If you’ve been keeping up with recent developments in business communications, or are now looking into how you can improve yours, then one word has certainly been inescapable: VoIP.
This acronym crops up when reading about business phone services, video conferencing, and cloud-hosted PBX.
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But what does it stand for, exactly? How does it work? And how can you harness it to supercharge your business communications?
Keep reading to find out.
What does VoIP stand for?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol.
It describes a technology that allowed modern business telephony to move away from landlines. Unwieldy desk phones, office technicians crawling under desks, and intimidating, wire-garlanded PBX monstrosities are things of the past.
VoIP has enabled phone service providers to transition to the cloud, and to increase the reach and flexibility of their offer.
How does VoIP work?
Rather than routing signals through traditional phone lines, VoIP transfers them over the internet.
The technology detects voice signals and transforms them into digital files. These files are then broken up into smaller packages, and sent via the internet to the VoIP provider’s server. This server then routes the call accordingly, sending the digital packages on to the recipient. There, finally, the data is transformed back into audio signals.
VoIP technology is common these days. Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp calls - all these applications use it.
However, what sets business-grade VoIP telephony providers apart is their quality and reliability. HD quality calls are standard, and many providers can boast an uptime of 99.999% (‘five nines’). They do so by running multiple data centers and reserving enough bandwidth to comfortably manage even high call volumes. This way, they make sure that their customers can benefit full-time from the advantages of VoIP.
What are the advantages of business VoIP?
To begin with, flexibility and scalability are central advantages of VoIP business phone systems.
It used to take a technician and several hours to install a new line on an office PBX system when a new team member was hired. VoIP systems provide online admin panels where any number of extensions can be added at the click of a button.
What’s more, set-up, subscription, and maintenance costs for VoIP systems are far lower than those of traditional business phone solutions.
While many VoIP providers do offer desk phones, they are no longer strictly necessary. With softphone apps, you can access these cloud services on any internet-enabled device. That means your business number is conveniently available on your smartphone, computer, and tablet.
This also gives you an edge in crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses had to leave office phones unstaffed during lockdowns, dumping customers calls into voicemail. VoIP enables your team to work from anywhere - be it the office, or their porch recliner.
Finally, another massive advantage of VoIP systems is the wealth of additional features designed to boost productivity and efficiency.
What are additional VoIP features?
Most modern business phone services no longer limit themselves to voice calls.
Instead, they provide UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), another term that you might have stumbled across.
This means that a VoIP platform offers communication channels such as voice and video calling, live chat, text messaging, and email all in one place. Instead of paying for subscriptions to various services and juggling different apps and a flood of notifications, one tool can meet all of a business’s communication needs.
In addition, VoIP services offer functionalities such as advanced call management, voicemail-to-email, and find-me-follow-me to make their users’ lives easier.
Advanced call management puts you in total control of how incoming calls are handled - how they are routed, when they are put on hold, and which ones are blocked.
If someone hasn’t been able to reach you, voicemail-to-email - or voicemail-to-text - will transcribe the message they left and send it straight to your inbox, or chosen messaging platform.
Other advanced features are often AI-powered. Interactive Voice Response (IVR), for example, uses natural language processing to let callers state the purpose of their call in their own words, and then routes them to the right extension.
Some VoIP providers also offer native analytics tools powered by machine learning to give you actionable, in-depth insights into caller behavior and the performance of your team.
Finally, many VoIP services integrate seamlessly with other business platforms - from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services like Salesforce and Zoho CRM to project management and team collaboration tools like Slack and Trello.
The Bottom Line
VoIP is the future of modern business telephony. It powers high-performing, reliable, and versatile business phone services.
By finding the right VoIP service provider for your business and harnessing its power, you can streamline processes, supercharge communications, and increase your efficiency.
In short, VoIP business phone services are an invaluable asset in navigating today’s uncertain business world with flexibility and resilience.