Completing our two part series on VoIP phone systems for business, this article will outline the key questions you should consider when making a decision on the set up that fits your business.
Once you've gained a basic understanding of VoIP, and decided a VoIP business phone system is a viable option for your organization, how do you choose between what's on offer?
There are specific features that VoIP systems should offer that will make sense for your organization. While every organization may not need every single capacity of a robust VoIP system, here are some of the things you should expect your consultant to talk to you about in terms of capabilities of the proposed system:
Soup to Nuts, Servers to Handsets Available From the Same Provider: Any proposed system should be fully integrated across the entire range of necessary hardware and software without having to cobble pieces of systems together. It should also have expansion capability that suits the projected expansion of your organization, whether that's multi-site or linear growth onsite.
Seamless Mobile Integration: A VoIP system should be able to seamlessly integrate with your company smart phone or tablet provision or Bring Your Own Device program, both for phones and tablets. It should also be agnostic, able to work with either iOS or Android systems. The system should be able to route rings to the mobile, handset and the user's laptop or desktop computer simultaneously, so communication can occur anywhere. The user should also be able to use their mobile or tablet to manage, send, reply to or forward voicemails.
Smart Handsets: An unused phone on any desk should have the capacity for any system user to log into it and have it become their phone, with access to all their capabilities, their voicemail, their phone number, etc. This allows you to set up workstations for your road warriors or part-timers and eliminate office space that's sitting empty 90 percent of the time. The organization should be able to issue a handset to the user to travel with them, and connect into the user's laptop anywhere, or their desktop at home, in order to essentially be "in the office" no matter where the user is, with full capabilities.
Conference Calling: Conference capabilities should be secure, with user authentication built in, and there should be no time limitations on when a conference can be scheduled, to enable working across global time zones. Scheduling capabilities should include a user-friendly interface, and the ability to set up recurring conference calls. Capability to conference others on-demand into a call should also be built into the handsets and PC interface.
Global Directory: Every handset, PC and mobile user should have access to a global directory, with lookup capabilities built into the programming. The screen-based directory should give the status of each user, the ability to monitor active system calls and pick up or reroute any call as necessary using drag-and-drop capabilities.
Comprehensive Reporting and Monitoring: System administrators should be able to produce agent productivity reports, including abandoned calls, overall usage, voicemail response and archival, recorded calls, and any other usage of the system, whether it's through a mobile device, PC or handset. Operators, receptionists or individual users as necessary should be able to monitor real-time status for every handset, mobile device and line on the system.
Other features, whether standard or purchased separately should include:
- Unified Messaging: Voicemail to e-mail in one inbox.
- Call Distribution: The system should be able to handle multiple agent call distribution, including first-in, first out.
- One-Touch Recording: The ability to select one on-screen, handset or mobile button and record any call. Saving and retrieval should be user-friendly and intuitive.
- PC-Based Call Control: The drag-and-drop ability to answer a call from a laptop or desktop computer.
- Enhanced Caller ID: More than just the name and number of inbound callers, any intelligence that's available for that contact should display for incoming and outgoing calls on the PC, mobile or tablet screen.
- Backup Capability: The ability to back up all data, whether incremental or full backup, to offsite centers on a scheduled basis, including disaster recovery and failover.
- Multiple Handset Choices: Different users have different needs, from essentially a phone that just acts like a phone with minimal interactivity possible, to a switchboard-like interface with multiple programmable keys.
- Dual Language Support: The ability built into the system to offer the caller assistance in their preferred language.
Different organizations need different combinations of the above features, and there are more variations than these. But any company offering a comprehensive VoIP system should be able to provide these features.
If you need more information on the differences between consumer and business VoIP, please see VoIP & Business Phone Systems - 1 of 2 - The Basics.
If you are looking for the right IT Services provider or VoIP solution for your business, make sure you know what questions to ask when vetting your options. Download our complimentary guide 16 Questions You MUST Ask Before Hiring Any IT Company.