Is your business one of the majority thinking of transitioning to VoIP services in the near future? (This is according to a recent Software Advice poll.) If so, I can give you five reasons to push you over the edge. To be sure, there are more reasons than this, but here are five of the major ways in which VoIP is cool for SMBs.
Easy transition from PSTN
If you’ve been hesitant to switch over to VoIP because you thought it was a big deal to do so, there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. So long as you have Internet service at your SMB, you can easily get VoIP phone service with the addition of a few additional pieces of hardware: A phone switch and handsets. You can also run softphones should you prefer, turning your computers themselves into phones. That would necessitate plugging in headsets into the machines, of course.
Although there are advantages to PSTN service, such as not requiring external power, some major carriers (AT&T, for one) are slated to start phasing it out entirely as early as 2018.
There is a reason for all the hype you might have heard about the low cost of VoIP. Nothing comes free. Do your research, and anyone making what sounds like a bogus claim likely is making a bogus claim. There will be costs associated with both installing and running your VoIP system. You’ll need to pay for phone cables, phones (you might lease these), power supplies for the phones OR a new Power over Ethernet unit, and a VoIP capable router (or gateway).
Once installed, you will need to continue to pay for your VoIP system to keep working. Usually this is paid for on a per-seat basis.
Also available is SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol. This allows you to integrate data and voice on a single network, thereby optimizing the capacity of your network and leveraging that connection for both of those data types.
It’s also true that quite a few VoIP bundles offer great deals on calling minutes. Nearly a must-have is free calling to anywhere in the US and Canada; many companies are beginning to include Mexico as well. Some VoIP companies are offering a certain number of international calling as a bonus limited to certain minutes per month. With SIP trunking, many international calls are inexpensive with VoIP, as voice calls are turned into data just like any other data. If your company makes a lot of international, you can save a lot of money as you can find many calls as low as 2 cents a minute.
The list of features available with PSTN systems was pretty thin. As a standard feature, you had “hold”. Almost everything else was extra and needed to be purchased as extra and installed on your switch. That was a process that could take weeks, or more. Most VoIP systems come stock with voicemail, music on hold, conferencing, do not disturb, auto-attendant, voicemail to email transcription, and so on. Similarly, most VoIP can also easily be configured for use with Unified Communications systems.
Better call management
If your SMB is like mine, data, and specifically data tracking, is crucial to figuring out exactly where to direct your SMB’s limited time and energy. A good managed and cloud-based VoIP service can offer you information on how you use your bandwidth, enabling you to see your data usage over a given period of time. You can break it down by inbound and outbound calls; each of these reports will show you exact details about your SMB’s call history, including cost, call duration, originator, destination, and rate center.