VoIP Basics for Small Business Owners

Despite the competitive advantages VoIP phone service can offer to small businesses, business owners are sometimes a bit hesitant to make the switch. Mainly, this happens because they aren’t too keen on the idea of learning new technology—and perhaps they are even a little intimidated by it. The good news is that you don’t have to learn everything at once. VoIP is fairly easy to set up, and even a basic working knowledge of it will help your Orange County business become more agile and competitive. So let’s look at a few basics on how to get started with VoIP.

Choosing Your Configuration

If you’ve never used VoIP before, your first goal is to figure out the type of configuration that will meet the needs of your business. If you conduct most of your business from the office or a desk—or if you prefer the “old school” feel of a handset—you might opt for a hardware VoIP system, which consists of either an internet phone or an analog telephone adapter (ATA) connected to a traditional handset. If you tend to work remotely or need to take calls “in the field,” you might prefer a software version of VoIP (“softphone”), which allows you to run VoIP from any computer or mobile phone on which the app is installed. You’ll also need to decide how many unique phone numbers you need for your office. For maximum performance and call quality, consult with your VoIP or IT provider to make sure your network has enough bandwidth to accommodate your VoIP configuration.

Basic Features to Know

VoIP services often have dozens of cool features not available on conventional phone systems—but your business probably doesn’t need all of them, and trying to learn them all at once can be overwhelming. You’ve probably already used Caller ID and Voicemail on your conventional phone systems, and these features are fairly standard with VoIP, too—so you won’t have to re-learn those. But let’s look at a few other common VoIP features that most small businesses find useful and easy to grasp:

  • Auto Attendant—This “virtual receptionist” answers calls automatically and routes them to the desired extension (or to the appropriate voicemail box), so you don’t have to stop working for every incoming call.
  • Call Forwarding—To make sure you never miss an important call, Call Forwarding redirects your incoming calls to the phone of your choice (most likely your cell phone).
  • Call Transfer—Just as with conventional systems, VoIP lets you place a call on hold and transfer it to another team member.
  • Call Screening—Similar to the common feature on a mobile phone, Call Screening displays Caller ID and gives you the option of taking the call, declining the call, or sending it to voicemail. Some systems allow you to automate screening for certain phone numbers. This feature typically reduces the number of spam or robocalls that interrupt your day.
  • Conference Bridge and/or Video Conferencing—These features serve basically the same purpose: To connect multiple team members on a call to collaborate. Conference Bridge is all audio, while Video Conferencing lets you talk via video.

The IT experts at NetServ can help you determine the best VoIP configuration and functionality for your Orange County business. Call 1-877-NetServ to learn more.