stressed man on phone

Why SMEs with multiples offices should ditch fixed lines

The first technology a company invests in when they expand or move into new premises is their phone system – one of the most important avenues of communication. They are a staple in every office, but phone systems are rarely considered for investment to future-proof companies. The truth is that not many business owners are aware of what more your phone line can do for your business other than take or make calls.

Technology, even phone systems, should empower businesses to be flexible, efficient, and unbound by geographical barriers. Most SMEs have already done this for data and email systems which can be accessed anywhere, but what is the alternative to a traditional fixed line, and what more can it do for your business?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems have been used by large enterprise companies with dedicated IT departments for years. These companies have been taking advantage of a VoIP phone system’s ability to function across multiple offices, enabling free calls within the company, flexibility of location, and efficiency in hiring. An in-house VoIP phone system across multiple offices, however, requires substantial investment in equipment and specialist IT personnel to support the system, which is why it has previously only been employed by larger enterprises with the resources to do this.

Hosted or outsourced services have been a boon to SMEs. They can now implement a VoIP phone system through a hosted or outsourced service, which means they can avoid the large price tags required to maintain an in-house VoIP service.

Here are my top reasons for you to cancel your fixed line subscription and switch to a hosted VoIP phone system for your company.

1. Customers should be able to reach the right person, anytime

With hosted VoIP phone systems, business owners no longer have to think about different offices as separate entities. The phone system sits across the entire organisation, enabling companies to have just one receptionist who can then transfer calls across offices to the appropriate person. Further, plans can be put in place to transfer a call to a colleague specialising in the same area if the main person in charge is not available.

When a disaster hits, you shouldn’t just be looking at ensuring your data is accessible. Redundancy options that hosted phone systems provide mean that if your office has been hit by a flood, calls can be transferred to mobiles or another interstate office instantaneously without intervention. Some systems allow employees to simply pick up their handsets and plug them into their home internet connections – the phones (and number) will function the same way they do in the office.

Features such as ring groups and pre-determinable call flows ensure that not only does your customer not have to call multiple numbers before they reach someone, but that they always reach the right person, increasing customer satisfaction by a significant margin.

2. Decrease business operation costs

VoIP is not just about cheaper calls. With hosted VoIP there is no need for businesses to maintain the equipment that is required to run a VoIP phone system. This also means that there is no need to hire a voice specialist who has the experience to maintain and fix any problems that may occur, and as the company grows, there is no need to buy additional equipment. Most hosted VoIP providers will continually upgrade the technology involved.

Having a hosted VoIP phone system also makes hiring more efficient. Since the system sits across multiple offices in multiple states or countries, the company only needs a single reception call point, customer service line, or support line. Calls can be organised to ring several phones at once, or go through a single receptionist who can then transfer calls anywhere within the company, regardless of location. What this means for SMEs is that the company no longer has to hire two people with similar job functions in two separate locations. It also means that at the end of the month there is only one bill and one account to manage, simplifying bill processing.

3. Advanced features like the large enterprises have

Hosted VoIP phone systems come with various features, most of the without additional cost to your business. Conference calling facilities, for example, are often provided free or charge. You are provided a conference call number, logins for users and moderators, and can hold a conference call with an unlimited number of participants. These and other applications, which fixed line providers charge exorbitant fees for, are often provided with no additional cost to your monthly VoIP usage charges.

Ultimately, a hosted VoIP phone system allows you to future-proof your company. Because you can scale up or down quickly and without costly fees, there is no need to think about where your company is going to be in five years so that you can purchase equipment accordingly. Moving offices will also be less painful – most hosted providers will manage this for you so that there is no gap between your communications connection and when you physically move offices.

Your phone system should not just take calls and voice messages, it should work to create greater efficiency in all aspects of your business and create circumstances that allow you to hire the best people wherever they are located.

–Matthew Wilson is managing director of M5 Networks Australia, specialists in business VOIP.

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