Choosing the best mobile VoIP app for your business
According to technavio.com, the global mobile VoIP market is estimated to grow at a rate of 28% between now and 2020. But what exactly is mobile VoIP, how can it support both small and enterprise level businesses, and what are the trends to keep on top of to stay ahead of the game? With the help of some of the best mobile VoIP providers in the country, we’ve outlined everything you need to know to make smart choices for your business needs.
What is Mobile VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice Over IP, and in the simplest terms, it is making voice calls over the internet. Using SIP packaging, it has extended its capabilities in recent years as a technology, and can now include any multimedia, including messaging, file sharing and conferencing capabilities.
With the rise of mobile browsing and the smartphone revolution, mobile VoIP has taken the world by storm. It offers VoIP functionality from your mobile or handheld device, usually through a VoIP app. Many people are familiar with this technology already, even if they are not consciously aware of the fact.
Think about apps like Skype, or WhatsApp. It is likely that you use one or both of these on a regular basis. But when it comes to mobile VoIP with some of the top US providers, you have to think bigger to get a true understanding of the potential benefits.
The simplest way to imagine mobile VoIP transforming your business is in creating a mobile office. Think about the common tasks and interactions which take place in your physical office space. Mobile VoIP is increasing its functionality all the time to encompass these, and includes more options that you might not even have considered. A mobile office has a number of benefits:
• Link Separate Offices. If you have more than one office, this is a great way of creating a seamless working environment between them. It also helps alleviate time differences for global workers, as staff can take calls or meetings from home or on the move. The Grasshopper VoIP app for example, allows users from one office to seamlessly forward a call to the mobile of another staff member abroad. That user can call clients or customers from their mobile in return, and the number will show them working from the local office. Check with your Mobile VoIP provider to see if they offer PBX capabilities, helping you create a private branch exchange for your staff, not only for all of your physical offices, but also on mobile.
• Support Teleworkers. According to forbes.com, 68% of US workers say they expect to be able to enjoy working from home opportunities in the future of their career. Flexible working conditions have become an expectation for many people, as well as a popular perk offered to complete a job package. When your staff request flexibility, mobile VoIP makes this a simple yes.
• Appear ‘Always On’. Working hours can become a thing of the past when your mobile phone is also your office phone. Any time a customer has a query or a concern, they have a direct line straight to the correct staff member. VoIP providers like Alliance Phones allow users to create extensions and groups of extensions so that calls can be routed effectively. If your business wants some downtime, you can also create personalized voicemails or greetings which explain opening hours or redirect accordingly.
• Avoid Service Failures. We’ve all experienced losing mobile signal at the worst possible time. As VoIP service uses your internet, whether that’s WiFi or mobile data, you can experience great call quality, even when your mobile signal is poor.
• Productivity. Visually.com found that, on average, each employee can save 30 minutes per day by using a mobile VoIP service. A lot of this is down to simplified communications over the traditional office environment. RingCentral incorporates a feature rich multimedia and messaging element to their mobile VoIP. Users can message other staff members, or groups of staff members and departments in one go. They can view group conversations among colleagues, and even send and receive multimedia files from within the chat group. The unlimited text messages will not come out of your regular phone package allowance, making communication effortless and constant among your staff.
• Professional Look. For small businesses especially, having your business number routed directly to you wherever you are is priceless. Take a mobile VoIP service such as ZenPhone for example. The company allows you to create unique local numbers around the globe, so that your customers always feel that you are a professional local presence for them. Whether your user is calling from Japan or Australia, they will be able to use a unique local area coded number to call your mobile directly.
Popular Features of Mobile VoIP App
Mobile VoIP has come a long way since simple voice calls over the internet. Most successful VoIP for business companies now offer a conference bridge. This allows multiple staff members to enter a single voice call, or private chat room, creating a virtual meeting space. RingCentral allows staff to login from their phone using corporate credentials, keeping your meetings safe and secure.
Conferencing capabilities are improving all the time, and can include video chat, instant messaging, and a conference floor monitor system. This last tool allows admin to manage invitations to meetings, questions coming in, and options like muting certain members.
Mobile VoIP also includes some great extras for support staff and customer service. One of the most popular is screen sharing. This means that IT support or other colleagues can see your problem or example at a glance from their own screen. Mobile VoIP also allows for video and file sharing, all over the internet, and without a third party middleman. This saves both time and money. For example, if your staff are all using Vonage, they can enjoy free calls, text and video chat and even reduced cost international calls.
Unified communication features are also very common, and can include tools such as voicemail to email, email to fax, text messaging to voice, and many other combinations to improve productivity.
Reducing on admin tasks is a common reason to choose business VoIP, and many of these features can be managed by mobile too. Some mobile VoIP apps allow you to manage your extensions and ring groups on the move, or create and control your auto-attendant features. An auto-attendant is the virtual receptionist on the end of the line, which might ask you to press numbers on your keypad to get through to particular departments, or direct you to opening hours or voicemail.
Creating a holistic mobile solution includes integrations where possible. Todays’ staff and customers want to be able to control as much as possible from the same solution, streamlining operations and reducing the amount of downloads and apps they need on their handheld devices. Cloud software solutions are usually easy to integrate with business and mobile VoIP, from Dropbox to WebEx. Here are two of the popular headings they come under, with a few examples. If you have specific third party integrations which are important to you, be sure to check with your mobile VoIP provider that they are suitable for mobile.
• CRM. Customer relationship management tools which can be integrated into the top business VoIP solutions include Salesforce, Act, Zoho, Microsoft Dynamics, and Oracle. These allow you to keep track of your customer data, your incoming and outgoing calls, capture call notes, and explore real-time accountability.
• Productivity. Whether it’s customer service, office staff or teleworkers, your business deserves to get the most out of its employees. Your business VoIP can support this, with integrations with popular productivity software such as G-suite or Office 365. Amongst others, Salesforce Desk and Zendesk can support customer service, while software such as Clio or ConnectWise are great for business management.
The Potential Costs of Mobile VoIP
The biggest concern that customers have when it comes to mobile VoIP is reliability. This is key when it comes to the image of your business and your interactions with both customers and staff alike. Latency errors, dropped calls, bad signal, lagging or problems achieving calls: One or more of these are problems which most of us have experienced with free VoIP services or mobile VoIP services for personal use.
Enterprise level VoIP is a whole different ball game. The most important reason is Quality of Service or QoS. All VoIP companies are required to meet QoS protocols which include an evaluation of jitter, latency and delay, ensuring a certain amount of resources are allocated to voice calls.
Don’t forget to factor in bandwidth, though. If you’re using WiFi, your call is only as good as the bandwidth it is using. Working from a crowded coffee shop full of people using the network might slow you down.
It’s also worth remembering that unlike wired in VoIP on desktop and in the office, your data charges may vary from provider to provider. While the calls themselves may not be charged, the use of the internet might well be. Any user will need to be aware of how much mobile data they have to play with, and how much will be used up, especially with data-heavy tasks such as video calls. Of course, staff can use their home WiFi or any other connection to limit costs, but this is important to keep in mind when signing up.
Other common concerns you may want to talk to your mobile VoIP provider about include:
• Your VoIP working seamlessly between desktop and mobile, updating in real time, for example when it comes to reporting or client management.
• The ability of the mobile VoIP app to work in the background, allowing you to continue other work or check email while you take part in a call.
• Degradation issues. Can you limit the bandwidth for certain parts of the interaction, for example giving more resources to voice over video quality, or helping to send a file more quickly?
• Is the app well optimized for touchscreen?
Which Future Trends Should I Look Out for When it Comes to Mobile VoIP App?
Mobile VoIP is improving all the time, while extending its capabilities for business. Siemens.com projects that by 2020 there will be nearly 26 billion objects connected online. Whether this automation syncs with the office kitchen to make it quicker to brew the coffee for an important meeting, or automatically prints out the right files to distribute to colleagues from the photocopier, the opportunities are almost endless for the Internet of Things. Mobile VoIP and automation could well be the future of business. An enterprise VoIP phone could help staff reserve office space, book travel arrangements, or even manage elements such as heating and lighting remotely.
Security is paramount when it comes to business VoIP, both for mobile and desktop. The latest trends in security include powerful ID authentication tools, end to end encryption, and Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) encryption. RingCentral’s Chief Security Officer recommends you speak to your provider about setting up VLANs or Virtual LANS which keep your voice traffic separate on your network. You should also ask if your VoIP network is being kept within your corporate firewall.
From your side as the customer, you can remember to change the default passwords when you get started, and keep on top of your security permissions, enabling strong authentication for ID management.
The emergence of 5G technology is also an important step forward for mobile VoIP. The internet speeds which can be achieved with 5G are the fastest we have ever seen, and are guaranteed to increase productivity and opportunity for remote workers outside of the office. Fortune estimates they might well be around 10x faster than we currently experience with 4G. This has a knock-on effect on not just voice calls, but unified communications and video conferencing capabilities.
How Do I Know Which Mobile VoIP to Choose?
Choosing the right mobile VoIP can feel like an arduous task, especially with so many elements to consider. Our experts have compiled the definitive chart of the best mobile VoIP solutions, both standalone and to complement Business VoIP for the office. Reviewing and rating them on factors such as price, reliability, features and customer service, we can help you make the right call, literally.