Entrepreneurs today face numerous challenges, including the effects of COVID-19, a global pandemic. Small businesses, especially, have been tremendously impacted.
Missing calls from clients, prospects and the public shouldn’t be one of the challenges you have to face today. Many entrepreneurs have recently decided to switch phone systems – from traditional landline phones to voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems for a myriad of reasons: significant cost savings, the ability to literally work from anywhere and still use your office phone number, and the numerous features VoIP offers.
This article will help you understand what VoIP is, its benefits and if VoIP is right for your business. For a deeper dive on VoIP, please download the free VoIP Guidebook.
What are VoIP Phone Systems?
Voice over Internet Protocol phones, as the name implies, use the Internet to make and receive calls. Some service providers enable you to use analog phones, but the majority provide IP (Internet Protocol) phones that can be plugged into any Ethernet jack.
Once connected, you can make and receive calls. Using a web portal and login, you can customize numerous features, including a virtual receptionist welcome message or adding new users.
VoIP versus traditional landline phones
The most significant difference between VoIP and landline phones, in a word, is technology. Landline phones haven’t changed much since the beginning of the 20th Century and require an infrastructure of wiring and exchange hardware. By today’s standards, landline phone technology is limited, allowing users to only make and receive voice calls.
VoIP technology has changed how companies communicate. While IP capabilities have been around several decades, VoIP services have advanced in recent years, thanks to innovation and faster Internet speeds.
Unlike landline phones that require add-ons for features at additional costs, VoIP systems come with an array of popular communication features already built in.
How VoIP systems work
VoIP phones work by turning your voice into data, which is then transmitted over the Internet, similar to sending emails.
If you’ve used Skype, you’ve used VoIP. VoIP calls are made on your phone, connected to the Internet with a network cable or adapter, or via a computer’s microphone and speakers using an app. When making calls, the VoIP service provider routes the voice data between you and the other caller – all within a split second.
Understanding VoIP basics
- VoIP PBX – stands for Private Branch Exchange and is a company’s private phone network. VoIP PBX is a cloud-based phone network that a VoIP service provider manages in the cloud and one where companies pay a monthly fee to use the service.
- Ethernet – is the Internet delivery system within a Local Area Network (LAN) – as in the network of computers and devices in your office. You’ll connect your IP phone units to the Internet with an Ethernet cable.
VoIP systems transform communications
As businesses grow, having a phone system that aligns with the public’s expectations is critical. Unlike traditional landlines, VoIP systems come with powerful features to help businesses make big impressions, including:
Missing important calls or business because your phone is busy, or your greeting is unprofessional is easily resolved by a virtual receptionist. When a live person can’t take a call, the virtual receptionist takes over. Instead of hearing a busy signal or being put on hold, callers listen to a message and can be given options on how to proceed.
To ensure every caller has a positive experience, you can program ring groups to ring simultaneously – so everyone in a department, like sales, receives the call; or ring sequentially – to ring from person to person, until someone picks up.
Staying connected to the public when away from the office is especially critical today. It’s not practical or professional for employees to use their personal number for business. VoIP systems, unlike landlines, support working remotely through mobile and desktop apps, as well as voice messages forwarded as email attachments —allowing employees to make and receive calls from anywhere in much the same way they would from the office.
If conference calls are an integral part of your work, you’ll understand the need for a conference phone that delivers the perfect sound. If callers find it hard to hear participants, the meeting will be challenging. To ensure everyone experiences in-person call quality, look for a conference phone with the following features:
- A 360° voice range.
- An array of built-in microphones.
- Echo cancellation background noise suppression.
Most IP conference phones come with Bluetooth or Ethernet capabilities. Choose the connection that works best for you and make every conference call a success.
Faxing remains an important form of communication for many offices. With VoIP phone systems, you can still send traditional faxes from your phone to a fax machine. Virtual Fax removes the need for fax equipment.
Keep existing phone number
Keeping your office phone number, your lifeline, makes the transition to an IP system seamless. The moment you plug in your phones, you’ll be able to make and receive calls. No need to change business cards, letterhead and website information. Your VoIP service provider can take care of moving your number to your new system.
How to set up an IP phone system
Setting up a business VoIP system literally just takes minutes.
One of the differences businesses notice when switching to a VoIP system is the reduction in on-premises equipment. Traditional business phone systems require the installation of large wall-mounted fixtures, followed by upgrades and IT servicing.
With VoIP systems, the hardware generally consists of one or two compact, plug-in pieces. When it comes to switching your phones to VoIP, you have device options. You can continue using your existing analog or digital desk phones, or if you’d like to upgrade, you can purchase IP phones.
Once your desk phones and starter kit arrive, follow a few simple steps:
- Connect your base station (a tablet-sized router that sorts out voice data and traffic to ensure clear, reliable calls) to your analog phone.
- Plug in wireless extensions (into regular power outlets) to connect analog phones to the internet.
- Connect IP phones to an Ethernet jack.
24/7 customer support
Any time you switch to new technology, questions will come up. It’s important to know that you can call your service provider to get the help you need.
Whether you have questions about the initial setup or need clarification on billing, your dedicated support person will:
- Walk you through any steps you need to take.
- Resolve your issue.
- Ensure you’re happy with the service.
Key advantages of VoIP systems
How the public perceives your business often depends on their initial phone interaction. Will they hear a welcome message with easy directions, or be put on hold immediately? Whether your business has two, 10 or 20 employees, your business will sound professional with a VoIP phone system.
Excellent call quality
With technology advances and increased internet speeds, your VoIP phones will provide the call quality you need.
Lower costs are one of the most appealing benefits for switching to VoIP systems. Those with landlines understand the significant expense – setup fees, monthly costs, per-line expenses, etc. – all add up, including IT support. To calculate how much you could save by switching to a VoIP system, use the VoIP Savings Calculator.
Connect with remote teams
Employees today are literally working everywhere. A VoIP system provides the tools to communicate with staff effortlessly – no matter where employees are.