Introduction to Business VoIP
Chances are, you already use some form of VoIP or internet phone service through your business phone line. If you’ve ever used Skype or WhatsApp—or any kind of internet service to make a call-you’re experiencing the power of Voice Over IP (VoIP).
For businesses both large and small, VoIP services are an easy, surefire way to make telecommunications more efficient—and affordable. For small and medium-sized businesses, these savings can make a big difference. The efficiency of a VoIP system can also ease some headaches for companies that may not have the manpower to handle complicated or less streamlined communication needs. Small businesses generally don’t need some of the more sophisticated VoIP features—like video conferencing that can accommodate 100 or more participants—but the flexible pricing, ease of operations, and customer service offered by many VoIP providers can be of real assistance.
When it comes to integrating VoIP into your business, there are some factors to consider before you choose a provider. The top VoIP providers can help you lower costs, reach more customers, and even enhance your mobility and productivity. The wrong VoIP companies could be too expensive for your needs, or simply not understand the importance of this tool for your business.
The most important features to look out for when searching for a VoIP solution are:
Reliable customer service
Ease of operation and setup
Video conferencing and screen sharing
Switching to a VoIP system can cost your business more in the short time if you need to buy a membership or some hardware, but the opportunity for long-term savings are undeniable. In addition to monthly savings on phone bills, VoIP services can also increase efficiency of your communications and help you incorporate the business tools of a larger company. Before you choose your VoIP provider, determine which features are most important and which are just window-dressing or relevant for larger businesses.
Take a Look at the Leading VoIP Systems for SMBs:
For small businesses making the move to VoIP, Vonage is a smart option. In addition to saving businesses an average of 36% on phone bills as compared to traditional landlines, it has over 40 calling features built into its standard business service.
Vonage seamlessly integrates with Ecommerce platforms Salesforce and CRM integration, which can keep things running smoothly if your business uses either program.
A key for businesses new to VoIP is Vonage's easy and quick setup, as well as its readily available training and online support. The cloud-hosted system removes the need for phone line infrastructure setup at your office. Vonage provides business users with pre-configured VoIP compatible phones that are ready to plug in and start working. Another aspect of Vonage that can really help out a small or medium sized business is the company’s 24/7 customer service.
With a lot of moving parts, a smaller business can truly benefit from being able to contact the company at any time if a problem arises.
Vonage is scalable to grow with your business. Some of the key features for Vonage Business users are:
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RingCentral makes business telecommunications cheaper and more efficient with a strong set of capabilities and dozens of features. These include features such as auto-receptionist, call management and automatic call recording, unlimied texts and voicemail to email.
The service is also very flexible so as your business grows, RingCentral can grow with you.
The platform can also integrate with a wide-range of Ecommerce programs, including Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow, and more.
RingCentral safeguards its users' security by sending every communication through encrypted networks and layers of authentication, connecting directly to established carrier lines. In addition, RingCentral prides itself on easy setup, vowing to have your VoIP system up and running in a day or less.
Unlimited calling, texts, and video conferencing
Voicemail to email
Salesforce, ZenDesk, and Outlook integration
Customizable call management—including call forwarding, recording, screening, and more
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With easy setup, affordable pricing, and a wide range of features, 8x8 Cloud Communications is a solid option for small-to-medium-sized businesses looking for a reliable VoIP service.
When it comes to Ecommerce and CRM integrations, 8x8 puts much of the industry to shame, working with programs including Zendesk, Netsuite, Salesforce, Aryaka, and G Suite, to name just a few. You can also take advantage of a sophisticated “virtual office” analytics suite, which provide comprehensive reporting options on your company telecommunications.
Simply put, 8x8 is an excellent business VoIP solution that provides the features most people are looking for without breaking the bank.
Extensive analytics and reports
Instant messaging and video conferencing
Virtual office call recording
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Benefits of Having a Business VoIP Phone System
The full benefits of having a business phone system will depend on the size and type of business you own. However, loosely speaking, many businesses benefits from:
Lower Costs—Businesses on average see a reduction in costs of between 50% and 75% after switching to VoIP. This is a combination of reduced communication expenses and logistical benefits.
Productivity—Investing in internet phone allows companies to let their employees work remotely, which can increase productivity by almost 20%. Also, employees will be able to reach each other more easily, thus saving time.
Reliability—Because of QoS (Quality of service) protocols, common issues like jitter, latency or delay are monitored for a satisfactory standard for business practice. In a recent study, less than 0.5% of survey respondents reported being dissatisfied with VoIP call quality.
Customer Satisfaction—Unsatisfied customers would rather switch services than complain, so customer service needs to be more aware of visitors needs than ever before. Giving your customers more ways to reach your business is simple with the help of VoIP. This could be helping employees work remotely, increasing office hours, or just offering the customers a number to call when a problem arises.
Types of VoIP Systems
The biggest difference in costs is going to be dependent on the type of VoIP service you choose for your business. There are 3 main systems available:
Hosted System—Similar to a website hosting plan, this means that the vendor owns the hardware, and your business leases or buys the phones. Maintenance will be handled by the vendor, too. Companies will usually charge a subscription to use the internet business phone system. This is typically a better option for smaller businesses in that it doesn’t require the investment in hardware or maintenance. Also, because the maintenance is done by the provider, it can save some trouble for companies that don’t have an IT department of their own. That said, hosted systems are less customizable and are reliant on the vendor’s servers, so this may not be an ideal option for enterprise-level businesses.
On-Premise System—In this scenario, your business owns the hardware, which means you are responsible for any upgrades or maintenance work. This sort of setup can be prohibitive for a smaller business because of the higher initial costs of purchasing the hardware. In addition, the upkeep may require the manpower that a small company doesn't have. On the other hand, these systems can provide better options for customization and a higher level of security and are thus often a better option for larger businesses, which can make the initial investment getting set up.
Managed System—With this system, the business still owns the equipment, but the vendor is in charge of set up and maintenance. This is a great “best of both worlds” option, in that it allows the customer to use their own equipment—like with the on-premise system—while still being able to enjoy the assistance provided by a hosted system. This solution is best for small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the IT resources to easily manage the system for themselves.
Common VoIP Terms, Made Simple
Hosted PBX—Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is like a private telephone network which works within a company or organization. This might be in one building, across multiple offices, or even globally across many countries and time zones. The users of the system can easily communicate with one another on one private and secure business phone network. If your VoIP provider offers a PBX, this will be using your LAN or WAN data network rather than the traditional telephone network. There are many VoIP services which offer a PBX system, including some of the top providers on the market.
Call Centers—Traditional call centers have been completely revolutionized by VoIP technology. Customer service is improved by having “always on” support, with better quality and efficiency. Customers can be immediately routed to the right technician for their query, improving technical support at every stage of the game. A VoIP system for a virtual call center means that you can integrate headquarters, remote offices and even outsourced locations seamlessly. You can even include agents who are working from home.
Residential VoIP—As most people pay for broadband services nowadays, it’s becoming more and more common to switch from a regular landline or home phone service, to VoIP for residential purposes. If you’re used to paying for features like an answer phone, call forwarding, caller ID or call waiting, you might be surprised to learn how much you could save by switching to a residential top VoIP provider.
To help you make the best choice, and ensure you get all the features you need for the most competitive price on the market, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you. Check out these comprehensive reviews to learn all about the features, pricing, and benefits of each of the best VoIP phone systems out there. You can also learn more about what a VoIP service can do for your business on our business VoIP blog.