It wasn’t that long ago that a traditional phone system was one of the non-negotiables for any serious business. And by “traditional phone system,” we’re talking about a physical PBX (Private Branch Exchange) complete with actual phones on every desk.
My, how things have changed.
Today, progressive SMBs are more likely to use IP phones than traditional phone service, and for good reason. The benefits are compelling. Not only that, but there’s a good chance your managed IT services provider can help with the setup and maintenance of an IP phone system, making the transition easier than you might expect.
What is an IP phone?
First things first, though. What is an IP phone?
IP phones are most often referred to as VoIP phones. VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol,” and it’s basically what it sounds like—a phone connection over the internet.
An IP phone system makes use of VoIP technology instead of traditional phone service, sometimes referred to as POTS, or “Plain Old Telephone Service.”
VoIP or POTS?
As mentioned above, POTS was the standard just a few years ago. Stable, reliable VoIP service is a relatively new technology, but it’s quickly outpacing POTS. An IP phone system can deliver far more value than POTS, giving SMBs options that used to be limited to enterprise-level companies.
We’re going to get into the specifics below, but for now, there’s one key distinction to hone in on. VoIP systems give you more. More options. More ways of staying in contact. More value for the expense.
POTS is still an option, and some SMBs will still opt for it, but we strongly recommend IP phone systems for SMBs that are growth-oriented.
What IP phones do for SMBs
We’ve talked up IP phones. Now it’s time to share why we believe VoIP phone systems are better for SMBs. Below are several specific advantages of IP phones, but this list is not exhaustive.
Ditch the hardware
VoIP phones are software-based, which has the potential to benefit small businesses in two ways. First, it means you won’t have to make a hefty investment in new equipment to go from POTS to VoIP. Second, it means you won’t have to worry about the costs associated with maintaining physical equipment.
If you prefer having a physical phone at each desk, there are phones designed to work with VoIP service. Alternately, you can just use a headset connected to your computer or use an app on your mobile phone.
Boost your scalability
Because IP phones don’t require hardware, they’re scalable in a way traditional phone systems could never be. Adding a new line can be as simple as making a couple of quick changes to a web-based dashboard. No need to call in a specialist to install a new physical phone.
For a growing SMB, this is crucial. It’s one less thing you have to deal with when onboarding a new team member.
Take your phone with you
Mobile apps make it possible to have your work phone on you all the time . . . without having to give out your personal cell phone number, carry two phones or pay for an extra mobile line.
Whether you do a lot of traveling for your business or just have the occasional meeting across town, the portability of IP phones is a huge plus.
Go beyond voice
IP phones are integrated with all kinds of features that go beyond voice-only communication. Everything from video conferencing to file sharing is possible, making collaboration at a distance easier than it’s ever been.
Plus, the advanced features that used to be so expensive only enterprises could afford them are standard in many VoIP packages.
For a fraction of what it used to cost, you can give your SMB a big business feel.
Deliver on value
Speaking of cost, SMB leaders are universally interested in the bottom line.
Some VoIP providers will promise savings no matter what, but to be candid, that’s just careless. We can’t guarantee you’ll save money.
But here’s what we can promise.
You’re not likely to get the same value from POTS as you will from an IP phone system. You might be able to pay slightly less for POTS, but you’ll be taking such a big step down in features that it’s simply not worth it.
Moving your SMB to an IP phone system
If you’re interested in getting VoIP service for your company, there are two ways you can move forward. The first is to research available services on your own and plunge into a DIY solution. If you don’t mind doing some homework, this is one of those things you could handle on your own.
However, we recommend talking to a VoIP expert. First, a pro will know all about the available options and will be able to help you find the one that matches your needs best. And second, you’ll save a ton of time. There are a lot of VoIP providers out there. An expert can help you hone in on the one that works for you much more quickly than you’ll be able to find one on your own.
Either way—shopping for yourself or talking to an expert—IP phones are definitely the best communication option for SMBs.
Keep reading: Everything you need to know about VoIP phone systems