VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and it basically allows users to make calls over an internet connection rather than a telephone network. Switching your office’s communication system to VoIP can not only save your business a lot of money, but it can also provide many features that can’t be found with traditional phone services.
Why is this advantageous? Because it allows you to set up a communication system that is as simple or complex as you’d like to meet the needs of your office. VoIP allows more flexibility for specific departments, as well as traveling or remote employees, and businesses don’t need to worry about upgrading any systems on their own, as it is usually done automatically by the provider. If you’re looking to switch over to VoIP, follow these guidelines to find and implement the right system for your office.
Finding The Right Small Business VoIP
There are several types of VoIP calling solutions. In fact, you may be familiar with Google Hangouts or Skype, both of which offer a specific type of VoIP service. But like any type of system or software, the first step is to assess your business’ needs to figure out which type of VoIP service will be best for you.
There are a few types of VoIP phone systems out there, from systems that are completely hosted by a third party to on-premise VoIP set-ups to fully virtual VoIP systems. Some basic factors to consider include:
- Your office’s current call traffic
- The amount of users and departments you’ll need to support
- The types of devices you’ll want to be able to log-in from
- Your current communications/phone bill budget
- How many unique phone numbers or phone extensions will you need for each employee or department?
- Can your current network support VoIP or will you need to upgrade your network?
Once you’ve considered your office’s basic needs, you can then review the types of features you’ll want, such as:
- Advanced call forwarding/auto-call routing
- Virtual phone lines/soft-phone or web-phone apps for traveling and remote employees
- Conference calling or video conferencing
- Forwarding voicemails to inboxes
- Internet faxing
- Instant messaging
Setting Up Your Small Business VoIP Account
Once you’ve selected your VoIP service, it’s time to set it up. Here’s a basic checklist to follow when setting up your VoIP account, although not all of these may be applicable to your business.
- Add users and phones
- Assign phones to users
- Assign voicemail boxes to users
- Create call groups and queues
- Record custom greetings
- Set up call attendants/calling menus
- Configure call forwarding settings
- Set up business hours settings
- Make test calls
Depending on what VoIP service and features you have, you may want to provide an overview or brief training for your staff. Show them how to make calls and access voicemails. Go over any specific protocols or procedures for respective departments, and provide instructions on how to download or log-in to any required software or plugins.
VoIP Services Have Their Challenges
While many features of a business VoIP solution would be considered advantageous for small to midsize businesses, there are also a few challenges to consider and prepare for. VoIP systems require fast and reliable internet connections, so you may want to come up with a backup plan in case your internet connection slows down or disconnects, even for a short period of time. It can also be challenging to self-install, especially if you are trying to upgrade existing hardware or set up an on-premise VoIP system. That’s when finding a VoIP service with reliable and 24/7 customer support comes in handy.