One of the best upgrades that a small business can get is VoIP phone service. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and it’s fast becoming the default for successful companies. In fact, VoIP has taken over traditional phone services and is only poised to continue to grow. VoIP services for small business customers can help your business grow while also improving customer service, sales, and a lot more. So, how do you get started with VoIP?
Do I Need a Provider for VoIP?
VoIP Providers Deliver an Essential Service
Just as you need the help of a telephone company to get traditional phone service, if you want VoIP services for small business, you will need a VoIP provider. Unless you’re willing to build your own data center, establish your own connections to telephone networks, and start your own VoIP company, a provider is a must. Fortunately, you have an abundance of options. You can also trust managed IT service providers to select the right VoIP provider for you.
VoIP providers will assign you a VoIP phone number for a monthly fee. You can even request multiple numbers, transfer an existing phone number, or get specialty numbers like a toll-free phone number through your provider. Most VoIP providers have tiered service levels so that you can choose which features you need for your company. But what does a VoIP provider do exactly? It helps to understand how VoIP works in the first place.
How Does VoIP Work?
VoIP is one of many internet protocols. Your devices use a variety of protocols to transfer data over the internet. For example, FTP, or file transfer protocol, allows you to send and receive files directly between two devices. The Voice over Internet Protocol is designed to take voice data and transfer it over the internet efficiently. When you consider what a successful phone call requires, it becomes clear that VoIP is quite complex.
If you’ve ever dealt with a bit of lag while on the phone, you know how frustrating it can be. Likewise, static or poor call quality can completely ruin a phone call. Phone calls need to be instantaneous and crystal clear, which is why VoIP establishes a real-time connection between two devices. It uses smart compression algorithms to take voice data and make it easy to transfer over the internet.
How Do VoIP Phones and Regular Phones Communicate?
The most impressive part of VoIP technology is that it allows you to call any phone, even one that doesn’t use VoIP. This is where your provider plays a crucial role. VoIP providers establish connections to telephone lines and cellular towers so that your VoIP call can reach any phone, anywhere. This works both ways, so you don’t have to worry about customers being able to reach your business when you switch to VoIP.
VoIP technology has matured incredibly in the past decade. What was once a niche application has now become the gold standard for businesses of all sizes. As long as you have an internet connection, you have the best phone service possible. So, what makes VoIP better than traditional phone service?
Advantages of Switching to VoIP Services for Small Business
Just as people have begun to abandon cable TV in favor of streaming services, so too have companies found lots of reasons to switch to VoIP in lieu of traditional phones. VoIP services for small businesses are especially advantageous. VoIP scales with your business while delivering better quality service than your local phone company at a much lower cost.
Furthermore, VoIP gives you access to some incredible features that your local phone company will never be able to provide. Analog systems will simply never be able to match the potential of a digital one.
When your company needs a new phone line, you need to call the local phone company and request a visit from a technician. When you need a new VoIP phone line, you simply log into your administrator’s account and add a line. In minutes your line is active. VoIP allows you to expand your phone service as your business grows, which makes it great for startups and small businesses.
You can also control who can access your lines. You can set up a line specifically for customer support and use extensions just as you would a traditional phone system. This makes it easy to scale up phone service in specific departments. Best of all, adding new lines often gets less expensive as you scale up.
VoIP providers offer a wide variety of price points for your needs. Barebones VoIP service that just provides a phone number and unlimited calling can be had for as little as $10 per month. More advanced features come bundled together with higher-tier plans.
VoIP also gives you access to affordable international calling, something phone companies notoriously gouge for. If you do business in multiple locations, VoIP-to-VoIP calls are completely free. If you need to call landlines or mobile phones in other countries, you can set up international VoIP numbers or pay low rates when needed. Overall, VoIP delivers a much more cost-effective solution
One of the only drawbacks of VoIP is that you need an internet connection to use your VoIP number. A decade ago when internet connections were much slower, it was difficult to get consistent quality calls through VoIP. Some dedicated VoIP providers had better service than others, but none were perfect. However, that has all changed in recent years.
Not only have VoIP compression algorithms gotten better, but our internet connections are now much wider and can handle VoIP calls with ease. Furthermore, VoIP services are increasingly using cloud computing systems like Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure, which provide a reliable backbone that never fails. If you do run into any issues, your managed IT services provider can step in and resolve them for you.
Besides being cheaper, better, and more flexible, VoIP systems come packed with some truly impressive features. Consider some of the advanced features that you can get with VoIP that you won’t be able to get anywhere else.
Everything the Phone Company Does, and More
Basic phone services like call forwarding, voicemail, extensions, and caller ID are practically standard features for VoIP phones. However, VoIP makes them much easier to use. Instead of having to call the phone company or use complicated analog equipment, you can just change your settings in an app on your phone.
Best of all, you can customize these features for each of your lines. Individual users can personalize their experience.
Voicemail to Text and Email
Because VoIP turns audio data into a digital file, your VoIP provider can use voice recognition software to turn that file into text. The full transcription of your voicemail can be forwarded to you via text message or email. It’s much more efficient than having to dial into a voicemail inbox, and it can help you respond to client requests if you’re already on the line with someone else.
Voice Recognition and Analysis
Some VoIP providers are using voice recognition for much more than voicemail-to-text services. What if you could listen to all of your employees’ conversations with customers and gain insight into how they treat clients? That’s exactly what some VoIP providers are doing. Using AI, the VoIP provider’s servers listen to conversations to gauge mood and satisfaction.
Our voices reflect our emotions, as do the words that we use. The AI could alert you to an employee who’s been overly aggressive with clients so that you can tone them down.
If you’ve always wanted to have a phone menu for your customers, VoIP makes it easy to set one up. You can upload your own recordings to guide users through the menu or rely on text-to-speech systems. Using a menu gives a professional impression to your customers. In addition, it’s much easier for your customers to get ahold of the right person.
Businesses grow when they make data-driven decisions. However, your phone activity has always been difficult to quantify. While your phone company may issue a statement that lists your incoming and outgoing calls, feeding that data into analytics software is cumbersome at best. VoIP providers make it easy by outputting records in formats your software can understand.
Better yet, many VoIP providers give you access to analytics dashboards, so you don’t even need additional software. You can track your company’s call activity down to the second. Use this data to find your best CSRs, plan your marketing strategy based on call volume according to geography, or simply cut down on time spent on the phone.
VoIP Phones for Small Businesses
Even though VoIP can work on a computer or mobile device, you can also buy special VoIP phones that run off of powered Ethernet lines. These phones have lots of convenient features and colorful touchscreens to give your staff even more power.
If you’re not sure what kind of VoIP service for small business you need or what features would be best for you, reach out to managed services experts. Contact Cyber Command to schedule a technology strategy session and ask us about how we can help you upgrade your phone system today.