When upgrading your telecommunications is top-of-mind for your business, the next step is learning how to take the leap from ideation to creation. Learn everything you need to know for a successful VoIP Deployment, and watch as your business communications increase your productivity and efficiency so you can give your end users a better level of service.
What is VoIP?
Voice Over Internet Protocol, more commonly known as VoIP, is a flexible and powerful technology that many companies have switched to for better features, cost savings, increased communication with customers, and a more efficient approach to doing business. VoIP differs from a traditional phone system by using data infrastructure for phone calls. An added key benefit is that it makes it easy to connect remote workers and offices. In addition, call quality and reliability on VoIP can be better than legacy systems. Since quality is based on internet speeds: the better your speed, the better your call quality. So, just how popular is VoIP?
Businesses of all sizes and industries are turning to VoIP to help improve communication with customers as well as save money. According to popular VoIP provider Vonage, businesses that switch to VoIP save at least 30% on their phone bills.
Hosted VoIP vs. Premise-Based VoIP: What’s the Difference?
VoIP phone systems are either Hosted or Premise-Based. Knowing the difference can help you understand which one is right for your business.
Hosted VoIP means that the majority of the hardware is deployed and hosted at an off-site location from where the VoIP telephone service is being used. The system runs in the cloud, and all features are handled through the provider’s servers. The main benefit is a Hosted VoIP system can cost less to set-up than a “Premise-Based” system. A hosted VoIP system is an operational expenditure which can make it attractive to businesses who want the flexibility of a reliable system. In certain cases, there are no set-up fees for a hosted VoIP system.
A premise-Based VoIP system resides at the same location (on-site) where the service is deployed and is being used, such as a computer equipment room, phone closet, or a designated office. This usually requires businesses to establish higher setup cost, but can often result in lower long-term monthly expenses.
Deployed off site
Lower set-up costs
Lower maintenance costs
Monthly service costs
Deployed in house
Higher set-up costs
Lower long-term costs
No risk of fee increases
How Businesses Benefit
Answer More Calls
Few calls go unanswered with VoIP. All systems come with call forwarding technology that routes an incoming call to the right person and even to their cell phone, allowing employees to discuss all matters with clients or customers as they happen. With VoIP, companies can even outsource customer service functions to a third party in a different timezone. As a result, consumers can speak to a customer service professional at any time of the day or night.
Lower Costs/Cost Savings
Businesses save money using VoIP. Sending voice data over the internet is much cheaper than legacy systems because the technology used for VoIP calling is built on your existing internet connection. Voice data is far less costly to send over the internet instead of landlines.
With VoIP, it doesn’t matter if two or 20 people are on your conference call. As long as your bandwidth is sufficient and your internet is high speed, conference calls are easy to set up and use with VoIP. Participants can take turns presenting material, mute their call, or drop in and out of meetings when they need without disruption. You also have the added benefit of video conference calling with clients and your remote employees.
The business world has evolved into a truly global environment. VoIP helps you communicate with clients and customers in different parts of the world with the same quality of call as someone in the adjacent office. And your VoIP platform will easily sync with all your calendars and adjust to different time zones, so your meetings are on time and on schedule.
Efficient Client Engagement
VoIP integrates with customer service software platforms to enhance the customer experience and client engagement. Unlike traditional systems, employees have more information about customers at their fingertips with a VoIP platform. Staff can resolve problems quicker and prevent customer complaints from escalating into major disputes, since communication can be maintained up to 24 hours a day.
What’s more, many VoIP services can help businesses communicate with customers through SMS and social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Working from home and on the go is the new normal for many of today’s employees. In fact, 25% of employees report doing work from home in a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. VoIP’s multifunctional features make it easy and convenient for employees to stay connected through their mobile device, tablet, computer, or smartwatch, no matter where live or work.
A La Carte Features
One of the defining features of traditional phone systems is the rigid plans, packages and contracts that customers are required to sign up for. VoIP allows you to only pick the features you want, with often little-to-no long-term commitment. Features can include:
- Call Recording
- Call Blocking
- Custom Ringing
- Music on Hold
- Call Detail Reports
- Do Not Disturb Mode
Call Centers Improve Customer Satisfaction
How important is customer service? Consumers believe that customer service will become more important to them than price and product by 2020. Call centers are often the first line of defense in maintaining customer satisfaction and delivering quality support. A quality call center has never been more important. Either a premise-based or hosted VoIP solution provides cost savings, added flexibility, and ease-of-use that far surpasses any legacy system.
First Steps of VoIP Deployment
A Strong Internet Connection
Whether you’re upgrading or migrating your telecom system during deployment, the first step is to check that your current internet connection is strong enough to host VoIP services. Simply contact your internet service provider to find out your current connection capabilities or whether you need to upgrade your connection.
Project Management Team
Deploying a telecom system requires a host of checkpoints before, during, and after the set-up is complete. Assign a project management team that can oversee the project from start to finish and handle all planning along the way. This is where it helps to work with a partner who understands all telecom systems.
New Phone System/Set Up
Since each office or business is different, and locations, needs, and stakeholders all vary, a flexible and fluid management of your phone system is essential to your set-up. There are various steps to phone management like unboxing, assembling, organizing and labeling the phones, as well as patching cables. This is where an experienced team can help.
Examples of VoIP Providers
Businesses of all sizes in all industries can benefit from VoIP, which is why there are many providers offering different VoIP services. Here are just a few of the most popular VoIP providers. A basic understanding of these companies will help you decide which is right for you during your VoIP deployment.
- Cisco – Cisco offers both hosted VoIP service and premise-based VoIP service. Its system is among the most popular choices for businesses because of its flexibility and ability to support large enterprise companies with thousands of employees.
- Ring Central – RingCentral offers a cloud-based hosted VoIP service and is used by over 300,000 businesses. It offers its own set of competitive plans, with its middle-tier premium package offering 2,500 toll-free minutes per month for up to 25 people to participate in HD video conferencing. Their Standard plan covers up to 19 users for $24.99 per user/per month, and includes 1,000 toll-free minutes, a mobile app, a call management interface, and many more features.
- 8×8 – 8×8 offers a cloud-based hosted VoIP service, with two price plans for business solutions: Virtual Office and Virtual Office Pro. The Virtual Office package includes a custom mobile app, unlimited calling, and business app integration, and is suitable for most small- to medium-sized businesses.
- Mitel – Mitel offers a cloud-based hosted VoIP service with solutions that are offered at five levels: Professional, Business Extension Only, Business Extension Only + Voicemail, Business Lite and Business Advanced.
- Skype – Skype is perhaps the most well-known VoIP system for everyday consumer use, but it also offers an excellent business service. Over the years, Skype has had to change its model to compete with the surge in competitors.
Approaching a Deployment Partner
Deploying a VoIP system can take time, but partnering with an experienced deployment team can ensure deployment won’t become a complicated project. When you’re looking for a partner, be sure to find one that is up front about timelines and goals, and one that will liaise with service providers. Service providers are a key cog in your overall telecom system, so a partner that understands how to work with them will go a long way towards a smooth and successful VoIP deployment.
What to Look For:
Asking the right questions upfront is always best for both parties. Here are a few questions to ask a potential deployment partner:
- What industries do you serve/have you served?
- How do we ensure that we capture all existing numbers/services?
- What will the porting process look like?
- What will the lead time be to scheduling each port/cutover?
- What are the support procedures?
- After deployment, will you continue to manage and maintain the new VoIP system?
- Do you provide a project manager to help navigate the entire process?
- Can you show me an example plan with timelines and project goals?
- Who are some of your previous clients?
Convergent experts can work with your carrier and handle all the details and hurdles that can arise during your deployment. Call 585-770-1000 to discuss how we can customize our services for your project.
How to Engage Your Employees
Buy-in from All Staff
Your staff will be the ones using your VoIP system. It’s essential that they understand how VoIP will help them succeed in their individual roles and increase their communication with each other and clients/customers. Engaging your entire organization is essential to successfully deploying your new VoIP system.
Tip: When introducing VoIP to your staff, focus on the positives and benefits.
Empower and Motivate with Training
There’s nothing more empowering and inspiring for your employees than professional development. Training your staff on how to use your VoIP system will increase their knowledge base and motivate them to embrace your new system. This will also create a better and more supportive work environment as staff members help each other through the training and implementation of the technology.
Plan Out Each Step of Staff Training
Training takes away from your staff’s regular routines, but there is a clear light at the end of the tunnel. Once you have explained the benefits of your new VoIP system to your team, plan out each step of your training and share it with them so they are aware of your expectations. Be sure to address ways your staff can maintain their current workflow while training and upgrading takes place. It can help to appoint certain staff members as “training leaders” who can lead smaller groups through the process.
Definitely! Making and receiving calls on your computer or any mobile device is one of the major advantages of a VoIP system
Since all cloud technologies are dependent on the internet, an internet connection is essential to VoIP working in the cloud. Once connected, you can use and access your account from any device connected to your cloud, giving you greater mobility and freedom to use your VoIP services from anywhere, anytime.
If your company already uses a router and a modem, you likely can use those pieces of equipment when deploying your VoIP system.
The quality of a call on VoIP depends on your internet speed, so typically the faster the speed, the better the call quality. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to increase your call quality by increasing your internet speed.
You bet! Remote workers are growing in numbers, and VoIP is a great solution to keeping them connected at all times.
It’s common for businesses to employ workers of all ages, so we’ve put together a Blog Post that explains how VoIP can help you manage your younger and older generations.
Ready to Upgrade?
Once you’ve decided it might be time to upgrade your telecom system to a VoIP platform, partnering with an experienced team can cut down on your installation time and save you money. Trying to deploy, train, and manage everything on your own can become a frustrating and seemingly endless project. We know, we’ve had clients come to us to help them overcome many obstacles, including:
- Researching and selecting new telecom equipment
- Learning to set up and use the equipment
- Creating a plan that helps them finish on time and within budget
- Communicating with carrier bureaucracy
- Training staff and empowering them with the right resources