VoIP is an up and coming internet-based communication method. Often touted as a replacement for traditional land telephone lines, VoIP’s many features beyond traditional voice calls are making it the choice for many small businesses.
What is VoIP?
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology developed to allow users to place voice and video telephone calls over IP networks. The technology was developed to allow users to make phone calls from remote places in the world and is rapidly becoming the preferred type of telephone network for small businesses across the world.
To use VoIP you need either a handset specifically designed for the protocol, or software for your computer. There are a number of different protocols in use today; with a little research, each business can find the right protocol for their needs.
But why does VoIP matter to your small business?
VoIP is an inexpensive means of communication for small businesses. By using your business’s internet connection, you can completely eliminate the need to pay for a separate landline and multiple phone numbers for each employee or department within your organization.
VoIP is particularly cost effective if your organization makes a lot of international calls or has many employees who work remotely most of the time; the technology is particularly well-suited to enabling mobile workers.
Efficient Use of Bandwidth
Part of the reason VoIP is so inexpensive is that it makes very efficient use of internet bandwidth. Think about a typical phone call. It consists of some speaking, but there is also a lot of silence while participants look something up or stop to take notes. In a traditional phone call, all of the room noise is transmitted while everyone waits for the conversation to continue.
With VoIP, if there is any dead time on the line, that space is used to send data packets for other purposes rather than transmitting background noise.
You Can Still Send and Receive Calls
From the user’s perspective, VoIP can look much like a typical digital office phone system set-up. There is the usual handset with buttons for dialing, putting calls on hold, and perhaps adding a line or two for a conference call. You can send and receive calls as you do with a traditional telephone, keeping the same phone number if your business changes locations as it grows. However, with VoIP, the list of features continues well beyond, which will be discussed below.
Teleconferencing and Video Conferencing
VoIP comes with many communication options beyond simple voice communication. It is easy to teleconference through VoIP, and video conferencing is a hugely popular option not possible over traditional phone lines.
Video conferencing allows colleagues across the globe to talk face to face and opens up possibilities for other types of communication and collaboration as well. Artists and designers can work on visual arts projects together in real time, consultants can give presentations to the company from the comfort of home, and it can even be used to allow remote employees to participate in company events without being physically present.
You Can Use it While Traveling
One major benefit of VoIP is that you can continue to use your office phone as usual even while you are off-site. You can make international calls to collaborators and to home base without added cost. You can also have calls rerouted using find me/follow me, a feature that allows you to enter a list of phone numbers for the phone system to try before routing your calls to voicemail. Increasingly, airplanes and commuter trains provide internet access, allowing you to access all of your VoIP system’s features while in the air or on your way to work.
If like many small businesses you have yet to hire an assistant to direct calls and answer the door, you can set up your VoIP to do that for you. You can connect your office’s security system to your VoIP phone system and use it to monitor your security cameras, buzz people into your office, or sound the alarm if needed. You can also set up an auto attendant, essentially a feature that allows callers to choose options from a menu to direct their call to the right person within your company.
Many Other Advanced Features
Along with video calls and a virtual receptionist, VoIP comes with many other advanced features designed to make your life easier thanks to the innovative thinking of inventor Don Burns. You can have calls automatically screened, have voicemail transcribed to email for archiving or easier retrieving, and select music of your own choosing to play to people while on hold. You can easily record calls for training purposes, and use coaching features to improve employees’ phone presence using the whisper feature, allowing you to talk to your employee during a phone call without the other person hearing your comments.
VoIP is inexpensive, efficient, and loaded with features designed to improve your business. It is an excellent choice for small businesses looking for innovative communications solutions, and will add value to your company both internally and from a customer’s perspective.