VoIP phones offers a plethora of key business benefits over traditional phone networks, including those deriving from having a virtual phone number for your business telephone. The best news is that all of these VoIP assets are delivered at a fraction of the cost of what you’ll pay more for and get less with when you’re using a traditional network.
Some businesses may be a little confused about how virtual numbers work and just how many benefits having such an asset can bring to their long and short-term business objectives. Let’s explore.
What Are Virtual Business Numbers?
Virtual numbers don’t have a direct association to a telephone line, meaning the numbers can be assigned to any device of your choosing – mobile phone apps, hardware desk IP phone, or a desktop softphone app. Multiple numbers can be assigned to a phone line.
VoIP isn’t the only source for virtual numbers, but it does provide the added benefit of IP connections. VoIP doesn’t rely upon PTSN copper lines, making all VoIP phone numbers virtual by nature.
Let’s use Google Voice, one of the leading free virtual number service providers, as an example:
You get a number to use across all your devices, whether that be a number provided by Google Voice or ported-in from a cellphone carrier.
Integrate other Google services – text, voice, video.
Free calls throughout the U.S. and Canada and relatively inexpensive international calling.
In a nutshell, you’re using your Google account to create a virtual phone line. The website’s softphone line, the mobile app, or PC can be used for dialing and receiving.
Benefits Of Virtual Numbers for an Organisation
Granted, not every business phone needs a virtual phone number, but whether small or large and no matter the niche, almost any business can find multiple benefits from utilizing the service.
Let’s say you’re a new small business owner with suppliers and vendors outside your calling area. A virtual number removes the burden of costly national and international calling. So, if you need to call phone systems Dublin to routinely order from a vendor, you’re not faced with adding unnecessary expenses to your business’s bottom line in a phone bill.
Contact centers are another example of how virtual numbers can be invaluable. Remote agents have the power to adopt local numbers, which adds a personalization to the call for receptivity and lowers the operational costs. The same number can allow callers to ring multiple call centers at one time, ensuring calls don’t go unanswered because one center or agent is unavailable.
Of course, each niche or business can find a multitude of ways to utilize virtual numbers for their individualized needs, but there are also three universal virtual phone number benefits that almost any business can utilize to their advantage:
1. Local Presence
Like the call center example, a specific line can house multiple phone numbers and be local numbers specific to the target area(s) of business. Most companies don’t just conduct business within their own geographical areas. Customers and leads can be located across the country from you, even internationally.
Establishing a local presence through a local number encourages the target to be more inclined to answer and more receptive to the caller. It also enables callers anywhere to reach you without incurring long-distance charges.
Local area code virtual numbers are particularly important for businesses with an international presence. Clients and customers using phone systems Dublin aren’t going to be so receptive or engaged to call you if they have to do so at the cost of an international call. Read more about benefits of voIP system for sales team.
A professional image is a must, and sadly, when it comes to telephone calls, that professional image has traditionally been locked behind expensive equipment.
Now, virtual numbers allow businesses to establish as many phone numbers as they need without such equipment. Each service area, department, resource, employee can have their own unique number.
Individual vanity numbers can add an image and customer service boost, or consistency can be added by sticking with a uniform number across the board.
Because virtual numbers can be linked across all and any devices, they enable you to conduct business under a professional image no matter where you’re at through smart devices and PCs.
Employees can also enjoy this flexibility, which is particularly beneficial to remote employees, contract personnel, and remote teams needing to ensure they’re not missing calls.
Virtual numbers allow one device to be used for both personal and business use. This is great if you’re on the go. It’s fantastic if you’re office space doesn’t allow for a landline. And, it can be a budget saver for new small businesses needing one or more lines at the most cost-efficient rate.
As you can see, the applications and possibilities related to VoIP is endless. It’s really a matter of which virtual number application best serves your unique business telephone needs.
Is your phone service driving customers to make purchase decisions or hang up? If your team does not have the proper phone etiquette, you could be losing business every day no matter how awesome your marketing is working online.
With most phone systems, you can collect information from your customer before connecting to a person in order to make the call shorter and more helpful for your customer.
So how can you ensure that your customer service is on-brand and following your company’s dedication to customers?
You can start by having a roundtable with your team to discuss issues and policies regarding etiquette with customers over the phone. There are also some quick lessons to learn that will help your employees answer the phone correctly and connect to the customer quickly. You may also learn about VoIP phone issues that cause customer service complaints as well.
1. A Friendly Introduction when Answering the Call
Every employee should identify who they are upon answering the call. That means stating their name and asking a friendly question while also making sure to address that the customer has an issue they are calling about. Many times your customer has been through an automatic phone process up to this point, so it’s very important that the customer service representative answers on a positive note.
2. Customer Service Response Libraries
While you do not want any response to sound canned, you should have a list of possible objections, complaints, suggestions, and questions that can be instantly referenced while the customer service representative is talking to a customer, particularly if you have a promotion. You want to show customers that your brand is customer-focused and provides quick answers. This is also important for new members. You can also have some of these responses built into your VoIP phone system.
3. Vocabulary Selection
As you build any scripts or responses, you should consider the vocabulary related to your brand and industry. If you run a financial company, then you should know all of the vocabularies that an accountant might use on a call. There may be technical terms that you need to explain to the customer for technical support, so you have to be able to talk to them without being intimidating. You should have some of your employees who have a great script to talk to other employees for tips and tricks in dealing with customers.
4. Putting A Customer on Hold
First, you should always ask the customer if they can be put on hold, regardless of whether or not you have to do so in order to answer the question. This is a polite way of letting the customer know what’s going on, while also signaling that you are advocating for something on their behalf. When you place a customer on hold, you should explain why the hold is happening and how long it will be so that the customer doesn’t feel panicked. Modern phone features should also offer ways to promote or play calming music as a customer is on hold to keep them engaged.
5. Background Noise Levels Management
No one wants to call customer support and hear loud noises in the background that makes the phone communication difficult. Customer service areas should be clean, quiet, and focused. This allows your team to focus on the customer at all times.
While noise-canceling headphones can take care of most background noise, it’s not the best headphone that you can purchase. You may want to create an office where your call centre folks can answer and make calls, but if you plan to hire virtual customer service workers, you may want to create a contract that stipulates no noise or non-business activity while working.
6. Protecting Company Reputation
Let’s face it, every business has to deal with unhappy clients from time to time. Your job is to keep calm and make sure you provide the best customer service possible while handling the complaints about the phone. Breathe, try to relax and make sure you distance yourself from the anger of the customer calls. Remember, it is not about you, so under no circumstances start arguing with the person or making inappropriate comments.
Letting your client end the call while she is still angry may be fatal for the business. Company ratings and reviews on online forums, social media sites, and Google local service are crucial for business success these days. If you do not help resolve the issue, be sure the unhappy caller will go online and tell the entire world about the bad experience.
If you notice you are not being able to calm down a hostile caller, just let a manager or sales lead speak to the customer. This will show to the client that the problem is taken seriously by the company.
7. Offering Incentives to Collect Marketing Data
A lot of companies still try to offer an incentive over the phone, starting with new users who are just getting used to the service. This is an easy way to get subscribers by collecting their email address and phone information to support other marketing effects. Your incentives may be a percentage off or free shipping. Modern phone features may have a way to automatically offer an incentive for taking a survey after the call.
Just like having the vocabulary or script next to your customer service team, make sure that the promotions are published and accessible to your team who may have to answer the calls. In addition, your team should have access to the customer directory or help support.
9. Take a Survey at the End
Want to find out what customers think about your service reps while also promoting your reps to do a better job? Phone systems have built-in survey features that allow you to set up questions to ask your customers right after they have completed a service call over the phone.
Customer service representatives may receive incentives from positive reviews, so you can also talk to your reps about directing customers to the survey at the end of the call. This lets the customer know that you are monitoring phone calls and want feedback to ensure that you are properly answering questions. Ultimately, it’s up to the customer whether or not you provided high-quality service or not.
Your customers deserve high-quality customer service that answers their questions while also being able to promote transactions. Your representatives will have to know the products and promotions as well in order to sell your best products when your customer calls in. In addition, your VoIP phone system needs to be set up so that it is easy to access the menu or reach a representative in the case that they can’t get the answer right away within the automated system.
The Importance of Telephone Communication in Business
Telephone systems play an important role in modern businesses. Whether it’s a VoIP phoneor a traditional phone system, telecommunications are essential for all aspects of a company’s operations.
As Ireland’s leading VoIP provider we have seen how our clients sales and customer service teams have benefited from the advances in the technology business phone systems. How VoIP can benefit your business? see page
The following guide explores the importance of telephone communication in business.
Voice vs. Text Communication
A text message or an email can be easily misunderstood or misconstrued by the reader.
It’s important to understand the value of real communication in business relationships. While it’s easy to send a colleague or client a text message or an email, these forms of communication don’t carry the same weight as a regular phone call. In many cases, some of the subtleties that form an integral part of human communication can be muddied by simple text.
For example, many people in business relationships might make small talk or friendly jokes during a conversation. Jokes that are made in a text message or an email can be easily misunderstood or misconstrued by the reader. Something that would be obvious in a verbal conversation could seem bizarre or unexpected in a text conversation.
When dealing with potential clients, businesses can’t underestimate the importance of verbal communication.
Verbal communication can allow employees to pick up on subtle emotional signs in a conversation that might not be noticeable under other circumstances. In many cases, these subtle emotional signs can make or break a client relationship.
Better Security for Organisations
Our phone system enable you to talk to people and get feedback on ideas in real time.
It’s also important to understand some of the security risks associated with email, text messages, and other forms of communication that leave extensive documentation in their wake.
While it’s easy to record phone calls, most businesses don’t have processes to do this. However, many businesses will retain emails and text messages for a period of several years. If these emails or text messages are subpoenaed by a judge, a company may be forced to release them as part of a lawsuit or other legal action.
With voice conversations, it’s possible to be candid in a way that one can’t be with other forms of communication. Employees and company leaders can talk to each other and brainstorm in a way that isn’t possible via texting or emails.
Phone Systems Increase Communication Efficiency
Lag times are important too. Communicating by email can often involve delays that can last hours. Text messages are often faster, but it still isn’t the same as a live conversation. With a regular phone call, you can talk to people and get feedback on ideas in real time, which can be valuable in a business setting.
Telephone systems are essential for businesses of all sizes. Newer systems like a VoIP phone or an older traditional phone system all help to ensure that people can stay in touch.
Conversation Piece – an Integral Part of Business Phone Systems History in Ireland
Businesses around the world have been benefiting from telephone systems since the telephone was first invented in the XIX century. Our company has been one of the first early adopters of telecommunication innovations in Ireland since it was founded in 1978.
When Jim Dunne set up Conversation Piece back then, he knew that his business would have to remain at the technological forefront in order to be successful but what he didn’t know was how far that technology would go over the next 40 years.
Over the years, Jim and his team have worked tirelessly to bring the best of the best to Irish businesses. In 1992, Conversation Piece became the main partner in Ireland for selling Panasonic Business Systems; in 2001 Conversation Piece acquired from Cable and Wireless their complete key system base becoming a national supplier of business telephone systems with offices in Cork and Dublin; in 2012 Conversation Piece set-up Voice Traffic and broadband side to business and as of 2016 Conversation Piece has a Panasonic and Unify Cloud Solution offering hosted/cloud Telephony and VoIP.
Now, 40 years since Jim first set up his business, Conversation Piece remains a family run business with a team of bright and energetic full-time staff, still determined to provide only the very best.
First introduced in the 1960s PBX made telephone calls much cheaper and easier, allowing businesses to reduce their costs and enticing more and more people to join the network. By the 1970s, it was clear that this would be the best way for businesses to serve their clients and as the telephone became indispensable, it was natural that rapid upgrades would have to be made to keep up with demand.
The great leap forward came with TDM PBX which introduced new features such as a dialing tone, call transfer, auto-attendants and hold music that we still recognise and use today. Seeing this development so early on could only confirm that Jim was right: Conversation Piece would have to move quickly to stay ahead of the crowds that were sure to follow.
Given that so many businesses were rapidly expanding and the cost of changing a PBX system was so high, it became clear that another system would soon be required. When IP PBX was introduced, Jim and his team at Conversation Piece got straight onto the trend and started offering the switch over service to their customers.
The trigger for this change was, of course, the internet and by 2008 the vast majority of companies had made the switch. Now, with all the basic features of PBX made easier to use, companies also had a much better chance of recording calls, collecting data and integrating other technologies to allow for voice-to-text or email integration.
Of course, in the last 10 years, phone systems have been updated beyond the recognition of previous versions. Now, we all expect that our calls will be digital, fast and secure as a standard. Removing the onsite phone server has brought access to much smaller companies without the prohibitive cost.
As communication has become so much more important, and instant access for both customers and remote colleagues is vital for success, there are now 3 competing ways for businesses to manage their phone systems. Conversation Piece was one of the first companies to take up this new technology and we understand the benefits of them all and can advise you on which is best for your business.
Cloud Phone Systems
As the Cloud has become a much more popular way for businesses to store everything from data to software, it is completely logical that companies will also wish to switch to cloud phone systems. These systems are ideal for smaller businesses in particular as they require no onsite hardware and can provide top of the range services. Plus, as the Cloud is remote, growing companies can access a scalable model to keep up with their needs.
Onsite Phone Systems
Some companies do still like to have full control of their phone systems, though, and put off by the ongoing charges of having a Cloud Phone system, maintain their own onsite phone system and hardware. Often this is cheaper, but if something goes wrong, you may be stuck while you wait for a repair to be made.
Hybrid Phone Systems
And so to the compromise: hybrid phone systems. If you have an onsite phone system that you are happy with and has not fully depreciated, a hybrid phone system can bring in the elements of cloud phone systems you need to bring your business up to speed. With the best of both worlds, you have the flexibility you need with the control you want and the possibility for scaling later as you grow.
This option is particularly popular with businesses who have offices in remote locations and require a consistent user experience to get the best out of their communications. As hybrid phone systems make use of current hardware and blend in cloud software, you are able to get consistency across the board with every employee.
What’s Next For Business Communications?
Already there has been a subtle shift from customers calling companies to use social media to get in touch or using chatbots on websites to field enquiries. However, it seems that these systems are, for now at least, best for helping businesses to locate the right person for the customer to speak to on the phone.
In general, people are still much happier to talk to a colleague about a problem or a question that they are to sit waiting for a response. This means that to get the most out of their phone systems, businesses need to concentrate on how they provide a good customer experience. This means getting to calls quicker, ensuring a high quality of sound on the line, using menus to automatically direct customers and instantly switches from department to department as necessary.
For the modern business, the phone is still at the forefront of everything you do.
Improving services and communication functions in the workplace has become simpler and more accessible through the development of modern phone system technologies. Hosted PBX system for a small business is an example of these enhancements, as it has quickly become a universal enterprise solution that provides functionality, cost efficiency and a seamless flow of communication.
Hosted PBX: What it is and why it is the best choice for a small enterprise
The term, Hosted Private Brand Exchange (PBX), refers to a cloud-based phone system technology that has taken small and medium enterprises by storm lately.
The key to the success lies in the flexibility of the communication, as the hosted PBX technology does not require installing any telephone cables or expensive on-site hardware. Cloud-hosted packages are flexible and can be tailored to every budget, so this solution is often the preferred choice of start-ups too.
These are three key aspects that are critical to business success nowadays, that our modern cloud-hosted system helps you achieve :
– More freedom, flexibility and location independence: employees and clients from locations all over the world can communicate easily and effectively using a telecommunication system connected to the Internet. Mobile phones can be also connected to the system.
– Savings: with no phone cable and on-site phone system infrastructure cloud PBX is accessible for every small business. The calls are much cheaper too.
– Exceptional customer service: cloud phone comes with plenty of extra phone call features that are very difficult, or even impossible to accommodate in a standard non-virtual PBX structure.
Benefits of Cloud Hosted PBX Phone System
Here are some more specific benefits of investing in a hosted phone system:
Of course, the budget for investing in a telephone system is always a problem, especially when it comes to small businesses or start-ups. The good news is that choosing a hosted PBX phone system will cost your business less than other technologies that rely on an on-site PBX telephone system.
Hosted systems do not require additional physical hardware to be installed, and then regularly maintained, in your office.
With our technology, you save money on:
Training your staff (we provide it free of charge)
PBX infrastructure setup and installation (no need for phone line extensions & pbx hardware)
Expensive PBX system maintenance fees (there are none!)
Hosted PBX works everywhere where there is an Internet connection!
Another fact that makes this solution very attractive is its geographical flexibility & location independence. As the Internet connection enables a virtual presence, your staffs can work not only in an office but also from their mobile phones ‘on the go’, laptops at home and even from abroad.
Traditional telephone systems have certain restrictions on the number of users and lines attached to them.
It is also more difficult to add or remove a user.
That may not match the optimal scenario for your small company growth goals, and can also be an obstacle when there is a sudden need to downsize.
With a cloud PBX system, you can tailor the size of your network to your needs by easily increasing or decreasing the number of users and user functions.
More professional company image & better customer service
Of course, with more demanding customers and greater market momentum, companies need to look for ways to differentiate and gain a competitive advantage. A modern phone system can be a valuable asset to increase the credibility of your business.
Extensions transfer, call recording, voice mail, conference calls, auto-dialing, and music for calls-on-hold are some of the abundant benefits this business phone system has to offer. Presenting a professional company image to the world is essential today, so make sure you impress your customers and partners with our modern phone features when they contact you .
Virtual PBX systems are highly functional and provide a better communication flow that is much more efficient for your business. With this our system, you can create detailed reports, automatically record calls, and track performance over time.
… And More!
There are tons of other benefits that will make your employees’ work easier:
You can easily transfer calls coming to an office number to mobile phones
Coordinate multiple offices in the city or around the world and manage everything with the same phone system. You can even forward calls to callers’ local office, even if you only provide one phone number on your website. This can be a great benefit for companies that want to open multiple offices, or for people in the service industry who want to offer services in different locations.
Enjoy less work overload.
With a hosted PBX your phone system is hosted externally (in a cloud) and above all it is managed by our professionals with years of experience. Did you know that Conversation Piece has been in the telecommunications business for over 40 years? You can be sure we are the experts in the field. No more problems with the internal communication system maintenance or repair. The new technology requires minimum effort from you, so you to keep working on what’s important.
It allows you to use a wireless, ergonomically designed headsets that are much more comfortable than traditional phone sets.
Take advantage of working with freelancers and contractors. Working with freelancers is much easier if you can simply add them to your existing telephone network. They can even answer calls coming to your office number as if they were in the office – your customers do not need to know they work remotely.
If your local PBX system fails, it cannot receive or make calls until it has been repaired. In a hosted solution, your calls are made over the Internet connection, so the system is more reliable.
Easy of use.
Easily manage or change features such as call transfer, music on hold, call barring and call picking. You can also perform tasks such as group dialing and call analysis from a single web interface.
Modern call features.
Extra features, like unlimited free long-distance calls, your local or toll-free number, and visual voicemail, that can easily be added, removed or modified according to your needs.
If you need advice on which business system is best for your business, contact us and our experts will help you find the right solution matching your budget and needs.
VoIP is one of the newest pieces of phone technology that is currently trending in the business world. An increasing number of companies are choosing to upgrade to this business communication system. However, you may be unsure about why this is and what all the ‘buzz’ surrounding this system is about.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology definition
voip phone for sales teams
VoIP is not a single piece of hardware or software; the term refers to a range of different protocols. Typically, voice calls are transported via copper wires and have been done so for over a hundred years. Now that other areas of technology have developed and changed, voice calling has been left behind.
However, the introduction of VoIP phones has changed all of that by allowing phone calls to be routed over the internet instead of having to use dedicated lines.
The Voice Over Internet Protocol system is a modern update on old technology and can be highly beneficial for businesses of all shapes and sizes. The fact is that it can help every part of a business, from the sales team to the customer service department. The question is, of course, what can VoIP do for your business to make it a worthwhile investment?
5 Reasons your sales team should start using VoIP phone this year
1. It gives location independence
One of the largest issues with phones is that they are limited by their location – you cannot take your landline phone with you when you leave the office. If you are away from your desk, you may miss calls from potential customers and important business associates. Of course, a smartphone can help with this, by allowing customers to contact you while out and about, but the fact is that it can be hard for customers to know which phone to contact you on at which time. However, a VoIP phone system will get rid of all of that because users can make and receive calls anywhere. On the road, working overseas or in another country – all these are not an issue any longer as you can take the call via the internet using your phone connected to the VoIP system.
2. VoIP integrates with other systems
Then there is the fact that this technology integrates perfectly with various other technologies that your office most likely already has in place. For example, many teams use Customer Relationship Management (CRM), for example Salesforce software, which you can easily integrate with your VoIP system and share data between both systems. Calls to customers can be made directly from the Salesforce software via the internet, meaning it is much easier to manage sales calls then it is when making regular phone calls.
3.Plenty of modern call features that are easy to set up
Does your team regularly use conference calling but find the process stressful and tedious? Do not worry, because VoIP systems can help with that too. By making the features required for a conference call more accessible and easier to use it has become a handy business tool helping improve communication. As well as making conference calling simpler, your teams can get their voice calls and messages delivered straight into their inboxes, making sure that a customer is never forgotten.
4. VoIP is cost-effective
Another benefit of VoIP technology is the fact that it is also cost-effective and offers a reduced cost per call compared to regular telephone calls. This is because this technology does not fall under the same tariff guidelines and other traditional phones, then there is the fact that VoIP does not come with any interconnection charges, like normal phones do, which means that overall price per month of using these systems is much lower than using a traditional telephone system.
5. Flexible call management
Many companies have voicemails that are full of unreplied to messages because life in an office can often be hectic. However, as the new system allows users to pick up the phone anywhere that there is an internet connection, this is less of a worry. A voice over IP telephone system gives users the flexibility to choose when and where they pick up the phone and makes managing their time that little bit easier and less stressful.
Make 2018 your most successful year yet by switching to Voice Over IP system
These are five of the main reasons why the VoIP phone network could be highly beneficial for any business, including yours. While every business is different and has unique needs, there are some pieces of technology, just like the one described in this article, that have the potential to be hugely useful for all kinds of businesses, from smaller local companies to much larger global corporations.
Conversation Piece is a leading VoIP technology provider in Ireland trusted by hundreds of companies across the country. If you are interested in upgrading your phone system feel free to contact us today for a free consultation:
The biggest breakthrough in business phone systems of recent years was Voice over Internet Protocol VoIP, which suddenly unshackled companies from the static structures of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). However, for small to medium enterprises and startups, the true Eureka! moment was the advent of cloud communications and the cloud based phone system.
If you need to update your phone system, it’s best not to get too bogged down in terminologies such as ‘cloud-based’ and ‘VoIP’. Simply, VoIP means Voice over Internet Protocol—a telephony system that runs via software on an Internet server, to which VoIP phone are connected using the IP network.
Where the cloud-based business phone system differs from VoIP is in the lower cost factor. If you’re managing your own in-house VoIP system, it requires investment in a server to connect your phones with the PSTN, and additional investment for security, configuration, and maintenance.
The cloud based business phone system in simple terms is hosted VoIP, or a hosted business phone system. Substitute the word ‘Cloud’ with ‘Internet’ and you get closer to it. The host, or phone service provider, hosts the software for your phone system on the Internet (in the ‘Cloud’) and as a subscriber, you pay a monthly fee for connection to this internet-based communications system.
With a hosted business phone system, you don’t have to invest in IT and in-house personnel or contracts for monitoring and maintenance. Cloud communications means that simply need an internet connection and handsets.
If you have already done the research and are ready to leap to the Cloud, why not contact Conversation Piece to discuss our great 50pc trade-in discount offer. Trade in your old phone system and get a 50% discount on a new Cloud phone for business system.
Five Main Points to consider about a Cloud Based Phone System for Business
Here are five of the main points to consider and questions to ask when choosing a Cloud Based Business Phone System.
1. What is the nature of your business phone communications?
Do you really need a phone system that includes traditional physical office telephones, or could you use more flexibility with a virtual cloud communications phone system that uses mobile devices instead of these traditional office handsets?
Landlines, of course, are reliable and time-tested. However, many phone providers are moving away from them, making them trickier and more expensive to purchase, and also to repair if something breaks. Increasingly, the traditional landline system works best for large corporations with budgets that can provide for in-house monitoring and maintenance. They are also necessary if you are in an area without high-speed internet access.
A VoIP or virtual service uses the same internet connection that you are already using for your online work, and also provides you with features, including automated attendants, call queueing, video and other IT integration that would have been unimaginable in the SME sector until recently. They also give remote workers access to the business’s comms system from their mobile devices.
2. Do you need or want your phone system to be in-house, or do you want it to be hosted by a provider, and based in the Cloud?
The greatest benefit for an in-house phone system is the degree of control you have over your service. But this is a double-edged sword. Not only is it more expensive, in terms of the initial outlay, but you also need to have someone within your business who can service and maintain it.
For smaller businesses, the hosted Cloud based phone system is ideal, because there is no maintenance or hardware to worry about, apart from the IP phone handsets. The service provider will also maintain and upgrade the system for you on an ongoing basis, and adding or taking away lines is a simple matter of contacting your provider.
For some businesses, however, the Cloud based solution will not work, such as those entities that have regulatory or compliance requirements that may be difficult to meet if the phone system is hosted on the Internet.
3. Do I even need a system? Can’t my employees simply use their own mobiles?
The short answer is, yes, you do. No business that wants to present themselves as professional across the board can afford to be without a phone system to connect their employees internally and with their customers externally.
The answer to the question of employees using their own mobiles is, yes… but be cautious. It definitely does not work as well as having a virtually-hosted or in-house VoIP service, with their features geared towards quick and efficient processing of calls.
4. The traditional phone system is tried and tested. Do I really need to change it?
From the point of view of functionality, absolutely not. However, there has been an industry-wide move away from research and development into the technology that’s used in traditional landline systems. There are no new developments coming down the line for traditional landline systems. Industry-wide, the R&D trend is towards VoIP, unified communications and Cloud architecture.
Traditional parts will become more difficult to obtain, and more costly, while technical expertise is already dwindling and will eventually disappear.
5. How reliable is the connection on a Cloud based phone system, versus traditional landline?
At this point, it is almost impossible to discern any difference between calls on a landline and those on the Internet. However, you must ensure that you have sufficient bandwidth to guarantee a priority bottom-line standard for quality of voice call. As said earlier, if your business is based in an area without high-speed broadband access, the Cloud based phone system may not be for you, until such time as the access issue is improved.
While it is, of course, possible for small businesses to disregard VoIP, or to bury their heads in the sand due to lack of IT know-how, the evidence supporting VoIP advantages continues to amass, with traditional phone systems for business systems offering few more advantages than familiarity and quality of voice call.
As we’ve seen in other posts, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology enables operators to provide cheaper, and more diversified communications, including voice, data, imagery, audio, and video, to a larger, global customer base, using an IP-based network, rather than traditional, landline-based business telephony systems.
One fact that’s impossible to ignore is that VoIP usage has bucked even the uncertainties of the 21st-century economic climate. The combined business and residential VoIP industry were worth a total of $74.5bn by 2015 (according to Infonetics Research), while a separate 2016 report by IBISWorld measured a 15.3% year-on-year growth of the industry to the end of 2017.
A separate report released in January 2017 unleashed another key statistic providing ample food for thought for any SME operators still using a traditional phone systems for business. Mobile VoIP usage worldwide is expected to shatter the one-billion-users barrier by the end of 2017—a communications way marker that, in terms of business telephony, cannot be ignored.
Here are some facts about VoIP advantages for small business, and what makes VoIP solutions the ideal phone systems for business.
1. Cost Savings Are Increasingly Measurable & Demonstrable
In the US, landline systems typical cost businesses $50 per month, compared with the sub-$25 per month asking price for monthly VoIP plans. The typical VoIP package also includes a number of features that would not be available on a business landline service.
Here’s another fact that speaks volumes about VoIP advantages. We’re probably all familiar with the claim that VoIP allows for greater mobility in the workforce. That’s quite a claim. But here is some data to back it up. By enabling telecommuting for its employees, computer giant Dell saved some $39.5m, an estimated 25m kWh of energy and 13,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2014 and 2016.
2. Concerns over Voice Quality & Reliability are Increasingly Unfounded
In 2015, Daniel Harris of the company Software Advice researched the VoIP needs of 362 decision makers in business, and not only found more than half of them already considering VoIP, but also determined that reliability was, in fact, a key factor in many businesses transitioning to VoIP, rather than working against it.
This has been attributed to end-of-life problems associated with legacy systems—availability of parts for such systems, as well as technicians qualified to service them.
Indeed, Harris’s report determined that reliability was the chief attraction of VoIP, more so even than its cost savings advantages over traditional phone systems for business. For that reason, reliability works against VoIP in more sparsely populated areas with less than an optimal internet connection.
However, for the most part, this report would seem to indicate that concerns voiced by businesses around the turn of the decade about voice quality on VoIP are no longer an issue. Only one respondent in Harris’s survey expressed any dissatisfaction with call quality.
3. Business Reliability Focus makes VoIP a bearer of numerous gifts
One of the greatest requirements among small business operators is for extensions for individual employees and departments. At the level of functionality, certainly in Harris’s report, there has been a marked demand for basic auto-attendants to route inbound calls via voice menus, and for conferencing applications.
After that, everything is a bonus, and in those terms, VoIP, with its functionality to deliver multi-data functionality, is the gift that keeps giving. IP delivers a level of communication service that would, a decade ago, have been unimaginable outside of the corporate sector.
4. Hosted VoIP’s ‘Plug & Play’ User-Friendliness is Enticing
One of the big VoIP advantages for small businesses is its no-muss no-fuss hassle-free operation. In-house maintenance solutions are not essential, and that is music to the ears of small businesses. Most ‘plug & play’ VoIP providers use phones that easily connect with the provider’s network for automatic download of the configuration settings.
Harris reported, even in 2015, that fewer than 6 percent of the decision-makers he surveyed in his research had IT job titles, while fewer than 14 percent of those businesses without on-site IT support encountered any networking problems with their VoIP technology that could not be handled by their providers.
Hosted VoIP is a huge bonus for small business operators for whom budgetary constraints would have typically ruled out the option of a phone system as featured rich and flexible as VoIP.
5. Ongoing Innovation
The main trend at the moment is innovation in and development of services. For instances, any business requiring extensions for employees—basically, any companies with more than two employees—really need a PBX system. PBX is a private telephone network sharing a number of outside lines for making external calls. This was prohibitive until quite recently. But not only are there PBXs designed for VoIP, but there are also hosted Internet-based PBX solutions which are significantly less expensive to purchase and maintain than traditional PBX.
It’s interesting that for businesses, reliability, as noted, has become the main of several VoIP advantages over traditional phone systems. One of the possible factors at play here is that no doubt due to the uncertainties of the post-crash economic climate, a significant number of small businesses are relying on mobile phones.
This has actually given rise to a specific phenomenon—Bring Your Own Device or BYOD. These policies are on the increase, and in a business environment where cost-saving is essential, the prediction that half of all businesses will soon require employees to supply their own device is hardly surprising.
The message is clear. The system is the thing. The challenge, increasingly, will be its ability to seamlessly, and securely, accommodate a growing number of mobile devices.
VOIP is one of the principal solutions being considered by business owners — particularly in the small to medium enterprise sector — as they consider joining the significant global migration from landline and other legacy communications technology. There are three principle VoIP trends to remain alert for when planning a move from traditional systems.
IP telephony voice systems remain the most solid value proposition for a small business in need of a modern phone business for the customer, inter-personnel and B2B contact, not just in terms of the call cost, but also the flexibility that they offer.
Three Important VoIP Trends for Small Business
Of the VoIP trends that will be decisive for customers researching the best telephone systems for small business over the next year, the three most significant are value for money, innovation, and continued evolution beyond voice.
1. Value for Money
From a small business point of view, the value proposition of VoIP is tough to top, and it will remain a primary factor in influencing SMEs to make the leap from legacy systems. IP telephony has not yet vanquished TDM, the phone technology based on circuits switched by PBXs that facilitated individual extensions, voice mail, conferencing, caller ID and other calling cards of corporate business phone systems. In fact, TDM remains profitable, but, according to experts, only for as long as a sufficient groundswell of businesses begin asking for and moving to VoIP.
VoIP entails further savings from the lack of physical infrastructure. It requires no in-house or external physical technical support to move phone extensions or increase or decrease the number of handsets, for example. This is all handled remotely, via the cloud, by VoIP providers.
It also has a richer set of features than available with legacy systems. In fact, the most advanced features available on legacy set-ups, such as caller ID, individual voicemail and many more, are standard with IP telephony, and the innovation is ongoing.
We live in an age of flux and change, and telephony has been at a certain plateau for so long that the ongoing developments in IP telephony ensure that innovation is certain to be one of the decisive VoIP trends in the coming months and years.
The world of the second decade of the 21st century is a world where it is no longer necessary to have a static landline on the desk to get business done by telephone.
However, while the operating system for the desk phone may be facing medium-term obsolescence, the desk phone itself is not.
Expect a period of improvement and innovation, perhaps touch screens, wireless connection, hi-res video displays, and other smartphone-like features, as vendors develop phones to make the most of VoIP’s potential at the desktop.
This is perhaps the most exciting of the VoIP trends likely to influence decision-makers who are considering the best telephone systems for small business.
VoIP does not limit the user to telephony, but puts a world of data dissemination and access at their fingertips, for the benefit of their organisations and their customers.
Smart Voice is viewed as the next step in telephony, using voice conversations as a data set in the Artificial Intelligence/Big Data movement. We’re already familiar with Siri and the Amazon Echo, voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant services that, in the case of the Echo, can control smart devices.
Amazon’s technology was four years in development and while there is unlikely to be any major evolutionary leap in business telephony in the next year, innovation is one of the VoIP trends likely to be most decisive in the medium term.
VoIP is a leap forward from traditional phone systems, and also the threshold of a world that is not yet fully realised, but which will be a reality in the near future.
The Internet has transformed how businesses communicate internally and externally, all over the world. Indeed, more than 75 percent of all businesses have already migrated from their traditional phone systems to hosted services based in the Cloud. Cloud phone for business is, increasingly, the way to go for many firms.
Cloud phone services offer a vast array of high quality, voice and unified communications services for businesses of all sizes. With phone features that would have been unimaginable outside of the corporate sector as recently as 5 years ago, the Cloud is, increasingly, the place to be, especially for businesses in growth.
And, as can be seen from a glance over the following 10 advantages of choosing a hosted Cloud phone for business service, the reasons for making the switch to Cloud communications have become more attractive than ever.
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1. Cost Savings
Cloud phones offer business significant cost savings. It’s estimated that you can reduce your call costs by up to 60 percent! By moving to a hosted phone solution, based in the Cloud, businesses eliminate the need for costly on-site installations and regular maintenance. Charges are calculated on usage, hostage space and required bandwidth. Providers also offer set monthly fees per phone lines, while attractive features and upgrades are offered at low- to no cost.
2. Decreased Time to Value
Whether installing or adding new lines to a Cloud phone system, the cost-benefits to your business are swift. All that’s required is a call to your Cloud phone vendor. Implementation time for any decision—whether installing or expanding—is swift, and does require any on-site work by an IT professional. A hosted Cloud communications service enables you to execute decisions quickly and allows you to focus on the important work of growing your business.
3. Enhanced Security
Cloud phone for business service providers are required to operate to stringent ISO security standards. It is a myth to suggest that your business data security is compromised when you move beyond a local firewall onto the Cloud. If anything, security is enhanced.
In today’s fast-moving business world, continuous two-way communications between the team members and headquarters, between headquarters and customers, and between personnel and customers, is important. A Cloud based system is particularly well suited to businesses with significant numbers of off-site and remote personnel.
5. Communications Unity
If your business operates along multiple locations and remote offices, a Cloud phone system underscores your brand integrity by ensuring unified phone services across all locations, with all users benefiting from the same features and from uniformity in call quality.
6. Fewer IT Headaches
Business IT is a layered, multifaceted world, and an increasingly busy one. The last thing that hard-pressed business IT departments need is to be charged with the maintenance of a traditional static phone system. By shifting to Cloud communications, your business benefits—and more cost-effective deployment of personnel is assured—by having the provider manage your system off-site.
7. Feature-Rich Communications
A Cloud based system provides a variety of united communications features such as voicemail, advanced email, and automatic attendants. They can also help you ensure call quality and reliability through features such as traffic features, while some providers even offer voice services in the Cloud but on privately managed networks, keeping your comms off the public Internet.
Like the cost benefits from Cloud phone for business due to the lack of on-site server hardware, flexibility is just as attractive an advantage. Hosted Cloud phones mean that your system benefits from the latest voice developments without hardware upgrades, while a Cloud service is also ideal for a business experiencing growth right now or projecting changes in the future.
Small businesses aiming to scale, at whatever the rate of growth, need a phone system that can scale hand in hand with the company. Traditional fixed phone systems can be something of an albatross of a firm on the move, requiring upgrades or movement of bulky hardware. With a Cloud based system, you simply move the handsets and cables.
10. Emergency Support
Business phone systems need to be operational 24/7, whether as a customer service function, but also to receive new leads or inbound sales calls. When disaster strikes, a Cloud phone system provides peace of mind and minimises any potential loss of business, with reliable back-up at all times.