Today's blog post draws in part from a previous post courtesy of Phonebooth.com:
You are a small business, therefore, you need an easy way to communicate with your customers and vice-versa. Picking a phone system that you can rely on is a complicated, tricky business, and not really something you want to hassle with at the end of the day. (Read: Hosted VoIP for SMB's on a Budget)
Ultimately, the choice comes down to two options. A traditional phone system relies on phone lines that are connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN), on circuits operated by Private Branch Exchange (PBX) equipment. Secondly, a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider transmits your voice over the Internet as data. Ultimately, you have to judge what’s best for your company and, more importantly, what gets the job done most efficiently.
Here, (are) a few of the lesser-known reasons why Voice over IP can be useful for small businesses.
1. No More Wonky Phone Switches
In the past, running your business over a traditional phone system required a phone switch — a closet full of physical phone lines and hardware to run it. You had to hire a technical support person to manage all your company’s phone lines, and to fix the switch or support hardware when things went wrong.
Not only are phone switches and their maintenance expensive, but they are also slow and difficult to fix. Your system could be down for a significant amount of time before a technician arrives to diagnose and fix the problem – all the while losing productivity.
With VoIP, the system is the phone switch. The provider’s network transmits voice data over the Internet (like email and web data), and replaces the switch entirely.
Why is this important? Aside from more space in your office, VoIP gives you a host of features that are difficult to access using a traditional hard-line system, for instance, making calls from your computer or laptop, and forwarding calls to your mobile phone. New features like these are easily integrated into your VoIP system as they become available, and don’t require any new hardware installs or complicated tech support manuals.
2. Better Remote Customer Support
Old-fashioned office phone lines are supported by old-fashioned companies built on legacy phone systems that are 30 to 50-years old. These companies operate on business models that were developed for last-century markets. This makes it difficult to respond to the needs of your business quickly and easily. Customers of traditional phone companies often complain about complicated or time-consuming customer interfaces and un-integrated service offerings.
VoIP vendors are next-generation service providers built on the most up-to-date systems. They are hip to web-based software, and can respond to changes in the market more quickly than traditional phone companies.
VoIP vendors have web-based customer support, as well as over-the-phone help. The VoIP customer service model can eliminate the need for a technician’s visit, and can minimize delays in problem-solving. Customers love how quickly and easily they can get VoIP up and running for their businesses, and are astounded by the difference of service, compared to what they’ve come to expect from traditional telecom providers. With the proper network and the right provider, it can be as easy as plugging an Ethernet cable into your VoIP phone.
3. More User-Friendly for Employees
Remember struggling to forward a call on your traditional phone system? Have you ever forgotten your password to access your work voicemail remotely? Did you master call-forwarding, sending calls to your mobile number when you were away from your desk?
Traditional telecom providers offer these features, but they are difficult for your employees to figure out. Your employees are web and mobile savvy, and dealing with complicated phone interfaces frustrates them to no end.
VoIP technology is integrated into systems that you and your employees are already using, like the web and mobile devices. Management portals that are customizable to your business provide a simplified interface to administer your communication needs.
Call forwarding is much easier (no more crazy codes and # signs) with integrated find-me, follow-me features that allow your employees to get incoming calls at different locations, on different phones. Employees can access their voicemail from email or have it sent to their mobile phones. No longer do they have to remember their passwords when they call their work voicemail.
Some VoIP customers have found it effective to train a few employees on the administrator features and then provide instructions so the entire staff can manage their own account settings. These user-friendly features are more aligned with the values that today’s mobile, agile workers have come to expect.
With cutting-edge functionality, easy-to-use features and an enhanced customer support experience, VoIP is especially suited to the needs of small business. VoIP systems are flexible enough to respond to the needs and changes of your small business, and will bolster your business communications and productivity alongside the systems that you and your employees are already using.