What Is VoIP in Phone Systems for Small Businesses?
There are now many more channels on which companies’ employees, clients, suppliers and other stakeholders can communicate. Emerging technologies such as chat, text and social media make it possible to connect everyone with the internet in a convenient way. Despite this, there is no doubt phone calls are as vital as ever, and many organizations are wondering if a VoIP phone system for small business is the best option for them.
Most companies find it challenging to eliminate phone calls. Phone calls are an essential customer service tool that can easily transmit empathy and engagement between brands and their users.
But, how can you modernize this communication channel? VoIP could be the answer to permanently changing the way your company makes and receives calls for the better. If you don’t understand what this technology is about, you’re not alone.
How does VoIP Work for Small Business?
A growing number of company owners started by learning the basics and then implementing VoIP phone systems to connect calls. VoIP stands for “voice over internet protocol,” and it describes how you make a phone call over the internet rather than over a physical line.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line.
“VoIP services convert your voice into a digital signal that travels over the Internet. If you call a regular phone number, the signal is converted to a regular telephone signal before reaching the destination. VoIP can allow you to call directly from a computer, a special VoIP phone, or a traditional phone connected to a special adapter. Also, wireless ‘hotspot’ in locations such as airports, parks, and cafes allow you to connect to the Internet and may enable you to use VoIP service wirelessly.”
You already use VoIP if you work with apps such as Facetime or WhatsApp. Through your WiFi or 4G/5G connection, they are all tools to enable you to communicate from anywhere, using video, chat, messaging and voice calls rather than a physical phone line.
In short, a VOIP phone system for small business relies entirely on an internet connection. Since it costs less than traditional and expensive PBXs, it has become popular for corporate telephone systems.
Why is VoIP so Relevant?
As a result of the pandemic, many businesses moved their communications to online platforms to enable remote workers and guarantee operational stability.
Unlike mobile phones, landlines do not allow for mobile flexibility. Therefore, many organizations faced the challenge of ensuring they had a reliable, fast and better internet connection to ensure business continuity.
A VoIP phone system for small business became an ideal solution, especially in response to the continuing mobile workforce trend. A FlexJobs survey found:
- When asked if they would consider looking for a new job if they could not continue working remotely, 58% of workers said “absolutely.”
- Additionally, 31% said they weren’t sure what they would do, and only 11% said working remotely isn’t a big deal.
- More than half of respondents were planning to remain remote full-time following the pandemic (65%).
- Only 2% want to return to full-time work, while another 33% want a hybrid work arrangement.
As a company owner facing the challenge to enable both in-office and remote employees, you’ve likely researched the choices and wondered if VoIP is the best phone system for your small business. Other terms you may have found include “virtual phone system,” “IP phone,” and “cloud-based phone system.”
More sophisticated VoIP platforms can even deploy Cloud PBX (which provides call routing and control functionality) and other virtual communications tools. Additionally, a VoIP phone system for small business can integrate IP-enabled desk phones, browser-based call management software, and mobile applications.
How to Determine if a VoIP Phone System is a Good Fit for Your Small Business
Besides all of the above-cited circumstances, small- to medium-sized businesses are always looking for ways to save money and work better without spending too much cash to do it.
VoIP is one of the many tools to make this possible, but certain companies are still resisting the technology because they fear call quality and stability may suffer. VoIP remains one of the most popular phone systems used by small businesses in the United States, despite early adoption hurdles.
Here are some ways to determine if VoIP will be a good fit for your company:
Your company is still growing
One of VoIP’s biggest strengths is its flexibility. Instead of committing to a set number of phone lines like you would with a PBX, you can drop and add lines at will with most VoIP providers.
If your company is still expanding or is seeing some significant changes, you’ll be able to flex with the times without spending too much extra money on new lines you might not need tomorrow.
For a small business, every nickel can count, and you don’t want to pay for lines you don’t need yet.
Your business uses fewer than 50 phone lines
A VoIP phone system for small business shines for companies using fewer than 50 phone lines. Under this threshold, it doesn’t make sense to pay for a PBX setup that comes with 23 channels, plus equipment and specialized staff to maintain the systems.
If this is your case, you can choose a top provider to order VoIPs with any number of phone lines, of course, but your break-even point is going to be around 50 lines—at this point, the cost is less of a major deal-breaker.
PBX can still make sense for very large companies. It still has its place in the business ecosystem, so giant enterprises should continue to consider it for other features it offers.
You want to self-install and maintain your phones
Again, with a small business, the more you can do yourself or at least keep in-house, the better. The best VoIP phone systems for small businesses can be self-installed, easy to maintain and don’t need special knowledge to keep running. Your chosen VoIP provider will be doing most of the heavy lifting.
Your internal staff can make changes like assigning telephone numbers to workstations, reconfiguring phone systems, and so forth. Still, maintenance is essentially part of the package, saving you a bundle on keeping a trained telecom expert on staff.
Your employees spend too much time outside the office
VoIP excels when it comes to flexibility. Instead of relying on a receptionist or operator to know when someone is out of the office, it’s simple for any employee to reroute their desk phone to any other telephone number, such as a mobile phone or a coworker.
So, whether “Tom” is off on a service call or “Tina” now works remotely, inbound calls continue to get answered normally. Your callers won’t realize they’ve been transferred, and it saves your in-house reception the time of determining where any given employee is when needed.
You want to integrate your phones with your software
Whether you want your phones to connect directly to Outlook to dial customers from your computer, or you want complete control over your hold messaging, your software packages will integrate seamlessly with VoIP.