Does VOIP Phone Service Make Sense For Your Business?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

When we moved our office last month, part of the process included reviewing things like our telephone and Internet services.

Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service is basically technology that allows you to make and receive calls over data networks.

Instead of traditional phone services which channel analog signals such as the sound of your voice over copper wires, VoIP converts these sounds to digital form first—so that they can be sliced, diced, packaged, and routed over a digital network.

Because VoIP technology uses the same ideas behind data networking, and allows the use of the same networks used by computers, voice traffic can also be routed through the Internet as well.

Suddenly you can now dramatically reduce the cost of voice communications, as well as achieve creative combinations of both services to create new applications for use.

VOIP (voice over IP) services have really evolved over the past few years. In the past, I’ve been hesitant to use it because the service could be flaky – and since 90%+ of our business comes in by telephone, I wasn’t comfortable with something that wasn’t reliable.

Fortunately for small business owners, that’s changed. The service is now as reliable as service from the phone  company. And with the ubiquity of high speed Internet service, call quality has improved to the point of being indistinguishable from the old telephone network.

Our switch to VOIP provided two significant improvements over the service we used before.

First, we increased our telephone line capacity and coverage. We’ve added telephone numbers for our client’s in Toledo, Dundee, and the downriver area to be able to call us locally.

Second – and perhaps more importantly – we’ve cut our  telephone costs in half.

Cost and coverage were my primary concerns when looking at a move to VoIP services. Here are a few reasons you may want  to consider switching to VoIP for your office:

You can make and receive calls from multiple devices – for instance, on a dedicated phone, your PC via a software-based phone, or even a mobile phone with VoIP capabilities.

It’s easier to add extensions to your phone. You can provide a local number or extension for all your staff without  additional costs or cabling.

VoIP allows your employees to be more productive and  efficient by giving them the ability to receive and make  calls anywhere with a data connection.

You can use VoIP as a tool for real-time collaboration along with video conferencing, screen sharing, and digital white boarding.

You can potentially unify your communication channels,  streamlining communications and information management—for instance, marrying email with fax and voice in one inbox.

You can employ presence technologies that come standard with VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems. This technology can tell colleagues about your presence or give you info on the status and whereabouts of your staff.