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The Pros & Cons of VoIP Phone Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

The Pros & Cons of VoIP Phone Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

We discuss the pros & cons of VoIP phone systems for small to medium sized businesses.

When you own a business it’s vital to understand every risk you take, and carefully calculate each and every one of them. Whether it’s changing office locations, buying or leasing a new company car, or upgrading your communications system, understanding the issues and challenges behind each and every risk you take is necessary to keep your business in the green.

When it comes to phone technology, the same concept applies. Many of our customers want to know the pros and cons of VoIP phone systems for their small to medium sized businesses. This makes sense because of course everyone wants to hear the good stuff, but how bad is the bad stuff going to be?

This is something we see and hear a lot, so we’ve been able to not only identify many pros & cons of VoIP phones systems for businesses over the years, we’ve also been able to help numerous businesses decide when it’s a good (or bad) idea to make the switch to a VoIP phone system. So, just like how we discuss these with our many happy customers, let’s go over the pros and cons of a VoIP phone system for small to medium sized businesses.

The Pros & Cons of VoIP Phone Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

Simply put, your phone system is your biggest asset or greatest liability. When it’s working great, your customers can hear you like you’re sitting in the room next to them. When things aren’t working so well, it can sound like you’re underwater talking on a tin can. Like we always say, nothing’s wrong with a VoIP system if everything’s done right. So, why do people, aside from if a VoIP system is setup wrong and doesn’t work, dislike VoIP?

The Cons of VoIP Phone Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

It’s A Change

Some people HATE change. We’ve seen it before numerous times. We’ve rolled out brand new, user friendly systems that are easier to use, cheaper, and overall better than traditional phone service, and someone we’re training just isn’t feeling it. They’re standoffish, and despite our best efforts, just don’t like adopting to a new system.

Changing Carriers

The process (as you can imagine) of leaving someone like Verizon or Comcast isn’t always easy. It requires time and paperwork to get your existing phone number ported over to our service, and sometimes it can be a real pain. Literally you’ll need to be involved and do some work in order to switch over to a voip phone system, which means time spend away from doing your work, and also possibly some headaches.

New Hardware & Training

Sort of similar to the idea that people hate change, but more along the lines of learning and adopting new technology. This is a new system, with new technology, that does require a certain level of training to get up to speed with. This goes double if your old system is OLD since there is going to be a large training component up front.

Regardless, your employees need to learn the system, and quite frankly some either can’t (or like above, don’t) want to adapt to the new system. We see younger staff members (think millennials) jump all over the technology because they know it represents flexibility, mobility, and the future. We see older staff members brush it off and ingore some of the great features VoIP has to offer to small and medium sized businesses.

Issues With Your Network Infrastructure

When you’re engaging with your infrastructure, you don’t know what you don’t know. If things haven’t’ been designed properly, and you don’t know until you dig deep, you’re going to find issues that NEED to be resolved in order for VoIP to work at your location.

When we first come into an office we complete what we call either a Site Assessment or a VoIP Readiness Assessment. During this phase we almost always find some sort of network issue. Most businesses have their electrician run cabling, or someone within the organization who sort of gets networks set everything up. We find issues with things like

  • Hardware selection
  • Cabling issues
  • Network room problems
  • Power requirement issues
  • HVAC issues
  • Networks not being labeled
  • Improper termination
  • Low voltage cabling not terminated properly

Long story short, people don’t want to know they have an ugly baby, but when we go in we’re unfortunately left telling the business their baby is, well, ugly. This can sometimes cause either internal staff members (IT or otherwise) to get defensive at the least, or have to hire a new IT firm for network issues at the worst case scenario.

The Pros & Cons of VoIP Phone Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

 

The Pros of VoIP Phone Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

Enough with the bad, what’s good about a VoIP phone system?

Marketing Opportunities

No, not telling people you’re using VoIP, but for any business that do any kind of marketing with tailoring phone numbers for whatever reason. In the past you were not able to (easily) tailoring phone numbers for marketing purposes. With VoIP, you have the ability to create endless numbers of phone numbers and use them for marketing campaigns for hard ROI dollars on any kind of marketing efforts.

This is great for car dealers, or exploring new office locations, since you can guage the amount of people calling one number versus the other. You can actually allocate the correct funds for the campaigns that actually work! Before, your efforts relied on expensive and costly 3rd party software options, or using companies to gather this information.

Mobility & Ease of Use

This is a HUGE benefit! You can use and take your VoIP system with you as you please.

On the mobility side, you can do any of the following:

  • Take your physical phone off site to another office or home for use.
  • Download mobile apps for smartphones allowing your cell to act like your desktop phone.
  • Install softphones on computers, again making your device act like a desktop phone.

This means that wherever you are, you’re connected to the business like you’re siting in the office.

Also, unlike difficult to use telecom systems of the past, VoIP phone systems are a breeze to use. You, as the end user, can actually access and manage your network simply from any device connected to the internet. You don’t need a certification to use or manage your own system. While yes, it does take training, you don’t need to rely on a ‘phone guy’ to get your system to do what it wants for you. In the past you’d need to be fully certified by the manufacturer to understand and know how to work the backend of the system. Instead, now you can spend a few hours of simple training and you’ll be the master of your own system. It’s not necessarily a DIY completely, but it’s certainly a lot more intuitive than the old systems. Even companies who aren’t overly tech savvy say it’s very user friendly!

The Pros & Cons of VoIP Phone Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

Some things are both good and bad, and do need to be called out specifically.

VoIP is 100% Reliant on the Internet

Your system is 100% dependant on the internet. While ISP’s have gotten better, especially in the northeast, over the last decade or so, you’re still placing all your faith in the internet and your internal network.

Regardless of how your internet & network are set up, your underlying calls are affected if there’s an issue. Even installations that are done 100% by the book can still have random problems at some point.

But conversely, since you’re on the internet, you’re a lot more reliable and flexible. You are (to some employees dismay) always available anywhere you are. Plus, unlike phone lines, you can have multiple failover or fallback options to alleviate any potential issues. Meaning, that despite the fact you’re placing all your faith in the internet, you’re actually using a more reliable telecom system. There are various options and tools available to make sure you are literally always connected and available.

Increased Accountability

Just like the internal IT guy who’s not happy about finding out about his ugly baby, VoIP provides an increased level of accountability for everyone on the system.

Simply put, there’s a lot of analytics available out there for anyone to easily use. Your staff members can’t dodge phone calls anymore, which is great, but is also going to show your employees true colors. Reporting allows people to see the information tied directly to your phone. Who you’re calling, when you’re calling, there’s the option for recording calls, etc. From a manager’s perspective, you’re getting information to make good decisions.

But, be careful what you wish for! If you don’t want to be monitored, you’re suddenly going to be put under the microscope. Keep this in mind!.

Is a VoIP phone system right for your small to medium sized business?

I’m biased, but to me the answer is always yes! From what I know about VoIP phone systems, any small to medium sized business could easily benefit from the increased features and costs savings that come from using a VoIP phone system. To learn more about VoIP phone systems at your business click here to contact us onlineor touch base with us at 908-481-1200.

By Mark Johnson
Director of Operations, Tele-Data Solutions
E-mail: mark@tele-datasolutions.com | Direct Line: (908) 378-1203
I’m responsible for the daily operations of Tele-Data Solutions, and I’m proud to bring over ten years of experience to this position. I’m all about building relationships with my clients and applying technical expertise to solve their problems. I currently live in Basking Ridge with my wife, Linda, and our twins.