If you remember the days of waiting for the phone company to connect your landline, you’ll appreciate business VoIP installation. You can set up VoIP much easier than you can a traditional PBX—all you really need is the Internet and a computer. This blog will walk you through the requirements for VoIP implementation. Then we’ll take you through the steps necessary to set up your business VoIP phone services.
- Before Installation: VoIP Requirements Checklist
Before you attempt to set up VoIP for your business, make sure you have everything you need to do so. This process should start with a comprehensive assessment of your phone system needs. To do this, we recommend talking to your business VoIP phone services vendor, who can walk you through a process to determine your goals and requirements. Think about these questions as you’re designing your VoIP installation:
- How many users do I have?
- Will they want a physical VoIP phone or will they use their digital devices?
- Are they remote users or in an existing office setting?
- How many phone numbers do you have currently?
- Do you want to keep those numbers?
- How many phone numbers (extensions) do you want to add?
- What’s my budget?
A good resource during this process can be your local phone bill. You should see a breakout of the extensions you’re currently being billed for. Your audit process should check to make sure all of the extensions you’re paying for are still being used. Also, take note of where most of your calling is occurring. For instance, if you’re frequently calling internationally, setting up a VoIP business phone service will save you considerably.
- Needs Assessment for VoIP Features
Next, you should give some thought to the phone features that you will need. You may be surprised that VoIP offers the same kinds of features as your old PBX and plain old telephone service (POTS). Some of the most commonly used VoIP phone features include:
- Automated attendants to greet inbound callers with a recorded message and the ability to self-route their calls.
- Call routing to take those callers and send them down the communications pipeline to reach the right person.
- Call forwarding that allow workers to send callers from their office extension to any digital device.
- Voicemail that not just captures caller data but also allows that data to be sent via an email or text, alerting you that there’s a message waiting.
Typically, VoIP can offer between 30 and 40 unique features. Thinking through how you will use them is a valuable exercise in creating the best VoIP functionality.
- Requirements for VoIP Implementation: Hardware
One of the biggest benefits of VoIP is that you don’t need new equipment. Phone overhead is a big driver of monthly costs in many companies—but not with VoIP. However, setting up VoIP business operations means that you should consider how your company will actually use these tools to communicate.
You may be able to use your existing PBX, or your team may use their computers or smartphones to connect to the VoIP service. However, you may want to add VoIP phones, which look like traditional handsets, to connect online. There are all kinds of phones and headsets to choose from; you can even use different models to meet differing needs.
- VoIP Installation: Phone Number Migration
One of the benefits of VoIP installation is that your company can keep its existing numbers. This is a good thing because customers and vendors are accustomed to calling specific extensions or 800 numbers that are listed in your marketing materials. Porting these numbers to your new VoIP system is handled by your VoIP hosting provider. Just share a copy of your phone bill with the provider and they can handle things seamlessly and quickly. You also have the option of adding new numbers if you need them.
- Business VoIP Phone Services End-User Setup
Your due diligence in steps one and two will yield a VoIP requirements list that will help inform both the vendor you select, the equipment you need, and even how to set up the service. Unlike traditional PBX, where you had to have special technical training, a layperson can conduct VoIP installation—it’s that easy.
You can add and manage end-users from an online dashboard. This data will show you who has direct extensions and which numbers flow in and out of your business. From this online hub, you can manage things like permissions, VoIP features, ring groups, and much more.
- Programming Your Auto Attendant
Your clients expect your phones to be answered; this is where an automated attendant can make each customer feel welcomed. Setting up the right call flow is important to achieving this goal. There are basically two types of callers: those who know exactly who they want to speak with and those who don’t. Your system should accommodate both types of callers.
If you’ve been using an auto attendant in your PBX and think it’s still effective, just replicate it. However, VoIP installation gives you a chance to improve on the experience, so give this some thought.
- Setting Up Schedule-Based Call Routing
Another consideration is how to handle calls after hours versus during the normal times your business will be open to the public. Schedule-based call routing allows you to program auto attendant features to do different things based on the time and day. You can set the calls to ring into an office during normal business hours. You could route the calls to an answering service after hours. Alternatively, you could set up an emergency paging system if the call is both urgent and after hours. You can even set up on-call schedules, where on Monday and Fridays the calls go to a specific person, but during the rest of the week, the calls are handled an entirely different way.
- Integrate VoIP with Other Apps
An important advantage of business VoIP services is that they can integrate with other online business applications. Typically, we see customers integrating VoIP with their customer relationship management (CRM) platforms or other call center tools. For this part of the service, we recommend talking to your VoIP vendor about the possibilities.
- Launching the VoIP Service
Once your numbers are ported to your VoIP vendor, the process for launching VoIP service is simply plug-and-play. If you have software-based VoIP, you just download the application and get started. If you have hardware in the form of a handset, just plug it into your internet router.
- Tweaking Your VoIP Installation
Sometimes, despite all the planning, your network configuration may need tweaking. Or your employees may need a little extra help. We recommend a few steps to verify network connectivity by calling the numbers you’ve set up from a cell phone. Test the call for audio issues related to bandwidth. Check to see that voicemails are set up properly. Is the auto attendant working the way you want it to?
Setting up your VoIP business lines is fairly easy to do. Depending on the size of your company, it could take an hour to a day to set up your requirements for VoIP installation and then meet them by setting up the service. No matter your situation, VoIP First Media is here to provide state-of-the-art internet phone service and excellent support. Find out why we’re a leading VoIP provider and how your business can benefit from our service. Call on us today.