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The technology that a small business relies on can be the deciding factor between exceptional growth and middling stagnation. And even within a category as familiar as phone systems, options abound.
Since the introduction of the first commercial VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone system in 1995, businesses have steadily been making their way from classic, landline-based phone systems to modern, web-based solutions. So what’s really motivating companies to ditch their traditional tools and get on board with VoIP? And more importantly, is it the right move for you?
We’ll dig into this VoIP vs landline debate, helping small business owners with big dreams make more confident decisions about their company communications.
VoIP vs Landline: Why VOIP?
What service does VoIP provide?
You already know what a landline phone is, but you may not know exactly how it works. Essentially, classic phone calls convert your voice into a series of electrical signals that emerge as sounds on the other end, via a series of extensive copper wires and interconnected phone lines.
VoIP, on the other hand, doesn’t demand all that physical, coast-to-coast connectivity. Simply put, VoIP systems transmit and receive voice via the internet. Meaning, the only infrastructure you’ll need to make a phone call – from anywhere – is a stable web connection.
How does VoIP compare with other types of phone service?
Compared to a landline, VoIP offers a lot of advantages. Here are the clearest benefits for small businesses:
Accessibility: VoIP isn’t limited to a physical office building or a handheld deskphone plugged into a wall. This means your team can talk anywhere with an internet connection. With more businesses boasting remote workers and/or work-from-home policies, the flexibility of VoIP has become vital to teams around the globe.
Affordability: One of the biggest attractions to VoIP for small businesses is the minimal cost of installation, maintenance, and setup. According to current research, you can expect VoIP to slash phone-related costs for the average business by 40-80%. These are cost savings that can be used to grow your business, rather than pay for outdated technology.
Scalability: When things are going great and business is booming, scaling becomes a priority fast. VoIP lets you capitalize on your opportunities to grow, rather than waiting on new phone purchases and landline installations. Adding a new number to a VoIP phone system doesn’t require any requests to the IT department. In fact, it doesn’t require much more than a few clicks of a mouse. Seasonal expansion and contraction for eCommerce businesses can be easier than ever as you can adjust to fit your needs over time. Bottom line: You get to grow on your terms.
Simplicity: The ease of use that comes with a VoIP system stems from modern software and user-friendly interfaces. Today’s workforce is accustomed to using digital, web-based products that they can test and learn quickly. Managers can train on these systems much faster than they could with manual setups. And without the need for physical phones and ongoing maintenance, managers can focus on growing their teams, rather than fielding troubleshooting questions from confused employees.
VoIP Setup & Features:
What kind of internet connection and technological setup does VoIP require?
So now that you know VoIP is easy to use, can save you money, and is flexible enough to use anywhere, you might be wondering how hard it is to get set up. The answer? It’s probably easier than you think.
The first thing any reputable business VoIP service provider will do during initial setup is check to make sure you have a solid internet connection that can support web-based calls. This process may also entail reconfiguring your network to reserve adequate bandwidth for your phone calls, helping you avoid irritating issues like dropped calls and lag time.
What VoIP features are best suited to a small business?
This answer depends on factors ranging from operating industry to business strategy. But we can learn a lot by looking at the two departments with the highest call volumes in most any company: Sales and Support.
For Support: Workflow integrations
Giving support agents the ability to merge their tools into a single view lets them work faster, smarter, and more efficiently. Support staff already have a lot of streams to keep track of — from emails and chats to CRM software and product docs. So it can be hard to know what information is where.
The ability to integrate all this digital context into a software-based phone system helps agents better focus on the conversation itself. For example, Aircall’s insight cards pop up right inside an agent’s CRM when the phone rings, showing the customer’s name, team members’ notes, and transactional data like recent purchases. So by the time an agent answers the phone, they are ready to provide a tailored and individual experience to that customer.
For Sales: Faster Features
One recent study found that calling a lead within 5 minutes increases your chances of qualifying them by 100x (compared with calling the lead after 30 minutes). Or simply put, response delays equal dollars down the drain.
VoIP helps you maximize the ability of your team to reach, and be reached, by potential buyers. Services like call cascading allow your team to assign how incoming calls are distributed so that they are less likely to be missed. Click-to-dial allows for immediate connection without manual efforts, and PowerDialer features let your team breeze through a list of outbound dials without batting an eye.
Switching to VoIP
How do you prepare internal employees for your business’s change to VoIP?
After you set up your team with good headsets, it’s time to focus on internal training. Coach your employees on how to use the features and integrations that they’ll encounter on a daily basis. Since VoIP phone systems are connected to the internet, the software is likely to get updates pushed through when new features are added. Touch base with your team to make sure that everyone knows how to use the technology to its fullest.
Lastly, make sure your managers go through a full onboarding with your VoIP provider. This will help prepare them to handle common and recurring questions from their team.
What do your employees need to know to use VoIP?
As with any web-based technology, safety comes first. Train your employees in using secure passwords and be diligent about enforcing safety standards- like two-factor authentication- on your office technology.
Managers should also learn how to use the management portion of their software. Things like adding new numbers when they onboard a team member, interpreting data analytics and setting up key features like voicemail and IVR (interactive voice response) will be key to success.
So, can VoIP service positively affect a small business’ bottom line?
The conclusion: Absolutely. VoIP already boasts some clear advantages, and its web-based foundation surely promises future (and faster) innovation. There is no doubt that there is comfort in the familiarity of the 200-year-old model of telephony. However, its modern alternative offers better capabilities and smarter solutions for small businesses, while cutting costs (and passing on the benefits) to you, and your customers.