A great communication system from a VoIP provider will generally have a multitude of different options that must be considered. If you’re just now venturing into the VoIP market, price is usually your first concern. Perhaps you’ve already priced a few different services. If not, you may want to check out our pricing tool. It’s likely that you realize that the ability to make voice calls is required and you probably have an idea of how much you want to spend, but you may not realize that there are certain features built into many services that can be of great value.
Features included with many VoIP services can greatly increase your communication capabilities. It is important to look at some of these features in order to determine how they could benefit your organization. Often, those that have been simply getting by using outdated technology tend to overlook the benefits of certain features that seem unnecessary when in reality, these tools may prove to be of great benefit.
No matter the nature of your business, providing clientele a tool to effectively communicate their needs will make your business more valuable. The better you communicate, the less likely it is that critical information will be overlooked, hence creating smoother transactions. In a day when competition is high, it is likely that plenty of other businesses are able to provide the exact same services as your business. At the core of customer service is communication – the cornerstone for maintaining and growing your business.
Enhancing Your Phone
Most hosted VoIP service providers will package certain features with even the most basic service plan. If you have a small business, a basic subscription may improve your ability to communicate with clients quite dramatically, especially when compared to a POTS. Though basic features may be all you need, other features that may not be included with your contract but could be worth extra expenditure.
I have compiled a short list of features that I feel are of great value to most businesses, regardless of size. Read on to discover some common and advanced features that are often used by many organizations to communicate with established and potential customers.
- Set Outbound Caller ID – Different providers may have a proprietary name for this feature, but the premise is implied in the name. With this feature, you can configure the line you are calling from to present a customizable phone number. This is very useful for companies intending to establish contact with customers in a different region of the country. Prospective clients are more likely to answer a call from an unknown local number than a long distance or blocked call. Just don’t use this feature to harass others, please!
- Call Conferencing – Call conferencing is a great tool for collaborating with others who are distributed among different regions of the country or world. Group projects or meetings where multiple perspectives must be taken into account benefit from conference calling when physically meeting isn’t an option. Most providers inherently offer a call conferencing option but the number of participants usually vary. If you need to speak with upwards of 3 parties on a regular basis, make sure the sales representative is aware of your needs.
- Softphone – A softphone is an application that behaves just like a physical phone. This can be an application used from your computer in conjunction with a microphone and speaker (possibly a camera too) for calling when using a regular landline-esque phone is not possible. A softphone that can be installed on a mobile device empowers mobile associates and can lower costs by taking advantage of your VoIP account.
- Call Forwarding – Perhaps your business adheres to strict hours of operation and communication is only necessary during business hours. For example, if you manage a small retail location, taking customer calls after-hours that pertain to simple questions which are (or at least should be) clarified by your website is not necessary. Forwarding to another line will allow you to effectively screen calls outside of normal business hours.
- Call Queuing – Having several lines is helpful, but only if you have enough staff to take calls for every line. Call queuing will place customers on hold until someone is available to speak. From a customer standpoint, it can be frustrating, as no one likes waiting on hold. However, it is much more practical than a line that continually rings or disconnects, potentially disrupting the order in which calls should be received.
- Auto-attendant – An auto-attendant is like a virtual receptionist for your business. The auto-attendant can provide callers with a menu for routing calls to an appropriate department. It can also be used to provide basic information about services.
Many different features are offered by VoIP providers so make sure to advantage of as many options as possible. Ask your prospective service provider about options that are available to you at different pricing points. You could even the test the sales rep to see if they can articulate a reason why an option would suit your needs!