Table of contents
- What is VoIP?
- How do VoIP providers work?
- PBX vs. VoIP: What’s the difference?
- The benefits of using VoIP for your business
- How to choose the right VoIP provider for your needs
- Setting up and using VoIP in your business
- Common concerns with VoIP and how to address them
- Tips for getting the most out of your VoIP service
- Understanding local and federal government regulation
Are you researching VoIP providers for your business? Making the switch to a VoIP system can be daunting. There is a lot of information out there and it can be difficult to know where to start.
In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about VoIP providers, so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your company. We’ll also discuss the benefits of switching to a VoIP system and how it can help improve your customer service and contact center operations.
VoIP providers have come a long way in recent years. VoIP systems are a more affordable and efficient option than traditional phone systems. The cost savings alone are worth the switch. By using VoIP, companies saved 90% on international calls and 75% on operational costs alone. Keep reading for a complete overview of what you need to know before moving to a VoIP system.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol. Essentially, it means making calls over the internet. Voice over Internet Protocol is referred to as the technology that allows people to make voice calls over IP networks in real-time.
It’s a common misconception that VoIP is only for big businesses and enterprises. In reality, VoIP providers exist to serve all types of business needs – from the smallest businesses to the largest enterprises.
There are many VoIP providers in the market today but not all offer quality customer service. When choosing a provider, be sure to do your research and determine what functionalities your company needs.
How do VoIP providers work?
VoIP works in a very similar way to a conventional phone system, but it’s usually much more affordable and easier to scale. VoIP providers offer several features that are either not available or much more expensive than a traditional phone line.
A VoIP system sends voice signals over a packet-switched network instead of a traditional telephone network. This is done by converting the voice signals into digital IP data packets that are then transmitted over an IP network.
The VoIP gateway is connected to the internet and the user’s phone. A VoIP system uses special software to compress the voice signal, convert it into digital form, and then send it over the internet. The VoIP gateway on the receiving end turns the compressed signal back into an analog signal that can be used by a regular telephone.
There are many benefits of VoIP for businesses. We’ll dive into an extensive list later, but here are a few key benefits summed up:
- Cost savings: VoIP is often cheaper than traditional phone service because it uses your existing internet connection. There are no added costs for using long-distance or international calls.
- Increased flexibility and mobility: With VoIP, your employees can make and receive calls from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection.
- Enhanced features: VoIP systems come with a range of features that are not available with traditional phone service, such as voicemail to email, caller ID, and call forwarding.
- Scalability: VoIP systems are scalable, so they can grow with your business. You can add or remove users and phone lines as needed.
PBX vs. VoIP: What’s the difference?
Contact centers often have to choose between using a hosted or on-site phone system. Both options provide complex technical functions with various perks and drawbacks. Here’s the breakdown of each:
An on-site PBX: The Private Branch Exchange (or PBX, as it is often known) is a business’s private network of phones. A person can use several extensions to make and receive calls and pass phone conversations among one another. Although one of the main drawbacks of an on-site PBX is the associated hardware and equipment must be located on a company’s premises.
Hosted VoIP PBX: This is a phone system that uses the internet to transfer voice data. Hosted VoIP does not require on-site hardware, other than VoIP phones. It follows the same model as a physical PBX, allowing callers to make, receive, and transfer calls. Although hosted VoIP systems are simpler to maintain and less expensive to install. They provide considerably more freedom than an on-site PBX system.
The benefits of using VoIP for your business
VoIP providers lower your contact center’s cost-per-call. Using the internet to make phone calls instead of traditional phone lines means that only one line is needed for both people talking. This is because the call data is sent over the internet, rather than using a physical line. VoIP makes domestic and long-distance calls cheaper overall.
Plus, most VoIP providers offer flat-rate pricing for unlimited calling plans within the United States and Canada. And international rates are often more affordable than what you would get with a traditional phone carrier.
Increases mobility of service
This benefit is especially relevant in 2022. Many employees continue to work from or follow a hybrid work model with some in-office days. VoIP services follow you or your agents wherever they go. Provided you have an internet connection, whether it’s through a cell phone carrier or a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can make and receive calls as if you were in the office. You can also use an extension number from any location. So, no more missed calls simply because you’re out of the office.
Many VoIP providers offer mobile apps that allow you to use your business number on your personal cell phone. This is a great way to keep your business and personal life separate without having to carry two phones around.
Customizes features to your business
VoIP providers offer a wide range of features and benefits that can be customized to fit your company’s needs. These include caller ID, virtual numbers, contact lists, voicemail, and more. These features allow you to multi-task across devices, dramatically boosting productivity.
Some VoIP providers offer additional features like voicemail-to-text transcriptions which can be sent directly to your inbox for review on the go, and forwarding of messages and voicemails to multiple colleagues with a single click. VoIP services are flexible enough to be designed specifically for your business. Do your research and note which features best suit your company’s operations.
Improves customer communication
In today’s global market, businesses can be located anywhere. With a VoIP phone system, you can choose where your calls ring and how. Give your business the ability to have a virtual office no matter where you or your customer are located. VoIP providers offer features like voicemail transcription, call forwarding, and caller ID that can make it look like your calls are coming from your main office number.
VoIP systems come with a variety of features that can automate customer service. For example, contact center solutions like automatic call distribution (ACD) can help route calls to the right department or agent. This not only saves time for your customers but also helps improve first-call resolution rates.
A common worry that arises with VoIP is that if the internet stops working, so does the ability to make calls. However, with VoIP systems, this isn’t often the case. Most providers offer a backup plan in case of an outage which can include forwarding calls to your cell phone or landline.
Call forwarding, like other VoIP phone system features, is extremely adaptable. You won’t lose time because of local power outages or weather-related events since you select where your calls are forwarded and how they’re handled. If your office phone isn’t answered, your mobile device or home computer will ring instead.
Some business VoIP providers also include a second line for contact centers. This is an important tool for businesses that want to ensure they’re providing the best possible service. By having a separate customer service line, you can ensure that your customers are getting the help they need without tying up your mainline.
Makes installation and maintenance easy
Another advantage of VoIP is that IP phones are rather simple to set up, even if you’re not very tech-savvy. There’s no need for expert technicians to run phone lines throughout your workplace. IP phones are simply plug-and-play.
Hosted VoIP allows you to add new users very easily. You can also change your system configuration with a web portal. It’s simple for you to maintain your system without often needing professional support.
Scales with your company
Successful business systems scale with the needs of the business. But traditional phone systems are difficult to scale. One of the benefits of VoIP is that it allows you to scale your operations, staying efficient and productive while also remaining cost-effective.
Line additions and line deletions are typical features of VoIP systems. You can add a line when you hire a new employee and eliminate lines if your company downsizes. You only ever pay for the services you need.
Integrates with other solutions
Your company, no doubt, utilizes a variety of other systems and technologies to improve operational efficiency. VoIP seamlessly integrates with a wide range of existing business applications.
This is extremely beneficial for businesses that want to improve their customer service or contact center operations. By integrating your VoIP phone system with your CRM, you can create a more streamlined customer experience.
How to choose the right VoIP provider for your needs
When choosing a VoIP provider, here are the main things to consider:
The type of service you need: VoIP can be used for different kinds of business cases. You’ll need to decide if you want a hosted VoIP service or an on-premises VoIP solution.
The features you need: Be sure to choose a provider that offers the features your company needs, such as call forwarding, caller ID, voicemail to email, and more.
The size of your business: Not all providers offer the same services or plans. Be sure to choose a provider that offers a plan that fits the size of your business.
The quality of customer service: This is an important factor to consider when choosing a VoIP provider. Make sure to read reviews and ask for references from past customers.
The price: VoIP providers offer a variety of plans, meaning prices will vary. Be sure to find one that fits your budget and needs.
Since your company shapes what type of plan you need, let’s dive into these a bit further:
Understand your business communication needs
Choosing new technology typically falls under the IT department. But it’s a decision that can impact all teams within a company. Start by identifying what VoIP services key stakeholders will need to continue doing their jobs.
Do you need a VoIP system for all employees or just certain ones? Do remote workers need access to the service? How many phone lines will you need? What kind of features does your company require? Once you have an idea of what your business needs, it’s time to start researching VoIP providers.
Read reviews and customer stories
When you’re researching VoIP providers, read reviews, testimonials, and customer stories. This will give you a good idea of the quality of service a provider offers as well as what to expect if you decide to work with them. You can also ask for references from past customers.
When combing through reviews, be sure to identify the companies that are similar to yours in size, sector, business needs, etc. Ask VoIP providers for any case studies. They can sometimes be found right on their website. Finally, make sure to read reviews of a service provider on third-party sites in addition to their site.
Compare prices and look at your budget
A huge draw for companies to switch to VoIP is because of the money it saves. VoIP systems are usually cheaper than traditional phone systems. But you need to be careful and research whether or not a provider charges extra fees. Make sure you know what kind of plan your business needs. A plan that’s good for a small business is probably not the best for a larger company.
When pricing out VoIP providers, ask about discounts for prepaying or signing a contract. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of new phones if you need them.
Research each provider’s support offerings
You need VoIP services that provide high performance and dependability for your contact center. That being said, don’t assume all service providers offer the same level of quality. Be sure to research each provider’s customer service and tech support offerings. Do they have 24/7 support year round? What is their average hold time? How many times have you had to call them before getting a human on the line?
You need to make sure your team can contact the provider when there is an issue. This means finding out how many contact centers they have, what their hours are, and what kind of support they offer (phone, chat, email).
Setting up and using VoIP in your business
Now that you have a good understanding of what to look for in a VoIP provider, it’s time to go over how to set up your account and start using the service.
Be prepared for a bit of a learning curve when setting up your VoIP system. Most providers offer online tutorials and customer support to help you get started. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask your VoIP provider for additional assistance.
To review, here’s what you’ll need to hit the ground running:
- Set up an account with a VoIP provider
- Choose the right VoIP plan for your business
- Buy new phones or use existing ones
- Configure your network for VoIP
- Train employees on how to use the new system
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to start using VoIP in your business. You’ll be able to make and receive calls, use features like voicemail and caller ID, and more. Contact your VoIP provider if you have any questions. They’re here to help you.
Common concerns with VoIP and how to address them
There are a few common concerns and problems when it comes to using VoIP, but fortunately, they’re usually easy to fix or mitigate.
Interrupted VoIP phone service: The main disadvantage of VoIP compared to traditional lines is that it is entirely reliant on the strength of your internet connection. No internet connection means no VoIP phone service. This can be a problem during power outages or severe weather conditions when the internet is down. Mitigate this risk by investing in a reliable internet provider.
Security concerns with VoIP: Another downside of VoIP is that it can be less secure than traditional phone lines. Since VoIP uses the internet, it’s vulnerable to hacking just like any other internet-connected device. This means your calls could be intercepted or your voicemails accessed by unauthorized individuals. Look for a VoIP provider that implements security measures to protect your voice data during VoIP calls.
Managing a VoIP system can be daunting at first: While there are many benefits to using VoIP, managing a system can be overwhelming for some business owners. This includes everything from troubleshooting problems to adding new users and setting up voicemail. Choose a VoIP provider with solid customer support that helps your team implement and manage your system.
Tips for getting the most out of your VoIP service
Prepare and train your employees
One of the best things about implementing a VoIP system is that it’s easy to use and doesn’t require any additional skills. The user experience is the same as it was before you changed your phones to a VoIP system.
You can still increase efficiency, however, by giving all your employees some training on how to use key features. If everyone continues to use the new system in the same way that they used the old one, you won’t benefit from the advantages that VoIP can offer.
Make sure to have a backup plan
As we mentioned earlier, one of the disadvantages of VoIP is that it doesn’t work without an internet connection. This means you need to have a backup plan in place in case your power goes out or your internet goes down. Make sure you have a backup phone system in place that can be used in emergencies.
Maximize the efficiency of your VoIP system
There are a few ways to maximize the efficiency of your VoIP system. One is by using call routing features to direct calls to the right person or department automatically. You can also use voicemail-to-text transcription to save time by reading voicemail messages instead of listening to them. Additionally, you can use conference calling features to have multiple people on a call at the same time.
Check for automatic provisioning
If you have a small business (less than 50 employees) then installing VoIP phones is a pretty quick and easy task. It can be more difficult and time-consuming for a larger company to install phones for each desk.
While the phones are being installed, nobody can get any work done, which wastes time. To avoid this problem, ask your VoIP provider if they offer automatic provisioning. This is a feature that allows the phones to be automatically configured and installed without any intervention from you or your employees.
Understanding local and federal government regulation
Make sure you’re aware of any local laws that may impact your use of communication technology, especially those that regulate international communications. In some regions, it’s illegal to provide five-digit dialing for overseas calls. Make sure your VoIP provider complies with standards from wherever it is your team operates.
A VoIP system can save you money, increase efficiency, and provide many other benefits. However, it’s important to do your research before choosing a provider for your contact center. Using the right VoIP provider is essential for getting the most out of your phone system. Take into account the needs of your contact center and prepare your employees to ensure a smooth transition to VoIP.