Wednesday, 14 November 2012

VoIP Telephony And Your Business

As Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony advances it is not just a case of looking at the cost savings that can be made but at the features that come with a solution which traditional providers bolt on substantial premiums if you want to use them.

The decision to switch to VoIP is not a hard one to make as the cost savings are well known. The main problem that arises is which of the many suppliers do I choose and how?

To answer these questions there are some basic areas to consider when whittling down your list of potential suppliers.

How easy is the system to set-up?

Ease of use/installation should be a major consideration. How easy the system to set up and how easy is it to administer. Many providers offer a simple ‘plug and play’ solution that is quick to configure and roll out. Most VoIP systems are highly scalable, starting with a single user through to multi-site solutions. System flexibility is of paramount importance so that as you grow your phone system grows with you.

Expansion/Upgrading:

When the system has been installed and is working and your business changes, how flexible is the system and more importantly the supplier to make these changes for your business. So can the system respond and how quickly can the supplier enable the required changes and are they part of the agreement or are these costs hidden until you need to make a change?

Extensions:

When you are considering your switch to VoIP telephony it is crucial that you are clear about how many extensions you will need and what you want to use them for. Some employees may need to have direct dial numbers for ease of contact and for reducing the call load on the switchboards. Your business requirements may require the use of other services such as call queues or IVR’s (virtual assistants).

Contract Terms:

Review the contract terms offered by suppliers. Do they tie you into long inflexible terms or do they offer short duration contracts such as 30 rolling days where you can leave without penalty.

Call Charges:

There are many types of calling options/plans available ranging from pay for every call you make to unlimited calling plans. Before committing yourself to a calling plan it is vital that you ensure you are not going to pay for more then you use. If you are a high consumer of calling minutes and are considering an unlimited plan ask any potential supplier to provide an analysis of your calls. Furthermore ask them to demonstrate if there is a benefit in paying for an unlimited package or paying for every call you make (and any options in between).

Voice-mail:

The ability to have voice-mail messages sent to your email address either on a PC, smartphone or tablet is a very usual service that can improve business/client response times portraying the image of efficiency.

Fax to email/email to fax:

In the era of unified communications the ability to send and receive faxes via the internet enable employees to become more productive and responsive to client needs. Make sure your VoIP provider will allow you to continue to send faxes over the internet without the need for a dedicated land line.

Call Conferencing:

If you have staff working at various locations in the country or internationally and you need to have regular department or team catch ups, then the need for easy conference calls is especially useful. Conference calls can be held without the need for a conference bridge and because the calls are held via the VoIP telephone system they are free. If you have a need for conference calls with clients then the same service can be used by adding a dedicated direct dial number.

Smartphone integration:

With the continual advancement of smartphones and the roll out of high speed mobile internet, businesses with mobile workforce's can use the power of VoIP telephony to push the company phone system to the employee’s handset giving them access to voice-mail colleagues and clients while at the same time giving you control over quality by using call recording.

The right choice for your business:

When embarking on a replacement phone system, be it a premises based product or a hosted VoIP solution, it is imperative that you are clear about your requirements for what a new system will do for your business. By looking at your current call flows, how the existing system works and what you would like to achieve in the future, you should be able to find a suitable supplier that will assist in reducing your call costs, improve your business productivity and offer a better overall experience to your customers existing or new.

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