INSIGHT

VOIP is the future of business communication

The good old-fashioned phone call gets a digital update

VOIP – taking calls over the internet – is more reliable and often cheaper than a landline. So, what do businesses need to know to get in on the act?

VoIP stands for voice over IP – it is essentially a way of making phone calls over the internet. Unlike phone calls, VoIP services often come with a host of other benefits that can help make your business more efficient.

It’s one of those things that sounds more complex than it really is, and the majority of businesses are likely already using it to some extent. For example, placing a call through Skype of Whatsapp counts as VoIP.

One great benefit of these kinds of services is that you are not tied to a desk – you can make a call on a smartphone from anywhere in the world, and your number will remain the same, but at a much lower price than an ordinary phone call.

Of course, there are other benefits too. According to Alex Larcombe, head of voice products at Virgin Media Business, VoIP is future-proof.

“VoIP creates the foundation for the adoption of next-generation technologies, and helps organisations leverage their investment in new communications technologies which will drive the customer experience,” he said.

How popular is VoIP?

SMEs are increasingly considering turning to VoIP services, with more than half of prospective phone system buyers investing for the first time. This is according to a survey of over 350 businesses by Software Advice.

Around 31 per cent of the businesses were using landlines, and 13 per cent were relying on mobile phones – yet 57 per cent claimed to be researching VoIP.

The main telephony requirements cited by the respondents were scalability and reliability. Lower prices and added features were also adding to the temptation to make the switch. 

“VoIP allows organisations to truly adopt flexible, remote and mobile working, by allowing workers to work from any location at any time and still have the same experience”

 
 

The shiny new features

A VoIP service is only as reliable as your internet connection, but if you have fast broadband it’ll work a treat. It is also, as Larcombe said, much more future-proof than traditional telephony measures.

“Legacy services will become end of life in 2025, with BT announcing the switch off of ISDN by 2025,” he explained.

“Although not imminent, organisations need to consider VoIP as the viable alternative and start planning to use or deploy as it will create the foundation for the majority of an organisations communications projects over the coming years if they have not already adopted its use.”

VoIP also excels when it comes to scalability. You can use services to set up a virtual receptionist or direct calls to the right person, which can make it appear like your organisation is bigger and more structured than perhaps it is, as well as providing first-class customer service.

In addition, as you scale up your business and increase your number of employees, the VoIP service can scale with you easily.

“Customers increasingly want to contact organisations in a way that is convenient to them, at a time that suits,” said Larcombe.

“VoIP creates the foundation for the convergence of an omni-channel experience, utilising such contact channels as voice, video, IM, presence, web. It brings them all together rather than delivering an individual view and facilitates the use applications to help deliver an enhanced customer experience.”

Larcombe believes that with telephone numbers no longer tied to a local telephony exchange, VoIP services will also help promote business continuity and remote and flexible working practices.

 “VoIP allows organisations to truly adopt flexible, remote and mobile working, by allowing workers to work from any location at any time and still have the same experience, access to information and contact details they would have if they were sat in the office,” he said.

“Organisations can easily plan for a business continuity situation, numbers reside within the cloud and can easily be re-routed should an organisation lose a site.”

There are many benefits to VoIP telephony, and each provider and each package deal comes with its own set of features and add-ons, such as call recording, forwarding and distributing.

If your business relies on good old-fashioned phone calls, now might well be the time to check you have the internet connection in place to upgrade to VoIP. 

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