By Ken Narita
Today, contractors are experiencing enormous pressures given the state of our economy and a global pandemic. One of the many challenge’s contractors face is how to respond to customers using the latest communications tools.
For many, switching to VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone systems from landlines has become increasingly advantages given the cost savings, ability to work from anywhere, and the numerous features VoIP offers.
This piece is intended to educate the industry on VoIP in order to help you make the best decisions on the latest communications tools for your work. For a free guidebook on VoIP, with these and other tips, please download The VoIP Guidebook.
UNDERSTANDING VOIP PHONE SYSTEMS
Voice over Internet Protocol phones (VoIP) use the internet to make and receive phone calls using either analog phones, or IP (Internet Protocol) phones that are plugged into Ethernet jacks.
From here, making and receiving calls is easy, and you can customize features by simply using a web portal and login.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VOIP AND LANDLINES
What is the most significant difference between traditional landline phones and VoIP? Basically, technology.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, landline phones haven’t changed. They require the infrastructure of wiring and exchange hardware. Landline phone technology is limited by today’s standards, allowing users to basically only make and receive voice calls.
On the other hand, VoIP technology has literally changed the way businesses communicate. IP capabilities have been around for several decades, and VoIP services have advanced in recent years, because of faster internet speeds and innovation.
While landline phones offer featured add-ons for additional costs, VoIP systems have numerous communications features already built in.
UNDERSTANDING THE VOIP BASICS
VoIP PBX: 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: 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.
BIGGEST ADVANTAGES OF VOIP
- Cost Savings: One of the most appealing benefits for moving to VoIP is the cost savings. For those currently with landlines, it’s clear how expensive they are—from setup, to monthly recurring costs, adding features, and ongoing IT support. To help you understand what you could save with a VoIP system, try the VoIP Savings Calculator.
- Quality of Calls: VoIP truly provides the quality of phone calls businesses desire through increased internet speeds and technology advances.
- Perception: It’s vital for the public, customers and prospects to view your business in the best light possible. This often depends on their first and ongoing phone interaction with your business. When they call, do they hear a welcome message, with easy directions, or literally, no one answers, or they are just put on-hold. VoIP systems change all this, allowing businesses of any size to sound professional.
- Working Remotely: VoIP systems are flexible, providing the tools to communicate with employees no matter where they are working—the office, the road, or at home.
VoIP systems work by taking your voice and turning it into data, which is then transmitted over the internet. This is similar to sending emails.
You’ve already used VoIP, if you’ve used Skype. Calls through VoIP are made on your phone, connected to the internet, with a network cable or adapter, or through a computer’s microphone and speakers, using an app. To make calls, a VoIP service provider routes the voice data between you and the other caller—literally within a split second.
VOIP TRANSFORMS BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Having a phone system that meets the public’s expectations is crucial, especially when a business grows. VoIP systems, unlike traditional landlines, come with critical features that help any business make the right impression. These include:
- Your Business Number: Transitioning to VoIP is simple, especially since you can keep your current business number. The second you plug in your phones; you’ll be able to make and receive calls. This is a benefit as there is no need to change your website, letterhead or even business cards. Your VoIP service provider can take care of moving your current business number to your new phone system.
- Ring Groups: To create positive experiences for every caller, program Ring Groups to ring at the same time so everyone in a department receives the call; or ring sequentially—to ring, person to person, until someone picks up.
- Virtual Receptionist: The perfect solution to resolve missing calls or potential business, as your phone is busy, or your greeting is unprofessional. If you can’t have a ‘live’ employee answer the call, Virtual Receptionist takes over. Instead of callers hearing a busy signal or being quickly put on-hold, callers listen to a message and can be given numerous, easy options on how to proceed.
- Virtual Fax: Faxing remains an important form of communication for many offices. With VoIP phone systems, you can still send traditional faxes from your phone to a fax machine. Virtual Fax removes the need for fax equipment. Faxes are converted to PDF files and managed within the end-user portal. Each user who needs access will have fax capabilities via their phone extension. The account manager can review the logs to track all Virtual Fax activity.
- 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
Working Remotely: Today everyone is working all over the place and staying connected to customers and the public is crucial. Employees should not be using their personal phone numbers for business. VoIP systems, unlike landlines, support working remotely through mobile and desktop apps, and voice messages forwarded as email attachments. This allows employees to receive and make calls from anywhere, similar to how they would from the office.
about the author:
Ken Narita is vice president of business marketing with Ooma. Ken’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.
Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2020
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