You’ve done it—you’ve decided to upgrade your business phone system to VoIP. Maybe your company has outgrown your previous landline system. Or maybe you’re looking to save your company money. Whatever the reason, the process from start to finish takes a little time.
The change to VoIP will give your company a more robust and flexible phone system that will improve how you communicate with your customers.
If you’re ready to upgrade to VoIP, here’s what to expect.
What does your business need?
Your business and the types of calls you get every day will determine the type of VoIP plan you’ll need. You’ll also need a robust and secure Internet connection. Test your Internet speed to find out if it can handle a VoIP system.
Your current phone system
What do you like about the phones your company has now? What do you need to improve on them? Do your employees prefer their mobile devices, especially away from their desks? Are you interested in audio conferencing, or do you want a call queue to route your calls with on-hold music? Determine what you like about your current phone system and what it does right for you.
The kinds of calls you receive daily
If your company’s incoming calls are primarily service related, a VoIP system with call queueing and interactive voice response (IVR) might be just what you need. But if your calls are primarily sales-related, a system that includes caller ID, call recording features, voicemail to text, and the ability to answer calls via a smartphone or computer might suit your company’s needs more.
The volume of calls you receive daily
How many calls your company handles is also a determining factor in selecting VoIP service. A startup or small business that doesn’t receive as many calls may not have a phone for every team member but rather assign phones to a team or department. Companies that receive a high volume of calls will need a scalable service that offers an individual phone and extension for each team member.
This information lets you select the best VoIP service for your business.
Watch This Video on VoIP Setup
Can your Internet connection handle VoIP?
Once you’ve selected a VoIP plan, you need to make sure you can run the system. Testing your Internet speed is vital to determine your next step. Many providers can test your speed for you.
The four elements of Internet speed are:
- Bandwidth, or the overall capacity of a network to process data. The minimum recommended bandwidth is at least two megabytes per second (Mbps) to handle 20 calls at once.
- Latency, or lag, refers to the time delay when data is transferred. A lag of 150 is acceptable. Latency higher than 150 milliseconds will give you poor-quality calls.
- Packet loss, or when pieces of data transmitted across a network do not reach their end destination. During a call, this manifests as the recipient missing parts of what was said or hearing distorted sounds. The acceptable packet loss rate is 1% to 2%. Packet loss becomes obvious when one party hears distorted sounds or misses parts of a conversation.
- Jitter, which is the time difference between sent and received packets. A jitter rate greater than 30 milliseconds negatively impacts call quality.
If your Internet service does not meet the standards needed for VoIP, you’ll need to upgrade your Internet service plan or find another provider. Discuss the service with your provider and look for other ways to upgrade your infrastructure to meet the standards required for VoIP service. If the service you need is unavailable in your area, you’ll need to find another way to get the Internet there.
Learn the different types of VoIP
VoIP is not a one-size-fits-all phone system but a variety of types for different needs.
- Onsite VoIP PBX, or private branch exchange, is a private telephone network including all the hardware software needed to host your onsite private VoIP. This dedicated VoIP onsite server also requires an IT team to service, maintain, and upgrade. Therefore it is typically only used by large Enterprise organizations of 500 or more employees.
- Cloud-based PBX, or hosted PBX, is handled entirely by the VoIP provider. Everything is handled through the provider’s hardware and software and is much more affordable for smaller businesses. You won’t need to buy any hardware or software to run your phone system, as your VoIP provider has all of that. You need to purchase VoIP phones or use a smartphone or computer.
Establish Your Budget
VoIP is generally more cost-effective than a traditional landline. But you should also know how much you can or will spend on a new system. It’s important to consider the upfront and expected recurring monthly costs. For instance, an onsite system includes upfront investments in equipment and maintenance.
Hosted VoIP has none of those initial equipment costs but includes a regular monthly subscription charge, making it easier to budget. This type makes scaling up and down according to your business needs easier. It also provides users with outsourced security and maintenance advantages, relieving users of those responsibilities.
The monthly subscription fee will depend on how many lines/users you purchase. Generally, you’ll pay a flat rate for a specific number of lines/users, but many providers lower the price when adding more lines/users.
Should you pay monthly or yearly? Monthly billing is better if you want the flexibility to scale up during higher calling periods, such as the holidays or tax season, then scale down afterward. But paying yearly locks in your rate and typically saves you money for a discounted rate.
For instance, at Press8 Telecom, a Tier 1 plan for 2-4 users is $29.99 on a monthly billing plan. But billed annually, it drops to $26.99 monthly and is billed just once. That’s a savings of $36 a year. Higher-tier plans offer additional savings.
While VoIP services come with a variety of features that cost individually on a traditional landline, some features are called “add-ons” and cost extra, such as:
- Conference bridge numbers
- Call queues (for incoming “intelligent” call routing)
- International calling
- Web faxing with unlimited incoming faxes
- Call recording
- Smartphone app
- Softphone app (for laptops)
Depending on your business’s needs, you may not need any of these services or just one or two.
Picking A Provider
DO NOT BELIEVE THE VOIP RANKING WEBSITES! They are owned and paid for by the providers that are ranked the highest. These are “paid” for rankings.
Once you’ve determined your needs and budget, it’s time to select the provider that best suits your needs. Pay particular attention to:
- Call management—how well will your team be able to handle calls? Features like forwarding and transferring calls, three-way calling, call screening, call queues, and other functions that improve your call efficiency.
- Extras—Some free extras might include Voicemail to Text Transcription, on-site installation of phones, and training of employees, etc.
- Other communications—A VoIP system should also support SMS and always available conference call ability.
- Available mobile app—allows your team to take their “office number” with them without using their phone.
- Softphone—If you travel or work from home, having a softphone that runs on your computer to make/receive calls is a necessity.
- On-Site Installation & Training – This includes unpacking and installing VoIP phones and training your employees. While most of the larger providers are not capable, companies such as Press8 Telecom offer this.
While your monthly service fee may be one determining factor, it shouldn’t be the only one.
Your Business Phone Numbers
Will you keep your current number(s) or a new one? Many businesses prefer to keep and port their current number to their new provider. You will want to keep your phone numbers if you have published them. You can add a toll-free number to your service if you want to. But don’t cancel your old service until you have ported your number(s) to your new provider.
Notify your new provider that you’d like your current number(s) ported. They will send a request to your current carrier and then notify you when the process is complete. Most porting fees are $15 each, and some providers will waive that if you ask them.
At this point, it’s time to finalize the installation. Everything depends on the VoIP solution you’ve selected for your business.
- Download the app onto your devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktops, for software- or cloud-based VoIP.
- For IP phones, connect these to the Internet on your Wi-Fi network
- If your system uses your existing devices, you’ll connect them to an adapter that connects them to the modem.
- If you’ve chosen onsite VoIP, your IT team will handle everything.
Once completed, you can begin configuring call flow options and making calls to test and learn the system. Run system tests in and out of the office so anyone working remotely can use it easily. Educate team members on using the system and offer best practices for making and receiving company calls.
Welcome to your new VoIP phone system!
Is a new VoIP phone system something that might work for you? If you have any questions about which type of system might best suit your business or organization, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Press8 Telecom. They will answer any questions or concerns you may have while searching for the right solution.