Now that so many people are working from home, keeping your business' voice communications organized and centralized can be tricky. Fortunately, that's where cloud-served voice over IP (VoIP) providers can shine. With cloud VoIP (sometimes called a cloud PBX system), you can move direct extensions to new geographical locations simply by clicking a mouse. Devices can also change with similar ease either with a software download or simply by re-configuring call forwarding. With many of these systems also adding a wide variety of team collaboration features, cloud VoIP is probably the best COVID-19 investment a business can make.
It's also possible to switch a call from a mobile device to a desktop line or vice versa. Business products generally offer several pricing levels based on the number of lines needed, ranging from approximately $20 per line for large organizations to $35 per line for smaller groups. Even from an administrative perspective, you should be careful, however, when migrating to a new phone system. Whether you're an individual just buying a new land line or a business moving from an old-style PBX system, or even just switching to a different VoIP provider, the process should be approached carefully and only after thorough planning.
Not every internet connection is VoIP ready, so before you sign up, make sure that your line will provide you with the level of VoIP speed and service you need. You can easily find resources online for checking the speed and call quality of your connection. The quality of your connection can potentially impact the clarity of your calls, so pay close attention.
VoIP has drastically reduced the cost of communication by sharing network infrastructure between data and voice. A single broad-band connection has the ability to transmit more than one telephone call. Secure calls using standardized protocols, such as Secure Real-time Transport Protocol, as most of the facilities of creating a secure telephone connection over traditional phone lines, such as digitizing and digital transmission, are already in place with VoIP. It is necessary only to encrypt and authenticate the existing data stream. Automated software, such as a virtual PBX, may eliminate the need of personnel to greet and switch incoming calls.
Few things in life are set in stone, and the same should be true of your VoIP plan. It’s wise to find a plan that is scalable and which you can easily expand if need be. You’ll want to know if you can break your contract early if you find a better deal elsewhere, or if you can easily switch plans with the same company in order to take advantage of more features, or to get rid of some you don’t need.
Some form of call center capability is often available, though many times either as a different product version or simply a higher pricing tier, so be careful before you assume you'll be getting those features. These capabilities are meant to support large sales or service desk staff and their need to route and process a relatively large number of incoming customer or user calls. That means complex menu trees, an auto-attendant for routing, and service queues. You'll probably find you need interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities, and that should be backed up by support for a live operator or some other type of human intervention.
Grasshopper isn’t technically a VoIP and it isn’t technically for residential customers, but it offers basically the same service for a competitive price. Technically speaking, Grasshopper is a cloud-hosted system that works on top of your existing landline or cell service so voice quality doesn’t suffer. While there’s a technical distinction, customers shouldn’t notice the difference. Grasshopper is built for entrepreneurs and small business owners who work from home. The Partner package is suitable for families, as it includes 3 separate contact numbers with up to 6 extensions.
For an extremely small business, especially one that’s just starting out, Ooma is a smart choice, as it provides all of the hardware and software you need to be up and running quickly. You don’t need a lot of know-how to start using Ooma, which is nice for a small business, where the owner likely has to wear numerous hats, including network management.
Other basic features to consider include the phone itself should your provider offer its own handsets. Many residential providers don't since their bridge devices allow them to work with old-style landline phones, but some, especially the larger and more business-oriented players, do offer special VoIP phones. These look and work the same as a regular phone aside from the initial setup process, which will require making sure the phone is connected to your Internet router in some way and then configured to access the VoIP provider's service from there.
We address the above 4 steps in our easy-to-read comparison charts of the best VoIP providers and their offerings. Every key detail is front and center in our extensive round-up comparisons. Don’t get swept up in what might be great marketing unsupported by likewise service. We’ve done the research for you, by narrowing down the best VoIP providers in the industry. Follow the above 4 steps for a seamless transition.
As always the best place to start is at the beginning! The following buttons provide access to some of our best guides and tools for getting started with VoIP. These articles give a great background into VoIP, help you understand all the basics, and answer most people questions. The VoIP/Speed test tool performs a test of your Internet connection and provides a great indication of how well VoIP will work at your home. We highly recommend running this test.