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 phone to make a call, you’re experiencing the power of Voice Over IP, or to put it simply making calls over the internet. When it comes to integrating VoIP into your business line, 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 you or simply not understand the importance of this tool in your business.
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 business 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 on top 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.
Voice over IP companies will differ greatly from one to the next. Some of the most popular features are:
Voicemail to email
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 three main types of VoIP 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 includes lower costs up-front, and no maintenance, so it works well for businesses without their own IT staff. However, it is less customizable and reliant on the vendor’s servers.
On-Premise System. In this scenario, your business owns the hardware, and that means that you are responsible for any upgrades or maintenance work. You’ll of course have a higher initial cost, but if you’re a larger business who wants the best options for customization and security-it could be a good choice.
Managed System. The business still owns the equipment, but the vendor takes responsibility of the hard work like set up and maintenance. This is a great ‘best of both worlds’ option, allowing you the good things about both on premise and hosted solutions. The costs are higher, and your downtime is more likely than if you went with a hosted solution.
What to Know
Here are some of the most common VoIP related terms made simple:
Hosted PBX: Private Branch Exchange 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 Voice over IP 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.
Web Conferencing: VoIP can help your company make meetings easier and more efficient. Arrange for entire teams to meet ‘face to face’ without spending a cent on flights or managing dozens of schedules. Look for solutions which are multi-channel and don’t need specific hardware for a certain OS. Of course, you will need audio, video and chat capabilities. You might also want screen-sharing, uploading files, and recording functionality, too. If you’re looking to streamline your business, then web conferencing software might be for you.
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.
Now that we’ve seen what VoIP is and what it has to offer for businesses, let’s take a look at the leading VoIP phone systems on the market:
For businesses making the move to VoIP, Vonage is a solid 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.
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.
Despite the easy setup, Vonage is scalable to grow with your business. Some of the key features for Vonage Business users are:
• Virtual receptionist
• Mobile integration
• A large selection of international calling options
• Superior voice quality
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RingCentral brings a strong set of capabilities with a large selection of call features including mobile integration for remote management, sophisticated PBX features, and unlimited texting. The extensive feature set comes with no contractual requirement and at a fair price, providing a lot of scalability so services can grow with your business.
RingCentral safeguards its users' security by sending every communication through encrypted networks and layers of authentication, connecting directly to established carrier lines.
RingCentral prides itself on easy setup, vowing to have your VoIP system up and running in a day or less. It offers a host of features that businesses will find useful, including:
• Unlimited calling
• Unlimited conferencing
• Toll-free numbers
• Customizable caller ID
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8x8 Cloud Communications is a great option for small to medium sized businesses looking for flexible VoIP service. 8x8 for business includes many advanced features, integration with third-party apps and mobile capabilities.
8x8 can also integrate with major CRM and business management software, such as Salesforce and Outlook. It is an excellent business VoIP solution that won’t break the bank but offers most of the same features as the larger companies.
8x8 Virtual Office comes with an impressive list of features, such as:
• online-portal management
• video conferencing, and more.
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Grasshopper is an ideal phone system for entrepreneurs, making small businesses sound as professional as large enterprise operations. No new hardware is necessary to get Grasshopper up and running: businesses can get multiple extensions for everyone on their team by using existing desk and cell phone lines.
Small businesses can give themselves a more professional appearance with Grasshopper features such as toll free numbers, 800 numbers and vanity numbers.
Grasshopper offers 24/7 live support, and the ability to upgrade anytime as your business grows, with no long term contracts required. Some of the key features offered by Grasshopper are:
• Call forwarding to anywhere in the world
• Voicemail transcription to email
• Business text messages
• Auto attendant service
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There’s certainly a lot to think about. To help you make the best choice, and ensure you get all the features you need for the most competitive price on the market, our experts have done a lot of the hard work for you. Check out our 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 in our business VoIP blog.