The world has gone virtual. Businesses have adapted by utilizing Hosted VoIP phone service to better connect their customers and employees. The flexibility inherent in VoIP services provides businesses with many options to differentiate their service to their customers and improve the production and responsiveness of their employees.
I'll define virtual for this purpose as the deployment of products and services where and when demand is present. This is the nature of the world we live in. Consumers of products and services buy differently today, and seek out support differently as well. Matching the full communication suite of your business with the needs of the customers is critical for on-going success. Utilization of the company's web site platform and phone communication platform are key components of the communication strategy necessary to meet the needs of the virtual world.
By its very nature, Hosted VoIP phone service is virtual. The phone system resides in the cloud with your hosted provider and all phones are connected to it via the internet. Therefore, the "system" doesn't reside under the roof of a single business location, thus providing the business with extreme flexibility in resource deployment among other advantages.
- Deploy Resources Anywhere - Imagine setting up your business to your most extreme advantage! This could mean many things. Your business may have a particular skill set of employees that are plentiful and less expensive in another part of the country. You can establish a presence there and recruit the best and most affordable talent. You may also have a need to deploy resources at key client locations, whether on-site or in the same town. Hosted VoIP allows you to do this but appear to all callers as if you are under the same roof. Routing calls, extension dialing, conferencing, and call groups can all occur regardless of the location of the employee.
- Addressing the Mobile Employee - Many companies have resources that are "out and about" providing sales and service to the customer base. These employees can be easily reachable to customer calls through the utilization of a combination of Hosted VoIP features. For example, calls to their extension or direct dial number can be forwarded to or simultaneously ring their cell phone. For android or iPhone users, a softphone application can be programmed to match or replace their desk phone rather than the simultaneous ring. This has the added benefit of being able to call customers and deliver the business caller ID rather than the cell phone caller ID. Finally, any voicemails left for these employees are emailed to them for quick playback and responsiveness.
- Location Agnostic Functions - With Hosted VoIP, businesses have incredible flexibility in how they deploy resources. In a multi-location environment, you can choose to centralize certain functions for managerial oversight and other economies. For example, say every branch had a support function that could provide the service centrally. These businesses can deploy a centralized model to conserve resources and provide some consistency of service management. To the caller, they would have no idea where the call was routed, only that it was answered quickly and their need was handled successfully. Conversely, if this support function was decentralized or included a remote work force (like work at home), calls to this group would be routed as if they were all under the same roof. Again, businesses could build the workforce to match the call volume and time of day needs rather than one at each location and be subject to the hours of operation of the branch.
- Call Routing Options - Once again, there are a myriad of ways Hosted VoIP can conform to the needs of the customer. No matter where resources are deployed, calls can be routed to the best resource to serve the customer needs. Call groups or queues can be set up for the various functions of the business. Calls are routed to these groups by a common extension or auto attendant option or both. Specific routines can be programmed to ensure the best experience for the customer. Benefits are not just limited to groups of employees, but also to individuals. Direct dial numbers are provided as a means to provide customers with a direct way to reach key people supporting them. Calls are also able to be routed to them by extension transferring, extension dialing from an auto attendant, or a directory option on the auto attendant.
These are just a few ways Hosted VoIP phone service addresses the new ways businesses need to address their customers. Each business and their customers present a unique opportunity. The key is to find a Hosted VoIP service provider who will listen to these needs and customize the programming of the platform to maximize the benefit. Cookie cutter or self-service platforms will not pull out all of the benefits and lead to frustration. Research the alternatives, but definitely plan on joining the mountain of companies who are transitioning to a VoIP service. Do it before your competition and leave them in the dust!
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.