Excellent communication is vital to the growth and development of any business. The ability to be able to reach, customers and suppliers and vice versa is impeccable to the operation of any business.
Communications is something small businesses and start-ups often overlook during the early stages of trading, causing them to suffer later on in their business journeys. Many small businesses simply decide to operate their business via a mobile phone. Using a mobile phone may be cheap and easy but have you ever thought of the drawbacks?
- It gives the impression that you are a 1 person set up. Even if you are, do you really want the world to know this? Do you think you will be able to attract new business by announcing that you are small 1 person set up?
- Customers often lose confidence dealing with people who operate a business from a mobile. Questions start popping up like, how do I get hold of this person when their mobile is turned off? What if they rip me off, how do I find them, they could just change their mobile number?
- Also what happens when your business starts to grow and you need to employ more people? Will they be given mobile numbers too? How will customers reach them? How many mobile numbers will you give out to your customers? How will you transfer calls between staff?
VoIP provides a solution to all of the above and more. Even if you are always on the move you no longer need to be confined to your desk all day to receive calls. Below is a guide on how to choose the best VoIP Provider for your business.
- Go for a VoIP Provider that can give you a phone number that reflects your business. If you are a national business get yourself a national number e.g. 033 or 0345 number. If you are a local business make sure your VoIP Provider can you give you a phone number for your local town or city so that your customers know you are a local business based on your area code. A good VoIP Provider will be able to provide you with multiple phone numbers with any local code of your choice.
- Always get an IVR set up. An IVR in simple terms is a welcome message. For example: “Welcome to Hilary’s flowers. Please hold the line while we connect your call.” This not only sounds professional but it immediately gives potential new customers confidence that they are dealing with a professional outfit when they call you for the first time. With IVRs you also have the option to add extensions. E.g. press 1 for sales, press 2 for support etc. This gives you the scope to add extra phone lines to your VoIP system as you grow and transfer calls between extensions. Alternatively you can always have calls connected to yourself regardless of which option the customer chooses. If your VoIP Provider does not provide the facility to provide IVRs, then simply walk the other way.
- Call Divert is essential. The facility to be able to receive calls while you are on the move is essential to any small business or start up. Call divert allows you to divert all incoming calls to a landline or mobile number of your choice so that you never miss a call. Make sure you have access to a portal that allows you to do this at your convenience. No call divert? Find yourself another VoIP Provider.
- If you are not making use of Call Divert then make sure that your VoIP Provider can provide you with either a mobile app through which to make / receive calls, a physical VoIP handset or an App that works on your PC. There are many VoIP Providers out there who will simply give you log in details to their system and leave you to find your own mobile apps and hardware to configure. Steer clear as this can be tricky to set up and there can be compatibility issues with the supplier’s network. Always go with a VoIP supplier that can provide you with an all in one solution.
- One of the beauties of VoIP is the facility to plug a handset into any Ethernet / internet port, or a launch an App from any destination in the world and start making and receiving calls immediately. However there are some providers who will restrict this so that you can only make / receive calls when connected to a defined static IP address. Steer clear of such providers. Mobility and freedom is key in 2020.
- Voicemail to email. This is the facility where any voicemails left for you are delivered to your email address as a voice attachment. A very handy feature which most good VoIP Providers can give you in 2020. If they don’t then they are not the right provider for you.
- Always go with a VoIP Provider who is future proof. This means that they should be able to provide services now that you may need later. Call recording, call monitoring, time based routing, caller groups, call queuing, music on hold are all add ons that any good VoIP Provider can you give you. You may not need access to these services at the start of your business journey, but ensuring that they are available to you when needed, is a sensible step to take.
- Always look for clear and transparent pricing. Many VoIP Providers will lure you in with cheap prices but make sure you fully understand what you are getting for your money. As soon as you start building your VoIP system to match your requirements you could soon find that the £2.99 per month deal that you were sucked into is actually costing you 5 times that. If the pricing isn’t clear to start with, then who knows what other unwelcome surprises there are in the future?!
- Finally always look for good customer support and good service. Making configuration changes to any VoIP system can often be confusing and difficult. Make sure your provider is around to help and available to reach by phone so you can explain your exact requirements to them. Try and go with a company that offers a free trial so you can get a feel for their service and their products with the option to pull out if you are not happy. Also don’t forget to the read the small print, which includes the length of your contract and additional charges, such as calls to destinations which your provider may not be giving to you for free as part of a bundle.