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VoIP Phone Systems 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 Internet Protocol. Instead of relying on the traditional infrastructure of a telephone system, VoIP phone systems utilise the internet to connect, send and receive phone calls. A VoIP phone system can be connected using a business’ existing internet connection by way of broadband, ethernet cable or a private circuit connection.
This article aims to give you all the information you need to know to help make an informed decision about whether or not a VoIP phone system 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 whether getting a VoIP phone system is 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. Let jump straight into the top VoIP phone system providers.
Top 10+ business VoIP providers UK compared
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 makesRingcentral 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Netfortis hosted VoIP solution utilises the internet connection along with leading cloud technology to bring businesses of all sizes an affordable VoIP phone system solution. Their best in class VoIP systems include features such as call recording, auto attendant and monitoring features which are perfect for call centres.
eVoice allow you to conduct business calls anywhere conveinient with their VoIP solution. Some of the features included their phone system are access to telephone numbers with the prefix of your choice, a virtual phone number, call scheduling, call redirect and personalised voicemail greetings.
Ooma Office believe they have one of the best office VoIP phone system solutions on the market for small businesses. They pride themselves in the ease of setup to use their plug and play their VoIP system. Wit Ooma office for Wework businesses are giving a VoIP system packed with features.
Dialpad’s business VoIP systems helps your business immediately connected to a cloud based telephone system that improves business communication and efficiency.
10. Microsoft Skype for Business
Microsoft Skype for Business is one of the most popular cloud based phone system used by businesses presently. Skype comes with a whole host of business orientated features giving you all the familiarity and functionality of normal skype with added feautures for business clients. Microsoft offer flexible plans which enable businesses to integrate skype in their office365 suite of products.
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.
12. VoIP Studio
VoIP Studio provide an award winning VoIP system that is used by thousands of companies. With affordable rates they provide phone numbers for over 50 countries and packs a wealth of features into their systems.
UK VoIP Providers Comparison Table – January 2020
What are the benefits of a VoIP Telephone System for Small Businesses?
Reduced expenditure. VoIP systems are cheaper when compared to traditional business phone systems such such as a PBX (see our article on PBX here). The reason for this is if you work in an office where you make internal calls you are likely to accumulate a lot of internal call charges. Across a large company, internal calls charges can be eye-watering. Transitioning to a business VoIP system removes the internal call charges entirely as calls are made through your internet connection.
Another added advantage but not necessarily one that may be applicable is that VoIP telephone providers often bundle in free to dial codes. Such as free calls 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 business phone system the difference in functionality could be staggering. Some PBX systems are feature rich so again it is important to compare the two side by side. That being said, VoIP phone providers offers great features on their business VoIP systems often at no additional cost. Regulated businesses need call recordings more often than not nowadays and VoIP systems have the added benefit of being able to integrate with a businesses CRM to logs/records calls as required.
VoIP telephone systems also have added call management features, such as call queues, diversion and statistics. Business VoIP system features 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 UK business VoIP providers will work with you to integrate the VoIP system into your CRM. This enables businesses to improve call management and efficiency whilst keeping customer details updated. VoIP gives your 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 phone systems for small businesses can be scaled back and grow in relation to 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 the customisation you need, when you need it most.
What isn’t so great about VoIP systems?
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.
Dependency on Internet Connection and adequate bandwidth. This is the bugbear we mentioned. Most businesses trade with at a few internet outages during the year in the UK. 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 consider a traditional telephone system over ViOP until you have a reliable internet supplier.
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 phone system improves your business rather than present it with unwanted hurdles.
There are many factors to consider before choosing your VoIP phone system for your business. What is the the size of your business? What you are looking to achieve with your business 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 UK VoIP providers of 2019.
Does the Voip provider offer flexible, scalable service?
Using your VoIP service requires a working internet connection. One of the things that is important to consider when choosing between UK VoIP providers is the degree of flexibility and scalability they offer.
For example, do they offer IP service as part of the VoIP package? If so, this can save you quite a bit versus using a separate provider. Do they offer any other services you are already paying another provider for, or services you may consider picking up in the near future? Look for things like collaboration and remote working options, if these would be of any use to your organisation. Another huge benefit that VoIP providers offer is the inclusion of IP desk phones within certain packages so this is something else to look out for.
Scalability is another issue. Most providers will happily increase the number of units or services they provide you under contract, but some will refuse to reduce your agreement (and the fees associated with it) until your contract has expired.
Speed is another huge consideration for modern businesses. Just as you need internet speed can make a massive different to efficiency and productivity of a workforce, so can your VoIP phone speeds.
How financially stable is this VoIP provider?
One of the things you will want to research about UK VoIP providers before selecting one is their financial state and their business history. Have they been in business long? What do their their debt and profitability situations look like? Are they a ‘plucky new start-up’ or a ‘dependable industry titan’?
Another thing to consider is their commitment to staying on the cutting edge of an evolving technology. Will they offer upgrades to their service and equipment quickly enough to satisfy your needs?
After all, getting an amazing deal won’t do you much good if they go out of business in 6 months or are unable to offer the latest upgrades. In fact, having to suddenly seek out a new provider and new equipment could cost you a great deal, both financially and in terms of customer confidence. It never looks good when your phones get disconnected so thoroughly researching your provider is a must if you want to future proof your business.
Do they offer on-premise, hosted service or both?
This is where it pays to know what is right for your business. VoIP providers who offer hosted VoIP services typically charge little or nothing up front, but their monthly, quarterly or yearly fees sooner or later add up to quite a bit. On the plus side, they tend to be very scalable, and take care of their own IT support, equipment upgrades and other ancillary issues, which can often save organisations without their own extensive IT resources quite a lot.
On the other hand, on-premise VoIP service providers typically only ensure that your connection to the outside world is up and running. You have to maintain (and often purchase or lease) your own equipment, including the server that handles all your VoIP traffic. This tends to cost a lot more than hosted VoIP services up front, but the ongoing fees are typically much lower. In the long run, on-premise VoIP services tend to cost less, especially for larger organisations.
What is the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the system(s) they provide?
Make sure you are looking at the full, real costs (the TCO) of the system you select. The best VoIP providers in the UK can give you TCO figures, which should include the costs of training, upgrades, personnel requirements and upgrades predicted for a period of several years. These can be a great deal higher than the quoted price of the system so well worth considering before rush to invest in a modern phone system.
What disaster recovery provisions does the provider have in place?
Say you elect to use a hosted VoIP service provider. What will happen if a flood or fire wipes out their data centre, or if they are hacked? Do they have reliable, redundant back-up systems and top-of-the-line security in place? If not, that ‘good deal’ might cost you more than you think.
How deep is their SLA (Service Level Agreement)?
Read all of the small print and try to speak with some of the provider’s existing and past customers. What is their contractual obligation when something goes wrong, and do they live up to that agreement in practice?
The best VoIP providers UK-wide will often exceed their SLAs, so keep that in mind as well.
How invested is the provider in their technology and support capacity?
Ignoring the brochures, commercials, and inevitable claims of being the ‘best VoIP service in the UK’, can the provider demonstrate a real commitment to staying on the cutting edge of the technology, and backing that up with effective customer support?
There you have it, by now you should feel empowered to decide with confidence whether or not VoIP is the best phone system 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.