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Originally Posted On: VOIP for Small Businesses: Is it worth it? | Saicom
Small businesses might have heard the term VoIP – but they might not be too sure why it should matter to them and their organisation in particular.
Businesses might have legacy phone systems that use analog or ISDN ( Integrated Services Digital Network) phone lines to make and receive calls.
Small businesses are no strangers to the headaches these systems present, including dropped calls, costly on-site installation and maintenance fees as telephonic infrastructure fades over time.
The good news is that switching to VoIP might just be the answer to any business’ communication system headaches.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and uses IP networks to make and receive calls.
Simply, this means that VOIP calls are made and received using a business’ internet connection rather than via analog landlines, eliminating the need for traditional telephony infrastructure like cables and handsets.
Although examples of this kind of technology include household names like WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom, VOIP is actually far more versatile and can be implemented to assist small businesses and their communication operations.
In the early days, VOIP received some criticism from skeptics over call quality, for the most part, due to internet connections not being fast enough or entirely reliable. Today, however, VOIP is the gold standard for handling calls of all kinds, and is renowned for its superior quality, amongst other key benefits that make moving away from a legacy phone system, a no-brainer.
How does VOIP work?
In simple terms, VOIP works by converting analog audio signals into digital signals, compressing and transmitting them in the form of data via broadband/the Internet. This negates the need for analog or ISDN landlines and physical hardware to connect multiple employees to the same phone system.
It is a secure, high quality way of making calls, at reduced cost, with minimal hardware installation required. But more about that later.
Check out this diagram that covers how VOIP works:
Benefits of VOIP: Why should small businesses use VOIP?
There are plenty of benefits that come with replacing a legacy phone system with VOIP services for a small business, from minimal downtime, to significant monthly savings on phone bills.
Cost effective call rates with VOIP
The low call rates associated with VOIP are one of the reasons why more and more small businesses decide to get rid of their traditional phone systems. Whilst data costs have decreased year on year, especially in South Africa – the phone bill for legacy phone systems probably hasn’t changed all that much.
Let’s compare traditional landline costs with those of VOIP.
For a traditional landline there’s the line rental fee, followed by monthly packaged costs for making local calls, and possibly some out of bundle fees for making or receiving calls to and from international clients.
With VOIP, charges only apply for the extensions in use, rather than being tied down to a fixed monthly line rental.
Another benefit is that cost per call rates can be up to 68% lower using VOIP compared to a traditional landline because there is no cable infrastructure to maintain. This same cost saving is applicable to international calls, with a cheaper cost per call rate. VoIP also provides the ability to purchase a number in another country to handle international calls, which can help reduce cost per call rates even further.
For small businesses, finding ways to reduce monthly expenses, without compromising on business efficiency, has a positive impact on the bottom line in the long run.
Cut the costs incurred by the business’ current monthly phone bill, take action and switch to VOIP to start saving!* immediately!
Scalable for Small Businesses
Small businesses need telephony systems that can scale as the business grows.
With a traditional legacy PBX system, it’s necessary to have more lines available for more employees as the business scales, which means adding more physical phone connections, handsets and possibly even upgrading the PBX system entirely.
Using VOIP services gets rid of the need for physical landlines, costly on-site installations and proprietary handsets. With VOIP, adding more employees to access a company’s call system is a breeze and requires no extra hardware while also having the choice to integrate the current PBX system or get access to a Cloud based PBX system in order to manage the calls made and received.
Small businesses have often already invested in, or plan to invest in fibre connectivity. Faster internet is a compelling reason to migrate to VOIP and in doing so, it allows businesses to cut monthly costs for traditional phone bills in half.
More opportunities with secure, high-quality calls & conferences
Every call that a small business receives is an opportunity to gain a new client and missing calls, or having to talk over each other with a constant “can you hear me?” is less than ideal.
VOIP services provide call quality that is considered the gold standard in telephonic communication, and is more secure, especially compared to traditional landline telephony. VOIP will allow businesses to maintain a crisp quality and a secure connection whether they’re having a voice call or face-to-face video call with clients.
VOIP phones usually come standard with caller ID integrated within the call handling protocol, providing businesses with the ability to screen calls as they come in. There’s also the ability to modify the business’ outbound caller ID should it be necessary.
Portability: Ideal for the modern remote working environment
As remote working has become more widely accepted and popular due to the global pandemic, VOIP services have been considered far more preferable than traditional telephone systems.
Traditional phone systems make remote work impossible, as if you’re not coming into the office, you’re missing calls.
With VOIP and SIP (session initiation protocol) trunking, it’s possible to convert a traditional landline PBX system into a cloud based system, giving businesses the ability to contact customers from anywhere.
VOIP phone services allow employees to have access to a small business’ phone systems from anywhere, and from multiple devices. It’s as easy as installing an app on a smartphone, tablet or accessing the business’ VOIP account online via desktop.
VOIP provides access to many features that would be difficult to implement using a legacy phone system.
By using these features to manage inbound and outbound communications, small businesses can rest assured knowing that they aren’t missing opportunities.
Feature packed with no extra hardware required
VOIP is feature packed. In fact, today’s VOIP services offer many of the same functions like automated assistance, call recording and forward, voicemail and fax to email functionality, amongst others. It is like having a call center and receptionist combined, for minimal extra cost and without any hardware requirements.
Here’s a list of features accessible when switching to VOIP services, including but not limited to:
- Call forwarding
- Call hold
- Call recording
- Automated attendant & IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
- Fax to email
- Unified communication
- App integration
- Audio and video conferencing
- Call ringback
- Call queuing
- Instant messaging
- Video Conferencing
- Call analytics
- Toll free number
- Ability to integrate with live chat, ticketing, comprehensive analytics, and sales CRM software.
Small business’ Questions About VOIP Services Answered:
How much does VOIP cost?
VOIP is more than 50% cheaper than calling using traditional legacy phone systems, and is especially economical when it comes to making international calls which can be incredibly costly.
The cost of VOIP calls in South Africa depends upon the VOIP service provider, and whether the business is making national and international calls.
National calls made using VOIP can incur a per minute charge of around depending on the provider, with no initial fee for making a call.
With VOIP, a monthly fee for the rental of an analog line isn’t necessary and there’s the flexibility of only paying per extension required.
There is a small R100-R200 porting fee to keep the business’ number on a new VOIP provider’s network. After which the business selects a monthly package that covers the amount of minutes required for calls per month.
These combined costs still amount to much lower than the bill a business may expect from a traditional analog landline and phone system.
Traditional landline phones incur a line rental fee per month (around R70-R150 per month), before the first call is made.
A landline call is also usually associated with a minimum charge (around 70c) followed by a per minute charge (usually 30-50c) which can increase depending on how far away the call of the recipient is from the business’ location, with international calls being even more expensive per minute (R3-R5).
So – VOIP in South Africa is definitely the way to go to improve the functionality of a small business’ communications at a monthly cost that is far lower than what the business can expect to be billed for their legacy phone system.
How much data does VOIP use?
A VOIP voice call can use up to 0.5-1.5 megabytes per minute on average whilst a video call via VOIP might use around 3 megabytes per minute. However, this is very dependent on how the VOIP service provider compresses and transmits audio and video data.
The data used will also depend on calling habits and how many calls the business expects to make and receive.
What type of internet connection/speed does VOIP require?
While internet connection speed may have been more of a concern in the early days of VOIP, today, most internet connections can support VOIP services.
A good VOIP experience will also depend on the number of concurrent calls that need to be made or received – with a higher number of concurrent calls requiring a higher internet connection speed.
Who is the best VOIP service provider in South Africa?
We believe that we are the best VOIP service provider in South Africa. SAICOM provides high quality VOIP services with happy clients that boast about our 99.98% uptime.
Our cost per call varies from client to client, depending on their specific needs. However, we can promise you that your monthly phone bill will be reduced significantly by switching to our VOIP services. Some of our clients have experienced savings of 50% or more per month after integrating VOIP over legacy phone systems.
Another key benefit is that VOIP can be integrated into your current PBX system, allowing you to cut costs, get increased portability and functionality, while retaining your current office phones to answer calls while you’re at the office. When you’re out and about, or remote working you get the added benefit of being able to make and receive calls via desktop and mobile devices.
Conclusion: Is VOIP worth it for small businesses?
The short answer is: absolutely!
VOIP can be a cost cutting asset for small businesses, plus it provides high quality, secure telephony, and can act as an automated assistant – which is particularly useful if a small business can’t afford a full-time administrative assistant.
Not only will small businesses be able to say goodbye to a significant portion of their monthly phone bill, but the cost per client acquisition might even go down, if clients can be converted at a lower call tariff and to ensure enquiries aren’t missed (with recording and call forwarding to make small businesses more efficient).
Small business owners or key decision makers should make the switch. It’s not complicated and in most cases the setup costs will either be minimal. Then it’s possible to start reaping the benefits of lower call costs and plenty of hand features that VOIP has to offer!
Contact SAICOM to switch to a VOIP service package tailored to the needs of small businesses!