Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional landlines for many people. Comcast, Verizon and other service providers frequently offer TV/Internet/VoIP bundles at attractive rates. With the ever-increasing number of home users, many small business owners are wondering if VoIP can help their business. The answer is definitely yes.
Telephone companies have a notorious history of tacking on extra charges for services like call waiting, caller ID, etc. With most VoIP providers, you get services like call forwarding, voicemail, caller ID and even call conferencing for no additional charge. VoIP service providers offer these features – as well as unlimited long distance calling for no extra charge – for a flat monthly rate so you do not get any surprises when the company phone bill comes in.
Most small businesses decide to go with a cloud-based hosting provider instead of buying and installing their own VoIP network equipment. The big advantage of this is that these providers charge a monthly rate per user, so you can easily add or drop users as necessary. As your business grows, you can purchase additional service or cut back if you are facing tough times. Either way, you are not locked into a fixed system.
Since VoIP runs through your business’s existing high-speed Internet connection, you can integrate it with other software and information systems. For example, you can have your voicemail forward via email so that you do not have to call into the office to check your messages. Some businesses also integrate VoIP with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software so that when a customer or vendor calls, his or her account information appears on a computer screen.
Your employees can communicate better with VoIP. For example, if a salesperson gets a voicemail from a customer while he or she is out of the office, the salesperson can easily forward the voice mail to the appropriate person to follow up on what the customer needs. Overall, your inter-office communications will be easier and your business will be able to achieve a higher customer satisfaction rate.
If you purchase hosted VoIP service, the service provider will set your business up with an easy-to-navigate web portal so that you can manage your VoIP system without the need for additional IT personnel. Alternatively, you could also just let the service provider manage the system for you. No matter which option you choose, you will have less worry about lengthy service support calls and costly site repair visits.
VoIP is a relatively new technology, and as with any new technology, some business owners may be leery of making the transition. However, the cost and productivity benefits make it an attractive option despite the initial set-up costs. In fact, many business owners feel that they recoup their initial investment rather quickly. If you are hedging on the fence about VoIP, you should speak to some service providers and hear what they can offer your business.
About the Author: Marcel Asen is a small business owner who has been using the RingCentral VOIP service for several years now. He finds it has saved his company a ton of money and the service options ensure he doesn’t need to use more than one provider for different features.
Featured image (on home page) courtesy of plong.