What we will cover:
- Everything You Need to Know about VoIP
- What is VoIP and How Does it Work
- The Benefits of VoIP
- How Easy Is It to Switch to VoIP?
- On-Premise or Hosted?
- How to Increase Your Call Quality
- Is VoIP the Same as SIP?
- Why Your Business Needs VoIP
Everything You Need to Know About VoIP
In the past, wireless capabilities were major perks. Now, they’re just a way of life. We stream TV and music from our mobile devices, and we print documents on Wi-Fi enabled printers from different rooms. So, why do we still rely on traditional wired phones?
Well, the truth is that we don’t all that much anymore, and we can thank VoIP for that.
VoIP – or Voice over Internet Protocol – has taken over from traditional telephone services in many businesses of all sizes. And, the only thing that is keeping it a highly popular alternative instead of the outright norm is the fact that some businesses still aren’t sure exactly what it is or if it is right for them.
If your business falls into this category, the following guide will help. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about VoIP and why it is a must-have for your business.
What is VoIP and How Does it Work?
VoIP offers an alternative to the electrical signal sent by traditional phone lines, and instead creates a digital signal that can be sent online. Put simply, it’s a telephone service that uses the internet.
But, VoIP doesn’t require you to do anything other than what you would do with a traditional phone. You can still call landlines and mobiles, it just means that the signal undergoes a level of conversion before connecting you.
Naturally, by doing things this way, you’ll always need an internet connection. But, the requirements are not intensive. As long as you have a reliable connection delivering a suitable speed for VoIP, you’ll be able to make and receive calls.
With the basics covered, let’s take a look at some of the advantages of a VoIP system.
The Benefits of VoIP
VoIP has numerous benefits which are frequently causing businesses of all sizes to switch and they are:
1. Is VoIP Free?
While they use the internet as a means of voice data transfer, VoIP phones are not without their charges. That being said, they are far more affordable than traditional phones in most cases, because those require dedicated lines and thus generate independent costs.
Also, VoIP does offer certain scenarios in which calls can be made absolutely free of charge, such as internal calls between departments.
2. VoIP Flexibility
If your company has a clear projection of future growth but doesn’t want to forfeit the budget for a major telephone installation in the present, VoIP is the way to go. The plug-and-play capabilities make it perfect for scalability. So, increasing the amount of telephones in your office is as easy as bringing in more telephones.
3. Retention of Traditional Features
Another definite advantage is that you don’t lose out on any of the features of traditional phones, which you find valuable. As mentioned, you are still able to call landlines and mobiles through your internet protocol. So, you don’t notice any change in that regard.
But, in addition, you are able to add features like on-hold marketing. This allows for you to market your products and services to callers on hold, as well as inform them about new products or changes that are on the horizon. With around 70% of business calls going to hold, this is an effective way to increase your on-hold marketing impact.
4. Excellent additional Features
One such feature is call recording, which, as the name suggests, is a feature that records your inbound and outbound calls. This creates excellent data for you to monitor the state of your customer service and business processes. It also helps with training, compliance, and your business’s ability to match (or hopefully exceed) industry standards.
VoIP makes call monitoring extremely easy. With this feature, you are able to monitor your inbound and outbound calls for the specific purpose of checking the standard of your call handling. You are able to check how a department handles their calls or you can see this data on an individual basis. This essentially helps you understand how your business is performing in its customer service or sales calls vs your ideal criteria.
When it comes to business call tracking, VoIP makes life easy. This feature allows you to set up different phone numbers for each of your off and on-line marketing. The recorded data will give you a clear understanding which marketing efforts are proving most effective.
5. Peace of Mind
Another definite benefit is that its plug-and-play simplicity gives your business some welcome peace of mind. VoIP systems have automatic detection, allowing for any issues to be discovered immediately.
Plus, with the ability to easily re-route calls, you can rest assured that your business numbers will always be reachable – even in a crisis.
How Easy is it to Switch to VoIP?
With the benefits of VoIP in mind, you might be considering switching to this service. But, if the thought of that switch is filling you with anxiety, rest assured that it isn’t a difficult one.
Assuming that your business has the internet infrastructure necessary to support the system, the installation is exceptionally fast. This is because it is a case of plugging in the number of VoIP phones that your business needs.
Whether you have the right infrastructure will be determined beforehand by a site assessment. But, the criteria necessary for VoIP are not extensive.
If it turns out that your internet connection does not meet the requirements, all is not lost. It is entirely possible to install the necessary infrastructure. In this case, you can expect the installation to take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.
However, even if you require an infrastructure installation, your business won’t experience any downtime. All of your numbers will be reachable at all times and business can continue as usual.
Another benefit of switching is that you can keep all of your current phone numbers. And, if you would like to create numbers that have a different area code (say, a London-based code even if your business is located elsewhere), this is perfectly possible.
On-Premises or Hosted?
IP calling is available either as an on-premise or hosted system. If you choose to have your system in your office, you will have an on-site system that bears resemblance of traditional PBX systems. Of course, this is only as far as aesthetics go. In terms of operation, your in-house system will signal the IP-PBX server using a Local Area Network.
On-premise solutions are used by businesses all across the board, from SMEs to corporations. But, they are best utilised by businesses that have more complex requirements as far as their telephones go. If your business has fairly straightforward requirements, you might be better off opting for hosted VoIP services.
Hosted telephone services are located within an off-site data centre, which you may know as the Cloud.
With this system, the only pieces of hardware you require are the VoIP handsets themselves. These plug straight into your network and work immediately. This eliminates the need for on-site equipment, which saves you a significant amount of space.
In addition to space, a hosted IP telephone system saves you the need for on-site maintenance. This, in turn, saves you a potentially large amount of money, especially if your business operates across multiple sites.
In the end, the decision as to whether to keep your system on-site or off-site is up to you, and it depends on your business’s specific needs. But, if you need help with deciding on the best option, it certainly doesn’t hurt to consult the professionals and request an evaluation.
How to Increase Your Call Quality
You need a decent, reliable internet connection to get calls through on VoIP. The more basic the connection, the lower the quality of your calls will be. If you want to start increasing your call quality, you need to look at increasing the quality of your internet connection.
So, what is the best data connection for VoIP? Leased Line or Direct Internet Access probably takes this one. This is because Ethernet is notoriously reliable. The bandwidth is not diluted, which makes the connection ultra-fast. When you are transferring voice packets, you definitely want speed and reliability on your side.
That being said, broadband can work nicely for VoIP as well, especially if you are able to kit out your office with a fibre connection. Fibre’s lightning fast download and upload speeds can certainly handle the transfer of voice packets.
Also, if you want to be assured of good voice calling quality, it is a good idea to look for services that either prioritise voice calling over regular internet traffic, or that help VoIP operate independently of your current broadband speed.
Is VoIP the Same as SIP?
When researching voice calling over the internet, you might come across instances of this service being referred to as SIP trunks, which can certainly cause confusion. But, you needn’t let this bother you.
SIP stands for Session Initiated Protocol and it is a protocol that controls the signals that allow voice calls to be made over the internet. Technically, SIP is the technology used to initiate VoIP calls. Because of this, SIP is part of the VoIP family but does not refer to exactly the same technology.
But, while there are subtle differences in these technologies, you don’t need to be concerned that they have different effects. Both SIP trunking and VoIP allow for online voice calling.
So, if you want to be able to make voice calls over the internet, you are safe contacting suppliers who describe their services as either SIP trunking or VoIP.
Why your Business needs VoIP
If you are still unsure as to whether you want to switch to a VoIP system for your business, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to save money on my monthly phone charges?
- Do I want a system with a clear and effective disaster recovery plan?
- Is scalability important to my business, either now or in the future?
- Do I want to make adding features to my phone system simple?
As a business owner, you likely answered ‘Yes’ to all of these questions. And, why wouldn’t you? After all, these features would make your business cheaper and easier to run.
With VoIP technology, all of the above is perfectly possible. You can reduce the amount you spend on calling while increasing the features and benefits of your phone system.
And, with BT set to turn off ISDN in 2025, all phones will have to make use of IP services in any case. So, now is the perfect time to implement VoIP into your business and start enjoying the benefits of VoIP calling before it becomes the norm.
If you need any help getting started with VoIP or want to find out what the best solutions for your business are, be sure to contact BDM Voice today.