The best argument for switching from traditional phone service to VoIP is the long-term cost savings of calls made through broadband internet. Instead of paying three or four different bills for local and long-distance calling and internet, VoIP lets businesses combine telecommunications costs and can be further expanded and enhanced with unified communication.
This kind of streamlining saves time and money, but depending on the telecommunications needs of a given business, costs charged by VoIP vendors can vary widely.
On top of that, Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) offers a bundled set of solutions to offer everything your business will need, to create optimum success with customers. VoIP, Contact Center and CRM applications are usually part of UCaaS solutions, among other niche components such as conversational AI.
As a result, the scope of VoIP and unified communication goes far beyond simply facilitating phone calls over the internet; it’s a catalyst for enabling Customer Experience (CX) strategy in collaboration with numerous high-performance communication tools.
Coming back to the topic of spending, this will vary from one business to the next, of course. Therefore, here are some variables that will affect the costs of traditional VoIP systems and unified communication platforms.
Proprietary Vs. Hosted Communication Systems
Purchasing a system outright and managing it in-house versus going with a hosted solution will impact costs. The decision is personal and highly variable depending on a small business's specific needs.
Comparing top VoIP vendors and what they have to offer can help your team narrow down a decision, so that you’re investing in a VoIP solution that is truly in sync with your company’s unique requirements.
VoIP Features and Tools
The most basic advantage of VoIP is the ability to conduct a traditional voice call over the internet, which provides a predictable hard-cost for all local and long-distance calling.
However, because each business has different needs, the costs will vary depending on specific features. Features that affect cost include voicemail, 3-way calling, caller ID, online dashboards and call forwarding - which are often, but not always provided as standard. Additionally, businesses may need integration to smart devices and third-party applications, all of which can impact costs.
Scalability of VoIP
The number of lines, employees and remote locations linking into the VoIP platform also can influence costs. Scale is one of the main predictors of cost and is always included in customized price quotes.
Often, VoIP companies provide cost estimates based on a range of users, for example 0-5, 6-10 or 11-15 employees. Other factors that can affect price include but aren’t limited to deployment (hosted or on-premise), network coverage limits as well as integrations to third-party tools such as business intelligence or project management.
VoIP Equipment Needed
A business’s current hardware and potential equipment upgrades have bearing on cost as well. Items to assess for equipment cost include telephones, headsets and the current data connection - whether it’s DSL, fiber or cable. When purchasing VoIP software, look for vendors who bundle in free equipment or who can integrate services with your existing equipment.
VoIP Installation and Maintenance
The timeline for implementation affects costs, with less time generally being more expensive. Installation fees are often charged by the hour and can vary from one vendor to the next. Services and long-term maintenance can also add to costs. Seek vendors with inclusive packages for these aspects of the process.
Since businesses vary in size, specialties and needs, customized quotes are the best choice when it comes to looking for a VoIP vendor. Service providers often have questionnaires that will generate relatively accurate free cost estimates. However, small businesses can benefit from VoIP by signing up for free trials and demos, before committing to a paid subscription.
Many top VoIP companies offer cloud-based solutions that are easy to set up and use, with no downloads required and training kept to a minimum. Choose an annual plan to save even further, should you wish to transition from a free trial. As more and more businesses make remote work the norm, the need for cloud-based VoIP systems has skyrocketed, especially owing to their high level of convenience and affordability.
All in all, it is advantageous for business owners to think beyond siloed VoIP solutions, especially with the advent of UCaaS and other related enterprise software which homogenizes all the capabilities needed to excel at customer service. With Customer Experience (CX) being the focal point, individual components are usually part of bundled software packages, to create maximum performance and productivity.