handle office communications needs. After all, the phone company has been around for
decades. Its technology is time-tested, and the sales pitch strong.But such decisions should
company’s service will be sufficient but will
also drain the budget and won’t provide all
the features available with newer, Internet
-based phone systems. These systems,
often referred to as VoIP phones, are
just as reliable but a lot less expensive
and more feature-rich than what traditional phone companies offer.How is this possible? VoIP
systems don’t rely on the phone company’s costly network. Instead, voice communications are
converted into bits of data that are carried over the same network as Web, email and other Internet
traffic. The savings are tremendous, as are the features. And don’t worry, VoIP systems always
include the basic functions of traditional phone systems (and more), and they integrate with the
regular phone network, too. You can call and receive calls from anywhere.
Here’s a look at five reasons why a VoIP-based virtual phone system makes sense for small
Simply put, it’s a lot cheaper to shuttle bits of data around the world than voices. In bypassing
the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), you’re also avoiding high rates, fees
and taxes. With VoIP phone systems, there are no per-minute rates on domestic calls – they’re
included in the monthly bill. Even international calls are orders of magnitude cheaper (pennies
per minute) compared with traditional phone systems.
In addition, VoIP phone systems offer PBX (private branch exchange) services without the
closet full of telecom gear required by traditional PBX systems. Instead a hardware switch in
a closet in your office, your VoIP system does its switching via software. If there’s a problem,
it can usually be resolved via a software update. It won’t require the phone company’s costly
With a VoIP virtual phone system, you’ll get all the basic features you’d expect from a PBX
or traditional phone service, including call forwarding, auto attendants, custom greetings
and voicemail. A virtual phone system, because it’s running on the same data network as
your computers, can integrate with software that’s on your computers. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re at your desk. The phone rings. On your monitor,
the caller ID appears. You can choose to pick up the handset – or click an on-screen button
to send the call to voicemail. You could even click to chat over the PC’s built-in microphone.
If the caller also has an integrated VoIP system, you could launch a video conference with a
single click of the mouse.
Wow Your Customers
From your customers’ perspective, the features are even more impressive. When they call your
company, they will be greeted by professional messages and directory features that rival the
phone systems of the largest companies. They can lookup employees, dial extensions, opt to
listen to messages, send faxes and more. As a business owner, you know that first impressions
are important. A VoIP phone system gives you total control over the customer experience
when they’re calling your company.
VoIP phone systems are easy to manage. Features can be added or deleted from a simple
administration portal that’s accessible through any Web browser. If you want to add or
delete a feature, there’s no need to call the phone company. Just open the portal, click a
button or two, and the changes will be made.
Finally, if you want to add a line, it’s as easy as plugging a phone into your data network.
There’s no need to run an additional cable. If your data network doesn’t reach the new
desk, you could always use your office’s Wi-Fi.
Your employees also can administer their own lines from their Web browsers. If they need
to forward calls to another extension or to a cell phone, it can be done with a few intuitive
clicks. There’s no need to dig up the PBX instructions and decipher how to do it via codes
punched into the telephone’s keypad.
If you have a sales team, they can easily set up their virtual phones to follow them wherever
they might be – hopefully, out in the field with potential customers and not sitting in the office.
It’s easy to be tempted by the traditional phone company’s sales pitch, but VoIP phone systems
offer all the features of a PBX and more at a fraction of the cost. These days, you’re just throwing
money away by paying for two separate networks and all the extra fees that are charged by the
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