Don’t let the complicated name fool you – using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is simple. VoIP lets you make and receive calls just like you do on an ordinary office phone, but it uses the Internet instead. In fact, because a VoIP system looks, feels and sounds like an ordinary phone, most users don’t even know they’re using one. Service providers have made VoIP setup easy, so even if your business doesn’t have any IT staff, you can start implementing VoIP with little effort.
Misconceptions About VoIP
First things first. Let’s dispel some of the myths surrounding installation and support.
1. VoIP is only for big businesses.
VoIP is taking off in small businesses. More than one-third of small businesses already have a VoIP system in place. Hosted VoIP, in particular, is especially helpful for businesses with smaller budgets and fewer resources because the VoIP provider manages the equipment and service.
2. VoIP is hard to install.
If you already have a high-speed Internet connection with adequate upload speeds of at least 2 Mbps, and an IP-based phone system, you just need an adaptor to connect your Internet router to your main phone system to begin using VoIP at all of your locations.
If your phone system is old, you might be better off upgrading to a modern IP system or purchasing a turn-key Hosted VoIP solution from a service provider. A lot of Internet providers that offer Hosted VoIP preconfigure each VoIP system so it’s all set to go upon arrival – all you need to do is plug it in.
3. I need to get rid of my existing phone system.
The beauty of VoIP is that it can work with the technology you already own. Typically, this is done with something called hybrid VoIP or hybrid PBX, which combines existing standard phone equipment with VoIP by providing a box that makes the conversion. Ask your VoIP provider if they can support this as a service option.
4. I need IT staff to maintain VoIP and add new employees.
When you sign up for VoIP, you can have a provider come onsite to install the system for you, or you can ask for step-by-step instructions to do it yourself. You can then use software from the provider to easily create users. Once they’re set up in the system, all you’ll need to do is plug in their phones and they’re ready to use VoIP. Unlike older telephone technology that was dedicated to voice-only service, VoIP makes moving, adding, changing and deleting users easy with software. That means you can easily scale your business communications whenever needed.
Why VoIP Is a Smart Move
If your business has an existing phone system and service in place, why would you consider switching to VoIP?
- Grow your business easily: VoIP can work with your existing communication system. You can add or remove users within the office without having to run new lines.
- Make employees accessible, in or out of the office: If employees are working remotely at home or if they’re out and about all day, they can install the VoIP app on their cell phones or tablets. That way your customers can always reach your employees via phone, voice mail over email or even voice over video conferencing.
- Reduce phone costs: VoIP services charge a monthly fee per user, which is usually lower in price than landline service. Additionally, you don’t have to pay for long distance calls by the minute as long as those calls remain on the public or provider’s network. Calling plans are available for public switched telephone network calls (PSTN) or international calls to specific countries for a monthly charge.
- Operate like a big business without the big cost: VoIP offers complementary features that increase employee productivity. For example, with VoIP, you get video conferencing, call recording and call forwarding to mobile devices, and can receive voice mail and faxes through email.
Getting VoIP for Your Small Business
Your first step toward VoIP is to research providers’ plans and packages. Then talk to a few providers to find out if your Internet connection can support the number of simultaneous VoIP calls your business needs. The providers can direct you to websites that test the speed of your Internet connection, and advise whether you need to increase bandwidth or if you’re ready to get started.