VoIP basics: An SMB’s guide to Voice over Internet Protocol

VoIP basics: An SMB’s guide to Voice over Internet Protocol

Since the launch of the first widely available internet phone in 1995, VoIP has significantly changed the way we communicate. VoIP today brings together the best of traditional telephony and digital connectivity, providing businesses of all sizes with a powerful tool for boosting productivity, facilitating collaboration, and improving customer engagement.

In this article, we’ll explain what VoIP is, how it works, and how it benefits small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) like yours. We’ll also talk about its most useful features and how to select the right VoIP phone system for your business.

What is VoIP and how does it work?

VoIP is a piece of technology that allows you to make and receive phone calls using the internet instead of a traditional phone line. It works by converting your analog voice signals into digital ones before sending them to VoIP servers via your broadband line. Your business VoIP service provider then routes the data to the receiver, and converts it back into sound that can be heard through the receiver’s handset or speakerphone.

How does VoIP benefit SMBs?

Switching from a traditional telephone service to a cloud-based VoIP system has several benefits, one of which is greater flexibility. Unlike landlines that are limited to desk phones in your office, VoIP lets you make and receive phone calls through an app on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and even VoIP-compatible office phones. This is extremely useful for employees working remotely or on the go.

And because all calls — domestic and long-distance — are made over the internet, it’s highly cost efficient. Most business VoIP providers even offer unlimited minutes without extra costs.

On top of greater flexibility and cost savings, you get professional calling features like call routing, auto attendant, number porting, and more with VoIP. This lets you save on even more costs, as traditional telephone service providers often charge recurring fees for these add-ons.

Related reading: 4 Ways VoIP can benefit remote workforces

What features do VoIP systems have?

VoIP phone systems’ features differ among providers, but you can expect these most common features:

  • Unlimited calling – grants you unlimited voice calls to any phone in the United States and Canada
  • Caller ID – shows you who is trying to contact your business, helping you plan, prioritize, and take the most effective action as well as avoid spam calls
  • Call waiting – lets you put someone on hold and take another call, ensuring that you will never miss an important call
  • Call forwarding – routes calls received by one number or phone to another designated number or device
  • Call recording – allows you to record calls for training and reference purposes
  • Voicemail – allows callers to leave a short audio message when you are not available to pick up the call
  • Custom music on hold – lets you upload and play audio files while your callers are on hold
  • DND (do not disturb) – temporarily turns your phone ringer off and redirects callers to voicemail
  • Online fax – lets you send and receive faxes from your computer or phone, a function that's similar to sending an email
  • Third-party integration – allows you to integrate third-party software to enhance the features of your VoIP phone system or streamline business communications

Many business VoIP providers also offer advanced services like call screening, SMS messaging, and video conferencing, all of which are sure to improve your business calling experience.

How do you select the right VoIP service?

Choosing the right VoIP service for your SMB can be tricky. No two service providers have the same offerings, so it’s important to take into consideration the following factors to ensure the VoIP service you select fits the bill.

  • Offered features and functionalities
  • Initial and recurring costs
  • Reliability and uptime
  • Ease of use of the products and services
  • Availability and quality of support
  • Reputation of the service provider
  • Customer reviews

Ultimately, you’ll want to partner with a trustworthy provider to ensure a reliable setup and an overall pleasant experience. We at outsourceIT can help you make sure your VoIP solution delivers the functionalities you need while falling within your price range. Contact us today to get started.

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