VoIP Phone systems have a huge range of applications and uses for business. Whilst many feel that hosted VoIP phone systems and IP telephony is aimed at the small, medium, large and contact centre part of the business market, Saffwood Communications based in Warrington feel that home uses have much, if not more to gain. You can read more about Saffwood Communications in our about us section of the website.
I’m a home worker, do I need a VoIP phone system?
The short answer is probibly no, you won’t need a phone system if you are working alone. But many of the software elements with in a hosted VoIP phone system will be of use to you. We’ll look at the building blocks of a VoIP system in this article. But before we do that, we’ll take a look at what you need before you can start with VoIP.
What do I need to start with VoIP?
You’ll need a few things before you can start making VoIP phone calls:
A phone line – without a standard analogue phone line, you won’t be able to have broadband. As nearly 100% of businesses will need broadband services, you’re likely to already have this in place. If you need a new analogue phone line and broadband, there are lots of great offers out there. Talk Talk Business offer a great package with free line installation, unlimited broadband and line rental for only £19.50 per month on a 12 month agreement (accurate as of 01.09.14). Talk Talk are a network carrier which means they have their own network. So when you setup a new line with Talk Talk, always ask for “OnNet” traffic as you’ll be placed onto Talk Talk’s network which is less contended than BT, and typically faster too.
So now you have a phone line and broadband, what else do you need before you can make use of a VoIP phone system, or some of its elements? Next you need either a Softphone, or an IP enabled phone.
A VoIP softphone is a type of phone that is installed on your PC or MAC. Rather than having the phone or your desk, it’s an application that can either be downloaded free of charge, or paid for so that you can access some more business orientated features such as call transfer.
An IP enabled deskphone is the preferred option for many businesses as it gives you many on phone facilities such as call divert, large screen display, call pickup and transfter, as well as personal directories, missed call altert and voicemail retreival. An IP deskphone can be used as part of a VoIP phone system or a standalone line.
So is there anything else I need?
The router you have is very important to VoIP. Cheaper routers such as Technicolour do not support inbound VoIP. In some cases Draytek use the ports that VoIP want to use for firmware updates which stops the service working properly. It’s always advisable that you engage with a VoIP phone system provider such as Saffwood Communications who have offices in Warrington, London and Leicester.
Is that it?
Pretty much, you now just need to deciede who is going to supply you with your VoIP phone system or VoIP enabled phone. There are several thins to consider when choosing a VoIP provider:
1) Routing – this is important as many VoIP providers will take cheap routes overseas with SIP carriers. This means you could make a UK to UK call, but the call get’s routed to Pakistan first as it’s cheaper to enter back into the UK closer to the calling destination rather than go over purely UK SIP carriers. Saffwood Communications who hosts its own infrastructure in Warrington only uses Gold and Platimum routes. This means we take the most direct path which in turn offers crystal clear voice quality
2) Reliability & Experience – more and more businesses are trying their hand at VoIP phone systems and services. The problem here is that many of these businesses just don’t understand how VoIP works. This means they can accidentally sell you the wrong solution, a solution that won’t work for you and won’t be able to support you if you need it. With businesses entering the VoIP marketing, they may not have invested in ensuring they have backup options available if any of their hardware or carriers fail. Whist Saffwood operated its sales function out of Warrington, we have a presence in 6 UK data centres meaning if one crashes, another can instantly pickup the traffic. Saffwood are also VoIP phone system specialists which means all we offer is VoIP, as such we only do one thing, and do it better than anyone else.
Now you’ve got your equipment and have selected a reputable VoIP provider, it’s time to see how you use your VoIP phone. If you simply want an extra phone line, implementing VoIP is easy. You just plug your phone itm let it configure (Saffwood do this bit for you), and then you are ready to start making and receiving phone calls.
If you want your existing telephone number to be used for the VoIP phone system or IP enabled phone, then you have two options:
1) Forward all calls from your analogue line to your VoIP phone. This works best when you have a local call bundle from your provider so you don’t have to pay for that leg of the call.
2) Port your number. If you port your phone number to a VoIP phone system provider, then your analogue line and broadband will cease after the port. As VoIP uses broadband, you’ll need to ensure you have another broadband connection for the servie to work off.
So what features can I get now I have a VoIP phone system or IP phone?
There are a couple of software options that most business phone system and service customers want to go for. The main one is a VoIP queue.
A VoIP queue
This is a service that ensure that if you have more callers ringing your business than you have lines available to take them, the callers won’t automatically hit engaged of voicemail. The VoIP queue will greet the caller with a branded welcome to your business, then look if there are any available lines. If so, they will be called instantly and you can answer and speak to your caller. If not, the caller will be informed that they are in a queue and what their position is. As soon as you free up a line, then the caller will be placed to your phone. You can give callers options such as pressing 1 to go to voicemail, or automatically transfer them to voicemail after a certain wait time. If you calls must always be answered by a human within a certain amount of time, then you can choose to put holders to a call answer service after a certain call duration. These services will answer as your company and take a clear and detailed message.
A VoIP Auto Attendant
An auto attendant is a service that sits before the queue if you use it. An auto attendant, sometimes known as an IVR, will give a branded welcome, and then supply options, such as “press 1 for sales”. When a caller presses the option, the call can be routed to certain phones, or all phones and the option selected displayed. With an auto attendant, you can setup out of hours messages and rules to notify customers when you are in working hours.
If you are interested in a VoIP phone system, service or VoIP enabled phone, you can contact Saffwood Communications in Warrington (sales) on 0845 241 1008. Office hours are Monday – Friday 09.00 – 17.30.