Communication is the lifeline of any business. Selecting the right business phone system features for your calling needs can be tough. There are so many options out there, not to mention hundreds of vendors. However, voice over IP, commonly referred to as VoIP, is the standard for the future. At first, businesses didn’t want to move away from their trusted phone systems. But over the last two decades, voice over IP has shown that it is superior to anything else out there. Now organizations are scrambling to upgrade!
What Is Voice Over IP?Let’s get one thing out of the way. Voice over IP does not refer to any specific technology. It refers to any voice calls that travel over the Internet. Historically, phone calls used the PSTN which depended on copper lines. Today, the vast majority of voice calls use the Internet instead. The most commonly used protocol for VoIP is SIP (Session Initiation Protocol).
Types of VoIPIf you’re looking to upgrade, VoIP is commonly available in two distinct ‘flavors’. The first option is to build your own SIP-based system. These are called on-premise VoIP systems as the hardware is physically present somewhere in your office. You control the system and customize it for your particular needs. The second alternative is hosted VoIP. In this model, a trusted provider will deliver phone services over the Internet. You don’t have to invest in hardware, software, or anything else. While you have less control in this type of system, you also don’t have the hassle of maintenance, upgrade cost, etc. Both approaches have distinct pros and cons. So, a few organizations opt for a hybrid approach. These systems combine elements of hosted VoIP and premise-based installations.
Why Does Your Business Need VoIP?Voice over IP has so many advantages over traditional PSTN based PBX systems that it would take forever to list them all. But the main reasons are:
PriceThe cost of a landline for a single individual or household is not very expensive. But most businesses need access to advanced features that are often expensive. This put small organizations at a distinct disadvantage. But VoIP costs much less than any landline service out there. Companies have been able to reduce their phone bills by as much as 50% in some cases!
Advanced featuresPrior to the launch of VoIP, enterprise phone systems had been stagnant. There was no innovation happening in the sector. Voice over IP brings a plethora of advanced features to your fingertips. If you can imagine a feature, some vendor has probably implemented it already in VoIP!
End of life for PSTNEven if you don’t think much of these advantages, there is another urgent reason to upgrade. And that is the PSTN reaching its end of life. Quite a few providers in multiple countries have already announced cutoff dates for the PSTN. What does it mean for your company? You can’t get new phone lines or numbers after that date. As more companies switch over to VoIP, it will become harder to source parts for repairs. You won’t find people who can fix your older phone system either.
What Features Should You Look for in VoIP Phone Systems?Now that you know why you should upgrade, let’s take a look at features. As a financial services company, your business has unique calling needs. The beauty of voice over IP is that it is flexible and customizable. That’s why organizations across industries have adopted it. Most countries regulate the financial services industry quite heavily. This means that any phone system you select should meet compliance requirements. These requirements usually relate to data security, privacy, and other aspects.
Unified CommunicationVoIP has been around for a short time, at least when compared to the PSTN. However, it has grown by leaps and bounds since it first launched. Many organizations are using voice over IP as a platform to build unified communication suites on top. Unified communication refers to integrating different channels into a cohesive whole. It means employees can switch between texting, messaging, calling, video conferencing, etc. Seamlessly.
Conference CallingThis is a must-have for any business, let alone for a financial services company. If your business has offices scattered across multiple locations, this feature alone can save you a lot of money. Your employees don’t have to travel for meetings. Set up meetings between participants in multiple time zones at convenient times. Meet clients, complete projects and collaborate with partners from the comfort of your office. No more travel expenses!
Auto-AttendantThere was a time when businesses had receptionists who would direct incoming calls to the correct person or department. Now you don’t have to because VoIP systems have this feature. You can save everyone a lot of time by automatically redirecting callers to the right person. You can also use this feature to provide useful information to customers such as account balance, bill due dates, etc. The attendant can handle basic queries, freeing up agents to solve the more complex issues.
Mobile Device SupportIs there anyone in your company who does not have a smartphone for work? No matter which system you decide on, it should support phones and tablets. Thanks to other features like multi-device ring, your staff doesn’t have to juggle three or four devices. It’s a necessary feature when they work remotely or travel.
Web-Based InterfaceThis is a crucial feature that sets apart voice over IP from traditional PBX systems. Most vendors have a web-based dashboard for users and administrators. You can set up new users, modify settings, remove users, and resources, and anything else you need to change from here. There is no need to wait for a technician to come to your office to add a new line. You don’t need experts on hand every time you want to change your settings.
Advanced Call RoutingThis is another area where voice over IP excels in. You can route and forward calls to multiple people, several devices, entire departments or offices in another country with VoIP. A handful of scenarios that are useful for a financial services company are:
- Directing incoming calls to several agents in a queue
- Allow employees to connect multiple devices to one number (desktop, tablet, and phone)
- Incoming calls ring devices one at a time until someone answers
- Easily convert one-on-one calls to video conference/group call
- Route calls after business hours to other locations still open
- Send tech support requests to group inbox/voicemail box