Let’s talk about the last phone call you had. Maybe you were catching up with a client. Placing an order. Or handling a complaint. Whatever. Was your voice carried by copper wire? Over wifi? Cellular? IP?
If you aren’t sure, join the club. Most of us don’t think a whole lot about how these things actually work. We chat. We email. We text. And away our words go.
Business owners don’t have that luxury.
These days, communication often isn’t even treated as a capital expense. It can be a cost-of-entry, gotta-have-it, cloud-based service that improves morale, productivity, security, ROI, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and, well, just about everything else.
While VoIP may simply stand for Voice over Internet Protocol, the technology behind it is driving one of the big shifts in business today. Businesses are using it to wrap video chats, customer support, internal messaging platforms, email, Internet and, yes, phone calls all into one seamless stream. So nothing ever gets lost. And everyone gets to choose how to communicate, anytime, anywhere.
Oh, and VoIP’s usually cheaper than separate systems, too.
So what’s the catch?
Well, before you make the switch to VoIP, here are three questions you might want to make sure you know the answers to.
Why does modern life call for VoIP?
Early adopters climbed aboard the VoIP bandwagon 20 years ago, even though call quality was occasionally glitchy. Pretty soon, the bandwidth caught up to the technology, and the glitches went away. But for some businesses, VoIP still seemed like a marginal improvement over legacy systems.
Two things changed that.
The first? Remote work.
Somewhere around half of all Americans work from home at least sometimes. And the businesses that get the most immediate gains from VoIP are small and midsize businesses with lots of remote employees. Whether they’re calling in from a construction site or their living room couch, VoIP makes their connection reliable.
The second change? Platform proliferation.
When VoIP entered the working world two decades ago, phone calls were frequent and email seemed kinda fun. Nowadays, sales people might get a text reminding them to send an email about scheduling a video conference. And then (on the same phone!) they might receive a DM about responding to an Evite for a virtual birthday party. To keep their heads on straight, workers need a seamless way to separate and organize business communication. And VoIP delivers, with all-in-one dashboards that give users connection, control, and the flexibility to flow between texts, emails, calls and video at will.
Will the switch disrupt my business?
Think about how long it takes to unplug an old toaster and plug a new one in. That’s about how long it takes to switch most businesses over to VoIP. And even that moment can be scheduled, so it happens when activity is naturally low.
A better question might be, “How much will the switch disrupt my employees?” The answer, though, remains the same.
Joe Lunchpail may not even know a change has taken place. He’ll come in, sit down, and make calls as normal. A few weeks later, a coworker might mention the company uses VoIP and Joe will nod, take a drink of coffee, and say, “Well, what d’ya know?”
Meanwhile, tech fans will jump in headfirst, taking their calls through their computers on day one. So any crashing you hear? That’s just Gen Z employees dropping those old handsets into the trash.
What’s the big rush?
Ah, stalling. It’s the great American pastime. And you know what? If businesses don’t all change over to VoIP today, well, it’s not like the world will end.
Yeah, their employees will experience more frustration as they get bogged down by incoming messages, and they might lose an important message now and then. But while many American businesses have totally transferred to VoIP, some haven’t. And still others – like hospitality companies and government behemoths – are unlikely to throw the switch in the next year or two.
So it’s not like all those telephone poles are going to just disappear on us.
Instead, think of a business phone system like a car that’s been around the block a few thousand times. You can keep driving it, and address problems as they pop up. But eventually you’re going to find fewer and fewer mechanics with the know-how to fix it. And it’ll be harder and harder to buy the right parts. And one day, that car will get a permanent parking space halfway down your driveway.
Switching to VoIP does more than just improve productivity. It future-proofs businesses. It’s the way the world is going. It’s where the platforms and providers are investing cash and building infrastructure.
And the best news of all?
You still won’t have to think about how your communications work.
You’ll just know they do.