There are many advantages to making the switch to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems for small businesses, so the decision about whether to make the switch is easy for most business owners to make. Choosing the right provider can be a challenge, though. Making an informed choice requires a careful analysis of which features each service provider offers, how much those features cost, and how scalable the systems are. Read on to find out about six of the most essential VoIP features small business owners should look for when choosing a phone service.
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This feature makes it possible for small business owners to cut down on costs associated with hiring full-time receptionists. Just like a receptionist, the auto attendant feature greets callers, screens calls, and uses voice prompts to route the calls to the right member of the team. Auto attendants help to meet small business phone needs, but they also cut down on operational costs and increase customer satisfaction ratings.
Keep in mind that most customers and clients don’t want to get stuck navigating endless voice prompts, though. Set up the auto attendant to ask a few questions as possible to ensure that the call gets forwarded to the right employee. This will save time and resources without decreasing customer satisfaction rates.
Voice to Email Transcription
Growing a small business already takes both time and energy, so few business owners and employees have the time to check their voicemail as frequently as they should. That’s where voice to email transcription comes in. This feature will automatically convert messages into text and forward them to employees’ inboxes.
Decreasing the time employees must spend listening to voicemails and furiously writing out names and contact information by hand isn’t the only advantage of voice to email transcription. It also allows employees to keep their messages organized. Once they’ve been converted into email form, employees can file, organize, search, and delete these messages as needed, which just wouldn’t be possible if they’ve been stuck listening to traditional voicemail.
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Also referred to as remote extensions or virtual numbers, this feature of VoIP systems allows business owners to have calls forwarded to mobile phones. When someone calls a remote extension and nobody picks up, the system will route the call to a voicemail system separate from the employee’s personal voicemail. While all small businesses can benefit from having virtual extensions, this feature is even more beneficial for businesses that have remote employees.
It looks more professional if companies have just one number their customers, clients, and business associates can call instead of a separate number for each employee. Plus, few employees want to use their personal phones to conduct company business. Virtual extensions allow business owners to avoid the expense of buying each of their employees a separate phone.
Call screening allows business owners and employees to check the caller’s number prior to picking up so they can choose how to treat the call. It goes beyond traditional caller ID, though. Call screening allows employees who receive personal calls at work to redirect the calls to their cell phones, while others who are convinced they are receiving telemarketing calls can simply disconnect them.
VoIP call screening tools can also be set up to show more than just the number. This feature will also allow the employee to check the caller’s name and if the company has a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, they can also pull up customer records on the spot.
Some companies use video conferencing regularly to keep in touch with their remote employees, while others only use it on rare occasions to schedule virtual meetings with far-off business associates. Video calls are also becoming more popular all the time among consumers. Depending on their customer demographics, some businesses may benefit from being able to place video calls to their customers or clients.
Most conversations with customers and business associates can be held over the phone, but things like negotiations or dealing with sensitive issues are best accomplished using video conferencing. Plus, video conferencing allows remote workers or those who are away from the office on business to participate fully in essential meetings so they won’t have to worry about whether they’re missing out.
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Customizable Hold Music
Few customers or clients enjoy being put on hold, but sometimes it’s necessary. Today’s business owners don’t need to choose between standard hold music, which is tacky and repetitive and leaving their customers in total silence. Instead, those who use VoIP systems can set custom tunes that reflect the unique personalities of their businesses or cater to what they think their customers might want to hear.
This may sound minor, but it’s not. The right hold music will improve customer satisfaction rates, making it easier to turn average customers into loyal brand enthusiasts and preventing potential customer service disasters. Plus, most callers will be much friendlier with receptionists and employees and more receptive to their offers if they haven’t spent the past 15 minutes listening to generic elevator music.
The Bottom Line
The six features described above are just a few of many available to small business owners who switch to VoIP phone systems. Other noteworthy features include electronic faxing, extension dialing, repeat dialing, remote office features, sequential rings, three-way dialing, time-based routing and scheduling, and more.
The problem for most small business owners aren’t deciding whether to install a VoIP phone system. There are just so many advantages when making the switch that most business owners consider it an easy decision. The challenge comes when those owners must evaluate their options.
Ensuring that the provider offers access to all the features listed above and other essentials like call blocking and extension-to-extension dialing is the first step toward choosing a stellar provider. Business owners shouldn’t stop there, though. They should also look for a company that offers exceptional customer service, competitive pricing, an excellent reputation, and solutions that are tailored to small business owners’ needs so they can stick with the same VoIP phone service as their companies grow and thrive.