We’re VoIP specialists, and we often get questions from decision makers wanting to know more about the potential benefits VoIP can offer their business. We’re here to alleviate your concerns and answer your common questions.
1. On-Premise and Cloud
There are two main types of VoIP services that we offer, and indeed most business fall into one of these two categories.
The first is “hosted”, which we refer to as a Cloud-managed solution. We typically recommend this setup for all new customers as it has the lowest cost of ownership of the two, and removes the variables involved in running your own system. Cloud-managed services reside within the provider’s network, and fall under their agreement to provide you with reliable voice services. While the monthly cost is typically a flat rate, with bundles attached based on your requirements,
the overall cost of operating the system is reduced as neither you nor your I.T. provider needs to worry about the central hardware or network. Each phone connects directly to the Internet, securely, and receives calls in a similar fashion to the old analogue landlines.
The second is “on-premise”, also known as an IP-PBX. The central system resides within the customer’s site and VoIP traffic is sent directly to the site for processing. This is useful for customers who wish for the lowest on-going costs after installation, and the ability to own all hardware related to the calls. On-premise systems only require a connection to the Internet and a phone service that directs to your network, everything is managed internally.
Most of your staff will not notice a difference in these two systems, but the way they’re managed and your requirements are very different. Most businesses will go for a cloud-managed setup unless there are specific requirements otherwise.
Many customers purchase a phone system and find out 6 months down the track that they’re going to need a couple more phones. This is an easy task for any VoIP system, you simply purchase a new phone and we configure it on your system, plug it in and you’re ready to go. The cost of provisioning a new VoIP phone versus an analogue one is night-and-day – typically you’d have to wait a business day or two for your phone service provider to add a new line, but with VoIP it’s already handled, you just add it in.
Desk phones are not limited to wires! Many of our customers operate wireless handsets, or have their desk phones purely connected to their wireless network. This means you can place them anywhere there’s power.
A common misconception about VoIP is that both you and the other party need to be on a VoIP system to benefit from any quality. The reality is, many people are already on VoIP, so you’re going to see a vast improvement in call quality in that respect. However, if the other end still uses analogue you’ll still likely see an improvement. Because VoIP uses the same IP network as your computers, under a digital format, all the potential losses in quality from your end to the provider are eliminated.
Another question we get is about the difference in cost. The most common reason business say they would consider switching to VoIP is to save cost. This is one of the main benefits of moving away from analogue. There are costs sprinkled over every aspect of operating an analogue phone system, everything from the monthly line rates to maintenance, changes and potentially costly downtime or lack of features causing employees to waste time on workarounds.
VoIP greatly simplifies and reduces your ongoing costs, and headaches caused by failure of old equipment or the inability to do something that VoIP offers at a basic level. Adding new lines is as simple as provisioning them with the provider and directing it to your system, removing them is just as easy. Maintenance and downtime cost is almost eliminated as the hardware and network use the same concepts as your computer systems.
Have you ever called another business and been asked to “call us back on this number”, or that they simply cannot transfer you or allow you to leave a message? This can appear very unprofessional, and is certainly not how you want to treat your customers. It usually comes down to a lack of functionality, or differences in phone features, that a phone system provided, or an option the employees know nothing about!
Every phone on a VoIP system can be set up in a similar fashion, which means everyone knows the capabilities of their phone and training is simple. But that’s no good if there’s basic limitations, which brings us to our next point:
VoIP systems come with the most advanced features of an analogue system, included. This means the cheapest VoIP systems outperform their analogue counterparts in almost every way. We’ve already talked about expansion and quality, but many businesses require the ability to transfer calls between desks, provide a voice mailbox so employees can check their messages, and route calls between desk phones or to mobile phones as part of a “call flow”.
Do you operate a tiered setup, where one or two phones ring, then every phone if they’re not picked up?
Do you need the call to come to a manager’s mobile phone if it still fails to get an answer?
What about after-hours calls, should they go to a mailbox, or an on-call employee?
All of these functions are basic VoIP features, call flows are one of the most impressive things about VoIP, and they’re dead simple to set up.
Analogue systems are going the way of the dinosaur. They require separate copper lines from your phone provider, a disruptive monthly cost, cannot easily tie into your network or computer software, and are difficult to maintain and report on. Further to this, if a component fails you’re going to have a much harder time locating a suitable replacement, and the cost is going to quickly become a large portion of simply migrating to a newer system.
So unless you like finding used replacement parts on Trade Me, VoIP is going to be the simple option to future-proof your business and reduce the overall expense of managing a phone system. They’re available at all price levels, are easy to expand, and give you the quickest outcomes where needed. Because they sit on your network, they only require the cabling you already have, and you can tie your computers’ network into the phones so you don’t need additional cable runs.