The debate between landlines and cloud telephony is over. Most businesses have converted or soon will be converting to Hosted VoIP for their business phone service. Whether your small business is located in Kansas City or New York City, traditional phone companies continue to increase the pricing on analog landlines, which only fuels the exodus. Manufacturers of phone systems are discontinuing systems that are analog based in favor of VoIP phone or VoIP enabled phone systems. Soon, it will be difficult to find replacement parts or phones and receive repair or maintenance services on analog-based phone systems.
If you're running a business that is still utilizing an analog phone system, you are obviously maximizing your return on investment. However, you may be finding that with your phone service plan price increases and your rising cost of service and repair, your monthly savings by moving to Hosted VoIP will provide a quick return on the new investment.
You also may be very busy running your business and any thought of changing over your phone system may create stress and wasted cycles. Rest assured as there are ways to create a no-stress conversion to Hosted VoIP.
Find the Right Provider
It all starts with finding the right provider, as a successful selection will help make all other conversion actions (or steps) go well. There are many options for your consideration, but for a stress free experience, consider going with a local provider. Such a provider will:
- Be more familiar with your business and the community you both serve. They can visit with you face to face and get to know your expectations and requirements.
- Deliver and install the VoIP phones
- Conduct on-site training for your employees
- Be in a better position to troubleshoot any post-install issues
Be sure that the local provider is actually providing the system and service and not reselling or white labeling a product of a national provider. It is also good to look for longevity in the market. Ask for local references, both long term clients and recent additions. These should give you a good idea of how the provider is performing.
Ensure Programming will Maximize the Benefits
Again, the right provider will help you through this important component. National providers are quick to drop ship phones and turn the programming over to you to handle via a web portal. A local provider will be able to meet with you, understand your business requirements, and help identify areas of opportunity, such as call flows, automated attendant options, and customer communication demands. The local provider will be able to consult with you on some best practice options and also customize these options specifically to how you want to communicate. You can also increase your availability for key customer contacts, like sales and customer service, through mobility options.
Finally, the provider should be able to take all of the information gathered and pre-program the phones and call flows prior to the installation!
Help Make the Conversion Day Successful
You can relieve a lot of stress in this stage by selecting the best day and time for the installation and training. The provider will be able to come in and set up the phones, conduct a training session, and seamlessly port your current numbers to the new service.
The installation shouldn't be intrusive at all. A new phone is placed where you need it, side by side with the current phone until the numbers port. VoIP phones can share an ethernet connection with a computer if there is not a dedicated ethernet connection available. You can help by making sure there's an ethernet connection wherever you want a phone. Also, VoIP phones require power, so make sure electrical is available at each phone location. Or, you can also choose to purchase a Power Over Ethernet (POE) Switch, which can easily be introduced to your network and eliminate the need for a power cord running to the phone.
Finally, VoIP phones work differently than an analog key system. Although most of the changes are positive, it is still a change. You can relieve stress by introducing your team to the benefits they will receive and set expectations that they should embrace the change! This will certainly help relieve the stress of this or any conversion.
Remember to relax and take comfort in the fact that most of your business peers have upgraded their business phone service to cloud telephony. By selecting the right provider, customizing your set up, and taking the steps to make the conversion successful, you will have a positive experience and receive many operational and economic benefits.
About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of VoIP phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.