The importance of “doing more with less” is so axiomatic on the small business landscape, that it has long-since been added to the cliché bucket; right alongside “improving customer experience” and ensuring that investments “take the shortest path to ROI.”
This isn’t so suggest that these objectives are no longer essential, because they most certainly are. Rather, it’s to acknowledge that most small business owners already grasp and accept this wisdom. In fact, they think about it all day — and sometimes, all night as well.
However, there is a qualitative difference between reflecting (or obsessing) on business truths, and translating them into practical reality. That’s where plenty of small business owners run into problems; not through lack of effort, but typically through lack of information. With apologies to Sir Francis Bacon: knowledge on the small business landscape isn’t merely power needed to succeed. It is oxygen needed to survive.
And it is to do both — survive and succeed — that a growing number of small business owners are swapping a conventional landline phone system for a lean, agile hosted VoIP solution. Here are the 7 key reasons why:
Without question, the single biggest reason that small business owners are switching to hosted VoIP is to save costs on everything due to long distance fees, pricey maintenance, technical service calls, new line installations, and trunk line rentals. While the amount saved depends on specific factors such as the number of users and what they’ll primarily be doing (e.g. voice calls, web conferences, etc.), it’s not uncommon for the annual cost savings to be in the 40 to 50 percent range. Plus, some small businesses save significant travel costs by using web conferencing to connect with prospects, customers, suppliers and vendors.
Hosted VoIP systems deploy quickly, because there are no wires to install and connect. Typically, installation can take place after hours or on the weekend, which minimizes or eliminates operational disruptions.
No IT Burden
The bane of many in-house IT professionals’ existence — and the trigger that often has them dreaming of a career change or even early retirement — is having end users complain about phone system issues. Frankly, it’s not that in-house IT professionals don’t want to be helpful; because they do. Rather, it’s that they don’t have the training — and in fact, they aren’t authorized — to go anywhere near the landline phone system, since doing so could result in a massive repair bill that isn’t covered by a maintenance plan or warranty. Mercifully, this is a non-issue with hosted VoIP, as all support — including fielding end user questions and concerns — is handled off-site. Ironically, even though IT professionals might not regularly use the hosted VoIP system, they’re often the happiest people in the company after one is purchased and installed.
Hosted VoIP phone systems “go where end users go” through a smartphone app. As such, they can make or receive calls from anywhere. And as a nice bonus, when end users make calls to customers (or anyone else for that matter) using the aforementioned smartphone app, the business name and number shows up on call display — not their personal name and number.
Superior Business Continuity
Here’s something that comes as a surprise to most people: with respect to business continuity, hosted VoIP system have a built-in advantage over landline systems. Specifically, hosted VoIP uses a geographically-dispersed cloud infrastructure, which means that if there’s a power outage where a business is located, the system will stay online and end users can continue making and receiving calls (typically through their smartphones since presumably their IP desk phones will be offline, along with everything else). This is especially important for small businesses that often need to punch above their weight class when it comes to availability and responsiveness in order to compete with large enterprises. Going off the grid for a few minutes — let alone several hours — can convince some customers that they’re better off dealing with a bigger business.
End users who show up to work and log into a hosted VoIP phone system can feel like kids on Christmas, because there are plenty of enterprise-grade toys to play with like voicemail-to-email, voicemail-to-text, auto attendant, video conferencing, and the list goes on. Many of these features are unavailable with most small business landline packages, and available only as very costly add-ons. With hosted VoIP, it’s all part of the unified communications (UC) fun.
Integrations and Innovation
Hosted VoIP phone systems are constantly being upgraded on the back end — and unlike with conventional phone systems, small business customers don’t pay the bill for this. It’s included with the license fee (which is frankly how it should be!). Small businesses can also exploit Salesforce VoIP integration to improve customer service, efficiency and sales.
The Bottom Line
Running a successful small business isn’t easy — but it can be extremely rewarding on all levels: personal, professional and, of course, profit! While hosted VoIP isn’t a magic wand, it is certainly worth exploring to see if it could help you (triple cliché alert!) do more with less, improve customer experience, and ensure their investment takes the shortest path to ROI.