As a larger percentage of smaller businesses look to cut costs and still increase their return on investment (ROI), turning to VoIP phone service is a great means by which to do just that.
According to research from Instat, close to 80 percent of businesses will be using VoIP by 2013, leading more and more companies to turn to considering using the product. Among those most likely to turn to mobile VoIP will likely be corporate and campus users.
For those not dialed-in, Voice over Internet Protocol service offers many likewise features that traditional landlines do, but at a fraction of the costs. The biggest savings small business owners will find by using the VoIP product is on long-distance calling, whether making a large volume of calls to clients nationwide or staying in touch with your staff that travel often or reside outside of the area.
In order to proceed with possibly adding VoIP phone service to your small business, among the things to keep in mind are:
- Calling your Internet search provider – Take the first step and contact your ISP in order to see which services are options. Among the things you need to know ahead of time is how many employees will be using the service, do you have plans for growth in the immediate future, will you require things like conferencing, faxing and call-waiting, and knowing what kind of budget you are open to with VoIP;
- Free benefits – A number of VoIP providers will offer features like caller ID, voicemail at no charge, unlimited local and long-distance calls for certain areas, extension services permitting you to use wireless devices and more. Add up the different features that are available from each provider so that you can come up with a package that best suits your needs;
- Going international or domestic – Make sure you have a good feel as to whether you will be predominantly doing international or domestic calls. If your business finds itself placing a high volume of international calls, then it is likely you will want to find a plan that charges less to call other countries. On the other hand, if the bulk of your calls are domestic, money can be saved by setting up a domestic calling plan;
- Doing your homework on each and every provider – Before you sign the contract for a VoIP provider, make sure you do some research on the company. Look to see if they have a good track of providing service, if they have had or currently have any financial issues, and whether or not there are any red flags related to the company like a large volume of customer complaints. You should also contact businesses similar in size and industry to see which provider they are using and any feedback they are willing to share.
Once you have looked at some of these factors, it then comes down to whether or not your business truly wants and needs VoIP.
Among the advantages to going with VoIP for your small business would be:
- Unlimited area calling and very minimal-expense, if not free of charge, long-distance calling.
- Call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, anonymous call blocking, toll-free numbers;
- No charge for video-calling and video-conferencing, IM, file sharing and more depending on the selected service;
- The ability to conduct calls worldwide with an Internet connection using an adapter and via your mobile phone (depending on the service chosen).
Among the disadvantages to going with VoIP for your small business would be:
- A loss in Internet service and electric means you also are without phone service;
- Calls could be hacked given that you are using a web-based system;
- Call quality can also suffer compared to that used via a traditional landline;
- Multiple users lead to the issue of deciding what amount of bandwidth can and should be utilized at any given time.
If one of your company’s goals moving forward is to save more on long-distance costs, dialing into VoIP may be just the right call.
About the Author: Dave Thomas, who writes on subjects such as business phone services, writes extensively for San Diego-based Business.com.