Published on July 31st, 2020 | by Sunit Nandi0
Switching to VoIP? Read This Guide for Small Businesses
Small companies have never had more options for their phone systems than they do today. That’s due in no small part to VOIP services, which have come to operate inexpensively on both wired internet connections and mobile networks. Today’s options allow you to run an entire PBX digitally, using any of today’s top cloud-based solutions, but they also include inexpensive options to serve business numbers to your personal phone seamlessly, so you can enjoy the benefits of having a customer-facing number from the very first day you are in business. Whether you’re building an enterprise phone system for internal and external calling or just setting up a direct phone line for customer service on your small eCommerce site, there are a few things to understand before getting started with VOIP.
Definitions for Newcomers
What does VOIP stand for? The short version is voice over internet protocol, which means using your network signal to carry your phone call instead of standard phone lines or cellular voice networks. VOIP services that extend apps to cellular users are often aimed at integrating video or voice chat on social media platforms with phone service, but not universally. Some simply function to provide an alternative to your primary cell number. More often, though, VOIP is chosen as an option to replace landlines, and it is easy to set up in an office because today’s handsets are often WiFi ready, eliminating a lot of hassle with cords.
Apart from internet-based calling, call forwarding services and extra phone numbers are available in ways that are accessible to your mobile, but these services are not the same as a VOIP plan, even if they use a few similar features. Similarly, while you might need an IP PBX and use VOIP, but typically those come from separate vendors. At that point, you’re talking about investing in an app to run your internal phone system and then dedicating your outgoing lines to it, so you have one seamless telephone solution.
Single-Line vs. PBX Systems
When should you think about investing in a PBX? Basically, only when you think you’re going to need to enable internal calling in your office. If your team has cell phones or text messaging as a primary option for communications, it might not be a necessary investment until your business is getting ready to make the jump to being a middle-sized regional player. Single-line services built to work with home offices or mobile handsets can give you options to either answer yourself or dedicate a staff member to the customer service line. As long as that’s doing the job, you can probably stick with a lightweight VOIP solution and skip a complex interior phone network.
Business Models With Heavy Phone Use
Of course, if your business relies heavily on incoming calls for orders or appointment-setting, you’re likely to grow to the point where something like a PBX system makes sense faster. That’s because those systems allow a single user to view and respond to multiple lines while transferring each to the best destination for getting answers to their questions. Medical businesses in particular are likely to hit this milestone early in their growth, but certain eCommerce and catalog-based mail order business models will also benefit from early investment in a more complex phone system. So will businesses that provide services like home repair.
How Much Does VOIP Cost?
There are a lot of service plans and options to choose from, but basic internet-based phone service to a single mobile handset or landline internet connection usually costs about the same amount as a local residential phone plan. Some providers even offer free plans that give you limited calling on an app for just the cost of your internet connection. Mobile users will still incur data charges from using the service. For unlimited calling, it’s probably going to set most companies back $20 to $50, with additional services and enterprise solutions available from providers that focus on larger companies.