Analog phone systems are going away faster than wristwatches. Due to many advances in communications technologies, small businesses across the globe are switching from conventional phone systems to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). According to recent research, 61% of small and large business owners that are still using traditional phone systems, said they’ll be switching to an internet or cloud based system once their current contract ends.
The best VoIP solutions do a lot more for businesses than just make and receive phone calls. You’ll find that most reputable VoIP services providers offer all the expected call-related facilities, such as call holds, call transfer, and call forwarding. The more advanced VoIP solutions offer expanded features such as analytics, call management, vanity numbers, and more.
However, no two VoIP service providers are alike, nor do all providers offer you the same features. As a business leader, you’ll need to know ahead of time the features that your business actually needs and which ones are non-essential or “nice-to-have”. You need to be familiar with your business’s communication infrastructure, including current system tools & hardware in use, current pain-points and short-falls in using that system, and which add-on features will help your workers be more productive. You should also consider business growth and future scalability while selecting VoIP solutions and a VoIP service provider for your business.
What are the minimum features you will need when choosing VoIP tools for your business? Let’s take a quick look at the top, “best-of-the-best” VoIP phone features that all small to medium size businesses can benefit from…
Automated Attendant – It is considered one of the best and “must-have” features offered in most business phone systems. It helps small businesses tremendously by not having to employ a live, full-time, call receptionist. An Automated Attendant (aka “Virtual Attendant”) helps businesses answer all its incoming calls and directs them to their intended destination with the help of call routing rules, which can be generally or specifically defined for each extension.
Basic VoIP providers offer features like pre-recorded messages and hold music options, while premium VoIP services providers offer more advanced features like customized greetings and the ability to route the call to multiple numbers.
Call Queues – It is always important for businesses to keep the customers well-informed about how long they have to wait. With the help of a call queues feature in VoIP, it’s possible for businesses to keep customers informed and updated about their place in the queue, including how much estimated time they still have to wait. This prevents caller frustrations and significantly reduces the frequency of customer hang-ups and lost calls.
Anonymous Call Rejection – Not all calls are worth answering. No one needs to get bogged down and distracted throughout the day by getting bombarded with unwanted calls. These types of calls hinder productivity and interfere with the time and attention you could be giving to real callers and customers. With the help of an anonymous call rejection feature, you can easily prevent calls from anonymous numbers, and with caller ID you have the ability to block numbers that bother you and your team.
Business Text Messaging – Not all customers prefer communication on a call, but instead many now prefer text messages from business contacts and providers. Most VoIP solutions support business text messaging features, giving you the ability to send text messages from your provider application to any customer available within your database. While some VoIP providers offer unlimited messaging services, others may charge a fee per usage.
Busy Lamp Field – This is a useful feature to help quickly determine if someone from your team is available to attend a call. With the help of Session Initiation Protocol, the VoIP system identifies whether the line is busy or not and displays a busy light on the IP phone accordingly. This is a default feature that all the VoIP services providers offer. However, you may have to invest some time setting this up manually if your provider doesn’t do it for you.
Call Analytics – One of the most important features that you should look for in any VoIP business solution is call analytics. Based on the incoming and outgoing call data, you can easily generate various reports to gauge the performance of your calls and the overall customer experience. You can define various KPIs and metrics to track and visualize the information and details. This is a great feature to help you understand and identify weak points within your system, and areas to make improvements within your call operations. However, this is not available by default in all VoIP solutions. Depending on the VoIP service provider, you may have to pay extra to avail this feature.
MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) – If you ever need to send multimedia messages including videos and images, you’ll definitely find this feature useful. Unfortunately, MMS messaging is offered by few VoIP service providers. If this feature is an essential need for your business, you’ll have to narrow your search and choose from fewer quality providers.
Beyond these features, you’ll find a whole host of other awesome VoIP solutions for your small business. Ranging from DND (“Do Not Disturb”), Extension Dialling, Online Fax, and SIP trunking to Softphone, among various other important features, which will help your business elevate its service quality and greatly improve customer experience. If you’re not quite sure which VoIP solutions are best for your business, feel free to contact one of our experienced VoIP reps. At ClarityTel, we provide simple and clear VoIP solutions to a nation that is built on small businesses.