Features of a Small Business VoIP Phone SolutionPosted on: 2018-10-30 | Categories: VoIP Services
If anyone had doubts about the future of the PSTN system, the last few years should have put those doubts to rest. Carriers in multiple countries have announced cutoff dates for landlines and others are experimenting with switching over to VoIP completely. Even if you have a PBX system that is functioning well right now, businesses should be looking at VoIP systems for the future.
Switching over to VoIP
If you don’t have any experience with VoIP technology, the decision to make this switch can be overwhelming. The market is flooded with service providers competing for customers and advertising their services. It is easy to get confused with the number of choices – VoIP allows you to choose between several options at every step of the way. You are not constrained in terms of hardware, software, service providers, or anything else for that matter.
To help you decide on the best VoIP solutions for your small business, here are some of the features that you should be looking for:
While not exactly a feature per se, the price is very important when you’re looking at hosted VoIP services. Unlike larger organizations, small businesses don’t have financial resources they can afford to waste. Every penny counts and you don’t want to spend money on features you don’t need. At the same time, some companies choose a service provider based on price alone and later regret the decision because they don’t have the features they want.
Make sure to take a close look at the price as well as the features you’re getting in each plan. Does the vendor charge for some features separately? Is every advertised feature available in the particular plan you are looking at? Does the final figure include taxes, charges, and any other fees? These are the questions you should ask the vendor before considering the phone service.
Flexibility and Scalability
Flexibility is one of the hallmark features of VoIP technology. But that doesn’t mean the particular service you are looking at will be flexible by default. Some providers constrain what their clients can do, depending on the subscription plan they’re paying for. So you might find yourself in a situation where you are not allowed to make changes even when there is no technical reason stopping you from doing so.
Any good VoIP solution targeted at small businesses should be scalable. What does that word mean? It means that the service should grow or shrink according to your needs. With traditional phone operators, you had no choice but to purchase a minimum number of lines or numbers to get service. If you wanted to increase it later on, you had to wait until the end of your billing period or other arbitrary stipulations. And you can forget about getting your provider to eliminate a few lines because you’re going through a rough patch.
Hosted VoIP solutions are different because you can purchase additional phone lines or numbers at any time. What if you don’t need all those numbers anymore? You can remove them at will. You don’t have to pay for them for the rest of the week, month or billing cycle! You only pay for what you use and that includes numbers, lines, features or any other resource.
Essential Versus Luxury Features
Before the advent of VoIP, small businesses rarely have access to so-called luxury features such as video conferencing or auto attendant. That’s because they could not afford to pay the fees for such add-ons or providers would only offer them to organizations with a minimum number of users. These days, the line between essential and luxury features is practically invisible thanks to VoIP.
In fact, these features have become essential for small businesses because they allow them to compete with larger organizations on an even footing. Suppose you have employees scattered across two offices in different states. You have monthly meetings where at least a few people have to travel from one office to another. What if you could substitute in-person meetings with conference calls that includes audio and video? You could save hundreds of dollars on travel expenses! Not to mention all the time workers have to waste in getting to the meeting.
Ultimately, it is up to each business to define what is an essential feature and what is not. A $200 monthly fee for a few conference numbers may be worth it if you can save thousands on travel for executives. But another company may not need it if their workers don’t travel anywhere regularly. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need every feature. But given that you can always switch plans or even vendors, it’s better to start small and add them as you go along!