Many agents that use small business VoIP software are investing every available resource into their businesses, to ensure survival. Instead of adding additional office space (and overhead), many are turning to remote employees or telework to expand staff but need to make this strategy transparent to prospects, customers and partners. And with competition for customers becoming stiffer by the day, small organizations are burnishing their image to look and sound like a bigger business.
To facilitate these new strategies, many small business VoIP agents are taking a fresh look at the way their business handles day-to-day communications.
The decline of traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)
Traditional phone lines from the "phone company" are costly expenses that in many cases restrict how your customers communicate with your business. These telephone lines, however, were historically required to get telephone service. This is no longer the case, and small business VoIP has now become popular, especially with the advent of SaaS and cloud support services that enable easy subscriptions and implementation.
Some of the reasons that PSTNs are being deemed less popular nowadays include:
Cost. The high cost of a premise-based PBX network with powerful business communication features puts it out of reach for many small companies. That fact alone forces small business owners to choose between affordability and functionality, and move to VoIP. The choice many end up making is to start their companies with a few basic lines from the local phone company or a small business VoIP provider.
Complexity. Traditional, premise-based PBXs require a business to purchase, install and maintain equipment on-site, thereby adding a layer of complexity that smaller companies can't always manage. None of these are necessities for a small business VoIP solution, since users can access a web-based system, without having to worry about physical infrastructure.
Inflexibility. As a company grows, it can be hard to make a traditional phone system grow along with it. Adding a new office means adding a new phone system. If the new office is geographically distant, that new phone system could come from an entirely different provider with features that are not seamlessly compatible. Integrating other interdepartmental software or enterprise Unified Communications is a challenge, owing to most (if not all) of the system being based on-site and not on the cloud.
Limited functionality. The bigger a company grows, the more critical advanced communication and productivity tools become to its success. With traditional phone service, many of these tools remain unavailable to small companies unless they upgrade to a dedicated small business VoIP solution.
Small business VoIP: changing the way small businesses communicate
Small businesses no longer have to "make do" with phone systems and phone networks that were designed for fundamentally larger enterprises. Small business VoIP solutions now offer the same level and quality of Hosted Voice over IP (VoIP), but on a micro scale better suited to boutique establishments.
Being a technology that uses the internet to transmit voice data instead of traditional phone lines, any small business VoIP software will work with a quality broadband connection, just like enterprise VoIP software built for larger businesses. This way, small businesses can also reap all the advantages of VoIP, while also connecting other departments within the organization for a seamless and unified communications system.
While there are premise-based VoIP systems, leading small business VoIP solutions are cloud-based, which means that the equipment and service management is hosted externally by the VoIP provider.
Small business VoIP: the advantages
Big company functionality. Even small businesses today need sophisticated communication tools. Small business VoIP solutions can deliver business-class phone service at prices affordable to smaller companies, allowing them to enjoy features such as automated attendants, predictive dialing, voicemail and advanced mobility features.
Seamless mobility. With small business VoIP, phone service is delivered over the internet - allowing business owners and workers to access the corporate phone system anywhere they go, via a mobile app that generally includes a softphone.
Multi-site communications. Companies of all sizes struggle to maintain a consistent image and level of service across multiple offices. With traditional phone service, multiple offices mean multiple phone systems - often with differing features and service plans. Hosted VoIP provides one corporate phone system that can encompass many offices – which is compatible with small business VoIP as well.
Easier remote work and telecommuting. Allowing employees to work remotely is one way small companies are growing business without growing overhead. Hosted VoIP makes it easy for employees to work from home or remote offices—while still maintaining the impression that they are working from the primary corporate office. Incoming calls are easily routed from an organization's main number to individual employee phones, regardless of location.
Ease of management. With hosted small business VoIP, there is no complicated, on-site equipment to manage or maintain. Companies no longer need to dedicate essential resources to managing business communications, while connecting across departments can be done with ease – such as integrating a small business CRM, for example.
Feature-rich and collaborative. Hosted small business VoIP leverages internet technology to give small businesses access to a wide range of innovative communication capabilities, including many that are unavailable with traditional phone service. With hosted small business VoIP, maintain call history, report on call activities, and take advantage of using IVR for customer experience optimization. These features allow small business VoIP users to expand their communications capabilities and ensure no call or inquiry is ever missed.
Lower calling costs. Significant savings can be achieved with free local and long-distance calling, a benefit of most unlimited calling plans. Additional long-term savings come into play with free inter-office dialing (through extension dialing), which allows you to connect workers in remote offices or teams that are geographically dispersed. And most VoIP providers don't charge extra for features such as voicemail, three-way calling and fax services.
Limited dedicated equipment to purchase and maintain. With hosted small business VoIP, the service provider hosts and maintains the network and equipment, not the customer. The only dedicated equipment needed by the customer are phones.
Small business VoIP: top features and ROI
In addition to cost savings, small business VoIP enables access to productivity features that are either not available on traditional phone systems or not affordable to small organizations. Purchasing a hosted VoIP solution will offer dozens of standard and customizable productivity features—from call management, auto attendant, IP faxing, and voicemail to administration and a web portal. Some top features are:
Find me/follow me is a personal locator that allows users to define how incoming calls are routed or forwarded to them, ensuring important calls are not missed.
Virtual transfer lets users access call management features while on a call, including transfer, forward and send to voicemail.
Voicemail to email integration allows users to receive voicemails as email attachments in a .wav or mp3 file format.
Dashboards displays records of a user's most recent incoming, missed and outgoing calls, and lets users click-to-call any number, listen to voicemails, read IP faxes and more.
Auto-attendant greets callers and directs them to the appropriate party, while an IVR system ensures common inquiries are resolved on a self-service basis, and without the intervention of a live agent.
You may require additional hardware to support a hosted small business VoIP solution, depending on your unique business needs. However, with no special router for VoIP required for today’s modern solutions, costs to purchase, configure and maintain hardware may be at a minimum. Check with your small business VoIP vendor on this, as they will be the best source of advice.