VoIP gets a lot of attention on consumer websites and publications because of all of the ways that it can save customers money on their phones bills. VoIP is an incredibly cheap alternative to traditional phone service. While money saving is certainly one of the top benefits of VoIP service, according to VoIP Review there are lots of other great ways that VoIP can make your business better besides the opportunity for savings. In fact, sometimes customers forget about these great features in the wild search for the lowest price tag.
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet rather than a traditional phone line. Because the voice data travels over the Internet as binary, basically any call becomes a local call, which in turn makes the service very cheap. And in addition to low costs, VoIP providers offer lots of features that can help your business flourish.
VoIP services are available for businesses of all size, from very small companies of just a few employees, to huge enterprises and government institutions. Business plans differ based on the kinds of features you want, and the number of users on your system.
This means that there is pretty much a plan out there for every business. You can pick and choose between different plans with different features and capabilities. When you take the time to really examine all of these features and options, it becomes clear that an office can completely change their best business practice when they find a really good VoIP service.
Personalize your Phone Service
With some business VoIP providers, you can choose from a wide selection of plans to find the service that fits your company best. For example, with Jive, one popular VoIP provider, you can choose from hosted PBX plans for small and medium-sized companies, plans for large enterprises, or plans for public sector institutions.
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And with another popular provider, Vocalocity, you can choose from extensions of different descriptions so each employee can have the extension that suits them best. They offer metered extensions, unlimited extensions, and virtual extensions. Metered extensions cost $14.99/month plus $0.03/minute of calling. This plan would be good for an employee who mostly does calling within the company as internal calls are always free.
An unlimited plan, which costs $39.99/month, would be good for an employee who needs to do more calling out of the office, like someone in sales or customer support. With this plan, you don’t have to pay any extra per minute fee for calls out of the office.
A virtual extension is an office extension number for a cell phone. These cost $14.99/month, and they would be a great fit for a traveling salesperson or a remote employee who needs an office extension, but doesn’t have a physical office phone.
And with every VoIP plan, calls are always free to customers with the same service. This means that internal calling is always free.
Improve your Mobility
VoIP services make mobility extremely easy. You can set up VoIP services on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet, which means you can conduct business from wherever and whenever as long as you have an Internet connection.
Maybe it’s 7:50 am, there’s bumper-to-bumper traffic on your cab ride into the city, but you have a conference call with a client at 8:00 am that you cannot afford to push back. However, if you’ve picked a VoIP provider that offers a smartphone app, there’s no reason why you should miss this important call just because you’re not physically in your office. With VoIP service, your workday can start from backseat of a cab. You can join the conference right from your smartphone or laptop and participate in your meeting.
This increased mobility can also be useful if you’re traveling on business or vacationing. With VoIP service, you can access your office line without needing to be physically at the office. This means your productivity won’t have to suffer just because you are away from the office.
Additionally, because you can be reached at all hours of the day during any day of the week on your mobile device, customers have 24/7 access to your business. You also don’t need to feel obligated to give out your cellphone number. You can use the following features to link your business number with your cell phone:
- Find Me Follow Me: With this option, you can have calls forwarded to any phone number, like your cell phone or home phone. So, when your office number is dialed, your phone(s) will ring simultaneously or sequentially.
- Virtual Extensions: With this feature, you can get an office number just for your cell phone, thereby allowing your cell phone to take the place of a standard office phone. With a virtual extension, callers can still reach your extension through your office directory.
These features not only improves customer satisfaction, but also increase employee productivity.
Save Time with Easy-to-Use Quick Calling Features
With a good business VoIP service, you will also have access to lots of features that will save you time and increase your efficiency:
- Click to dial: Access telephone numbers on your computer as clickable links. This will save you time when it comes to finding your contacts and physically dialing their numbers.
- Custom tagging: Tag certain numbers and departments for quick identification purposes. If you want to send a call the sales department, just click “sales” and you’re done.
- Unified inboxes: Store all your emails, faxes, and voicemails in one place and spend less time searching for messages on your phone.
Improve Customer Service Performance
One of the great things about VoIP is that a good VoIP plan can give even the smallest business the same high quality phone service as that of a huge enterprise. And in turn, a great phone service greatly improves customer experience. These are just some of the features of a business VoIP system that help improve customer experience:
- Auto attendant: Automatically answers your phone calls and directs callers to the correct department. This automatic service is a quick and easy way for your customers to receive prompt and efficient assistance. This feature is ideal for small-to-mid-sized businesses with up to around 30 employees. If your business contains hundreds or thousands of employees, you may need to purchase additional auto attendants or consider a call center.
- Call queuing: Places your callers “in line” for the next available agent. With some providers, you can also set the call queue to update your customers with estimates for how much longer they should expect to wait for assistance. Just like the auto attendant feature, one call queue may work for a small business, but a larger business may need additional call queues.
- Software programs: hVocalocity, one popular business provider, has linked up with SugarCRM to provide a feature that automatically pulls up your incoming caller’s information on your computer screen. Acting much like an advanced caller ID system, this feature provides additional customer information beyond just their name and telephone number. The system will reduce the amount of time it takes you to search for your customer’s information and thereby improve customer satisfaction.
Use Innovative Training Technology
A VoIP service can also provide your business with valuable training devices. If, for example, you’re running a sales-based business, you may want features to help monitor and manage your sales agents. Certain VoIP call features can help you review consistency and productivity within your departments. The following features may help you mentor your employees:
- Call recording: Record your agents’ calls. This allows you to playback the recording with your employee and then coach him or her on ways to better the transaction or push sales in the future.
- Call monitoring: Listen in on your employee’s phone call, whisper instructions, or step into the call yourself.
Implement Video Conferencing Solutions
Now, let’s say you have a business that works with employees in remote locations. Your office may be stationed in Boston, but you could have employees located in China. VoIP offers video conferencing, which could be helpful in maintaining communication with these distant workers.
VoIP providers like Jive and 8×8 offer video conferencing. While it’s not cost or time efficient for you to fly your foreign employees to your Boston office each week for a scheduled meeting, with video conferencing you are able to meet virtually “face-to-face.” This feature may provide your employees with a more cohesive and connected work environment despite their widespread locations.
VoIP services, such as 8×8 allow up to 20 participants in a video conference at one time. This is an ideal option for small to medium-sized businesses, but if your business has more than 20 participants in separate locations, this could be limiting. With that being said, however, multiple employees can meet in the same room, and sign in as one participant so you can have even more participants in on the conference.
Take Advantage of Cheap International and Long Distance Calling
Because it is so easy and cheap to send calls over IP, there is very little difference between a local call and a call across the country. This means that with VoIP, you can get extremely low prices on all of your international and long distance calling, which allows for more communication between those employees in China, or those customers in Canada.
Just like the video conferencing feature, lower international and long distance calling rates close the geographical gap between locations, allowing for an increase in the number of long distance phone calls sent and received at your business.
Exactly how cheap are we talking? With any unlimited business VoIP plan, all calls within the country, whether long distance or local, are free. And international calls can be as low as $0.01/minute, or even less. If your business does a lot of international calling, this can amount to savings in the hundreds or thousands of dollars every year.
While VoIP services have been known to save your business up to 80% on your monthly phone bill, VoipReview.org wanted to make sure that you recognized all the bang that you get for your buck with VoIP. And with all of these great features, your employee productivity and office efficiency will improve, thereby allowing you to save even more money down the line.