Communication is the lifeblood of any enterprise. With the right tools, you can set up your employees for success. Conversely, delays or mistakes in communication can harm your company – in terms of sales, profits, and even brand image. Every business is unique, so your phone system will reflect that. Keep reading for some tips on how to set up a system that caters to your business needs.
The most important thing to remember when setting up your business phone system is this – what are your needs? What features are your employees asking for? You don’t want to pay for hardware that nobody uses and miss out on features that your workforce needs. As with anything else, you have to pay for what you want.
Before getting into the details of setup and configuration, you need to know the basics. What exactly is a VoIP phone system? It works just like any other enterprise phone system, allowing you to manage incoming and outgoing calls in bulk. The biggest difference is the fact that modern systems use VoIP technology to transmit calls.
Most businesses prefer hosted VoIP services where the vendor handles everything for you behind the scenes. As a client, you access the phone services through an online dashboard. The alternative is to build your own system which is something large organizations prefer. It doesn’t matter if you sell products or services, whether your company is big or small. Everyone benefits from the flexibility that VoIP offers.
VoIP systems have a never-ending list of features, with more being added every day. The systems help your employees be more productive by removing barriers between different types of communication. You can use a single system that connects your voicemail, email, fax, phone, and even your internal CRM apps.
VoIP’s most important selling point is that it’s inexpensive compared to older systems. But that doesn’t mean you should cut corners when it comes to your phone system. You can always add features when you need them, but hardware lasts much longer. Getting the wrong model phones today can compromise your efficiency for years!
With a hosted system, almost everything is managed by the provider. But you need phones in the office to make and receive calls just like always. With VoIP, you can use software-based phones (softphones) or the familiar desk phones.
Softphones are applications that you can download on mobile devices and computers to make VoIP calls. Such apps allow you to make calls from anywhere without an actual phone. Entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses can get by without purchasing any hardware and rely on softphones only. It’s ideal if you have a workforce that’s rarely together in one location.
But most businesses prefer to buy VoIP-based desk phones as well. They usually have better components to ensure audio quality. Most desk phones also come with function buttons for one-step access to specific features. They’re useful for receptionists, administrative personnel, executives, and anyone who spends more time at their desk than away from it.
At this point, you may be wondering whether the hardware is essential. Why can’t you just use softphones all the time? The truth is that some businesses can get by without hardware for some time. While VoIP phones are not required to use VoIP, they do offer some advantages over softphones. There are several reasons most businesses use a combination of software and hardware for their phone systems.
VoIP phones and other accessories enhance productivity. Not all softphones give you access to the full range of the provider’s services. For instance, some functions like conference calling are best used with quality speakers on a dedicated conference device. You can make a conference call from a softphone, but you will be limited in the number of participants because audio quality will not be the best.
Investing in quality hardware is not something every business can do. Especially if cost savings are the reasons you turned to VoIP in the first place.
However, it’s important to research the available options so you know what to buy when the time is right. Be aware of new models and what features they support. When the time comes to buy new hardware, you already have the research and knowledge to make good purchase decisions.
A VoIP desk phone should be familiar to anyone who’s used a landline. The basic models come with speakers, microphones, an LCD screen, and the standard number of buttons. Most VoIP phones also come with programmable buttons that allow users one-click access to functions.
Desk phones are invaluable to employees who spend most of their time at a desk. Someone like a receptionist or senior executive would benefit from using a desk phone. Customer service departments also benefit from having physical hardware. On the other hand, softphones are suitable for salespeople or others travel all the time.
DECT stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications and is a protocol that allows for cordless phones. DECT phones free users from cords and wires. You can walk around and not just sit in a chair for calls. Depending on the range of your phone, you may even be able to walk outside your office with a DECT phone.
DECT phones are more mobile than a desk phone but you cannot take them everywhere. They are restricted by the range. These devices are perfect for executives who need some freedom of movement within the office.
VoIP conference phones use your internet connection for conferencing, instead of tying up your phone lines. You can start audio or video conference calls and transition between them as well. Conference models come with multiple speakers and microphones to capture the voice of everyone in the room. These models handle conferences much better than regular phone models.
You may not need one if your employees don’t use conference calling regularly. But if you use video/audio conference calls as a substitute for in-person meetings on a regular basis, conference models are practically necessary.
As with most VoIP phones, conference phones are available in a wide price range. A top of the range model can cost several thousand dollars but will allow you to run large meetings with high-quality audio. But even a basic model will work better for a large conference call than relying on your standard phones.
VoIP adaptors act as a middleman between analog devices and a VoIP phone system. Suppose your business upgraded to a VoIP system but already has good quality phones on hand? There’s no need to throw them all out and buy VoIP phones. You can simply connect a VoIP adaptor to use your existing hardware.
However, you should be ready to buy VoIP phones when your analog devices eventually fail. A VoIP adaptor is a good stop-gap solution but not a permanent one. Sooner or later, you will run into the limitations of using older hardware.
Another point to remember is that you may not be able to access all your VoIP system features with an analog device. Some features require specific hardware like programmable buttons or a screen to work.
There are a number of accessories you can use with your VoIP business phone systems. You can get everything from hands-free headsets to expansion modules for desk phones to make your employees’ lives easier.
A Bluetooth headset is perhaps the most commonly used VoIP accessory in an office. It increases the freedom of movement for users with desk phones. A headset can also improve audio quality if your desk phone’s components are failing or otherwise inadequate.
Another commonly used accessory is expansion modules. These typically have extra buttons and support features for specific roles. For instance, an attendant at the front desk will handle more calls than your average employee. They can benefit from a module that has dedicated buttons for call management functions like call hold, transfer etc.
Other accessories include extra power adaptors, backup handsets, and even foot stands that can change the angle of the desk phone. They might not add new features but you might want to invest in a few as backups. You don’t want to run around looking for a specific model when a phone has issues.
So, what exactly do you need when setting up your business phone system? It’s hard to give a concrete answer that will work for every company out there. A small company will have different needs than a larger corporation. A retail chain will need different things from their phone system than a small bakery.
Always research the available options thoroughly before selecting the best choice that works for you. A VoIP business phone system can benefit your business in multiple ways. Want to see how easy it is to set up VoIP for your business? Head on over to our tutorial pages to learn more. Call us today to get started with VoIP!
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