Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, has emerged as a cornerstone for businesses to communicate with suppliers, customers, and each other. Steering clear is, for many companies, no longer an option as the technology gets better and VoIP implementation gets easier.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. Like most technology systems, the key is all in the setup. This post will help you understand what you need to do to make your Alachua VoIP implementation go smoothly.
Background on VoIP
Before we can get to actually getting you up and running on VoIP (and accessing the various benefits that entail) it’s important to understand exactly what VoIP is.
Basically, it’s a phone call using the internet rather than a copper wire analog phone line. For example, if you have ever made a call with Skype, Google Chat, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp, you’ve used a VoIP system.
Benefits of VoIP for businesses
Naturally, this sort of innovation (which has been around for a while now) doesn’t just get going naturally. There are plenty of reasons why businesses all over Florida are flocking to VoIP.
First, it’s extremely cost effective.
Since you’re using the internet to make a call, you’re actually using broadband rather than a phone line. The only charge (besides the cost of your VoIP service) the cost of the data used.
And considering you can stream Netflix straight to your computer for 11 straight hours when you binge on House of Cards, a 30-minute phone call (no video) is hardly going to break the bank. In fact, for international calls, VoIP is up to 90% cheaper than a traditional phone line.
Second, functionality for teams increases – you can do plenty of stuff when you have a quality VoIP implementation, including:
- Automatic out of office messages for major holidays
- Automatic call rejection
- Desk to mobile phone transfers
- Hunt lists
So there are plenty of reasons why a company might want to get a VoIP system. It’s one of those rare technology upgrades which is both cheaper and better.
It’s important to remember though – like all infrastructure improvements, VoIP implementation is key to a valuable and useful system.
Here’s what we recommend you do to get the most from your VoIP implementation.
1. Make a list of what you actually need
Now that you know how useful VoIP can be as a business optimization too, it’s time to start the process of VoIP implementation.
And the first thing you’ll notice is, there are a LOT of different service providers.
It can be a bit overwhelming.
That’s why it’s so important to understand what your business needs from the outset, so you can find a provider who will match your needs with service.
For example, you might see a provider who offers all the bells and whistles.
This might seem great, but it’s easy to end up with a system that does the stuff you need it to averagely well, and does a whole lot so stuff you never need too. It bogs down your IT networks with extra weight, and it bogs down your teams with additional complexity.
Suddenly, even making a phone call is exceedingly difficult.
The best way to avoid this sort of “feature creep” is to focus on a few things that your team absolutely needs, and then work out which provider is the best at providing those alone – regardless of what other products or what other features might be on offer.
2. Test lots of different service providers
Naturally, when you’re talking about VoIP implementation, you’re talking about a major change to a pretty fundamental part of what your business does.
No matter what you’re selling, you’re going to need phones to do it.
Which means that the process of selecting a new provider can only be wheedled down so far by requirements and rules of thumb.
For example, in general, it’s better to work with local, Alachua service providers where possible – it means that if something goes wrong, they’re basically on-site to fix it.
However, even with those shortcuts in mind, you’re still looking at two or three options.
The best thing you can do is give it a try.
Try each one for 30 days with a select group of people at your business and ask them what they think.
This will ensure that:
- When you do settle on a VoIP system, you’ll be happy with the one you chose
- The people who actually use the system are the ones who helped decide what one to pick
So once you start your VoIP implementation process, make sure you shop around!
3. Make sure that you have a quality of service (QoS) network
In networking, a quality of service network is one that can prioritize certain types of traffic over others when there is limited bandwidth to go around.
It’s like if you had bandwidth in your house and you could prioritize your kid’s homework over Netflix.
Only with VoIP, it simply means that you prioritize phone calls over most or all other types of traffic, which helps maintain a high call quality – regardless of what else is going on with your network.
For example, you might have half your staff working remotely, using VoIP to access desktops from their home offices when a major customer service crisis happens.
As the data needed for phone support increases, the data available to your working from home staff will drop, causing their connections to slow down. However, call quality will remain high – and your customers will get the service they need without your IT system dropping calls.
4. Ensure high voice quality
Unfortunately, there are a plethora of VoIP providers who offer low quality, using a low-cost structure called least cost routing, or LCR.
While this might be fine when you want to call your aunt in New Zealand to wish her happy birthday and the sound is a little crackly, it can be a disaster if you’re dealing with frustrated clients or you’re trying to close a sale.
5. Give your system room to scale
Remember – a VoIP implementation is something you only want to change now and again. Not only is it frustrating for staff to re-learn a new phone system, but it can also be expensive, with many other VoIP providers charging big cancellation fees for even a slight deviation from service.
With that in mind, make sure you get a system that works for you now, but that you can scale up with as you grow.
For example, imagine that you’re a new business and you’re customer service team is pretty small, say, 5 people. A simple VoIP system will probably be fine for you, offering the basics products and services without any extras.
But what happens when you grow? What happens when your 5 become 15, and your customers are demanding live chat for sales and support?
Or what if your sales people are spending more and more time on the road as your geographical client base expands, and they need remote access to your IT systems?
When you’re looking at adopting a new piece of IT infrastructure like VoIP, which is so central to almost every aspect of your business, it’s absolutely critical that you look past where you are and forward to where you want your business to be.
After all, it’s a lot easier to scale up a VoIP system with your existing provider than to have to go through the process and pain of getting an entirely new solution.
6. When you finish your VoIP implementation project, keep it secure
Lastly, you need to ensure that the VoIP system you choose to implement will keep your customer, your staff, and your systems secure.
We all remember examples like Home Depot and Target getting hacked due to either outdated software or poorly secured IT systems. Since VoIP can be used to form the core of your communications, remote access, customer service (including customers handing over their personal details) and live chat, it is absolutely essential that you protect yourself.
When it comes to what to look for, we’d recommend a priority system (as opposed to open source) as well as the use of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and/or a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. Both of these work to reduce the amount of unencrypted information that flows across your network, providing a number of roadblocks to would be hackers.
Those are our tips on how best to undergo your VoIP implementation. Done correctly, VoIP telephony technology can make your business run smoother, facilitate communication, and be a huge boost to customer service, all the while providing robust metrics to help you optimize your business processes over time.
But like all major tech changes, it’s not without risk. Systems that fundamentally fail to fulfill their primary objective – a phone service – because of corner cutting on the supplier end are all too common.
Need help picking a new VoIP or implementing your first one? Get in touch today and we’ll see if VoiceOnyx is right for you!