Voice-over-Internet Protocol, commonly known as VoIP, is a communication system that simultaneously delivers voice and multimedia communications over an internet connection.
VoIP phone systems work by taking analog audio signals, such as a phone conversation, and turns the information into a digital format or data that can be communicated through the Internet. This technology is equivalent to converting a vinyl record into a CD, or importing it into iTunes.
Although this technology has been around for some time, it has recently become more popular due to the growing reliability of broadband services. VoIP’s system flexibility has also had a hand in making this communication upgrade so popular. Its many features help make businesses more effective and productive. One of the main points of appeal in VoIP systems is its low cost. Since no extra phone lines are needed, VoIP can be used with already existing internet connections.
There are three types of VoIP services.
1. ATA – The Analog Telephone Adaptor is a device that allows the connection between a standard analog home or office phone and a computer that has Internet connection. Requiring little if any setup, ATA systems are popular and common.
2. Computer-to-computer – Phone calls can also be made from one computer to another by using inexpensive software options. The only requirements for this type of IP calls are the software installation, microphone and speakers, a sound card, and reliable access to the Internet. Other than the ISP fee, and the initial software, there are no other charges to this type of connection.
3. IP Phones – IP Phones are VoIP specific equipment that can connect directly to the Internet. This connection is made through an RJ-45 Ethernet connector, instead of the standard RJ-11 phone connectors. These phones are connected to a router and include all the hardware and software required for an IP call. Wi-Fi IP Phones allow callers to make VoIP calls from Wi-Fi hotspots.
All three types of VoIP services stand out because of their low cost, however, IP Phones are systems that are able to go the extra mile due to the many features that can be incorporated into the equipment. If you’re still wondering if VoIP is a good fit for you, you might want to take a look at some very useful features available in VoIP systems.
VoIP’s 10 Coolest Features
- Find Me – Follow Me Call Routing
VoIP has the ability of forwarding calls to a mobile phone. This feature is especially helpful if the line of work requires you to be away from your desk, but still be able to receive work calls. The phone system can be set up to ring a couple of times in the office before forwarding the call to the cellular phone. Call forwarding can be set up in such a way that the call is sent to different places (office, mobile, home) before reaching voicemail.
- Call Forwarding
A simple forwarding to the number of your choice. Calls are recieved directly to a device other than the desktop phone.
- Voicemail to Email Transcript
This feature transcribes voicemail messages to text and sends them to a preferred email address. The transcribed message can also be sent to a mobile phone as a text message, making this feature very useful when in a meeting or unavailable to pick up the phone.
- Voicemail to Email mp3
As a similar feature, voicemails can also be set up to be received as an mp3 file on an email account making your messages accessible from any Internet accessible device.
- Listen-In and Coach Feature
There are two features that can become helpful when training new employees and reviewing performance in customer service. (1) Listening in on employees and clients without interruption, (2) With the ‘coaching’ tool it is possible to provide guidance and suggestions to an employee while on a call, without the client being aware of the intrusion. This can help avoid a disaster clean-up after the call.
- System Flexibility
With VoIP systems, there is no need to anticipate the growth of a business at the installation stage. VoIP system installation is easy and allows for the addition or removal of extensions and phone lines, depending on the growth and needs of a business.
- Auto attendant
A useful feature to improve efficiency in a business is called auto attendant, which allows callers to choose the appropriate extension through interaction with a menu.
Used sometimes as a marketing tool, mp3-on-Hold allows the use of mp3 files instead of the common elevator music when the caller is put on hold. Some of the options for this feature could be a simple hello, sales, company information, or the latest One Direction single.
- Do not disturb
This feature can temporarily stop incoming phone calls to an extension or line to leave the user undisturbed. Working alongside call forwarding, this feature can be programed so that it doesn’t ignore calls, but rather re-directs them to an available destination.
Enhanced 911 is a service that can be included in VoIP packages, allowing the emergency system to store personal information like name and address on file so the local dispatch center can immediately provide assistance.
Clearly VoIP technology is spearheading the future of how businesses communicate. With its low cost implementation, maintenance, and system flexibility it allows businesses, both big and small to move forward with mobility and automation tools.
Interested in learning everything a VoIP phone system can do? Click here to download a sample equipment User’s Guide.