How to Select a VoIP Business Phone System
If you are a small to medium sized business owner and haven’t heard of VoIP phone systems, it is time to start reading and considering this option for your business. VoIP phone systems are a type of phone that turns your internet connection into a phone line. Hosted VoIP is the best option because you do not have to deal with setup or management of the phone. Hosted VoIP helps your business in many ways. It allows you to look bigger than you are by having such as press 1 for sales, press 2 for service, and press 3 for marketing. It saves you money by not paying two bills for internet access and a phone service. Hosted VoIP will grow with your business, instead of buying additional phones and hosting you can add extensions. It also improves efficiency by allowing your travel and work remotely while using the same phone number. If you have internet access, you will have access to your phone lines.
What is the right VoIP phone for your business? Selecting one of the over 200 different VoIP phones on the market today can be a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be a difficult or painful process though. Even if you are new VoIP phone solutions, it doesn’t need to be a difficult process. The most important thing to keep in mind is what your current and future needs are and will be. There are many options for VoIP phone solutions for every sized business and application. Below are 9 steps or questions to ask yourself when making your selection to insure it will be an informed and educated choice.
Steps to Selecting an VoIP Phone System
Are you currently using a phone system or VoIP service provider?
If you are already using a VoIP phone system this definitely applies to you. With multiple phone options and even more service providers you need to remember that not all are compatible with each other. Some phones do not work with certain providers. Check with your phone system vendor and or service provider to make sure you have compatible match between your phone system and provider.
Who is going to be using these VoIP phones?
Who is going to be using the VoIP phone system? Is it your receptionist? An out bound call center? Or is it an executive position? These are important questions to consider when making your selection. An outbound call center is going to want a phone and provider that can handle multiple phone calls simultaneously. A receptionist is going to want the same, multiple incoming and out bound calls but not much else. If you have an executive using your new VoIP phone, a high end solution with the latest technology and capabilities might be necessary.
What functions and features do these positions require?
Most VoIP phone systems have standard features such as conference, call waiting, call transfer, and hold. Certain capabilities to look for when selecting your phone system are contingent on the position of the individual using the phone. If you have someone who will constantly be using the phone system for its conference call capabilities, but uses the speaker phone function more often than not, then looking into a phone system that is known for these capabilities is important. You may have different needs or requirements with from you VoIP phone system and looking at each feature such as the display, the sidecar, and the overall capabilities is important.
How many calls can be received at a time?
Depending on the position of the primary user, this is an important question to ask your-self when purchasing your VoIP phone system. An average employee will be fine with 3-5 lines, where as a receptionist, administrator, or an employee of a call center will need 10-15 line appearances.
What is the expected use of the phone system?
If the position of the person is a receptionist then there job description more often than not requires them to be on the phone all day, every day. If this is the case, investing in a higher quality phone system will insure frequent and long term use will not wear the phone out or cause damage. In most senses you get what you pay for, make sure to buy a higher quality phone for those positions that need it.
Does your VoIP phone system need routing capabilities?
In many offices each desk is supplied with one Ethernet. If this is how your office is set up, both the computer and the VoIP phone system will need to share a single Ethernet connection. You will need to keep this in mind when shopping for VoIP phone systems because your phone will need dual RJ45 Ethernet ports. In the case your office is equipped with a voice LAN(separate voice network) then you should use an Ethernet drop run to the computer just for the VoIP phone and will be fine purchasing a phone system has a single RJ45 Ethernet port.
Will you be using a power over Ethernet with this set up?
If you are using or plan on using a Power over Ethernet, you will need a VoIP phone system that supports power over the Ethernet connection. If you are not, or do not plan on using power over Ethernet setup and plan on using AC power, consider the placements or availability of outlets at each work station to power the VoIP phone.
What codec and protocol does your provider support?
Most VoIP phone systems on the market support SIP and all of the major codec’s such as G.729, and G 711. Although, your VoIP phone system, or provider might only support a H.323, SCCP, or MGCP set up. Remember to ask your provider, and phone system vendor what codec’s they are compatible with and what they support. Do not get stuck with a phone system that is not compatible with a provider and vice a versa.
How much money can you spend?
VoIP phone systems can be anywhere from $50.00-$500.00 a piece. While price is a factor, it shouldn’t be the most important factor. Budgets do limit or set limitations on what we can afford, but the most important thing to remember is to take a good long look at each feature of the VoIP phone system, don’t overspend, and remember to talk with both the phone vendor, and your service provider to ensure compatibility.
VoIP Phone System Benefits
While VoIP solutions are becoming more and more popular, many small to medium sized business owners are not aware of the technology or the benefits. Having a VoIP phone system allows for increased efficiency by allowing you to work remotely, add extensions if your business is growing, save money by paying one bill for your internet and phone, along with many other benefits. Remember to do your research before buying and you will end up with a VoIP phone system that fits your budget, and grows with your business.