It's important to note that system vendors are moving away from traditional phone systems. This means as VoIP technology advances, not only will the availability of traditional phone system hardware become scarce, the cost of maintaining such a system will also become more expensive than it already is.
People continually evaluate a business based on their phone experiences with its employees. From how easy it is to reach the correct person to how quickly they can get answers to their questions, no call is immune from this mental scorekeeping.
So when resource-challenged businesses can't provide the same experience that their competitors can, via call features such as Automatic Call Direction (ACD), automated attendants, and even voice mail, they're risking more than just a missed call.
Even the Smallest Can Benefit
The good news is that, thanks to advancements in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, even the smallest of businesses can benefit from the robust phone system features large enterprises enjoy.
In fact, a recent study by Infonetics Research found that 37 percent of small businesses surveyed have already taken advantage of VoIP and predicts that small business adoption alone will triple by 2010.
With four basic models of VoIP available to businesses -- hosted, managed, in-house and broadband -- it is quickly becoming an affordable way for smaller firms to improve customer care.
What does VoIP do for businesses that traditional phone systems can't? For starters, it helps cut costs by reducing the number of private circuits, PTSN (Public Telephone Switched Network) lines, and ISDN 30 (Integrated Services Digital Network) lines a business uses.
Multi-site businesses can save additional money on regional and long-distance calls by using at least call routing and direct dialing, as these calls are routed across their own network -- and the cost savings don't stop there.
Before VoIP, adding or even just relocating a phone to another desk in an office could cost anywhere from US$50 to a few hundred dollars, and that was simply to have a technician come out to make the change.
Add to this the price of unanticipated additional hardware, and it becomes clear why some small businesses couldn't afford to augment their existing system with ACD or voice mail. With VoIP, such changes to an IP-based phone system can easily be made -- on site or remotely -- in just a matter of minutes.
Another limitation of traditional phone systems is the inability to tie in to other business applications, which is exactly what enables VoIP to help businesses deliver outstanding customer care.
When integrated with such data applications as CRM tools, employees have immediate access to customer histories and can make calls with the click of a mouse.
They're also better able to manage their time with call manager and presence applications that allow them to designate which calls should be forwarded to voice mail or another co-worker for immediate assistance.
In addition, it's important to note that system vendors are moving away from traditional phone systems. This means as VoIP technology advances, not only will the availability of traditional phone system hardware become scarce, the cost of maintaining such a system will also become more expensive than it already is.
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