Virtually yours: how to future-proof your landline with VoIP.

Natasha Beegan
On: 19 Dec 2019
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As a communications technology, landlines might seem like a throwback to the days of copper wires and fixed telephones, but for many customers, there’s something about a business with a landline number that gives a feeling of trust – that the company is well established, reliable, and permanent.

Voice over IP (VoIP) lets companies and organisations keep their landline number while routing calls over the internet. Growing numbers of businesses are discovering that VoIP technology can provide all of the positive impressions of a landline, with much greater flexibility than was possible before. According to the 2019 Business Communications Technology Report, 61% of all Irish businesses say they intend to upgrade their phone system from physical lines to VoIP, while 57% of consumers prefer voice calls for communicating with businesses.

VoIP is suitable for all kinds of businesses with some solutions offering the functionality to integrate voice, video and email into a single unified communications system. This blog looks at the business benefits of VoIP in more detail, with commentary from customers of Three who talk about their experiences of how the technology has helped them.

Flexibility of location.

With a fixed line, companies can’t carry their number seamlessly if they move to a new premises unless they stay within reach of the same telephone exchange. Moving to VoIP means, in effect, putting a company’s phone system in the cloud, which means there’s no more physical PBX hardware to maintain and geographic location is no longer a barrier.

VoIP systems are designed to be easy for businesses to administer themselves. Using interactive voice response (IVR), they can quickly set up call routing paths for specific members of staff. Because the number is no longer tied to a physical place like an office, warehouse or shop, it becomes much easier for the business to relocate to somewhere new if it grows and needs more space. This way, VoIP lets business owners future-proof their companies because they can quickly scale up or move. VoIP also enables people to work remotely from anywhere in the country, or even internationally – all they need is internet access.

This has been the experience at Roadbridge, which is one of Ireland’s largest civil engineering companies. It has more than 500 employees based in Ireland and internationally. It uses unified communications technology which puts all voice and data traffic onto the same system. Dean Butler, the company’s IT manager, says that this way of handling its communications will help the company to manage its future growth plans. “Roadbridge is poised for expansion in the coming years and is now comfortable that we have a mission-critical infrastructure in place.”

Supporting business growth.

It was a similar story at Peter Mark, the hairdressing salon which employs 1,600 people in 71 locations around Ireland. It consolidated to a single VoIP system for the entire business, because its old way of relying on fixed phones was “inefficient and expensive,” says Peter Mark’s director Shane Keaveney. “Three simplified our unified communications services, increased efficiencies and provided a platform to support future business plans.”

For small businesses with employees who want to work remotely, or sole traders who spend much of the working day on the road, they can continue advertising a landline number while all calls divert to an app on their smartphone. This way, they are contactable at all times, without the risk of negative perception by customers. And as any busy entrepreneur will know, the working day often stretches well past business hours. Even when the physical office is closed, VoIP makes it easy to divert calls to particular people in the company at certain times of the day. The voicemail to email feature ensures a high-quality answering service so businesses never miss a call and there’s always an additional record of any contact, which enables high levels of customer service.

Enhanced customer service.

Pro Security provides 24-hour monitored security to its clients, which means the company must be connected and contactable around the clock. Director Simon Duffy says the VoIP call divert facility is very useful in enabling the business to offer services that feel as local as possible for customers.

“It affords us the capacity to offer nationwide services to facilitate customer demand without the need to set up a new contract for fixed lines every time we need to set up in a new location,” he says. “Moreover, it allows us business continuity at all times, at any location, with the use of soft clients or apps on our mobile devices. All of these things help us to work remotely, reduce admin, and stress, and facilitates a better connected solution for our staff and customers.”

Moving to VoIP from fixed landlines also means that businesses no longer pay expensive line rental costs; because the calls are routed over the internet, it ensures that they don’t rely on any one communications infrastructure. Before, if the copper line was out of action, businesses with traditional telephony were uncontactable for hours at a time. Alternatively, if the office is inaccessible or employees need to work from home for any reason, it’s a simple matter to divert any calls from the landline number straight to their mobiles. And, this is instantaneous.

Goodbye to fixed-line charges.

Ballyhaunis Community School (BCS) in Mayo was able to take advantage of its existing high-speed broadband access in place, and add Three’s hosted VoIP service on top, routing all voice calls through the internet, eliminating fixed-line charges. “Every school principal will tell you budgeting is a challenge, and if you can make a saving without compromising on quality it’s a no-brainer,” says BCS principal David McDonagh. In the case of BCS, callers to the school hear an IVR menu that directs them to specific people such as the guidance counsellor or the chaplain, which reduces the workload for the front office staff.

Another advantage of VoIP is the reporting features. Instead of poring over old phone bills, business owners and managers can quickly see data about call trends in the self-service portal. This lets them see at a glance what are the busiest times of the day for inbound or outbound calls, or to check the number of missed calls during times when the office or shop is closed, for example. For a business like a takeaway delivery service, every missed call translates to a lost sale, so this kind of granular data is invaluable. Businesses can then use this data to change staffing rotas for employees in customer-facing roles, so that the phones are manned for longer.

VoIP enables better business productivity, increased flexibility, and improved customer service, while providing greater insight into where organisations can improve their operations. Moving to this technology is the right call.

For more information about Three’s communications and collaboration solutions, visit here.

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