Why You Shouldn’t Switch To VoIP.
VoIP for SMBs: Cost Saver or Money Maker?
I run a business with ten people. Should I switch to VoIP to save money? NO.
Switch to VoIP because you will dramatically improve your professional image, close more sales and provide better customer service…
For the small and medium sized business, VoIP can do much more than save money. A new breed of VoIP provider can deliver features that can help you grow your business and not just save a few bucks. Next generation VoIP providers are offering features previously financially out of reach for the SMB or frankly not in existence before VoIP.
Consider a few simple ways VoIP is being used by SMBs to add value in addition to cutting costs:
Make a big impression with an automated attendant
Previously only available on an expensive PBX or Key System, an automated attendant answers incoming calls with a recorded greeting which you record. The auto-attendant can be customized to allow callers to dial by extension at any time or choose between options 0 through 9 to reach departments, extensions or voice mailboxes. “Thank you for calling Great Big Company X …..” is no longer reserved for your largest competitors.
Put your sales and support teams in groups to handle incoming calls
Nothing screams of “your company is too small” like reaching the sales or support voice mailbox during normal business hours. With a group, your incoming calls can be routed to an available representative in an order you set or to all at once. Your prospects will get to speak to a person, which is why they called rather than emailed in the first place.
Extension dial your colleagues wherever you want to be
Another impression getter and a really nice feature is the ability to dial your co-workers via extensions no matter where they are. Telecommuting (a.k.a. “we can’t afford office space”) is a must these days and hosted VoIP services allow telecommuters to use the phone as if they were in the office. I personally use our hosted pbx service in my home office from time to time and there is no difference in functionality or quality. I use a Polycom 601 IP phone and I can receive and make extension calls as if I were sitting at my office desk. Better yet, when someone else in the office needs to transfer a customer to me, they simply hit transfer and dial my extension. As long as my 10-month-old son does not scream too loudly, the caller has no idea that I am working in my basement.
Generate sales leads with integrated click-to-call on your website
With a small piece of code added to a company website, visitors can punch in a telephone number to be called at and be immediately connected with your sales agents via a telephone call. Customers report a significant up tick in website conversions using this service. Click-to-call service is not new stuff but now that it is offered by a VoIP company, a SMB can take advantage of a truly integrated communications platform from a single provider.
Add Video to your calls at no additional cost
One of the big VoIP secrets that is often ignored is the ease of which Video is added to a VoIP call. The underlying standard for VoIP, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), also supports video by default. The trick is you and the person on the other end must both be talking on SIP phones with video support and the call must be between two VoIP connections. If your service provider supports SIP, they should be able to support SIP Video. Make sure to ask! Use your WiFi capable cell phone as your desk phone! If you really want to get on the cutting edge, get yourself a wifi capable cell phone with SIP support such as the Nokia E61 or N80i and use it as your desk phone wherever you are in range of a wifi network.
Here’s how it works: Your phone has two “connections”; one to your cellular provider over a proprietary network and one to your VoIP provider over the Internet. When your colleagues dial your extension, the call comes in over the Internet to your mobile phone just as if you were in the office on a regular phone. You can transfer calls, be part of a hunt group or be reached via the auto-attendant as if you are at your desk. I recently took my Nokia E61 on vacation and was able to dial my coworkers via 4 digit extensions from my lounge at the pool! I could make outbound calls and customers could reach me directly using our Hosted PBX service.
Just like search marketing has leveled the advertising playing field, VoIP has done the same for voice communications. You can make the same impression on your customers with a VoIP solution that your largest competitor makes with a $50,000 PBX. When shopping for a VoIP provider, ask them to describe how they would handle these six scenarios. You will quickly weed out the Plain Old Telephone Replacements that may save you some cash in the short term while pinpointing the Value Creators that will help grow your business.
Robert Wolpov is the President and Founder of Junction Networks, a business VoIP provider. For businesses switching to VoIP, Junction Networks provides a comprehensive suite of services for SMBs including Hosted PBX, a completely outsourced virtual PBX service.