The new cloud based VoIP phone system is undoubtedly becoming the standard means of feature rich communications for all sorts of businesses, enterprises and organisation. And why shouldn’t it be? If VoIP implementation is done correctly, then a VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol phone system has tremendous potential to significantly improvise on the existing communication technology and cutting down on costs at the same time.
In spite of this long list of benefits, many small business owners are pretty hesitant or reluctant to opt for this cloud based phone system. Some brave businessmen who have tried and failed at successful VoIP implementation have lived on to tell their horror tales to their peers and friends.
It is true, the VoIP system can come across as a little complicated at first. However, with the right knowledge and a strategically sound plan for successful VoIP implementation, one can unleash its tremendous potential and use it to propel their business. To set up your VoIP system and use it correctly, consider the following factors before you start.
1. Chalk out your needs and create a plan
Might sound a little far fetched, but you need a solid project plan for successful VoIP implementation. Every business is unique and has different needs and requirements. Thus, you cannot trust the words of another when it comes to choosing a VoIP system for your business.
Your project plan should include a clear cut budget and all the utilities and implementations of the new VoIP system that you plan to install. Determine how many lines you will need and how much it will cost you. Another thing that you need to figure out is what features you plan to include. The VoIP phone system offers a wide range of features and it is really easy for someone to get carried away and purchase features that he does not really need.
Thus, you need to carefully study and plan what you need and what you don’t so as to cut down on unnecessary expenditure.
2. Make sure your network is VoIP ready
An internet connection is literally the only thing that you require for a cloud based VoIP phone system. But any layman internet connection is not sufficient to support heavy internet calls.
Before installing a VoIP system, you need to check to make sure that your internet speed is fast enough to facilitate seamless calling and all your network equipments are up to date and in top class working condition. For successful VoIP implementation, you need to carefully assess your network connection and upgrade it to make it VoIP ready.
It is better to take professional help for proper evaluation. It should be an all round assessment of all your equipments and your connections that look at various aspects like speed, stability, capacity, etc. After the evaluation, you may realise that your business needs a second internet connection or replace some of the old equipments to support the new VoIP system.
3. Install a second internet connection as a back up plan
If not for the extra speed and connectivity, you must install a second internet connection for the sake of a back up option. Think of it as a generator for emergency purposes in case the power goes out. Without the internet, your entire VoIP system will shut down and all communications will be cut off. In case your primary internet connection goes down for some reason, your back up will automatically kick in and save the day.
When choosing a second internet connection, you need to make sure that you go for a different service provider. It should also use a different channel if possible. Taking two connections from the same provider essentially defeats the purpose of a back up connection because if one goes down the other will be down too.
After all, a business cannot afford to go off the grid for a couple of hours. Remember, every missed call is a missed business opportunity.
4. Research, study and evaluate prospective choices before choosing your service provider
This is an extremely important step. You must ensure that you choose the correct service provider for your business else you can ruin your entire VoIP experience. Thus, for the best VoIP implementation, you should first shortlist a bunch of well known service providers and then study them thoroughly before coming down to one.
But how do you go about the process of eliminating and narrowing down the list? Well, you can start by asking a bunch of VoIP and service related questions to your prospective service providers. Depending on their answers, you will be able to figure out which providers best suits the needs of your business.
Some things that you must consider while going about this process are the reputation and market value, their expertise on the VoIP system or their years of service, their customer support features and last but not the least, the prices and features that they offer.
Only after thoroughly evaluating these factors should you seriously consider any VoIP service provider. Keep in mind, the future of communication and customer service of your business is dependant on this decision.
5. Make sure that you get QoS (Quality of Service) on your network
Fuzzy phone lines and choppy call conversations are not going to bag any customers for you. You need to maintain the quality of your outgoing and incoming calls even after switching over to the VoIP phone system. Since VoIP calls are internet based and do not use the traditional network channels as your old phone did, you need to implement something called Quality of Service (QoS) on your network for good quality call audio.
Now the next question that will come to your mind is what exactly is QoS? It is nothing but a mechanism that prioritises certain packets of data traffic over other sets of data traffic. Thus, high priority packets are given preference and their information reaches the destination much quicker and within an allocated period of time.
You must now be wondering what this has to do with VoIP calling. Well, VoIP calls are also fundamentally small data packets. When you implement QoS, these data packets are given high priority which significantly improves the flow of data which in turn gives a high quality audio output.
Using QoS to prioritise your VoIP calls is extremely important for successful VoIP implementation. It reduces the chances of call drops as well as choppy or jittery audio quality. This is one of the many factors that contributes to a seamless VoIP calling experience.
6. Pay close attention to the security of your network
For achieving a successful VoIP implementation, securing your VoIP network is very important. Since VoIP calls are routed through the internet, they are somewhat exposed to hackers and other criminals who might hack into your system and gain unauthorised access to confidential business information. If your business VoIP communication system is compromised, it will greatly cost your company.
To make you fully aware of the need for a good, secure VoIP network channel, let me chalk out a scenario for you. Someone hacks into your phone system and illegally gains access to all your communication logs and phone conversations. Over a period of a few weeks or months, they can gather a lot of intel on your business. They can then use your own strategies to turn your clients against you and plot to throw you out of the market. Meanwhile, you will continue to use your phone system without any clue of what is really happening.
This does not mean that VoIP phone systems are not safe! It is as safe as any other internet platform you use. However, keeping in mind what is at stake, you must take some extra security measures in order to maintain your privacy. If you choose the right service provider, most of the extra security work will already be done by them. You can also use an SIP proxy or a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to secure your phone calls.
7. Be sure to do several test runs before you switch over to your new phone system
After all the above steps are done and your VoIP system is all set up and ready to use, you must do a couple of test runs before you connect to your customers. Make sure that all parts of your new VoIP phone system is working properly. Try out all the features and ensure that you know how to use them properly. If you installed new hardware, get familiar with its settings and buttons.
When you are familiar with the set up, you should then start testing the call quality. Check to see if the calls are connecting correctly and that the person on the other of the line can hear you properly. While you are on call, also listen for any disturbances in the form of echoes or jitters that may occur. Test the quality of the audio that you are receiving and also the call speed and connectivity.
In case you come up with any complaints or queries, be sure to take it up with your service provider and resolve it before you start using the system on a day to day basis. For a good VoIP implementation, it is important that you fully understand each and every features and know how to operate the system.
Thus, it is not the VoIP phone system that is inefficient or not up to the mark. Most users fail at successful VoIP implementation and then later blame the phone system. Correct VoIP implementation is a must for proper utilisation of its features and extracting its full worth.
Follow the above steps while setting up your VoIP system to get a shot at great user experience. I am not saying that these steps will lead to a problem free VoIP experience, some issues are bound to pop up. However, it will help you avoid common issues faced by most users and enhance your VoIP experience.
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