costs, savings on hardware and software, an array of features, and increased security. As with much of the technology available today, more and more business leaders are beginning to rely on modern services including VoIP and customers are beginning to expect the related conveniences. Make sure your business is keeping up with competitors and make sure you don’t fall behind.