VOIP Phones System for Small Businesses UK
If you have been trading for a while or have other offices in close proximity you will probably have heard of the term VOIP. You may even be aware of what VOIP is or stands for. VOIP simply means, Voice Over IP (Internet Protocol). Instead of relying on the traditional infrastructure of a telephone system, VOIP phone systems utilises the internet to connect, send and receive phone calls. VOIP can be connected using a business’ existing internet connection by way of broadband, ethernet cable and private circuit connections.
This article aims to give you all the information you need to know to help make an informed decision about whether or not VOIP should be rolled out across your business. I will also keep as far away from technical jargon as I can. All you want to know is; is VOIP a worthy investment for your business? And that is the question I will answer.
Be aware that VOIP is sometimes also referred to as SIP (System Initiation Protocol) by telecoms providers, don’t let this confuse you, they are one and the same.
What are the main benefits of a VOIP Business Phone System
Reduced expenditure. VOIP systems save money compared to traditional business systems in particular PBX phone system(see our article on PBX here). The reason for this, if you work in an office where you make internal calls you will be racking up internal call charges. Across a large company, internal calls charges can be eye-watering. Transitioning to a VOIP system removes the internal call charges entirely.
Another added advantage but not necessarily one that may be applicable is that VOIP phone system providers often bundle in free to dial codes. Such as free calling to 01 or 08 numbers. Telecoms providers also sometimes offer this, so it is best to compare tariffs to understand if there is any saving here.
More functionality. Depending on your existing phone system the difference in functionality could be staggering. Some PBX systems are also feature rich so again it is important to compare the two side by side. That being said, VOIP offers great features often at no additional cost. Regulated businesses need call recordings more often than not nowadays and VOIP integrates with a business’ CRM and logs/records calls as required.
VOIP also has added call management features, such as call queues, diversion and statistics. VOIP gives your staff more accountability. Ever wondered if a customer service agent is deliberately terminating calls? VOIP will tell you in no uncertain terms what you need to know, when you need to know it.
As mentioned most VOIP providers will work with you to fit the VOIP system to your CRM. This means making calls is as simple as a click of the mouse. VOIP gives your whole business a simplicity that traditional phone systems lack. It seamlessly fits into your existing business structure (at least it should do as the capability is there).
VOIP can be scaled back and grow with your business. It lacks the traditional limitations of a phone system which means if you’re anticipating rapid growth your VOIP system is inherently able to cope. Need a new user added? Or 10? VOIP allows you to do this so that your new staff can hit the ground running.
For fast growing companies or high staff turnover businesses VOIP is a robust and straightforward system that offers the flexibility and customisability you need, when you need it most.
What isn’t so great about VOIP?
There are a couple of things to be mindful of. The last one is significant and is the bugbear of VOIP clients all over the country.
Equipment costs. VOIP relies on technology (specifically handsets) that is compatible with VOIP. This could mean every handset across a whole call centre needs to be replaced, which could be an extremely costly endeavour. If you are in this position look for VOIP providers that bundle in discounted handsets. It is often the case that a VOIP provider will reduce the cost for a prospective client to win the business.
Dependency on Internet Connection and adequate bandwidth. This is the bugbear we mentioned. Most businesses trade with at least one internet outage a month in the UK. Some locations this can be as frustrating as a weekly or daily occurrence. Normally on traditional phone line systems this would not hamper your progress, your phones still ring, and your sales agents are still able to pick up the phone and make the next sale. With VOIP if the internet connection drops then your entire phone functionality goes with it. If you know your internet connection drops out frequently it is worth upgrading your connection or if that is not possible considering a traditional telephone system.
Bandwidth is also a common issue, VOIP is data intensive and takes up bandwidth, if you rely on fast connections you must ensure your existing bandwidth is able to cope with the increased workload.
It is of vital importance you upgrade your internet connection as much as possible to ensure your VOIP system improves your business rather than present it with unwanted hurdles.
Who are the best UK VOIP phone system providers for businesses?
There are many factors to consider before choosing your VOIP phone system. What is the the size of your business? What you are looking to achieve with your VOIP system? How much you are willing to spend? Are you looking for the cheapest VOIP system or have a bigger budget to spend? Below we look at the features and services of the top 10 affordable VOIP providers in the UK.
UK VOIP Providers Comparison Table – January 2019
1. Ringcentral Office is a cloud based business phone and fax system. The combination of a hosted telephone system alongside the advanced call and fax management service makes Ringcentral ideal for businesses of all sizes. Ringcentral is highly reliable, has a stable VOIP service which is easy to use and provides many functionalities to meet your business requirements.
2. 8×8 cloud based phone system solutions have a wide range of features such as unlimited calls, text messaging, voicemails, auto attendant, hold music and many more. It is easy to use and the hosted VOIP phone system is the perfect solution for small businesses in the UK who want a speedy, hassle free phone system provider.
3. Vonage provides a reliable cloud based phone system to business worldwide. The phone system has over 40 different features that allow you to work on the go, personalise your business, provide great customer service and collaborate better with colleagues. With the Vonage for Business Hosted Cloud plan companies can rely on an affordable VOIP system that empowers business.
4. Intermedia Cloud PBX and VOIP phone system offerings are aimed at small businesses who are looking to save money on their phone services. Their offering are highly scalable and can be adjusted to meet a businesses phone system needs as they grow. Features include voicemail to email, hold music, auto attending and the ability to make international calls. Employees can connect to the system by laptop, desk phone or by smartphone either in the office or on the go.
5. Mitel provide an extensive range of voip telephone systems which are ideal for businesses of all sizes. Their industry leading solutions for call centres, cloud unified communications
Phone.com is a fantastic entry level (basic) VOIP system. It provides most of the features you would expect from a VOIP system and is price efficient. For anyone concerned about cost or managing a small business we recommend Phone.com as a great place to start.
Skype for Business
The internet giant Skype comes with a whole host of business orientated features. Giving you all the familiarity and functionality of normal skype with added juicy bits for business clients. Skype is a bit of a marmite company, some people love it, some hate it. If you love it, you will likely love Skype for business. Be wary though, Skype is not the most secure of platforms because its size attracts people trying to exploit businesses.
This is the daddy of VOIP companies if your business is already sizable. Multinational companies should definitely consider VOIPStudio as a frontrunner as it is designed to work in multiple global locations. Virtual numbers for over 50 countries and that is increasing; VOIPStudio simplifies running a multinational company. It also packs a wealth of features. This does come at a slightly higher than average premium so if budget is your primary driver it is best to look at other providers first.
There you have it, by now you should feel empowered to decide with confidence whether or not VOIP is the best phone system solution for your business. Beyond that you should also be well versed on what steps to take and how best to implement VOIP into your business. It is always important to spend the day comparing providers, make a list of their benefits and weigh up which provider will best fit your business model. You will likely be surprised at the packages available from providers especially if they know you are VOIP savvy and shopping around for a provider. The best thing to do is let them give you multiple reasons to choose them.
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