Setting up your business phone system properly is one of the best ways of making your employees more productive, and also for providing the optimal user experience for anyone making incoming calls to your business.
The overriding principle when setting up your business phone system is to take a new account what the needs of your employees are, and what features they have been asking for. You don’t want to install a system which lacks all the features necessary for your employees to be successful, and on the other hand, you don’t want to install hardware which will never be used.
The Basics of Business Phone Systems
The basic difference between a VoIP phone system and any other traditional phone system, is that your phone calls will travel over the Internet on a VoIP phone call, as opposed to traveling over copper wire systems in a public switched telephone network. Today, most businesses much prefer that their VoIP service be hosted, and that the vendor handles all aspects of VoIP service behind the scenes.
As a business owner, you can access your phone services via an online dashboard which is either provided for you by your host, or which you can assemble yourself if you choose to. There really is an endless variety of features available through VoIP technology, with more being made available all the time.
By removing some of the traditional obstacles in communications, the features which come with a VoIP system are allowing companies to be far more productive than ever before. It is now possible to have a single VoIP-connected system which incorporates your fax, phone, email, voicemail, and even some of your business apps as well.
The big selling point for a VoIP system is that it costs far less than traditional landline service, primarily because sending voice data over the Internet incurs no cost, as opposed to the charges incurred when sending voice data over a PSTN.
Software and Hardware Considerations
In a hosted VoIP network, just about everything is handled by your VoIP provider. But of course, you do still need physical phone sets in your office to send and receive calls. When you have a VoIP system installed, you can either use the familiar desk phones or software-based phones.
Software-based phones are actually applications which can be downloaded onto mobile devices or computers for the purpose of making VoIP calls. You can make these calls from anywhere without having an actual phone nearby. This makes it convenient for entrepreneurs and small business owners to have a full-blown call service without actually having any physical phones at the facility.
However, most businesses do prefer to have VoIP-based desk phones installed at their locations. Part of the reason for this is the improved audio clarity, and another reason is the function buttons which come preprogrammed for greater productivity. Receptionists and administrative personnel benefit especially from these programmed function buttons, as would anyone who spends a great deal of time at their desk during the daytime.
One aspect of a VoIP phone system which is commonly overlooked by business owners is the vast array of VoIP accessories available to you. Expansion models will provide greater functionality for your office communications, and hands-free headsets will provide much greater convenience for those employees who spend a great deal of time on their phones.
One of the most commonly purchased VoIP accessories is a Bluetooth headset, because it increases freedom of movement for those users equipped with desk phones. These headsets can also provide improved audio quality, in cases where your desk phone may not offer the greatest quality audio.
Expansion modules provide extra buttons and features to accomplish specific business tasks more quickly and more efficiently. One typical example is a receptionist at the front desk who has to handle a great deal more calls than an average employee would. This type of employee would benefit greatly from having dedicated phone buttons which can handle critical functions such as call hold, transfer, and other call management functions.
Is Hardware Actually Necessary?
If you have been wondering whether or not hardware is really necessary, you are in good company, because at least some business owners wonder the same thing. In fact, some small businesses can get by quite nicely without having any hardware installed at their locations, and instead can get by simply by using the downloaded softphones which your VoIP provider makes available to you.
In most cases though, businesses prefer to use some combination of installed hardware and softphones, simply because that’s the best way to satisfy their business requirements. Most software phones are not capable of providing the full range of features and services made available by your VoIP provider.
Some of the more advanced features such as conference calling, are much better when implemented with quality speakers, and when using a dedicated conference device. While it is possible to make a conference call from a softphone, the number of participants will always be limited, and you can expect audio clarity to be less than optimal.
Not every company will need to invest in VoIP hardware in order to make use of a good VoIP system, especially those companies which make the switch to VoIP strictly to enjoy the cost benefits. However, it’s still worth your while to investigate all available options, so that you know exactly which features to purchase when setting your system set up.
Educate yourself about the newer models which are available, and the kind of features they support. When the time comes to purchase hardware and then set up your VoIP system, you will then have all the knowledge you need to make the best choices, and to get the most out of your new phone system.