Market musings

What Are My Options? Hosted VoIP Solution vs. Smartphones

by Nina Quasebarth
January 26, 2018

At a recent conference on the latest advances in telecom, one business owner stood up and asked the panel, “Why can’t I just use this? [holding up his smartphone]”

Of course you can, but there are some good reasons why a business might need more than that.

What hosted VoIP does for the customer experience

For small companies to compete with large enterprises, they have to provide a customer experience that’s at least as good or better. One of the basics is that customers want to reach a company by phone, even after normal business hours, and have their questions answered ASAP.

They don’t like leaving a message because too many times they never get a call back. They don’t want to finally reach someone only to be told to call someone else. They don’t want hear the person on the other end say, “I’ll look into it.” They want to talk to the person that can resolve the issue right there, or to at least reach them in a timely, efficient manner. 

All of this depends on having a professional grade phone system that can greet callers, route them to the right person, transfer the call or conference in others and keep track of call statistics. 

Hosted VoIP can provide all of those essential functions and many more, while keeping the cost down by hosting the telecom hardware somewhere else. You just pay a monthly fee to access the expensive equipment and you don’t have to worry about maintenance. 

However, your office network makes all the difference. You must have a network with enough bandwidth to handle it. Some hosted VoIP providers have a online tool that helps you determine if you have a fast enough network to successfully run a hosted VoIP solution. Too many voice distortions, echoes or latency will give customers the impression of unprofessional, low quality network.  

When considering a hosted VoiP phone solution, think about: 

  • Do you have enough bandwidth coming in to support a VOIP or Hosted system?
  • What kind of support and diagnostic tools will you need to optimize your VoiP network and to fix problems as they occur?
  • What kind of routers and other equipment might be necessary?
  • How long is the contract and how flexible are the terms?

Why some small businesses just use smartphones

While there is a great variety of hosted VoIP solutions, it can be hard to find the right fit. Using smartphones is often easier. When you start out as a sole proprietor or solopreneur, your personal phone is your business phone in most cases. As you add employees or contractors, it’s simple enough to just let them do the same.  

Typically, a plan with unlimited minutes on a mobile service will cost a business hundreds of dollars less each month than a hosted VoIP solution. However, if you are making lots of video calls or opening up documents on your phone, your data package can get too expensive or slow down business transactions when it runs out. 

Here are a few more bottlenecks that you will probably encounter as your business scales up.

You could lose customers if callers aren’t greeted professionally or when important calls get buried in voicemail. There’s no way to conference calls or transfer them. If employees make calls or make notes about customers, that data usually stays in the employee's smartphone and is lost to the company. If employees leave, the data leaves with them. There is no way to centrally control and manage call data, and this can lead to a poor or inconsistent customer and employee experience. 

The next generation solution: VoIP + smartphones

There is a third way, combining the best of both. Virtual phone systems use your existing smartphones for the handsets and your existing mobile service provider for calling. What the virtual phone system provides is the layer of professional functions that coordinated teams require and customers expect.

For example, what if one of your salespeople in the field needs to transfer the call to service or the main office. The virtual phone service can give them one-touch transferring.

What if teams are working in different cities or countries but they need to talk often? The virtual phone service can give your teams free unlimited calling from team-to-team, saving your company thousands of dollars per year.

What if you want an AI attendant to answer your calls and direct them to the right group, finding whoever is available at the time (aka hunt groups)? You need a virtual phone system on your employee mobile devices. 

What if your employees don’t want to make calls on their own phones because they want to keep their numbers private? A virtual phone system masks their outgoing numbers behind the company’s line and can pick local numbers all over the world so customer will be more inclined to call and answer.

What if you are a business owner or office manager who can never find your employees at their desks and don’t have their mobile numbers? The virtual phone system keeps an employee directory permanently updated as long as they have the app on their phones.

Virtual systems are easy to maintain and update, saving you IT resources and money. They are simple and user friendly, so new users are up and running in minutes. If mobility is your first concern, and you want to use your smartphone, consider a solution like Spoke Phone for turning your mobile phone infrastructure into an enterprise grade phone system. Want to learn more? Sign up for a demo of Spoke Phone to learn how we are delivering better voice quality and better customer experience on the device that you're probably already using for business. 

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