What’s the Best VoIP System for a Business with Multiple Office Locations?
We discuss the best VoIP phone systems for businesses with multiple office locations.
Modern business needs are a tricky thing to pin down. What works for one company might not work for another, and what works at one business’s location, might not be applicable or practical for another office on the other side of town.
Point being, there is no perfect cover-all solution for every business out there. This is particularly true when it comes to communication methods—and especially phone systems. We often speak to prospective businesses with multiple locations, and they almost always want to know one thing up front: What’s the best system for me?
Unfortunately, as you’ll see below, there is no cut-and-dried answer. Instead, the best thing is to sit down, to discuss the wants and needs of a particular business or office location, and to logically walk through the process of selecting the best VoIP system for that particular business’s location.
VoIP Phone Systems for Multisite Businesses
When discussing businesses with multiple locations, we’re typically dealing with one or more of the following:
- Large retailers
- Medical offices with expanded footprints, such as physical therapists, dentists, primary care physicians, and more
- Law firms with multiple regional, national, or international locations
- A multisite distributor with multiple pick-up locations
- Nonprofits with geographic coverage for programs
When dealing with these kinds of organizations, we always give the same answer regarding the best VoIP phone system for their businesses: it depends.
The most important thing to discuss up front is the day-to-day needs to operate. What are the business’s goals? What do they need out of a communications system?
The good news is this: compared to years ago, it’s a much better time for multisite businesses to look into VoIP. VoIP, after all, works in any location with an Internet connection. Years ago, offices with multiple locations needed multiple phone systems with expensive modules and expensive lease options, making one unified communications network confusing, costly, and difficult to maintain. With VoIP, you’re using Internet technology, and you don’t need to rely on antiquated infrastructure.
How to Determine the Best VoIP System for Your Business
When we speak with new customers, we typically talk about five specific issues that can help pinpoint the best VoIP phone system for their specific operations.
- When calling businesses with multiple locations, can you transfer the call to another office?
Here’s a quick real-life example. I tried to call my physical therapist the other day, so I did a quick Google search for the number and found multiple listings for the various locations. I was trying to reach my physical therapist, but I called the wrong office. Lo and behold, the receptionist didn’t have the availability to transfer me to the right location. Since I was driving, I didn’t want to hang up and do another Google search, and I couldn’t easily write down the number she gave me. Not ideal.
The ability to easily transfer calls between locations is not only convenient for the customer but also for the business.
Additionally, being able to transfer calls easily between locations means your customers are guaranteed to get connected to the right person. This means no missed revenue because the customer gets distracted and forgets to call back. Even if the customer initially calls the wrong location or facility, you’re still guarantee to be connected with that customer—every time.
Here’s another example. A high-end medical boutique was getting busy signals at each office when they needed to talk to the other locations. When the customer (or even coworkers) called in, they couldn’t get connected. So, we set up an intercom system between locations, allowing offices to interact cohesively, and this freed up outside lines from internal traffic. This was a huge time-saver whenever employees communicated, and it also enhanced the company’s overall level of communication.
The other perk of easily being able to get in touch with other offices or coworkers at different locations is the ability (depending on the system) to tell if that person is currently on another line. This means you can let the customer know ahead of time if the person is busy, instead of blindly transferring someone.
The overall benefits of easily talking to multiple office locations are reducing call traffic and saving time. Since time is money, you’re talking about real costs savings simply by being able to communicate better.
- How many phone lines does your entire company have?
When switching to a VoIP phone system, the consolidation of toll-free lines and local analog lines means big financial savings. When your traditional phone system was installed, it was set up based on the perceived maximum amount of phone calls. So, if you imagined you could have five people calling at once, then you had five lines installed.
With VoIP, you completely eliminate the need for multiple lines at each office location. You work off a consolidated or pulled set of lines, regardless of the number of locations.
That efficiency alone drives down cost by a factor of 40 to 50 percent. Again, just by switching to VoIP, you can expect serious cost savings.
- Do you have regional or floating managers?
If you’re a “floating manager” working with a traditional phone system, your extension doesn’t “float” with you. With VoIP, you can ring to mobile devices or apps on mobile devices or computers. Depending on the phone hardware you’re using, you can even log in to phones themselves.
We call that feature “hoteling.” It gives you, the user, the ability to log into any phone as your own personal extension. Hoteling is becoming more common in today’s work culture because of how the modern office is changing and because of the incredible flexibility VoIP phone systems offer. Imagine you worked from home three days a week. On those days, you could log in to a workstation at the office. The phone might not be at your same physical location every week, but your contact information (direct inward dialing, voice mail, and more) would follow you.
This feature allows employees to stay connected, regardless of where they’re working. Your contacts and voice mails are always available, whether you’re working from your home office, on the road, or anywhere else your job takes you.
- Do you need, or anticipate the need for, on-demand rollover options?
One of our customers had a main location with several satellite offices. These, in turn, serviced local contractors, with whom customers could put in orders for various products. As you can imagine, when these offices were busy and all their phone lines were tied up, the customers weren’t happy.
Our solution was to enable a sort of on-demand rollover, meaning if one location was busy, the customer’s call would be routed to another location. This enabled the business to take that customer’s order.
The availability of “overflowing,” or integrating call groups between multiple locations, can be crucial. It means, if one location is busy with calls or is short staffed, the rest of the operation can support.
The other added perk is you can avoid shuttling staff between locations due to a sick day. Rather, the other locations can simply pick up the calls instead of having to ship a staff member to a different remote office location.
- What level of administrative access is necessary?
On the administrative side, if someone has an internal IT department or just wants ease of access to his or her own system, VoIP offers instant and easy flexibility to manage calls during Internet or power outages.
For more in-depth information, check out the following articles:
- What happens to my VoIP phone systems during a power outage?
- What happens to the VoIP phone system at my business if the internet goes down?
As one example, we recently worked with a doctor’s office that experienced a power outage. We easily rerouted calls after quickly changing some settings in the admin portal of the VoIP phone system via the Internet. If that customer had been on a traditional phone system, this would have been much more complicated and taken a lot longer.
The calls were routed to a customized greeting since the doctors couldn’t see patients because of the power outage. Alternatively, they could have sent calls to another office, to voice mails, to cell phones, and more—all by easily changing settings within the online administrative portal. There’s no time wasted calling into a carrier to ask for changes to your system because the online portal makes managing every office and user easy via any connected device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
So, What’s the Best VoIP System for Your Business?
Simply put, there is no “best” system for everyone. While these five questions are vital to ask any multisite operation, there are still many other factors to consider.
Your best bet is to get in touch with a knowledgeable local VoIP provider with experience in your industry, and find out what works best for their existing customers who have needs similar to yours.
To learn more about how to implement a VoIP phone system at your multisite business and the various ways it can help your company, click here to contact us online, or give me a call at (908) 378-1217.
By Damon Finaldi
President, Tele-Data Solutions
E-mail: [email protected] | Direct Line: (908) 378-1217
I’m the general manager at Tele-Data Solutions. I love helping my customers and creating the best working environment for my team members to grow and to thrive. I grew up with the telecom business and have seen the evolution of phones—from the analog world to IP—and the huge positive impact it can have on a business.