By Ken Narita, Ooma
Businesses today face numerous challenges. Missing calls from clients and the public shouldn’t be one of them. Many have switched to VoIP (voice over internet protocol) from traditional landlines to lower their phone costs, experience the many features and benefits of VoIP phone systems, can work from anywhere, and still use your office phone number.
To understand VoIP and why it makes sense for you to consider switching to a VoIP phone system, please read on. To download the free VoIP Guidebook, please click here for your copy: The Complete Guide to Switching to a VoIP Phone System.
What Are VoIP Phone Systems?
As the name implies, Voice over Internet Protocol phones (VoIP) use the internet to make and receive calls either from analog phones, but mostly through IP (Internet Protocol) phones that easily plug into any Ethernet jack. Once you are connected, you can easily make and receive phone calls.
VoIP Vs. Traditional Landlines
Technology is truly the most significant difference between VoIP and landline phones. Over the past 100 years, landline phones haven’t changed much as they continue to require an infrastructure of wiring and exchange hardware. With the technology that exists today, landlines are limited – basically only allowing you to make and receive voice calls.
VoIP technology is vastly different and has changed the way businesses communicate today, especially through innovation and internet speeds that continue to become faster and faster. While landlines require additional costs for add-on features, VoIP on the other hand offers a myriad of communications features already built in.
How VoIP Works
VoIP turns your voice into data transmitted over the internet, just like sending emails. And if you’ve ever used Skype, you’ve already used VoIP.
VoIP calls are made on your phone, connected to the internet with a network cable or adapter, or via a computer’s microphone and speakers using an app. To make calls, VoIP service providers, within a split second, route the voice data between you and the other caller.
Understanding VoIP Basics
- VoIP PBX - stands for Private Branch Exchange and is a company’s private phone network. VoIP PBX is a cloud-based phone network that a VoIP service provider manages in the cloud and one where companies pay a monthly fee to use the service.
- Ethernet - is the internet delivery system within a Local Area Network (LAN) – as in the network of computers and devices in your office. You’ll connect your IP phone units to the internet with an ethernet cable.
The Way VoIP Transforms Communications
As your business grows, having a phone system that aligns with the publics’ expectations is critical. VoIP systems come with powerful features to help any business make the right impression.
- Working Anywhere - being able to work from any location these days is critical. And when you’re away from the office, employees shouldn’t have to use their personal phone number for business – it’s unprofessional. VoIP changes that as VoIP allows employees to work remotely easily, through mobile and desktop apps – making and receiving calls from anywhere, with your business phone number.
- Virtual Receptionist - when someone can’t answer the phone, Virtual Receptionist steps in and allows callers to hear a professional, friendly greeting with options that best meets their needs. This compares to callers hearing busy signals, being instantly put on hold, or the phone just not being answered.
- Ring Groups - to make sure every call is answered by a live person, there’s Ring Groups. With this feature, the phone rings simultaneously so everyone in the same department receives the call; or you can program it to ring sequentially, ringing person to person until the phone is answered.
- Conference Calling - If conference calls are an integral part of your work, you understand the need for a conference phone that delivers the perfect sound. If callers find it hard to hear participants, the meeting will be challenging. To ensure everyone experiences in-person call quality, look for a conference phone with the following features: a 360° voice range; an array of built-in microphones; echo cancellation background noise suppression.
- Faxes - for many businesses, faxing remains important. With VoIP systems, you can still send traditional faxes from your phone to a fax machine. Virtual Fax removes the need for fax equipment.
- Business Number - with switching to a new phone system, it’s important to keep your existing phone number – your lifeline to the outside world. VoIP makes it easy and seamless as your VoIP service provider can take care of moving your number to the new system. This benefits you as there’s no need to change business cards, letterhead, and information on your website.
How to Set Up a VoIP Phone System
Setting up a business VoIP system just takes minutes. One of the differences you’ll notice when switching to a VoIP system is the reduction in on-premises equipment. Traditional business phone systems require the installation of large wall-mounted fixtures, followed by upgrades and IT servicing.
With VoIP systems, the hardware generally consists of one or two compact, plug-in pieces. When it comes to switching your phones to VoIP, you have device options. You can continue using your existing analog or digital desk phones, or if you’d like to upgrade, you can purchase IP phones.
Once your desk phones and starter kit arrive, follow a few simple steps, including:
- Connecting your base station (a tablet-sized router that sorts out voice data and traffic to ensure clear, reliable calls) to your analog phone.
- Plugging in wireless extensions (into regular power outlets) to connect analog phones to the internet.
- Connect IP phones to an Ethernet jack.
The Key Advantages of VoIP
- Excellent call quality - VoIP systems provide great call quality due to advances in technology and faster internet speeds.
- Lowered costs - reduced costs are one of the most appealing benefits of switching to VoIP. If you’re still using a traditional landline, you’ll understand the continued expenses, from the setup fees to monthly costs, per-line expenses, and ongoing IT support. To understand the potential cost savings of switching to VoIP, check out The VoIP Savings Calculator.
- The right impression – it’s no surprise that how the public perceives your business often depends on their phone interaction with you. When they call, do they hear a professional welcome message, with easy directions, or immediately be put on hold?
- Remote teams – as everyone these days is working everywhere, VoIP provides the latest tools to communicate with staff effortlessly – and from anywhere.
About the Author
Ken Narita’s marketing career spans two decades of helping businesses large and small grow. Whether advising emerging startups, guiding clients from the agency side, or now leading SMB marketing at Ooma, Ken takes an empathetic approach to addressing goals, gaps, and opportunities. Ken has led demand generation, field marketing, customer marketing, and marketing operations teams, integrating campaigns across all functions to drive results. For more information, visit www.ooma.com. For questions or comments, please email email@example.com.