Compared to traditional landline phone systems, setting up voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service is much faster and simpler. Depending on which vendor and what features you choose, this setup can be completed in a matter of minutes. However, while the download and customization steps are nearly instant, other requirements might need to be met before your phone system can be fully functional.Additionally, as one of the first actions, each individual user should create a unique and personable voicemail message. Customers see the phone as a direct way to reach brand representatives. Endless ringing leaves the wrong impression. A well-designed voicemail message goes beyond formalities — it helps create a cohesive brand identity and build empathy with customers.
The Benefits of Setting up Your VoIP Phone SystemVoIP brings a wide variety of advantages to your unified communications setup. In addition to mobile app capabilities and user-friendly designs, modern phone systems have a ton of benefits from a small business perspective. By reviewing these perks, potential VoIP users can better select the right solution.
SimplicityVoIP telephony is a quality solution for modern businesses largely because they simplify a traditionally complicated technology. Before VoIP, business phone system setup involved:
- A certified technician
- Multiple installation appointments
- Coordination with your company’s IT department Individual device training and setup
- A room dedicated to many-hundred meters of wiring
AgilityWith a streamlined, hardware-free approach, managers can adjust teams and call settings with ease. Landline phones formerly required rewiring and close contact with the phone company when these types of changes needed to be made. With cloud-based VoIP technology, however, adding users, creating phone numbers, recording voicemail messages, and setting business hours is as easy as adjusting your email preferences. When setting up your VoIP system, the best time to make these adjustments is before you begin service. Make sure your VoIP vendor supplies a dedicated onboarding specialist for the first few months of service. This allows sales and support team managers to properly use the software to its maximum potential and avoid novice mistakes due to platform inexperience.
ScalabilityVoIP gives managers the freedom to grow and scale back their teams as business volume demands, but it also provides a stable framework that expands alongside your company. Most VoIP phone systems are available via subscription services. The advantage of cloud-based solutions is instant feedback. If your team decides they need a more robust plan, you can upgrade in a matter of seconds. This also means that pricing is pro-rated. If you don’t need a specific number anymore, simply delete it and you’ll no longer be charged. This is a must-have feature for growing companies with a keen interest in their cash flow. Nothing is set in stone. With older landline systems, hardware, maintenance, and contracts stipulated that you must use the service for a set amount of time. Using a software subscription model (did someone say SaaS?), this is no longer the case. Annual pricing plans may offer significant cost savings, but companies that are hesitant to make a full switch can opt for month-to-month payment. This added flexibility means you can move fast as a company without fear of burdensome commitments.
4 Steps to Setting up a VoIP Phone systemFully setting up your VoIP phone system involves a lot of team-specific requirements and details. These four steps do, however, offer an honest look at how you can maximize your phone system instantly, and/or see its potential during a free trial period.
1. Designate Admins and UsersAdmins are the employees who will be controlling your phone system’s settings and managing other agents. More specifically, admins are the employees who have access to your phone system’s control dashboard. Designating these representatives early on means they’ll be present for all the training and onboarding activities, becoming go-to experts at navigating the platform. Users are the representatives that are on the phones every day. Admins should get a fairly precise estimate of how many users they’ll be adding and how these telephone numbers will fluctuate as the business grows, scales with seasonality, etc., since nearly all phone systems have additional costs affiliated per-user. Also, these users will need to be assigned teams when building your incoming call structure. Thinking about this delegation at an early phase will help when you actually begin fielding calls.
2. Create Voicemails and IVRsInteractive voice response (IVR) is an automated system that lets users interact with a smart call routing system. Ideally, the IVR will help your customers find the desired information on their own, avoiding unnecessary touches and leading to fast resolutions.
3. Set Calling HoursIt’s an incredibly basic step that’s easy to overlook, but failure to set functioning hours for your business as a whole (and individual lines) can lead to a lot of frustrated customers. If the phones ring and nobody answers, customers will feel like they’re being ignored. If they receive a message letting them know to call back at the correct time, they’ll at least have realistic expectations. Remember to set opening and closing hours for both your main lines and individual extensions. Take time differences into consideration if you’re operating in multiple locations, and consider alternative work arrangements to accommodate non-local business.
4. Integrate with other workflowsThe most powerful advantage of using VoIP technology is the ability to connect your phone with other communication tools. These assets used to be isolated; any information collected via one channel had to be manually copied and updated in another. As a result, communication within teams suffered, and customer experiences were eroded by bureaucracy! No more. Vital information collected within your phone system is automatically updated within customer management and lead-tracking software. Furthermore, this info is accessible across teams, which means your customer experience won’t suffer when handoffs between employees occur.
How to Plan an Easy Switch to VoIP
How long does it usually take to switch from landline to VoIP?Installation and implementation of a cloud-based VoIP app can completed in as little as five minutes, depending on the provider and customization desired. However, when switching from landline service or another VoIP vendor, there are other technical aspects to consider. Trial Period. When shopping for VoIP phone solutions, companies should test the new system firsthand during a free trial period. This allows managers time to explore software integrations and compare vendors before making a purchase. Some free trials will last up to a month, though you may know definitively if a solution is right for you after just a few days. Number Porting. Discussed in detail below, if you want to keep the same phone numbers you’re currently using (you do), you need to budget one-to-two weeks for the porting process. This variable timeframe exists since phone numbers must first be released from your previous carrier. (Note: Number porting usually involves a small, one-time transaction fee.)
Added costs of switching to VoIP?If switching providers involves breaking a contract, there may be additional associated costs. However, it may be possible to offset these losses if your new VoIP service provides a lower user or per-minute calling rate. If you’re on a month-to-month plan or starting service with brand new numbers, though, this shouldn’t be an issue. Plan pricing varies between VoIP vendors. Generally speaking, subscription services are offered on a month-to-month or annual basis, with discounts available for longer commitments.
Number Porting: How to Keep the Same Phone NumbersWhen switching from landline service to VoIP (or between VoIP vendors), you don’t want to lose your current phone numbers. Posting them on social media, your website, industry sites, and email signatures. It’s how your customers have learned to reach you. Switching to new numbers would result in weeks of system updates, frustrated customers, and lost business opportunities. Number porting is a standard procedure for VoIP solutions, whereby you keep your same numbers when transitioning to a new phone system. Porting involves four essential parties: you, your current provider, your new provider, and a network carrier. Fair warning, it’s not a super simple process. But if you have the right documents ready, it can complete quickly and painlessly. For one, your new phone service will take care of the vast majority of paperwork (if they cannot do this for you, we recommend finding another system!).
All you need to supply is:
- The name of your current phone provider
- The name of each number’s account owner
- A full address associated with each number
- A copy of the last bill for each number