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If you've worked in a large company you know that one of the advantages is having a fully functional phone system with useful features like internal directories, receptionists, and call forwarding.
However, if you are starting your own business it is all prohibitively expensive and yet you still need to give your customers confidence that they are working with a professional company.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one of the ways that a small business can look just like a large company. Any small business owner who needs to keep in touch should check this out.
What is VoIP
Put simply, VoIP is voice calling over the Internet.
Essentially, it's a phone call that uses software in conjunction with a router or cellular data instead of sending your words over a copper wire from a desk phone.
VoIP can be implemented in a number of ways.
- With a regular phone – here's one The analog terminal adapter, or ATA, is used to make an ordinary analog phone compatible with internet calls.
- Voip to Voip – Some VoIP-specific devices can connect directly to others without software or other connections.
- VoIP through an Switch – Large systems may have a VoIP mini switch called a PBX that allows the handset to connect using the protocol.
- App-based VoIP – The user installs an app on their mobile phone or computer. The best known would probably be Skype.
Regardless of which method is used to connect to the system, the principle is the same. Voice calls are transmitted over the internet rather than a directly connected hardware phone line.
Lost calls mean lost business
We live in an “always on” society and consumers expect to get what they need when they need it.
This is never true again when we think about communication.
Customers who cannot speak to the person they need often simply move on to the next company until they find one that responds, and for the SMB, that means lost business.
While it may appear that business is only done on the internet, proponents argue that voice calls tend to convert better, especially when you're providing a complex service or doing B2B.
For companies with on-site staff, phone costs can often be one of their biggest expenses. So being able to speak to colleagues easily and for free is a clear winner.
Then it makes sense for smaller companies to make sure that someone is always available, but the system they choose is reliable and of course inexpensive.
The advantages of VoIP
With a traditional telephone system, the services were often available at a high price.
In the past, adding more functionality often meant more hardware, installation, and programming, which of course increased costs.
With VoIP, the functions are essentially simple software additions that are often included anyway. As a result, most VoIP solutions are fully configured immediately.
Probably the biggest benefit for a small business is price.
Setting up a full featured system is easy, and the start-up costs are usually very low.
With VoIP, the user generally pays to access the system, not a per-minute charge. Depending on the provider, calls can often be free. This is in contrast to traditional landline services, where the caller pays per minute. The exception are calls to customer cell phones, which are often charged in the old style.
If multiple employees are connected through your business system, calls between them are also usually free, whether they are long distance or to the next room.
The biggest advantage for the customer is that they can take you anywhere. You just call your number and your phone will ring anywhere in the world.
Businesses can choose a non-location-specific number, which means they can always look like a local business whether you're based in Saskatchewan or Sydney!
That's where VOIP for small businesses really comes into its own and gives your customers instant connectivity when they only call one number at a time.
For the company, virtual phone numbers mean that calls are routed directly to the right person, not routed.
Simple conference calling is another feature that has come to the fore lately and a good VoIP system will include this feature from the start.
The ability to lead people for a one-on-one interview is very useful and shows the customer that this is a company that knows what it is doing.
The ability to add services that are not available with standard telephone systems makes a VoIP solution a very flexible option for smaller businesses.
With the latest VoIP systems, it's easy to switch between voice and video calls, connect conference participants, send files, share screens, and even receive or send faxes!
Use of VoIP as part of a unified communication system
The flexibility that VoIP offers enables companies to use it as the basis for a Unified Communication System (UCS). The VoIP acts as a central hub on which other services such as e-mails, calls and personal greetings get stuck.
A good software-based VoIP system should also integrate easily into your CRM so that other services can be accessed.
Built-in calendars, call logging, file sharing, and team collaboration are in a UCS shopping cart, and VoIP paves the way for all of this.The ability to have all of these features available at a low cost means the smaller business can easily compete with global companies that may have invested millions of dollars in a bespoke solution.
VoIP makes sense for smaller businesses.
VoIP systems are one of the best ways a small business can look like a bigger company.
They make it easy for customers to find you with a single number and give the company access to advanced features such as conferencing and video calling.
Best of all, they are probably the cheapest way to speak to your customers.
With all of these advantages, you can see why SMBs love VoIP for their communications.