The workforce is becoming increasingly mobile and new technologies are making it easier for business owners to conduct their business from any location, at any time. Applications such as the softphone allow your business to make calls internally and externally without the need of a telephone handset. So what are the benefits of using a softphone and should you use one in your business?
A softphone consists of a piece of software that runs on your computer or mobile phone and becomes your office extension. Softphones can run over an existing IP computer network, which can be wired and/or wireless. Soft phones can connect to a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) through a LAN (Local Area Network) so that you can make and receive calls through existing telephone lines if needed.
One of the main advantages of using a softphone is that is reduces equipment costs, as a normal physical handset can often be quite pricey. In addition, call cost can be reduced if calls are made through the IP connections over a computer network, or at your businesses negotiated call rates.
Before you make your decision on obtaining a softphone for your business purely on costs, other factors need to be taken into consideration. You must first determine if your business environment is suitable for a softphone product. Is your workforce largely mobile, at the office or a combination of both? A softphone product primarily suits the following workplaces:
1. Staff working from home and the office
A softphone allows your staff at home to use the corporate features of the phone like they were at the office through a PC with the right software.
2. A mobile workforce
If you have a large sales team, a softphone allows them to make and receive calls through their computers or smart mobile phones with the correct software. A softphone provides them with the features of an office desk phone with possible reduced calls costs.
3. In bound/out bound call centres or highly telephone-centric workplaces
Customer service workplaces that are highly telephone-centric can benefit from a softphone, because multiple PCs can be set up with the phone applications without the need for handsets, resulting in cost reduction. The monitoring of inbound and outbound calls can also be enhanced with the installation of call management software on a computer system.
If your workplace falls into one of these categories a softphone may be suitable for your future business needs.
Other key advantages a softphone has over a standard phone include easy upgradability and enhanced features such as Instant Messaging. A softphone is easily upgradeable because the physical system does not need to change to a great extent. Only the software on the computer(s) needs to be updated. This can include the softphone client application, the call management software and possibly the server side software.
The advent of smart mobile phones, enhanced network security and the speed and reliability of wired and wireless networks have negated any real negatives of the use of a smartphone in a business environment.
Softphones are the viewed as the way of the future where convergence is king. As more and more applications move towards online group collaboration, softphones will be utilised as the front end for environments where instant messaging, online white board tools and video conferencing will be the mainstay and accessed from a single user friendly interface on your computer or mobile phone.
– Gerard Haliburn is the marketing executive for Allphones (www.allphonesbusiness.com.au)