What is VoIP?
To truly understand how VoIP can help your business, you must first know what it is. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. All that means is that you’re essentially able to talk with others over an Internet connection instead of a traditional phone line. Yes, you can still use your actual phone handset, as well as your tablet or computer. The major difference is in the way the call is transmitted.
In addition to traditional voice services, VoIP gives you access to advanced applications that can potentially help your staff be more agile and productive. VoIP solutions aimed at businesses have evolved into unified communications services that treat all communications, phone calls, faxes, voicemail, email, web conferences, and more, as discrete units that can all be delivered via any means and to any handset, including cell phones.
Switching to VoIP might also help you save money on communications services. Long-distance and international calls are generally free with VoIP service.
Why VoIP is better for your business
The telephone is an essential part of the communications toolkit in any business; it’s been used for over a century for good reason. But in today’s business world, the costs of traditional phone systems can drag down your company. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an alternative? Well, there is. If you haven’t heard of VoIP, it’s time to learn about the next step in the evolution of the phone. And there are a number of advantages that make it essential for many businesses in today’s modern world. Here’s how VoIP can help your business.
VoIP lowers costs
The biggest advantage of VoIP is that your business will save a bundle on costs. VoIP takes efficiency to a whole new level. Since you’ll be receiving phone calls over the Internet, you’ll cut out the expense of a phone line altogether and instead consolidate both your Internet and voice communication costs. To do this, however, you’ll need to upgrade to a high-speed Internet connection (if you don’t have one already), which will of course cost extra money. But knocking out the expense of your phone line will likely be much more cost-effective for your business overall.
If your business makes international calls regularly, VoIP is even more of a no brainer. With VoIP, international calling costs are significantly reduced and in some cases even free. Skype, which is similar to VoIP, is a perfect example of the latter.
Statistically speaking, VoIP services have helped many businesses lower costs dramatically. For some, local call expenses have been reduced by up to 40% and for international calls by a whopping 90%. How’s that for savings?
In our experiences with local ISP’s Grande Communications, Spectrum Communications, and ATT, we have seen savings up to 50% and average ROI’s of less than a year on initial investment of hardware.
Key Benefits over PTSN
PTSN (Public Switched Telephone Network) also known as POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) solutions are the typical old-fashioned phones you are used to seeing in an office plugged into the wall with a phone cable.
Freedom to be mobile
Since a VoIP system works through the internet, you are no longer limited to your desk for calls. VoIP solutions like Ring Central, offer desktop and mobile applications allowing calls to be made or received without a desk phone anywhere where you have internet or cell service.
Unlimited calls within the US and Canada
With a PTSN system, you pay per line and often for long distance. Paying per line means that on a busy day, you could miss a call. Example: If you have 3 lines and 4 calls come in at once, or you have employees on the phone using all 3 lines, the 4th call will receive a busy signal.
With VoIP there are no limitations for lines or long distance within the US and Canada. This means that no matter how many calls come in at once, they will make it through. Better yet, with VoIP, you can determine how those calls are handled. Maybe you want to put them in a call queue for the next available person, or perhaps you wish to send them to voicemail. Whatever direction you go, you will have avoided losing that caller/opportunity.
A virtual number allows you to easily have a local number anywhere in the world. That means if you have a large market of clients in London, you can actually get a local London number with the area code of your choice. When someone in the UK dials this number, it will transfer to your phone – whether your business is actually in Seattle or Toronto. This makes it easy for your customers to contact you and will likely garner more business, since we all know customers like things to made as easy as possible for them.
Support Other Types of Phone Communication
Do you remember Fax machines? Believe it or not, people do still fax, which means it may be important for your business to support it. Great news! VoIP services support faxing and better yet, do so without the need of a fax machine. You’re able to send and receive faxes on your desktop or mobile device and can receive notifications of a fax via email or SMS (text) message.
These days many people prefer SMS over a phone call. Supporting SMS as a communication channel for your business is important to ensure you do not miss an opportunity. With a VoIP phone system, your customers can SMS any of your business phone numbers. When an SMS message is received, you’ll be able to respond from your desktop or mobile device.
Additional Features to Set You Apart From Your Competition
With a VoIP phone system, you can fully customize how, where, and for how long your phone rings. You can even setup an IVR (interactive voice response) so that your callers are greeted with a voice prompt guiding them to their destination.
Although some businesses believe that it is best to let their phone ring to everyone, this ultimately leads to your employees learning to ignore incoming calls and results in a poor customer experience. By defining your call routing rules, you can focus the incoming call to those that are best equipped to answer it, then redirect it if they are not available. Additionally since these call routing rules are not limited to your office setting, you may treat your mobile phone like any other as your build your rules, reducing the chance of a missed opportunity.
Configuring your standard business hours and any holidays that you will be closed will help ensure the best customer experience. Once you have the dates and times setup, you may also setup specific rules for how you would like the calls handled. You can start with a custom greeting to let them know your availability, then determine where the call should go. Perhaps you would like the calls to go to voicemail so that you may respond when you’re back in the office, or maybe you want the calls to be forwarded to your mobile phone after hours. Regardless of how you route the calls, the end result will be a better caller experience and a higher likelyhood of having the opportunity to interact with them.
Call Recording and Reporting
Whether you choose to automatically record all calls or manually record specific calls, keeping an audio record is a great way to both protect your business and identify training opportunities for your team.
When it comes to reporting, it’s important to know how many calls you’ve missed or sent to voicemail as you strive to improve the customer experience. Depending on your business, you may also benefit from live dashboards that allow you to track metrics in real time.