Small businesses around the world are straying away from traditional phone services and landlines to a more advanced, hassle-free VoIP hosted phone system. Hosted VoIP systems connect small businesses wherever they are, without the need of a plug-in wall system. This new era of hosted VoIP PBX, a phone system that runs over the Internet, opens a quicker, more affordable form of communication that moves with the business and does not require the infrastructure or cost of a traditional phone system.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and operates using a high-speed broadband/internet connection to make and receive telephone calls. The service converts calls to data packets that are sent over the Internet. In this way, you can have a phone service that does not require a landline or traditional phone system. It is a secure and safe service for small businesses to reduce cost while ensuring that business is not compromised or affected, and to guarantee that you still reach your customers when you need to.
With how complex technology has become, many small businesses are considering saving money and switching to a better phone service. However, there are many questions that can impact your decision to replace traditional landlines with a hosted VoIP phone service.
Well, we’ve done the guess work for you! Here are the ten most commonly asked questions that small businesses want to know, and typically google, before deciding to switch to a hosted VoIP phone system.
What is a hosted VoIP phone service and what are the benefits for my small business?
A hosted VoIP PBX is a cloud based system and so the hardware and software is hosted in an off-site location.
In other words, the phone equipment is off-site from where the phone service is actually being used. Hosted VoIP service providers offer this virtual phone service by hosting and operating the service out of their data centers, hence the term “hosted.” The service is provided directly to your office through your existing high-speed internet connection.
A hosted VoIP phone service offer is less expensive than a traditional phone systems or an on-site VoIP system.
The biggest benefit and advantage of having a hosted VoIP phone service is the cost savings. With no equipment to maintain and no software to purchase or upgrade, the cost savings can be significant compared to traditional phone services. In addition, it requires less time, money, and effort to set up and operate. In many cases, there are no set up or hardware fees required for hosted VoIP services.
Another benefit is that the hosted VoIP phone service provider operates and maintains the service.
So, you do not need to be technically savvy or have in-house technical support staff to use the system. Most VoIP service providers offer 24/7 technical support and troubleshooting helplines and will handle any issues or concerns that may arise during your use of a hosted VoIP phone service.
Mobility is a big benefit as well.
Among the numerous benefits that come with a hosted VoIP phone service, the accessibility and mobility of the service is a favorite among small businesses. You can use an app on your mobile phone to stay connected to your phone system. Additionally, when you move your office, just un-plug your VoIP phones and plug them in at the new location. Finally, there are multiple features that allow routing of phone calls to any and every location in order to find you. Some of these features include: Hunt Groups, Call Queues, Call Forwarding, Voicemail to Text, Voicemail to Email etc.
What equipment do I need to use VoIP?
With Hosted VoIP you can make and receive calls on your VoIP phone, computer, or mobile device.
The great feature about VoIP services is that they do not require the same phones or equipment as traditional phone services. While you can use it just like a regular landline, you are now able to receive calls directly on your computer or on your mobile device through an app. An alternative, if you really like the idea of picking up a telephone, is to get an IP-enabled phone.
Alternatively, you or your employees can answer and make calls directly from your computer by connecting a headset that has a microphone, or simply answer them on your mobile phone. There are no extra costs for complicated phone system equipment, and there is no need to run phone lines along walls in your office space.
Therefore, the only equipment you will need with a VoIP hosted PBX is:
- VoIP phones (or you can use “soft phones” software on your computer with a headset, or an app on your iPhone or android)
- An internet connection
And, except for the VoIP phones, this equipment is probably already in place at your office in order to give you internet access.
What can I expect from the quality of calls?
With the advancements in hosted VoIP services, calls experience clarity and high quality just like you would on a landline. But, the quality of your VoIP phone calls is highly dependent on your internet or broadband connection. It is always best to check with your VoIP phone service provider regarding the ideal or minimum required internet connection speeds to ensure good call quality and service.
Often, you can opt for trial periods with VoIP service providers. These trials ensure that you are getting what you are paying for. Test out a separate hosted VoIP phone service without a long-term commitment. Do this alongside your regular phone service or traditional landline to compare service quality. In addition, you will see if your internet connection is sufficient to support the service.
There are great free internet speed tests that you can use to test your internet connection as well. through certain free websites that can help determine if you have sufficient bandwidth with your current internet service provider to get high quality VoIP services.
Is it more expensive than my regular phone service?
This is by far one of the most popular questions small businesses have regarding hosted VoIP phone services. Since hosted VoIP services do not require any hardware, it saves tremendously on the set up and start up costs compared to services that require equipment to be installed onsite. Not only do you save money on equipment, you also save on in-house maintenance and technical staff that are typically required for other onsite services.
The actual hosted VoIP phone service itself runs through your internet connection, which saves you the additional costs of running and maintaining landlines or traditional phone systems. You get to save money and improve on productivity and collaboration in the long run.
I’m always on the go or traveling a lot. Can hosted VoIP support my active business and mobile employees?
The beauty of a hosted VoIP phone service is that the service is virtual. There is no hardwired equipment requirements or physical phone lines that need to be in one fixed location. Your calls are sent via packets over a high-speed internet connection that is quickly converted and sent directly to your computer or mobile device through an app.
A hosted VoIP service gives you as many phone lines and numbers you need. Direct these phone lines to any computer or device for any employee, therefore providing the flexibility and accessibility to all incoming calls and lets you make outgoing calls from anywhere, anytime. Route or redirect calls to any employee or mobile device while staying connected even on the go.
Do I or my employees need to be technically savvy to use hosted VoIP phone services?
Not at all! If you can receive or make a call, you can use a hosted VoIP phone service. A hosted VoIP service provider sets up, manages, and maintains the entire service. Hence, you and your employees only need to answer and make phone calls.
A hosted VoIP phone service requires no technical know-how or maintenance on your part. Therefore, should you require technical assistance, you can call your hosted VoIP provider and someone on their end will ensure that your service is taken care of.
Can I use my VoIP service if there is an emergency?
Hosted VoIP phone services function just like, if not better, than traditional phone lines. Your hosted VoIP phone service allows you to dial 911 or any other emergency services. There are virtually no restrictions to getting emergency help directly from your phone. In addition, since a hosted VoIP phone service isn’t dependent on phone lines like analog phones, they tend to be more reliable during a natural disaster.
Can I move with my hosted VoIP phone service?
Absolutely! With a hosted VoIP phone service, it is easy to take your phone lines with you when you move. Hosted VoIP solutions allow you to carry over your existing number or get a new one for your new office. Since a hosted VoIP service runs virtually, all you need is a high-speed internet connection to continue using your services.
Can I take my phone number when I move or use my current phone number?
Most hosted VoIP service providers will let you carry over your existing phone number or move with your current number. We call this number porting. Call the hosted VoIP service providers to ensure that they offer these services before deciding on your provider of choice.
Are there any other features with my hosted VoIP phone service?
Depending on the provider, hosted VoIP services come with a variety of business-enhancing features that support and supplement your business. Most basic hosted VoIP services allow you to select or add on specific features to support your small business.
Some of these features include,
- Call forwarding
- Conference bridge
- Call routing
- Speed dial
- Three-way calls
- Voicemail greeting and forward to email/text
- Caller ID
- Video conferencing
- Priority alerts
- Call screening
- Instant messaging
- Mobile app
- Call transfer
- Online fax
- Toll-free number
In addition to these features, many hosted VoIP services provide advanced call management systems that function like a front desk. Prioritize your calls, put them on hold, reroute, or send to voicemail. Hosted VoIP phone services integrate with your CRM system to enable the tracking and following up of calls easier.
As with any new service, call to find out about features, pricing, and requirements prior to selecting a provider. Many hosted VoIP phone service providers have packages and services tailored to meet the needs and expectations of small businesses around the world. This allows for customization of features and add-on services to enhance your hosted VoIP package.
An efficient and well-managed hosted VoIP phone service could be just what your small business needs! Take advantage of the capabilities to stay in touch. Travel anytime you want and scale up when needed so you can save money while staying connected always. Switching to VoIP is as easy as ordering your phones and plugging them in. Your service provider will do the rest including porting your current number.
In conclusion, if you are a small business owner, switching to a hosted VoIP phone system could not only save you money on equipment, and overhead to maintain an on-site analog system. It is also a more mobile and versatile system in the long run. But, you should be sure your internet connection can handle the data that it is already transmitting as well as the voice that it will be transmitting. That is a bandwidth question and one you can research on your own using an internet speed test online, or just ask your internet service provider.