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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Guest Blog: Top 4 Factors SMBs Should Consider when Switching to VoIP

By Rachel Greenberg, Site Editor, My VoIP Provider

It’s a new year, it’s the perfect time for companies to save money in new ways, and the company phone bill is the perfect place to start. This is 2013, and today there is phone technology that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet, rather than through traditional lines or through cellular networks. VoIP technology cuts down these pricy phone bills, while also providing a slew of features not offered by traditional phone providers.

VoIP is far less expensive than copper wire-based or cellular tower phone technology. Most VoIP providers start as low as $20/month per user for the basic business package. VoIP technology is cheap and reliable, and is a great fit for businesses looking to cut costs this year.

Here are the top four factors businesses should consider when switching to VoIP, and how these considerations can pay off through improved savings opportunities:

1.) Does the company make a large amount of phone calls? Traditional phone providers charge by the minute and aren’t afraid to charge long distance and roaming fees. On the other end of the spectrum, all VoIP providers offer unlimited calling in the US. There are no allotted call minutes and absolutely no long distance fees. The Internet is unlimited, and this translates into unlimited calling.

Companies need the freedom to make as many calls as necessary to clients, distributors, and peers within their industry. VoIP allows this freedom, which helps business thrive and keeps phone bills low.  

Conversely, many providers do offer cheaper metered extensions should some employees need a small minute allotment, so you can choose between unlimited and metered extensions as you need them.

There are three major VoIP options for businesses with a high quantity of phone calls: hosted PBXs, SIP Trunking, and VoIP virtual call centers. Hosted PBX systems are great for businesses that need several active extension lines with unlimited calling. These phone lines are hosted online, which are cheap to add and delete depending on how many extension lines are needed.

SIP Trunking is a good choice for bigger businesses that don’t need as much outbound calling and already own a physical in-house PBX system, but still want to take advantage of VoIP technology. The SIP trunk translates all incoming and outgoing calls into VoIP calls, which means cheaper phone bills. However, with a SIP service, you don’t need an extension for everya phone. You only need enough ports to handle your maximum expected outbound calling. If you have an office with 30 phones and you expect to have ten outbound or inbound calls at any time, you would need a SIP trunk with ten ports, rather than a hosted plan with 30 extensions.

VoIP virtual call centers are a good fit with companies that have a large amount of phone calls and remote call center agents. Even companies with a huge amount of phone traffic can still benefit from VoIP savings in this way. And virtual call centers can be used at on-premise call center locations, or they can be used by call center agents distributed in remote locations.

2.) Does the company have remote employees? Remote employees can be a huge money saver for businesses. Companies that employ remote employees save thousands of dollars each month because they don’t need as much office space, supplies, etc. for all their employees who work from home. If a company has or is looking to have more remote employees, VoIP’s call forwarding features keep these employees connected, even if these employees are scattered around the country.

Call forwarding transfers office phone calls directly to the employee’s designated phone number. The employee never misses an important phone call, whether that call is from the boss or from the customer.

Companies can also buy remote extensions or virtual extensions for their remote employees. These extensions allow all employees to stay connected to the central office PBX system, even though they are widely distributed across the country.

3.) Does the company need IP Faxing? Not every company wants the old fax machine taking up space at the office. But even so, the business may still need to be able to receive faxes from clients, affiliates, and customers.

Most business VoIP providers offer direct fax-to-email technology, which sends faxes to any designated email address. This environmentally-friendly fax service also helps business owners save money.

Companies no longer need those expensive fax machines which always break at the wrong time, and they also save on expensive ink and paper, but they can still send faxes and receive faxes to and from companies that use fax machines. This feature is a great help for remote employees as well, who may not keep a fax machine.  

This VoIP option keeps all members of the company connected, while freeing the company from clunky fax machines and wasteful paper.

4.) Does the company need to save on travel expenses? If a company is spending too much money on travel expenses, IP video conferencing is a great way to save thousands of dollars. Companies no longer have to fly their employees for business meetings around the country.  Businesses can represent their companies without ever having to leave the office with IP video conferencing.

Several VoIP providers, such as 8x8, Inc. offer video chatting platforms at an exceedingly low cost, and certainly at a cost cheaper than plane tickets, bus fare, and car rental fees. As long as there is an Internet connection, employees can participate in face-to-face video chat. This fosters business connections while keeping travel costs low.  

Out with the old, and in with the new.  It’s 2013, and it’s time to throw out that mess of telephone wires and those expensive phone bills that go along with them. VoIP technology is a great way to keep company costs down, while bringing businesses right into the 21st century.

Rachel Greenberg is site editor for My VoIP Provider.

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017