Many small to mid-size contractors have switched to voice over internet protocol (VoIP) systems from traditional landlines because of significant cost savings; the ability to work from anywhere (and still use your office phone number); and the numerous features VoIP provides.
This article will help contractors better understand VoIP systems in order to determine if VoIP is right for you.
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 features such as 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 - 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 - 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.
How VoIP Systems Transform Communications
As companies grow, having a phone system that aligns with the publics’ expectations is critical. Unlike traditional landlines, VoIP systems come with powerful features to help you make big impressions. These include:
- Virtual Receptionist - 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.
- Ring Groups - to ensure every caller has a positive experience, you can program Ring Groups to ring simultaneously - so everyone in a department receives the call; or ring sequentially - to ring from person to person until someone picks up.
- Mobility - staying connected to clients when away from the office is critical today. It's not practical or professional for employees to use their personal number for business. VoIP systems, unlinke 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 their work site.
- Conference Calling - If conference calls are an integral part of your work, you 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
- Virtual Fax - faxing remains as 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. Faxes are converted to PDF files and manages within the end-user portal. Each user who needs access will have fax capabilities via their phone extension. The account manager can review the logs to track all Virtual Fax activity.
- 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.
Setting Up an IP Phone System
Setting up your business VoIP system literally just takes minutes.
One of the differences companies 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, including:
- Connecting your base station (a tablet-sized router that sorts out voice data and traffic to ensure clear, reliable calls) to your analog phone.
- Plugging 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 come up. It’s important to know that you can call your service provider and 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
- Important impression - 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 company has 5 or 50+ employees, your company 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.
- Reduced costs - lower costs is 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 working everywhere. A VoIP system provides the tools to communicate with staff effortlessly – no matter where employees are.
Ken Narita’s leads SMB marketing at VoIP provider, Ooma. Narita has led demand generation, field marketing, customer marketing, and marketing operations teams, integrating campaigns across all functions to drive results. For questions or comments, please email: [email protected]. For more information visit Ooma.