Today, business continuity professionals face numerous challenges – a global pandemic, its effects on the economy and businesses, a percentage of the workforce working remotely and more.

Having a phone system that is outdated, where calls are missed, should not be one of them. Many professionals have decided to switch to the latest in communications tools – voice over internet protocol (VoIP) systems – from traditional phone landlines, for numerous reasons.

These reasons include the ability for employees to work literally from anywhere while still using your office phone number; the plethora of communications features VoIP provides; and one of the most significant reasons, the dramatic cost savings VoIP offers customers across the board.

To gain a better understanding of how VoIP could benefit your business, read on.

VOIP Phone Systems – What Are They

As the name implies, Voice over Internet Protocol phones or VoIP use the internet to easily make and receive phone calls using either analog phones or IP (Internet Protocol) phones that can be plugged into any Ethernet jack in your office.

Once connected, you can make and receive calls, and  using a web portal and your login, you can customize numerous features that VoIP provides, including the Virtual Receptionist welcome message your callers will here, or add new users in your office to the phone system.

So what is the biggest difference between VoIP and traditional landline phones? In one word, technology.

Landline phones haven’t changed much since the beginning of the 20th Century when they launched, requiring infrastructure of wiring and exchange hardware in your office. By today’s standards, landline phone technology is limited, really allowing the user to only make and receive voice calls.

VoIP technology is different. It has changed how businesses communicate today. While IP capabilities have been around for several decades, VoIP phone services continue to advance year after year, due to continued innovation and faster internet speeds.

Unlike traditional landline phones that require add-ons for features at additional costs, VoIP systems already come with an array of popular communication features built-in from the start.

VoIP Systems – How They Work

VoIP phones work by turning your voice into data, which is then transmitted over the internet, which is very similar to when you send out emails.

If you’ve used Skype in the past, you’ve already 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 the 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.

How VoIP Systems Transform Communications

As businesses grow, having a phone system that aligns with the publics’ expectations is critical, especially today. Unlike traditional landlines, VoIP systems come with powerful features, including:

  • The Virtual Receptionist – missing calls or potential business because your phone is busy, or your greeting is unprofessional is easily resolved by the Virtual Receptionist. When a live person can’t take a call, the Virtual Receptionist steps in to answer it. Instead of callers hearing a busy signal or being put immediately on hold, your callers listen to a professional, friendly message and given the right options on how best to proceed.
  • Ring Groups – to make sure every call is answered, 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.
  • Being Mobile – these days it is critical to stay connected to customers and prospects when working away from the office. 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 their work site.
  • Conference Calling – is still an integral part for businesses, so it’s important that your conference phone delivers the right sound. If participants find it difficult to hear others, the meeting will be challenging. To ensure everyone experiences in-person call quality, look for a conference phone with the following features: 360° voice range; an array of built-in microphones; and echo cancellation background noise suppression. Most IP conference phones come with Bluetooth or Ethernet capabilities. Choose the connection that works best for you to help make every conference call a success.
  • Virtual Fax – for many businesses, faxing remains an important form of communications. With VoIP phone systems, you can still send traditional faxes from your phone to a fax machine, removing the need for fax equipment. Faxes are then converted to PDF files and managed 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 is critical as businesses make the transition to an IP system. 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, which can be a hassle.

Setting Up VoIP Phone Systems

For those making the switch, setting up your business VoIP system literally just takes a few minutes and is easy for everyone to do.

One of the biggest differences businesses notice when switching to a VoIP system is the reduction of equipment on-premises. As most know, traditional business phone systems require the installation of large wall-mounted fixtures, followed by ongoing upgrades and IT servicing.

With VoIP systems, the hardware generally consists of just one or two compact, plug-in pieces. When it comes to switching your phones to VoIP, you have a few device options. You can continue using your existing analog or digital desk phones, or if you’d like to upgrade, you can purchase and switch to IP phones.

Based on your needs, you might need cordless phones that staff carry with them as they work, or perhaps your receptionist requires a specialized unit to make fielding calls easy, flawless, and professional.

Follow these few simple steps once your desk phones and VoIP starter kit arrives:

  • 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.

Whether you have questions about initial setup or need clarification on billing, your dedicated support person will:

  • Walk you through any steps you need to take.
  • Resolve your issue in a timely, professional manner.
  • Ensure you’re happy with your new VoIP phone system.

VoIP Key Advantages

VoIP offers businesses a new, modern way to connect and interact with customers, prospects, and the public. When considering switching to a VoIP phone system, consider the following key advantages.

  • The right impression – how the public perceives your business often depends on their initial and ongoing phone interaction with you. Do they hear a welcome message and greeting with easy-to-follow directions, or are they put immediately on hold? Whether your business has 10 or 200 employees, your business will sound professional with a VoIP phone system.
  • Excellent call quality – with continued advances in technology and increased faster internet speeds, your VoIP phones will provide the call quality you need and want from day one.
  • Significant reduced costs – lower costs is one of the most appealing benefits for any business to switch to a VoIP phone system. Those with landlines fully understand the significant expense of them. From setup fees to monthly costs, and per-line expenses, costs for landlines add up. This includes the ongoing IT support businesses need.
  • Working remotely – these days, employees are working everywhere, including working from home. A VoIP system provides the tools to communicate with staff effortlessly – no matter where they are and where they are working.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Narita

Ken Narita’s marketing career spans two decades of helping businesses large and small grow. Whether advising emerging startups, guiding clients from the agency side or now leading SMB marketing at Ooma, Narita takes an empathetic approach to addressing goals, gaps, and opportunities. Narita has led demand generation, field marketing, customer marketing, and marketing operations teams, integrating campaigns across all functions to drive results. For a deeper dive and understanding of VoIP, click here for The VoIP Guidebook. To help you calculate how much your business could save by switching to a VoIP system, use the VoIP Savings Calculator. For questions or comments, please email: press@ooma.com.

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