It is more important than ever to be connected to the office. In the past, this has meant an assortment of gadgets, and too often, an improper balance of home and office life. Business VoIP services allow you to get work done more efficiently by managing the most important resource you have: your own time and attention. The exciting new features of Voice over Internet Protocol for business allow you to digitize, customize, and optimize your telephony experience.
Business VoIP providers offer many services and features that allow you to work when you want to, where you want to. Call forwarding is not new, but with business VoIP services, it’s easy to set up a phone to reach you, not just call a number. One common feature is called “find me/follow me.” Instead of having separate numbers for your office, cell phone, and home office, you have one “virtual extension.” You can program the virtual number to ring all of your phones simultaneously, or in order, and how to handle a missed call. You can decide if you want a call to go to voice mail, or to someone else’s extension. The virtual extension also works on outgoing calls as well. When you make a call using your VoIP service, the receiving caller ID will show your number, regardless of which device you are calling from.
On the other hand, there are times when you wish to not be disturbed. With business VoIP services you can set your preferred level of availability, and change it throughout the day. You can easily set up your phone to automatically go to voice mail or go to someone else entirely. And unlike old phone systems, you can set special rules. Let’s imagine you are in your office, and you have very important work to do, and you don’t want to be disturbed by anyone…except your sweetie. You can set a rule that every call goes to voice mail except calls from home.
Once you’ve got all those voice mails piling up, it’s time to check your messages. Before business VoIP, you’d have to listen to each message, write down the number of the caller (or hope it’s saved on your caller ID), and you’d have to manually erase each saved message once you’re done. There are a number of features that business VoIP providers can give you to make something as simple as checking your voice mail even simpler. With Voice Mail Transcription, also called speech-to-text, you can read the message instead of listening to it. Let’s say a client calls you about a fax he needs, and leaves the fax number on the message. With a few clicks that fax number is in your MS Outlook address book; a few more click and you can send a PDF as virtual fax to that number.
Not only is it easy for people to reach you, business VoIP services make it easy for you to communicate with others, both within your own company, and to existing and potential clients. Nearly every business VoIP provider provides unlimited nationwide minutes and dozens of call features, but that’s just the beginning—the real value of VoIP is the services you simply can’t get with traditional telephony.
When you think of a webcam, you probably think of those little cameras on top of your laptop. Business VoIP web cams have high definition video. The software that controls these cameras can automatically zoom in and focus on the person who is speaking, just like a TV show. You can have a virtual meeting with a colleague in Tokyo as easily as you can have a meeting in Topeka, with the same low cost and the same high quality.
There are times when you don’t need a big meeting; you just want to call your colleague. It’s pretty common to have satellite offices, or have telecommuters. A “hosted PBX” is an internal network, not just for one office, but across the entire company. With a hosted PBX, every worker has a phone extension, and whether you want to reach Des Moines or Dubai, just dial up that extension and you’re connected. You even get an automated attendant to ask callers which extension they want.
Your smartphone gets a whole lot smarter with the addition of an app from your business VoIP provider. By using your provider’s app, you use your cellular data network, or a Wi-Fi connection, saving you money by not using up your cell phone minutes. But, as I said before, free minutes is just the beginning. When you use your VoIP app, your phone becomes a miniature office. Not only can you check your messages, when you make a call from your VoIP app, your outgoing caller ID reads as your extension, not your cell phone number.
Let’s imagine a situation that ties everything together. You have an important presentation coming up for an important client, which you will do over videoconferencing. You need time to make the final preparations, so you set a rule that most calls go to your counterpart on your satellite office in another state, except for a few numbers that go directly to your voice mail. Your presentation goes beautifully, and you walk to your local coffee shop before getting back to work. You check your mailbox from your smartphone, and you skim through the transcribed messages. You see one call that can’t wait, so you call your sweetie, and use the shop’s Wi-Fi instead of your cell phone minutes.
That’s only a handful of the thousands of VoIP advantages and features available when making the switch to Voice over Internet Protocol. Which business VoIP provider is right for you?