Every small business has to be careful about spending money.
There are all kinds of costs to weigh up – rent, staff, software licensing… the list goes on.
But there is one area where SMEs have consistently saved money in the last decade; their phone services.
It might not be the first thing you think of, but business phone lines can run up an enormous cost over a short time.
We’re talking *thousands* of dollars in some cases!
And every small business owner and manager can think of things they’d rather spend that money on. (Office margarita machine maybe?)
What exactly is VoIP?
In simple terms, VoIP is a phone system which runs on the internet instead of old-school phone lines.
That used to be a crazy sounding idea. These days, most people use something like WhatsApp or Zoom every day so… the novelty has worn off.
The main value is that VoIP can offer a similar quality level for a substantially lower cost.
Businesses access VoIP either with special ‘softphones’ or via any standard computer or internet-enabled device.
(You can even buy an adapter for your analogue phones which connects with an ethernet cable to the computer network.)
Here are the main VoIP Features
Like we covered above, most businesses make the switch to VoIP in order to save on the phone, which can often be one of the largest expenses.
It’s placing outbound calls that is super expensive, meaning a lot of businesses avoid it whenever possible.
But… it becomes so affordable with VoIP that any business can adopt a blended call center model, i.e. making and receiving calls.
It’s not all about the money though. In fact there are a whole host of other benefits.
#1. It’s easy to get started
Getting set up with VoIP is a breeze.
Unlike traditional phone lines (where an engineer has to come out and make the installation) VoIP systems usually involve downloading some software. In other words – if you’re tech savvy enough to order a meal online, you’re savvy enough to get started with VoIP.
#2. You can hold onto your old number
Surely I’ll have to change my business number and disrupt service!?
It’s pretty easy to keep your existing numbers. Another option is to use “virtual numbers” meaning you display whichever number is most convenient to you.
That’s great for businesses with multiple brands, or who want to display a local area code when placing calls.
#3. No more long-distance charges
Internet calling is basically distance-agnostic.
If you’ve ever called Singapore from Seattle or Munich from Montreal on a conventional landline, you’ll know it gets very expensive very fast.
Not so with VoIP.
#4. The sound quality is better
Quality matters, and VoIP has it where it counts.
A decade ago that wasn’t the case; now, it absolutely is!
As you know, we live in an online world and there are hundreds of times more available bandwidth now than… well, ever before.
#5. Change becomes easy
Ever wanted to add or remove phone numbers to a business account? Create new call center services? Route calls to more than one location? Set up a call center IVR?
Good luck friend. I can guarantee you’ll have your work cut out for you.
Unless you’re using VoIP, in which case most of these will be just the press of a button away.
#6. Setup costs practically vanish
Setup costs stop a lot of business dreams before they can even get started.
That’s why the SMEs in the know opt for VoIP and save around 90% on their setup costs.
Businesses with 30 agents on the phone save in the region of $1200 per month by choosing VoIP.
It’s a no-brainer!
#7. Plus all of this
Here are one or two extra VoIP features:
- 3-way calling
- Caller ID
- Call forwarding
- Call waiting
- Paperless fax
- Voicemail to email
- Video messaging
- Call screening
That is… a lot.
They’re not just minor conveniences either.
These features can become the backbone of a truly revolutionary level of customer. We’re in the ‘age of the customer’ so it really matters what people think (and say) about you.
Of course, it is predominantly the cost-saving features which attract SMEs; every cent counts for a growing business, which is why they’re leaving traditional systems en-masse and embracing VoIP.
IVR systems – even those using Conversational AI – may be one of the best ways to allocate the money saved by switching to VoIP.
If you’ve never conversational AI, it’s basically like getting customer service from an Amazon Alexa or other smart assistant. It has the potential to save enormous amounts of time and effort, and automate data collection tasks.
What about working from home
Covid has massively accelerated the move towards the virtual call center as a normal part of doing business. Not only are some employees not returning to the office, some have started jobs during Covid and have never been to the office!
This could be huge for SMEs as remote working massively increases the pool of potential job candidates. Smaller businesses have to be flexible, and this gives the opportunity to reach people who are fully competent but are hard to employ.
That can include people living with disabilities, parents of young children and students.
You can employ all of these people, and your VoIP system will allow them to make and receive business calls, using your regular office number – even if they’re hundreds of miles away.
Naturally – and here we turn to costs again – that reduces the overheads of running an office space.
Business owners can also relax, knowing that a remote VoIP system off-site in an employee’s home is totally secure. When that employee uses a virtual private network (VPN) all conversations are fully encrypted.
Did I mention saving money?
It’s dog-eat-dog out there. Small businesses have to compete hard to survive.
On the flip-side, they can adapt far more easily than larger businesses. Integrating systems like your auto dialer software and call handling platforms improves your efficiency and creates a highly professional level of service.
That’s why the only VoIP systems worth looking at are ones that integrate easily with other business solutions and tools. Using a VoIP interconnective telephony system helps costs by streamlining the overall enterprising organization.
VoIP tech has developed rapidly over the past few years; the low cost for telephony has made it the only reasonable option for businesses with one eye on their future and the numerous telecommunication features make it an absolute must-have.
VoIP can enhance a small business’s customer base by its low cost on long-distance calls. For its future, a small business may wish to think outside the box and consider going global. When a small business uses the VoIP system to host conversations internationally, it’s easy to do without the high price of long-distance calling.