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VoIP For Small Businesses: Weighing The Pros And Cons
2017-05-19 by  Editor

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VoIP is all the rage right now when it comes to phone systems for small businesses. VoIP is short for Voice over IP technology and allows people to make phone calls with nothing but their internet connection. However, a lot of people are still in the dark about the whole process and left deliberating whether VoIP could be beneficial to their business. In this article, we're going to discuss how VoIP works, and address the pros and cons so you can make a wise decision.

What is VoIP Exactly and How Does it Work?

VoIP allows people to make voice calls through an Internet connection as opposed to a traditional landline, which is the trusty method many companies have used for almost a century now.

The most central part of any VoIP system is the PBX server. First of all, you have to understand that Voice over IP servers are not telephone systems per say, but devices that can transfer real-time audio communication. While it may seem like a technicality at first, it is very important, especially when it comes to telecommunication legislation. Laws that govern devices that can transfer real-time communications and telephone systems vary greatly, and while this may not be that important when it comes to making simple calls, it is very important when it comes to bigger businesses.

Traditional PBX servers usually use different networks for voice and data. IP PBXs, on the other hand, use converged networks. That means voice over data communications, internet access, and telephone communications can all be performed through the same network. One of the greatest advantages of this is that it allows businesses to cut on infrastructure, maintenance costs and long-term operation costs.

Why should I go for Voice over IP?

There’s an abundance of advantages of switching over to VoIP. Here are a few of them:

VoIP is more flexible: One of the biggest advantages of VoIP technology is how flexible it is. First of all, you don't necessarily need to have a complete phone system overhaul to use VoIP technology. You can use what is called a VoIP adapter to switch a regular landline signal into a VoIP signal through a dongle, which looks similar to a USB storage device. You can plug your landline directly into the dongle which will be connected to any computer. The dongle will then detect the audio signal coming through your landline and transfer it into VoIP. This set up demands no installation at all and is perfect for a small one man business trying to save on international calls.

VoIP is more portable: The problem with a landline is that they will usually be tied to one location, allowing you to make phone calls to and from your phone number only from your home or main office. This may cause many inconveniences and confusion, especially if you're running a business that demands a lot of travelling. You may not want to give your clients multiple numbers, and you don't want your clients to either have to deal with voice mail or a secretary every time you’re out of the office.

Let’s say you’re a veterinarian running a mobile clinic in a rural area, and you want your clients to be able to contact you at all times using one local phone number, but you can’t afford a secretary. In this case, VoIP would be a perfect choice for you. This also works well if you are a business which requires a lot of client feedback, a Head Quarters or are a travel blogger and therefore on the road a lot.

Many project managers and contractors need to be on site for a large portion of the day. Some VoIP services allow phone calls to switch directly to a mobile phone number after a set number of rings. This makes it look more professional and removes the need of putting clients on hold. As the old adage said, time is money, and there aren’t many businesses where that rings truer than in the construction business. Clients may need to make last-minute clarifications or corrections and having them wait for long bouts of time may have severe consequences.

Additionally, VoIP telecommunications can be done all over the globe; therefore, you are not limited to your town, state or country. This means you do not need to worry about international calls or pay extortionate roaming charge. An internet connection could, therefore, save you a lot of money and heartache.

VoIP technology is multi-functional: One of the many advantages of having a phone service that is provided through the internet is that it is way more versatile than a traditional phone line which only serves one function, and that is to transfer voice data. With VoIP technology, video conferencing is much easier, and some VoIP phones even come with video included. Even if you're on the other side of the world, you can still transfer files, talk directly with clients, coworkers or management, and discuss with consultants while attending other meetings. Also, you can do it through a variety of devices, may it be a mobile phone, laptop or any device with video.

VoIP is more cost efficient: Of course, one of the biggest advantages of VoIP is that it is much more cost effective. First of all, installing a VoIP service doesn’t cost much. As long as you have an active broadband connection, most VoIP small business phone service providers can have your whole setup installed in less than a day, even for huge businesses. Second, international calls to and from VoIP phones are much less expensive allowing you to contact clients wherever you are at a fraction of the cost.

Also, contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have to invest in costly VoIP phones to implement a VoIP solution. Most IP systems can be integrated with nothing but a laptop or computer. All you need is a computer and a headset, or the installation of a dongle, and you’re good to go.

VoIP increases efficiency: One of the best things about VoIP telephony is how much it will increase your business’ efficiency. For one, it allows you to send things such as emails and documents much more seamlessly. Also, VoIP phones can be integrated with CRM software in seconds and tasks such as switching users can be done much more easily, with the added bonus of clients being able to multitask.

Another thing that is completely different with VoIP is how voice data can be managed. Since everything is digital, getting voice transcripts and managing voicemail through text can be done. What that means is that instead of having to go through hours and hours of messages through your voicemail, you can have them sent directly to you via email which will allow you to skim through them much more quickly, meaning you can quickly phase out the meaningless ones.

For instance, this could eventually help you save a lot of time as you can manage your voicemail while you're in a meeting, and you can immediately halt whatever you're doing to answer important messages. Also, managing and accessing voicemails through an interface is much more efficient. For instance, you can retrieve and archive a lot more messages this way and organize them more effectively. VoIP revolutionizes voice mail in many ways.

Are There Any Disadvantages to VoIP Telephony?

Like any technology, VoIP does have its drawbacks, although they are few. Here are some of the disadvantages of VoIP telephones:

VoIP is dependent on power: One of the disadvantages of VoIP telephones that is often overlooked is that they are dependent on wall power. What this means is that in the case of a power outage, you could be out of a phone service. Therefore, you should always have a backup plan, such as a laptop or an emergency phone line in case something goes wrong.

911 calls: Emergency calls can also cause an issue with VoIP phones. Emergency services usually need a location in order to provide any assistance. The issue with VoIP phones is that there is no way to establish a location, unless the geographical location is integrated into the packets.

Conclusion

As you can see, VoIP has many advantages for all businesses, big and small. It allows business owners to stay in touch more efficiently, no matter where they are, meaning travel and work can work hand-in-hand with one another. Furthermore, VoIP telecommunication allows you to cut costs on international calls and can be operated with nothing but a laptop and a headset. All in all, VoIP is great for businesses who want to enjoy the convenience of a mobile phone, and the professionality of a traditional landline, all at a lower cost.

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