Tag Archives: Advantages of VoIP

The Four Most Essential Integrations Your Business Phone System Should Have

Hosted business phone systems are popular for a plethora of reasons, but one of the best things about them is their ability to integrate with other software/solutions your company may use. If you adopt a VoIP system that permits you to manage numerous business functions through a single, unified system, you can have better customer service and reduced operating costs. I have listed the four most essential integrations your business phone system should have.

Cloud Backup Features

Cloud business phone systems are great, but some businesses worry about what will happen if their VoIP provider doesn’t take the proper steps to ensure that customer contact information and calls records are kept safe. Cloud backup features can minimize the risk of losing important data and automatically copy your VoIP information. Regardless of what happens to the provider, your information will remain intact.

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, software compiles customer data, organizes it, and uses it to manage sales and find new opportunities for growth. When you combine your business phone system and your CRM software into one integrated interface, customer service reps can have relevant data at their fingertips during calls. By keeping records and details about all customer service calls, you can serve your clients more efficiently. This will strengthen your relationship with them and increase the likelihood of them becoming repeat customers.

Accounting/Bookkeeping Software

Reliable accounting software is a must for any business. When you integrate your account software with VoIP, your accountants can monitor transactions from their phone or laptop. This allows them to quickly identify errors or irregularities . Marrying your accounting software with your VoIP also allows you to send reminder calls to clients who are late in their bills.

Microsoft Outlook & Email Clients

The best thing about integrating Microsoft Outlook with your VoIP is that that you can make calls and manage emails in tandem. Companies that opt to use Outlook usually store the bulk of their contacts there—including phone information. When you integrate the two, rather than look up phone numbers in Outlook before you want to make a call, your Outlook information is automatically available in your phone network. The other nice feature is that you can receive messages as audio files in Outlook, which means that you can check your phone messages without having to leave your computer.

The Pros and Cons of Desk Phones and Softphones

The primary types of VoIP business phones are desk phones and softphones. As you’re probably aware, desk phones are the physical phones that sit next to your computer at work. Sometimes they appear akin to and analog phone, but instead of being a landline, they are actually connected to the IP network.

Softphones, while also a type of VoIP business phone, are entirely different. They are apps that are installed on your PC or laptop. They have dialing pads not unlike a cell phone. Softphones can also have applications for your mobile devices.

Trying to find which one is the best fit for your company can be tricky. Below, is a quick guide to the pros and cons of desk phones and softphones, so that your company doesn’t spend money on a phone that doesn’t work for your business.

Desk Phones

Desk phones have been entirely redeveloped since the creation of VoIP. What you might imagine when you think of a ‘traditional desk phone’ is not relevant to a VoIP desk phone.

Advantages and Disadvantages

This may go without saying, but people are used to desk phones. Even if the VoIP desk phone is entirely different than that of a landline, people are still comfortable with them. The other great thing about desk phones is that they tend to have superior call quality. Unfortunately, desk phones are more costly than softphones. Furthermore, the cost of a desk phone can increase with the more features you add to them.

Softphones

A softphone isn’t truly tangible; it is a software program on your PC or smartphone. It, via the Internet, allows users to make or receive calls over that Internet connection. Softphones generally offer a very friendly user experience.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Because tangible equipment isn’t involved, softphones are installed quickly and boast a budget friendly option to businesses. As long as a user has Internet connection, they can get or receive calls from anywhere. However, if your lose your Internet connection, or your equipment computer or smartphone crashes, you will be unable to use it. Also, if you aren’t a fan of headsets, you may not prefer using a smartphone on your computer, as you will need it to respond and listen to calls.

At the end of the day, you will have to decide which pros appeal most to you and which cons are deal breakers. As with all business phone systems, you have to determine what your company needs to fulfill its’ communication requirements.

 

Cloud hosted VoIP – Telephone Service Option

VoIP is extremely cost effective and can be accessed nearly everywhere, from businesses and at-home offices to mobile use. It requires none of the hardware investments of the traditional on-premise POT (plain old telephone) systems of the past.

Because VoIP requires Internet infrastructure to send and receive voice communication, it can face some of the same security issues online users have experienced with their computers. 

Firewall

A successful disaster recovery plan requires that your VoIP phone system protection is included in the network’s firewall settings.  A VoIP firewall is an application that defines whether to allow or deny certain calls. To provide superior quality, the firewall must be not only reliable, but durable with no latency to voice traffic.

A VoIP firewall or application firewall protection should be part of any VoIP managed plan. These firewalls should support common VoIP protocols including H.323, Session Initialization Protocol [SIP] and Network Address Translation [NAT], which assigns a public address to a computer inside a private network.

Passwords

Put simply, passwords help prevent security breaches. No matter the size of your company, it is important to educate one’s staff on best practices pertaining to password usage. CEO’s or IT techs need to monitor and track unauthorized conversations to eliminate abnormalities or spikes.  It is important to view and identify employees who are using the system and assuring their online communications are in accordance with the companies guidelines.

WI-FI

WPA2 [aka Wif-Fi Protected Access] now provides a stronger data protection and network access control than its predecessor, WPA.

WPA2 provides a high level of assurance that only authorized users can access their wireless devices and networks.

There are presently two versions of WPA2;  WPA2-Personal, and WPA2-Enterprise.  WPA2-Personal will protect unauthorized network access by issuing a “set-up” password. WPA2-Enterprise verifies network users directly via a server.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we will discuss DDoS, Phantom Calls and more about security.

Three Common Myths About VoIP

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VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology still shrouded in mystery in today’s business world. Misconceptions and general unfamiliarity have given VoIP a bit of a negative reputation, causing reluctance for businesses to adopt the advantageous solution.

There is room for substantial growth in adoption rates as more and more companies learn that VoIP puts the user at the center of the communications experience and creates increased flexibility and efficiency for businesses.

Let’s talk about a few of the common misconceptions that are still out there about VoIP.

Expense

When VoIP technology first came on the scene, it was extremely pricey, so it only appealed to larger companies that could afford the expense. Now, the technology has advanced to the point where prices have dropped dramatically, making it cheaper than traditional phone service in most cases. Another significant cost-saving factor for companies is the ability to cherry-pick from a variety of services and features that meet their specific needs so they’re not spending money on services they will never use.

 Is it Difficult to Set Up?

One common misconception of VoIP phone systems is that they are labor-intensive and difficult to set up. Employers shy away from the hassle, envisioning bundles of wires, connection issues and intricate operations. In reality, VoIP systems simplify everything, requiring only a reliable internet connection and, of course, outlets to power the phones.

VoIP is different than traditional phone services because it connects directly into computer networks (router/modem) – users need only connect their VoIP phone system with their internet connection. Additionally, most VoIP devices come provisioned for plug and play, cutting down on the need for configuration.            

Call quality 

Another primary concern is reliability. Since VoIP systems require a fair amount of bandwidth, substandard equipment or poor/slow internet connections have historically been major hindrances, causing bad voice quality and dropped calls. However, any good VoIP provider will work to ascertain the business needs of a company to ensure that it has a solid internal infrastructure and that its bandwidth is sufficient to properly support its systems.

 Another important layer to add to the mix is quality of service (QoS). Voice traffic is more sensitive to network congestion than data traffic, so any blips in a connection are very noticeable. QoS essentially analyzes and assigns a certain level of performance to different data flows and applications. In the case of VoIP, if a lot of bandwidth is being consumed, QoS will prioritize voice traffic over data so that call quality does not suffer.

 

VoIP Tools For Your Business Phone

VoIP allows us to be more efficient and productive at the office place.  Here are some features that offer greater business communication.

Flexibility

6308410_sVoicemail is not bound to your desk phone. VoIP allows you to access your voicemail from any device, including via your email. If you access your voicemail through your email, it will come through as either a transcript or audio file.

Most of today’s workers are attempting to manage their households as well as a business career. Employees may have doctor appointments or struggle to get into work by 8 A.M. due to family obligations. With mobility, employees now have a greater flexibility in handling their household while remaining connected to the office!

Faxing through VoIP

You can also eliminate your fax machine with VoIP.  It is much like calling and gives you all the same benefits.

Connections

Some ISP’s have figured out that the better solution for perfect VoIP calls is to offer a dedicated VoIP broadband connection. Many of them are already offering their large customers this option, but the writing on the wall is clear: sooner, rather than later, a separate VoIP network will become the norm rather than the exception.

Only one phone number

If you are a service company or a real estate office, your staff is usually out in the field. In this case, they have to use their cell phone. With a VoIP system, you only have to use one phone number, whether you are calling from your office phone or cell phone.