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The VoIP Report

VoIP Grows with Your Business at Every Stage
May 10th, 2017

VoIP Grows with Your Business at Every Stage

Ian Linton

Businesses face many challenges when it comes to growth. VoIP can help resolve these challenges because VoIP grows with your business at every stage.

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses is how to deal with growth and change. This influences the choice of communications solutions as much as any other business decision.

Start-ups need effective communications from day one, despite their limited budgets. As they grow, they will need greater capacity and more services. Support for mobile and remote workers will also become increasingly important.

Small and medium businesses that open new sites want to extend the same communications services to all locations. As their businesses grow, they may need to set up call centers to handle calls, rather than relying on individuals.

Mergers and acquisitions can lead to businesses trying to operate with incompatible communications systems. As supply chains grow more complex, businesses need to deploy solutions that streamline communications throughout the network. International operations increase the complexity and cost of communications even further. Improving productivity, collaboration and customer service remain key goals at every stage of growth.

VoIP can help resolve these business challenges because VoIP grows with your business at every stage.

Overcoming barriers to communications growth

Extending communications to meet these challenges can be difficult and costly with legacy phone systems based on fixed lines and infrastructure on-premises. Increasing capacity means installing new lines and additional infrastructure at each stage. That requires upfront expenditure and can lead to delay and disruption to services.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is an advanced, cloud-based communications solution that offers a cost-effective alternative. It provides the scalability and flexibility to adapt to growth and change throughout the evolution of a small, medium or large business.

VoIP is available from service providers who own and operate communications infrastructure in the cloud. The service requires no infrastructure on site, eliminating upfront expenditure, and additional capacity is available on demand in the form of virtual lines.

An affordable monthly fee covers the service, together with the cost of system management, maintenance, and upgrades. And because VoIP is an Internet solution, businesses can extend their communications service to any location or any device with Internet access.

Platform for the future

VoIP is suitable for businesses of any size because it provides a consistent platform to support communications at every level from basic call handling for start-ups to sophisticated, multi-channel global contact centers.

Start-ups can take advantage of low-cost Internet communications from the outset with a hosted PBX (private branch exchange) service. A service provider hosts the PBX in the cloud and routes incoming calls to designated numbers set by the start-up.

Callers ring a single number rather than a series of office extensions, home phones or mobile numbers, improving convenience and customer service. Because the calls can reach any number, employees can remain in contact even when they are away from the office.

A hosted PBX service gives start-ups a platform for future communications growth because service providers can add VoIP services as they are needed. Start-ups do not need to invest in new infrastructure – They simply pay a higher monthly fee for additional services.

Flexibility for a growing business

As a business grows, it needs additional phone capacity to ensure all employees can access services quickly, and callers do not face unacceptable waiting times. A growing business may also want to add new communications services to improve collaboration, customer service or productivity.

Businesses with legacy systems on their premises have to install new physical cabling, which can lead to over-provisioning. They may also require additional infrastructure or network upgrades to support higher traffic levels or new communications services.

With VoIP, additional “virtual lines” are available on-demand from service providers. The additional lines can be switched on or off if they are only required for seasonal business or high call volumes following a marketing campaign.

VoIP’s scalability takes care of new services too. Service providers operate high-capacity, carrier-grade infrastructure equipment that is capable of handling advanced services, so businesses do not need to make any changes on-premises.

Making the business mobile

As a business grows, employees may spend more of their time away from the office. Senior managers may be visiting customers and suppliers, or the company may hire sales and service staff that spend most of their time working in the field.

VoIP is available on smartphones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices using an application known as a softphone. Mobile users can access the full range of VoIP services and maintain the same levels of contact, productivity, and efficiency as their office colleagues.

Sales and service teams find mobile VoIP particularly useful. On top of handling calls and messages, they can set up online meetings to get advice from experts or access databases and online resources that provide essential information for their work.

Support for remote workers

Growing businesses may expand their workforce by hiring part-time staff to cover specialist posts, or engaging freelance or contract staff to handle overflow work or special projects. This creates a “virtual business,” and reduces the costs associated with recruiting and retaining full-time staff.

With VoIP, businesses can extend their communications services to members of the virtual team via the Internet, regardless of where they are working. They can also treat team members’ individual phone numbers as virtual extensions on the company network. Customers dial a single number, and the service provider’s system routes the call to the appropriate person.

VoIP helps remote workers maintain productivity and efficiency, and it reduces overall costs because calls over the “internal network” are free. Businesses can also use VoIP’s collaboration tools to enable members of virtual teams to work together with office colleagues and reduce the risk of isolation that remote workers may feel.

Linking new sites

As a business grows, it may open new premises to accommodate additional staff, or to establish a local presence in a target market. With legacy systems, businesses would need to set up duplicate infrastructure on each site and hire additional technical staff to manage and maintain each system.

Businesses taking over existing buildings may find communications infrastructures that are incompatible, making integration difficult and expensive. They may also face recurring charges for connectivity circuits at sites with legacy infrastructures.

VoIP simplifies all this because any site with a high-speed Internet connection can be linked to the head office service, minimizing the cost and effort of deployment. That eliminates the need for investment in infrastructure and support staff.

Dealing with mergers and acquisitions

Businesses that grow through mergers and acquisitions face similar challenges. Each business may have a different communications system, and integration can be difficult, leading to inefficiencies and higher total costs.

A VoIP service hosted in the cloud can overcome that challenge. The new business can either deploy VoIP at each of the group sites or rationalize communications by using SIP trunking to connect existing infrastructures to a service provider.

SIP trunking is a digital circuit that replaces fixed cabling and connects on-premise PBXs to enable access to Internet telephony. Either way, all companies in the merged operation can share VoIP services and reduce the cost of internal communications.

Operating a supply chain

Growing businesses can improve efficiency and reduce costs by formalizing relationships with important suppliers. They can move from ad hoc purchases or short-term contracts to building a supply chain of regular suppliers based on long-term contracts and high levels of collaboration.

Communications play an important role in driving efficiencies through the supply chain. Businesses can deploy VoIP to key members of the supply chain so that they can exchange information quickly, easily and securely.

Changes in demand for finished products, for example, can impact production levels throughout the supply chain. Procurement managers can use VoIP’s messaging and notification services to alert suppliers so they can plan and implement their own adjustments to avoid stock shortages or overproduction.

VoIP’s collaboration tools make it easy for supply chain members to hold online business meetings or set up project groups to work on joint cost reduction or product development initiatives. Members can meet via audio, video or web conferencing, eliminating the time and cost of travel to meetings.

From call reception to contact center

Delivering quality customer service is essential at every stage of growth. Businesses need to adjust their resources as they deal with increasing numbers of customers.

While delegating call handling to individuals or a receptionist may work in the early stages of a business, setting up a call center staffed by professionals can take customer service to the next level.

VoIP’s hosted call center solutions let growing businesses set up facilities without investing in infrastructure on their premises. Agents can access a range of services that enable them to handle high call volumes efficiently and deliver personalized service to callers.

Sophisticated call routing features deliver incoming calls to agents with the right skills. And agents can access integrated customer relationship management (CRM) systems to view customers’ details and transaction histories before taking calls. Supervisors have a range of tools to monitor call center operations and performance of individual agents against key metrics.

Businesses with an existing VoIP call center can easily scale their operations to handle higher call volumes. They can also extend their facilities to home-based or remote agents to handle specialist calls and overflow traffic, or provide out-of-hours service.

To improve service even further, businesses can upgrade their call centers to multi-channel VoIP contact centers. Agents can then deal with customers who want to make contact via email, video conference, instant message, text or chat, as well as voice or mobile calls. This improves choice and convenience for customers and can enhance customer satisfaction levels.

International expansion

Growth can take businesses into international markets at any stage of development. VoIP can support international expansion in a number of ways.

Long-distance calls to international destinations over VoIP are lower than equivalent rates on the public telephone network, helping control costs. Businesses can provide customers and prospects in export territories with local numbers or toll-free numbers, which help to build sales.

VoIP can also provide affordable communications for businesses operating through a network of international distributors. VoIP makes it easy to exchange sales and business data and hold virtual meetings with partners without the cost of international travel

For large businesses with distributed workforces based in different countries, VoIP provides a platform for maintaining efficient, cost-effective communication and collaboration across the entire global organization.

A roadmap for growth

VoIP can help businesses communicate effectively at every stage of their growth with scalable solutions and a growing range of services to meet changing needs.

By selecting a cloud-based VoIP solution at an early stage, businesses can develop a roadmap for communications growth. And they can be confident that they have a communications solution that will adapt to any scenario on that roadmap.

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