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A Closer Look at Unusual VoIP Features

June 15, 2017

For the average small business, voice over IP (VoIP) has been a cost-saving, feature-boosting blessing. It eliminates the need for expensive phone lines, telephone handsets and other underlying hardware that can boost the initial costs of a traditional telephony system into the tens of thousands of dollars. When it comes to the service itself, a variety of studies have found that small businesses that switch to VoIP reduce the cost of their local costs by up to 40 percent, and save up to 90 percent on international calls. With a hosted VoIP service, it’s easy to set up and manage features, users, and phone numbers online with virtual tools, so there’s no programming or IT support required.

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly sold on the cost savings of VoIP solutions.  Evaluating a business VoIP solution can be confusing, however. There are a variety to choose from, and while most of them share the same basic features – hold, call-forwarding, auto-attendant – the “extras” can vary a great deal. Not all features will be relevant to every company. In a recent blog post, Reuben Yonatan writing for GetVoIP highlighted a few of the more “niche” features that buyers can add to their “make or break” feature list before they begin shopping for a VoIP solution.

Hoteling. Hoteling is a feature that allows users to switch all the properties of one IP phone to another. That means all calls going to that number or extension go to that phone, the voicemail and other speed dials come with them, and the outbound caller ID is the same, according to Yonatan. This feature is highly useful in situations in which workers share phones, or one worker finds it necessary to use different phones.

Custom hold content. No one likes to wait on hold, but it occasionally becomes necessary to put people there. That’s doesn’t mean you have to stick your callers with the cheesy elevator music that comes standard with a VoIP solution. You may want to consider looking for a solution that allows you to customize your “hold” content, whether it’s better music or a recording that informs callers about your company.

The ability to escape from hold. As mentioned, no one likes to wait on hold. In a business environment, it’s a frustrating waste of time. Consider looking for a VoIP solution that allows callers to “escape” by leaving a message and/or requesting a callback when an agent becomes available. Being put on hold is one of customers’ main gripes when it comes to dissatisfaction with a business relationship.

International virtual numbers. Some VoIP solutions allow you to offer international customers a local number that connects to your main office or contact center regardless of where it’s located. While some prospects might be unwilling to pick up the phone and dial an international number, seeing a local number will eliminate the anxiety and still allow you to receive the call.

Click to call. Yonatan refers to this as “the most important feature of any website.” From a sales perspective, it’s the type of tool that leads to dream leads. Essentially, it’s a widget that you add to the code of your website so that visitors to your site can call you by clicking a button on your website. They enter their number into a dialog box, and you can call them right away.

These are just a small handful of some of the “special” features you can find with VoIP solutions. It’s important to be aware before you buy that some features may seem tailor-made for your organization, while others are likely to remain completely unused. Make a list of features that are important to you, so when you approach vendors, you can match your needs to their offerings. 

Edited by Alicia Young

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