Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) allows you to make calls over the internet. It is often much more cost effective as your voice travels down existing broadband connections and saves you investing in separate phone lines.
To find out more about how SMEs can benefit from VOIP systems, we spoke to Adam Brett from Telecom2, specialists in hosted phone systems for small businesses.
What sort of VOIP services are available?
We mainly deal with cloud based phone systems, which are usually focused towards SMEs with anything from 2-30 users. There are different packages which include different features within the phone system, like voicemail, transfer of calls, out of office voicemail, call recording etc.
You can call conference, you can view statistics of incoming calls and outgoing calls, and everything is web interface based so essentially you can change configurations on handsets in your office via a web portal.
So it offers flexibility and scalability so if you grow as a business it’s a case of easily ordering new handsets to be just added on to your phone system.
Our bread and butter is anything from 2-20 users but we also deal with a lot of call centres as well. In terms of the sectors that we focus on everyone’s got a phone system out there; whether it’s an accountant an IT company, it could even be a children’s nursery - and we look to reduce their bills by at least 50%.
What sort of analytical tracking can VOIP offer?
With the phone system obviously you make outbound calls and the portal will track how many calls you’ve made during that day, or week, or month.
You can look at statistics so you can see how your employees how many calls they’ve made that day, and you can see the recordings of the call so its good for training purposes.
We deal with a lot of financial and legal sectors, so if complaints come in about you, you can listen to the call and resolve issues that way, to see who is telling the truth.
How easy is it to win SMEs over to the idea of using the internet to make calls?
Quite easy, because of the cost element. In terms of cost comparison to a normal phone based system you’re looking to save at least 50%, not only on call costs but you don’t have to pay for any hardware up front.
Maintenance on a phone system you would have to pay on a yearly basis, you would also have to pay for your handsets and for any additional equipment up front via a lease. In our system it is all inclusive within a monthly plan.
So what does an SME need before they can get started with VOIP services?
They need an internet connection - that can come from ourselves, we sell internet - or they can utilise their existing internet connection.
We double check to see what connectivity you get, whether it is fibre broadband or standard broadband and from there we can determine what’s best for the client and whether they’ve got enough connectivity to support the system.
How long does it take to get to grips with the new system?
Obviously it’s a teething process, it’s like anything, you have to make sure that you’re happy with it. But in terms of how easy it is for new clients to operate, it’s a handset at the end of the day.
We normally say that between a 4-6 week period the clients feel completely comfortable with the system.
To summarise, what are the main benefits of VOIP systems?
Flexibility – you can manage everything from a web portal; Scalability – you can order more handsets as you grow; and cost – it’s often much cheaper than traditional phone systems.