VoIP for Small Businesses: What You Should Know
When it comes to technology decisions, it’s easy for small businesses to get caught up in looking only at the bottom line. But organizations should assess more than just cost. In the case of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), there are a number of factors that come into play before a company makes the leap to a cloud-based hosted solution.
The questions — and what you need to know — about the differences between VoIP and traditional hard-lined phone service will vary from business to business. However, there are three major facets to this decision: functionality, scalability and availability.
At its core, VoIP provides the same services as traditional phone service, from call forwarding to voicemail, caller ID to conferencing. The major difference in functionality >comes down to support.
Unlike hard-lined services that require costly physical lines run into the office, VoIP operates through a single data stream connected to a company’s web service. From an IT perspective, putting phone service onto the business network makes local maintenance simpler, and VoIP allows most major support to be handled by the provider, which can save time, effort and money.
However, there can be drawbacks to having much of the functionality live off-site. If the power or the business’s Internet connection go out, so does the VoIP service. Additionally, call quality is often dependent on network service, which might not be as strong.
The goal of any small business is growth, and with that growth comes the need for more connections, whether to the network, the copy machine or the phone system. In this way, VoIP provides flexibility and opportunity that is intriguing to a growing number of small businesses.
With a traditional phone service, each new line requires another physical connection to the phone branch exchange. Adding a line with VoIP can be as simple as adjusting software settings and plugging in an additional phone.
This scalability also makes VoIP attractive for companies with employees in various locations and companies with call centers. With the proper VoIP service, employees around the world can use the same phone network without a client or customer noticing any difference in the experience.
For a small business, comparing vendors to find the one that best suits its needs and budget is a massive benefit. In the world of traditional phone systems, the options are usually limited to one or two. With VoIP, the options can run into the dozens.
This broad availability not only gives small businesses the opportunity to find the price that best fits their budgets. It gives the business an opportunity to build a near-customized service without needing to buy in at a large company rate.
Of course, the availability of a quality VoIP service is also dependent on the availability of a quality broadband network for the business, but in today’s connected world, this is less of a concern than ever.
As VoIP services have become more mature and sophisticated, the benefits have grown beyond the generally lower price. The days of dropped calls, poor audio and limited functionality have given way to services that rival hard-lined phones.
Each organization must assess its needs and look at the benefits of VoIP services. In the end, the service could provide the function and scale that a small business needs as it grows and succeeds.
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