Switching to VoIP is not a cure all. In order to make the most out of this phone system and keep your business secure, avoid the "don'ts."
VoIP systems are a great way to save your company money on phone service, but they also create a wide range of security issues, call quality problems and other pitfalls.
Getting around these problems isn't difficult, but you can't approach your new phone system the same way you would a landline one.
Here are the Do’s and Don’ts when switching to VoIP telephone:
Related Link: VoIP Providers
Do: Consider Multiple Hosting Options
Cloud hosted and on-premise are the two most common options for business VoIP solutions, and each has its advantages. Cloud based involves buying phone service from a VoIP. This option has almost no upfront costs; there's no need to buy software or phone equipment, and you'll only pay for the calls you make.
On-premise solutions, on the other hand, involve installing voice servers and delivery lines in your office. This is more expensive, but it doesn't require you to share sensitive voice data with an outside provider. Cloud based phone services are great for most small businesses with little money for upfront investments, while internal hosting is better for big businesses, particularly those who handle confidential customer information.
Don't: Take VoIP Prices At Face Value
Businesses that opt for VoIP usually do so because they believe it will lower their operational costs, and while this is generally true, it's not the full story. As in any industry, you have to read the fine print and watch out for hidden charges.
One common pitfall is to assume that a flat fee for toll free calls applies to all phone services. If you plan to send faxes, for example, make sure there isn't an extra fee for that. In addition, VoIP companies frequently limit the number of phone numbers you can register, charging an additional monthly fee for every number over the limit. Watch out for cancellation fees, which can be expensive.
Do: Adopt Authentication Protocols
VoIP systems compress your communications into a data stream and send them through the Internet, increasing the chance that sensitive information will be stolen. There's no foolproof way to guard information, but by adopting password-protected authentication methods, you can minimize the chances of information being stolen. No one should be able to access your network unless they have been given explicit permission to do so.
Don't: Ignore Default Passwords
Even the best authentication systems won't do any good if you leave a back door open. When they build computers, manufacturers often include simple passcodes so that they can log into each computer and run tests. Usually no more complex than "root" or "password," these codes are available in public documents. Hackers can use them to log into your computers and steal voice data.
Before you buy a VoIP system, make sure to go through all your equipment and change the default passwords to something outsiders can't guess.
Do: Look Into IVR Systems
One of the downsides of integrating all of your office's communication endpoints into a VoIP system is that wrong numbers and confused extensions affect everyone. To avoid wasting workers time, consider installing an interactive voice response (IVR) system along with your VoIP network. An advanced IVR can handle many customer concerns on its own while directing other customers to the right numbers. This will decrease call times and volume and thus reduce pressure on your business's bandwidth.
Related Article: Kiss Your VoIP Troubles Away
Don't: Purchase A Closed Standards IVR
Closed standards IVR systems are only compatible with particular brands or types of technology, limiting the amount of endpoints you can integrate into your network. This will force you to buy new equipment, eliminating many of the cost benefits and wasting company time. To avoid this, buy an IVR system that is compatible with all of your current devices and as many other devices as possible.
Do: Identify All Your Endpoints
Though many people associate VoIP with video conferencing, the technology is compatible with most communication forms and endpoints. If your business uses a fax machine, for example, you can convert the machine's analog connection into a digital link and send faxes over a VoIP network.
You also integrate traditional handset telephones, headsets, computers, smartphones and most other communication devices into the system. Consider all of the endpoints your employees use or would like to use for company purposes, and adopt a VoIP system compatible with all of them.
Don't: Ignore Outdated Infrastructure
If you haven't already gone through your network infrastructure, updated obsolete software and hardware, and eliminated any other inefficiency, now is the time to do so. A VoIP system will increase your business's bandwidth use by several orders of magnitude, especially if multiple employees will have to use the phone simultaneously on a regular basis. If your network can't handle this increase in demand, you'll suffer from dropped calls, poor call quality and reduced productivity in all areas of your business.
Do: Consider Buying Call Quality Software
VoIP systems are vulnerable to a wide range of quality problems, but modern software can mitigate many of these problems. Jittering, for example, occurs when VoIP sound packets arrive out of order. This can make phone calls difficult to understand, but jitter buffer software will fix this problem by briefly storing and organizing the sound packets before playing them. Likewise, compression software eliminates ambient noise and other interference, which would otherwise make calls difficult to understand.
Don't: Ignore Simple Call Quality Solutions
Before you buy compression software and jitter buffers, look into simpler solutions to preserve call quality. You can eliminate many call quality problems simply by buying better ethernet cords and headsets, lowering speaker volume, and making calls when bandwidth use is low. Adopt these measures when you install your VoIP system, and then keep track of call quality for a month. If you're satisfied with the quality, elaborate software may be unnecessary.