Office communication tools have changed a lot over the past 50 years. In 1965, if you had a question for your colleague on the 5th floor, you might buzz their intercom number. Now you hit them up on Slack. If you wanted to tell your office about the upcoming holiday party, you made a flyer and put a copy in everyone’s mailbox. Now you send an e-vite. If you wanted to call a client, you reached for the phone.
Wait…that last one hasn’t changed a lot, has it?
So maybe you don’t use a rolodex anymore, and your office phone has buttons instead of a rotary dial. But still, our world full of cloud-based machines can make the landline look pretty antiquated. It doesn’t have the many features of your smartphone, or the high-res screen of your computer. Shouldn’t your phone be able to offer you more than it did half a century ago?
Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, answers that problem by ushering your office phone system into the modern era. You’re probably familiar with the technology—it’s what social apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime use to let people talk to their friends and family. But VoIP is also available in your office, with a whole host of benefits.
Ready for the future? Here’s how to bring your phone communications into the 21st century.
How it Works
Until around the 1980s, phone calls went through copper wiring and switches called Plain Old Telephone Service, or POTS. The systems were based on copper wires carrying analog voice data over the dedicated circuits. Can you conjure up an image of Mad Men-era receptionists at a switchboard? That’s POTS. The system has evolved since then, but still isn’t nearly as fast as VoIP.
That’s because VoIP isn’t circuit-switched—it’s packet-switched. VoIP digitizes audio into packets of data. It turns your voice into packets of 1’s and 0’s, which can then be sent over the internet to all kinds of Internet-enabled devices. That means VoIP can even work between tablets or smartwatches, not just other phones.
Why VoIP Is Cheaper
Sending packet-switched data instead of circuit-switched data can save your company a lot of money. It’s one of the main reasons people switch to VoIP—it’s cheaper. It cuts out the need for circuitry, instead leveraging technology you already have: the internet.
With the help of high-speed internet, your calls will be dirt cheap—even if they’re long distance.
Software Allows for Flexible And Scalable Plans
Because VoIP is software-based, companies can update it from the cloud. No more waiting on service representatives to pay a visit to your office. This allows for a crazy amount of flexibility and scalability, which is good news for companies that are growing and changing.
Let’s say your company is growing and needs a new office. Whether your new digs are down the hall or across the country, VoIP offers a smooth transition for your business move. You don’t need a professional to come in and rewire the whole place, and you don’t need to change numbers. Because VoIP is cloud-based, it’s able to move with your company.
VoIP Is More Than Just Audio
The iPhone revolutionized how we think about mobile phones by allowing users to multitask on these devices: we could suddenly talk to a friend while simultaneously checking our calendar. VoIP brings that flexibility to workplace phones. It also makes them infinitely customizable (much like your smartphone), based on your business’ needs.
There’s An App For That
Most VoIP providers allow for easy link or document sharing, not to mention video conferencing. VoIP providers are regularly adding desktop integrations with apps as businesses request them. Depending on your provider, you can be in a call and quickly sync information through LinkedIn, Salesforce, ZenDesk, or QuickBooks.
But there are also a lot of specialized features companies can opt into, depending on the provider. Vonage for Business’ Virtual Receptionist feature allows users to instantly connect to the right department, like sales, billing, production, and customer service, without needing to remember an extension number.
And because it’s all software, you can simply download new features from the cloud whenever you want them.
Track Your Data
Sending phone calls through your computer also means that you acquire a great deal of data—data that can make your business more efficient. Call logs provide easy-to-read graphics that allow you to see what percentage of calls went unanswered, and what the peak time was for making calls.
You can use this kind of information to track caller responsiveness and convenience, or if you need more employees to handle the amount of calls coming in. It’s the kind of analytics your old phone company wouldn’t be able to measure—all at your fingertips.
Another feature of VoIP is easy-to-use recording systems. You can also get a voicemail-to-email, so you have a written transcription. No more scrubbing through voicemails to get to the important parts. Just a simple word search, and you can get the info you need.
How To Get Started
The barriers to getting your office VoIP capable are pretty low. Traditional phones don’t speak in 1’s and 0’s, so you’ll need to get an adapter, replace them with IP phones, or use “softphones,” like applications you can access online. VoIP provider OnSIP offers a great selection of reviews to help choose the right IP phones for your business. Other than that, all you need is a fast internet connection that allows you to send packets of data without jitter or lag.
With those in place, it just takes a few clicks and you’ll be ready to cut the cord! Welcome to the 21st century, friends.
You know what goes great with VoIP? An amazingly fast internet connection. If you want to learn more about our service, just holler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-798-2521. We’d love to help!