Where would your business be without the ability to communicate? Even if you gave your marketers, salespeople, and other communicators a day off, your business would still be buzzing with needed communication. You can’t develop a product, set up a supply chain, handle shipping, or perform just about any other business-critical activity without being able to communicate, which puts communication tools at the top of the list. list of business essentials.
One of the increasingly popular communication tools that businesses can use to reach their customers, business partners, and anyone else they want is Voice over Internet Protocol, VoIP. A great alternative to a regular landline phone, VoIP has proven useful for businesses of all sizes.
In this article, we will explain to you:
What is VoIP?
The easiest way to look at Voice over Internet Protocol is almost like you would telephony happening over the Internet. Instead of your regular phone sending analog information over a landline, an IP phone sends digital information – data – over the Internet.
When you call someone using a VoIP service, you are telling the service provider to place a call to a certain number. When that person picks up, your two voices – the sounds you create – are converted to digital data and instantly sent to the other person, where they are decoded into sounds you can hear again.
There are certain requirements for using VoIP. You will need an internet connection – the faster the better. The quality of VoIP calls will greatly depend on the bandwidth of your connection.
You will also need a special type of device or software to use a VoIP service. The expensive option is to get an IP phone, which is like a regular phone only at least seventeen times better. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a feature-rich IP phone, you can get an ATA analog phone adapter, which more or less serves as an encoder and decoder for your VoIP needs.
As for software solutions, you can use a softphone – software that you install on a computer and use to make and take calls. And if you’ve ever used Skype or Viber to make a call, you know exactly how to use VoIP on a smartphone.
Overall, the service provider’s job is to make sure everything runs smoothly. When you call someone, it is your service provider who must ensure that the call goes through and that the exchange of data packets takes place.
How to know if your business needs it
Does your business need to save money? Because if so, it will need VoIP, at least if you use your phone a lot. If you have a one-number line that is rarely needed, you may not need to replace the landline.
However, the more you use a phone in your business, the more obvious it becomes why you would need VoIP. If your company used a private branch exchange, or PBX, for internal communication, the savings can be phenomenal. But even for a small business that still has to maintain multiple lines for different areas – sales, customer service, marketing – VoIP is great. The fact that it easily integrates with CRM solutions, as well as helpdesk tools, and that it can be mined for data and insights, only makes VoIP more attractive to businesses.
But then again, a one-person operation can benefit from VoIP service if they need more than just talking on their phone. A VoIP service can give you a number other than your own to use for business, and you can use it regardless of your location or even, to some extent, the device you’re using. VoIP can also significantly reduce international calling costs, which is a benefit that can appeal to both individuals and organizations, as can the ability to get a phone number in another country.
VoIP isn’t just gravy – it has serious downsides along with reliability issues. If something is wrong with your internet connection, something is wrong with your call. The usefulness of VoIP may be limited when making calls to emergency services, as it may not provide your location to the operator. But even so, it is still an option that takes over the world quickly, especially the commercial part.
The 5 Best VoIP Providers for Business
If you think VoIP is the right choice for your business communication needs, there are many service providers to choose from. Ideally, you’ll spend time researching them and mapping the transition from traditional telephony type to digital type.
There are many different service providers, but for businesses, these five are the ones that usually end up at the top of the lists.
RingCentral is a VoIP service provider that has a lot to offer your business, regardless of size. Its flagship product, RingCentral Office, offers more than phone services: you’ll also get messaging in all plans and video call services in all plans except the basic plan.
You can use RingCentral for one or more people. Some of the services you’ll have access to include voicemail to text, free minutes, business texting, team messaging and document sharing, and phone rental options. And those are just the things that come in all plans: Advanced plans include QoS reporting, call recording, file sharing, and unlimited storage.
Access to services is determined by the packages you choose. The cheapest plan starts at $19.99 per user per month, and it’s available for up to twenty users. Keep in mind that prices are subject to change.
With excellent value for money and a fully-fledged cloud PBX system, Unite product from Intermedia is one of the most sought after VoIP solutions on the market. It might not have the lowest starting price, but that doesn’t make it a lesser choice than the others on the list. Quite the contrary.
Why? Because every account comes with unlimited calling to the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Call pick-up, call park, and call recording are available, as are video conferencing and conferencing services that include meeting notes and screen annotations. There are also collaboration features such as presence detection, one-to-one instant messaging, and contact synchronization. Analytics, security, and compliance features are also present in both packages, as are plenty of integration options.
Speaking of packages, Intermedia Unite comes in two versions: the cheaper Unite Pro and the more expensive Unite Enterprise. Pro currently starts at $27.99 per user per month.
For the smallest of small and medium enterprises, Grasshopper might be just the type of service they need. And if the smallest of businesses happens to be run on the go via a mobile device, Grasshopper becomes all the more appealing.
For a solution aimed at companies with one to five people, Grasshopper has a lot to offer. You will be able to take calls through a mobile or desktop app. You get a business phone number which can be a toll free number, a personalized number or a local number. It is possible to send SMS through the number and route calls so that you can make several calls at once. Features such as extensions, reports, voicemail and virtual fax are also supported.
The most basic plan is Solo – it currently starts at $26 per month when billed annually, and it gives you one phone number and three extensions.
Looking to start small and scale as your needs change? Ooma is a great choice, especially if you’re planning to transition your business to a work-from-home type setup. The company advertises that even a small business owner will be able to meet their needs with their basic plan.
First, you won’t need any additional hardware to run Ooma. If you still want it, Ooma will help you get an IP phone, but if you don’t want it, you can use the service through a mobile or desktop app. If you need a virtual receptionist, video conferencing, ring groups, or call recording, you can get it. Some of these features are advanced and available in the Pro plan, but the general impression is that they are a complete solution.
Accessing the basic basic features of the Ooma Office package will currently cost you $19.95 per user per month.
If you need a place where you can get VoIP service, sales and CRM services and a collaboration tool, Nextiva could be the one stop shop you are looking for. It offers all of these services, and you can choose to bundle them together or pay for each one as you find a use for it.
You will probably start with the business telephone service. With it, you can have unlimited calls to the United States and Canada. You will get a free number and a local number, and at least 1000 free minutes. Features like voicemail to email and mobile app calling are present in even the most affordable plan. The bigger and more expensive ones add more integrations along with video calling and lots of other cool features.
The Essential plan currently starts at $19.95, which isn’t much, but it’s only a dollar less than the Professional plan, which has a lot more to offer.
let’s finish it
Just because communication is essential to doing business now, when everything seems interconnected, doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune acquiring and maintaining proper landline infrastructure for your business. VoIP is a much better solution. Not only is it cheaper and more flexible, but it can often integrate with other tools that you can use to grow your business.