By Judi Hembrough, head of marketing and strategy for Small and Medium Business at Plantronics.
Looking for a wise investment for the New Year? You might want to consider switching your telephone system to VoIP if you haven’t already. VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, can enhance the phone experience for your callers, boost your team’s productivity, and save your small business money over a legacy plain old telephone service (POTS).
Unlike POTS also known as Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) — a wired system that relies on circuit switching — VoIP converts voice signals into digital packets and sends them over an IP network. In addition to calling land lines or cell phones, with VoIP you also can make calls right over the computer using a headset.
VoIP can save your small business communication costs—anywhere from 20 to 40 percent depending on your service provider – in a number of ways. First, you don’t have to install new phone lines, since VoIP equipment hooks directly into your existing broadband network. In terms of installation you can choose between a Virtual PBX (also called a hosted PBX) or on premise IP PBX.
VoIP not only provides standard phone features such as voicemail, caller ID, three-way conferencing and call forwarding; it offers a host of advanced functions. With automated attendant, your phone service can greet callers, screen calls and through the use of voice prompts route them to the appropriate person on your team. Find me/Follow me routes unanswered calls to a series of phone numbers you choose – desk, cell or home phone or all of them – until the user answers or the caller chooses to leave a voice message.
With unified messaging, voice messages can be converted to text to be delivered in your email in-box. You also can elect to have messages converted to a WAV file as an attachment to an email so you can listen to them. Many of the VoIP systems also provide integrated web and video conferencing.
In addition to cost advantages, VoIP can help your small business improve productivity and efficiency through:
- Ease of management: With your data and phone system converged into one network, you spend less time on system management. You also can easily change phone features from anywhere.
- Improved scalability: Since it’s not difficult to add users, you don’t to pay for more phone service than you need. Also you can provide your team with the features they currently need, adding more functionality as your small business internal and customer requirements change.
- Avoid missed calls: You don’t have to worry about missing calls; you can receive calls wherever you are. This can lead to better customer service as well as new business opportunities.
- Enhance multitasking and collaboration: By integrating applications, you make multitasking easier. For example, you can be on the phone and check a voice mail that you received in text that contains information relevant to the call. If necessary, you can switch from an audio call to a web or video conference to enhance the communication or collaboration.
VoIP can make a lot of sense for your small business. If you haven’t made the switch yet, 2014 may be just the right year.