The growing digitalisation has caused a paradigm shift in the ways we communicate. The old telephone infrastructure is becoming obsolete and, with an increase in remote working, more companies are making the switch to VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol].
Whereas before businesses could only communicate with clients through a traditional phone system which is costly and offers poor quality phone calls, they can now connect to people in the most efficient way, regardless of their location.
If your company is yet to make the leap from landline to VoIP, here are some key things to know before beginning the switching process.
What is VOIP?
Put simply, VoIP is a system that assists you in making phone calls via the internet instead of using your regular landline or mobile network. This relatively new technology works by converting analogue voice signals into digital signals – whenever a phone call is made via VoIP, it is the VoIP adapter that converts the signals.
The digital data is then sent to the business phone service provider using your internet before the message is ultimately conveyed to your customer’s phone.
Unlike a traditional phone line, VoIP can carry multiple conversations and data types over a single line, making it an efficient mode of carrying conversations, information, and data between multiple locations.
Choosing the right VoIP provider
Once you have made the decision to switch your business to a VoIP phone system, you will need to choose a provider for your new service. Finding a provider that can help meet your business goals is key, so start by deciding what you value most in a communications system.
Thoroughly research each of the providers out there, read reviews and consider the level of customer service each offers, as you will want to ensure you can get adequate help and support when you need it.
Hosted vs on site VoIP
An important factor to consider before making the switch to VoIP is whether you would like your phone system to be hosted online or if you want the equipment to be installed and maintained at your business.
There are pros and cons to each, and it will largely depend on your preference and which setup best fits your business needs.
For example, onsite VoIP offers more control over service and quality issues, especially when it comes to internet speed and reliability, however it requires you to buy, install, and maintain all the equipment and you will need a dedicated area to house the hardware.
If you opt for a cloud-based, hosted solution, your service provider will manage and maintain all the technology and keep everything running, so you will not need to purchase or maintain any equipment other than your phones.
Quality and reliability
A crucial thing to look for in any business-grade VoIP service is the call quality.
Today’s best VoIP service providers deliver HD quality audio that is on par with traditional landline calls, if not better, meaning that few people can even differentiate between VoIP and analogue calls anymore.
Reliability is also key. Whilst VoIP phone services for small businesses are generally more reliable than they used to be, it is still worth making specific inquiries about each vendor to find out if they have a plan for emergencies where your phone line stops working.
You should also ask the vendor about their data centre and infrastructure. For example, do they have multiple options for backup, and what tools do they have to ensure your phones keep working?
Before settling on a provider, find out what their migration process is. Ideally, the switch should be seamless with little to no downtime.
There are several steps in migration, so make sure your provider is organised and attentive to your needs at each stage, from installing software and sourcing phones, to transferring your phone number to the new system and porting your phone number to the new phones.
A quality provider should also offer sufficient training before switching over. If you start the business day with a new phone system that no one knows how to use, the results can be chaotic. It is your provider’s job to ensure you are prepared and knowledgeable about the new system before it goes live.
Ideally, your team should be equipped with instruction manuals and tutorial videos. Live training is also beneficial because it gives employees the chance to ask questions and get help in real-time.
As with any modern technology, a VoIP system is vulnerable to certain risks, and many businesses ignore security incidents before it’s too late.
Whilst it is important to ask your vendor about the security measures they implement for their infrastructure, they can only do so much to protect your phone system, and the responsibility also lies with you and your employees.
If employees leave their passwords written down on their desks for all to see or fail to change the password from the default, anyone can break into the system. Therefore, it is a good idea to deliver a security awareness programme outlining best practice and ways your team can help ensure your information is never compromised.
VoIP solutions provide a wealth of empowering features, many of which are not available from legacy phone services, so it is no surprise that VoIP is fast becoming the superior, modern choice for businesses of all sizes. However, as with any business decision, it is crucial to consider how a VoIP system could impact your business before making the switch.
By becoming educated on all the benefits VoIP has to offer and what to look for in a quality, reliable provider, you can ensure you get the most out of your VoIP system and reap maximum rewards for your business.
Oliver Rowe is founder and CEO of Fusion Communications