The benefits that VoIP for Business can bring to your business are undeniable. Add to that Cloud VoIP, hosted or on-site and you have a winning combination that can add significantly to your business profile.
Depending on the size of the business, either implementation can be applicable. However, having said that, a cloud-based approach can fit more easily with an existing cloud-based environment, either on‑site or hosted.
Before choosing a particular approach, it is best to consider firstly whether on-site or hosted VoIP is better suited to the business, and secondly, whether a Cloud-based architecture is appropriate.
Some reasons as to why you might consider VoIP for business or Cloud VoIP include:
Improved Business Profile
Even the very smallest business can use Voip for Business to provide services associated with a larger business and thereby provide an improved professional business profile. Instead of incoming calls being answered by a receptionist, VoIP can provide automated incoming call management that gives callers the type of options more usually associated with larger organisations, “Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Accounts………….” for example. They may all go to the same internal extension, but the impression of a large professional organisation is given to the caller.
Other features associated with VoIP can also improve the business profile, for example using hunting groups, group call pickup, automatic call forwarding and transfers to voice messaging. Support requests can be automatically forwarded to the on-call member of staff, a particular benefit to customers for out-of-hours support requests.
These simple techniques can greatly improve the professional profile of a small business.
Another method is to use Cloud VoIP to make it look like you have a nationwide branch or sales support network of offices. Calls to a local support number are automatically forwarded to the main office, and the VoIP system recognises the area code of the incoming call and passes the caller`s location to support. The support centre specialist receiving the call is notified of the caller`s location and can deal with the call appropriately. An easy and cost‑effective way to set up nationwide support from a single office.
Other benefits of a VoIP system, perhaps linked to a phone number on the corporate website is to make the business always available. Out-of-hours calls will be answered with an automated message, and can be automatically transferred to voicemail, or transferred to an on‑call member of staff. Actual and potential customers won’t feel that they are being ignored.
Improved Business Support
Often support calls are simple requests for documentation or product information. VoIP systems can be programmed to provide download options for callers to request information to be sent to an email address. This can reduce the workload of support staff by offloading common support requests to the VoIP system, and thereby reduce the costs of providing a top-level support service.
The caller`s email address can be recorded in a marketing database to be used in future mailshots. More sophisticated systems can record the caller’s area of interest to make for more effective targeted mailshots.
Reduced Call Costs
Regional and International call costs on a tolled network can be very expensive. Using VoIP can be an effective means of transferring calls to the Internet and thereby avoiding charges for voice and video-conferencing calls. Obviously, calls to non-VoIP numbers cannot be entirely avoided, but can be sharply reduced. One way is to use a local VoIP exchange that allows breaking out to PSTN numbers, reducing the call cost to a local call only. A second is to use a VoIP for Business service that provides a certain number of free minutes to non-VoIP numbers. Skype for Business among others provides such a service.
Reduced Operating Costs – Hosted VoIP
The purchase of the hardware and services needed to implement VoIP for a small business can be beyond their budget. They will shoulder the implementation costs, including the costs of the cabling, hardware, software and handsets. On an ongoing basis they will have the cost of the technical support needed to keep the VoIP service up and running. Both capital and operational spend will be involved.
Many suppliers offer a hosted VoIP service where they provide the hardware, software and technical expertise to support the VoIP service for a fixed monthly cost.
In some cases, the service is provided on the suppliers own site, linked to the business by a communications link. In others, the host provides the equipment and sites it on-site in the business offices. The risk in an off-site implementation is that if the communications link is lost for any reason, the VoIP system cannot be reached, and the business loses external communications.
What is not under question is the benefits that VoIP can bring to a business, both tangible in terms of reduced communications costs, and intangible in an improved business profile and in services offered to existing and potential customers.