What It Is & Why Your Company Needs It
This guide provides a comprehensive overview of VoIP solutions for Enterprises. Discussing exactly what VoIP is and how it works, you’ll get a full understanding of the enterprise grade features and functionality offered, the unparalleled benefits of leveraging VoIP and the simplicity of choosing and implementing the right solution.
- What is VoIP?
- How Does VoIP Work?
- VoIP is NOT Your Traditional Telephony
- Advantages of Using VoIP for Your Enterprise
- Features of an Enterprise VoIP System
- Enterprise VoIP and Customer Experience
- Enterprise VoIP Security
- The Simplicity of Setting Up Your Enterprise VoIP System
- What to Look for When Choosing a VoIP for Your Enterprise
- Making the Switch to Enterprise VoIP
What is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), also known as IP telephony, is a group of technologies that deliver voice communications and multimedia sessions over the internet. VoIP solutions allow users to make calls using a broadband internet connection in place of a traditional, or analog, phone line. VoIP endpoints include dedicated desktop IP phones, softphone applications running on PCs and mobile devices, as well as web-enabled browsers.
Whether you know it or not, you’ve definitely heard of VoIP. Skype is one of the most-known web-based consumer VoIP services currently in use worldwide. With over 663 million users, Skype lets you not only connect via voice communications, but also through video and chat technology, on a computer. In the simplest of forms, this VoIP technology is a staple in modern communication and already a household concept.
According to a Forbes study, over 34 million Americans use some sort of internet telephone service.
Now, taking it a step further, let’s discuss VoIP solutions as it relates to today’s business telephone systems environment.
Until the 1980s, businesses made traditional phone calls via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN). This included the burden of investing big money and space into clunky copper wiring and switches. Since then, innovation has come a long way, and with the invention of VoIP, phone calls could be made over the same IP data networks as a computer (and now, in today’s world, smartphones and tablets). So, businesses caught on pretty quickly, and Cloud VoIP took off.
With VoIP phone systems, businesses are able to achieve high-quality communications for a fraction of traditional legacy setups and significantly greater functionality.
Cloud VoIP is currently the most powerful version of business phone service that allows modern businesses to send and receive voice, video, and data communications through their internet network.
Yes, we’ve moved beyond just voice! We’ve entered into a time where businesses are communicating via voice, email, SMS, messaging, and video all over one highly feature-rich VoIP phone system.
In short, Cloud VoIP for enterprises is a revolutionary technology that has not only re-defined how businesses communicate and collaborate internally, but has also set the bar higher in customer relationship management.
How Does VoIP Work?
VoIP functions in a way that you most likely already understand. In short, just like any other data you send over the internet, like email (or slack messages), voice communication is transferred into data packets and is sent over an IP network, like a broadband cable connection, or T1. This completely eliminates the need to have a traditional phone line installed in an office building, as all calls are made directly over the internet.
So, let’s get a bit technical…
Voice is converted by an Analog Telephony Adapter (ATA) or IP phone, from an analog signal to a digital signal.
Then sent over the internet in data packets and reaching close to its destination, voice packets are converted back to an analog signal for the remainder of the journey. Traveling over a traditional circuit switch (PSTN), the voice data is then transferred to the other user. That’s what makes VoIP calls possible, regardless of whether it’s a VoIP to VoIP call or not.
Also to mention, one of the great benefits of this transfer to a digital signal is that it makes it possible for VoIP service providers to offer powerful features including voice messages to email, call logs, caller ID, call forwarding, and more. So, say goodbye to just a phone system, say hello to an all-inclusive information hub.
VoIP is NOT Your Traditional Telephony
Let’s step back for a moment and dive a little deeper into the history of VoIP. That way, everything else will make more sense.
VoIP transmission began in 1973 as a result of the experimental Network Voice Protocol. However, it took until 1995 for the first internet VoIP phone to be brought to market.
Early adopters quickly recognized the potential of transmitting over the internet instead of through traditional phone lines, and by 1998, VoIP traffic represented 1% of all voice traffic in the United States. By 2004, the introduction of VoIP calling plans permitted subscribers to make phone calls as any other telephony company service, and that is when VoIP really took off.
Fast forward to today…
When VoIP first began to trend among businesses around the world, the advanced technology was considered nice to have and a suggested telecommunications solution. That is all in the past.
Communications between employees, customers, and clients are the foundation of any successful company. Without the steady, reliable and efficient flow of knowledge, a business cannot and will not succeed. In today’s world, the use of cloud-based communications is a necessity rather than a want.
The question is, “Why?” …
Looking at the average VoIP phone, you’re probably thinking it doesn’t look much different from any analog phone you’ve ever seen. Well, that’s true. VoIP phones look pretty similar but don’t be deceived; there is much more to a VoIP phone than meets the eye.
For example, …
VoIP phones are capable of HD voice, while traditional business phones are not.
A common myth surrounding cloud VoIP is that call quality is sacrificed when calling over the internet. Don’t listen to those rumors! HD Voice offers at least double the audio range of that traditional look-alike phone, which means that the quality of business calls using a VoIP phone is unparalleled.
While HD Voice is only scratching the surface of differences between VoIP and traditional telephony, it’s often the most underestimated differentiator.
Let’s take a look at a few other important differences:
- Traditional systems have dedicated lines, whereas VoIP allows for all channels to be carried over one internet connection.
- Traditional phone system users will have to pay extra for features like call waiting and caller ID, but these features are usually included with VoIP service.
- Long distance calling is usually per minute or a bundled minute subscription for traditional phone systems, but VoIP users can enjoy unlimited long distance calling, included in the monthly service fee.
- Feature upgrades and system expansions require new, clunky equipment and line provisioning, while VoIP is 100% scalable with upgrades and line additions usually just requiring bandwidth to perform the software upgrades.
Advantages of Using VoIP for Your Enterprise
It’s no secret that enterprises have always been plagued with the continuous rise of communication expenses associated with their corporate networks and IT infrastructures. However, eliminating the need for servers and storage systems, VoIP allows enterprises to invest significantly less into their IT infrastructure from the moment they migrate to the cloud. Ultimately, VoIP shifts an enterprise’s cost model from CAPEX to OPEX – completely alleviating the financial pressure often associated with acquiring the newest technology on the market.
Furthermore, VoIP reduces the financial burden of ongoing upgrade and feature enhancement expenses, thus reducing the risk of technological obsolescence. So, with the increasing rate of technology evolution required for organizations be more agile in their technology deployment, VoIP is a solution that makes it easy and cost effective to stay ahead of the technological curve.
In terms of ensuring that business communication remains consistent, VoIP provides Business Continuity Planning that proactively puts rules in place for call routing in the event of a natural disaster. As major weather events can have a huge impact on ongoing operations, particularly when it hits a densely populated region of the United States, VoIP ensures businesses avoid an interruption in their communications with customers, under any circumstance.
VoIP solution providers typically operate with geographically redundant data centers, providing a level of resiliency that a typical business would find very challenging to replicate.
Another important aspect of business communications is the mounting importance of organizations considering cloud technology a major business asset. Today, more and more businesses are relying on mobile applications to drive productivity and collaboration during their day-today operations.
For example, technical installation staff are able to obtain real-time access to databases in the field, allowing them to update what they are working on with a customer or allow them to give on-demand quotes. This enables companies to send information regarding their next service call while in the field, while tracking whereabouts and productivity.
With VoIP, enterprises can take significant advantage of mobile technology assets by making it simpler for users to acquire what they need, regardless of where they are working.
Features of an Enterprise VoIP System
Today, we are seeing a rapid shift to VoIP phone systems for a wide range of benefits including the delivery of such a robust feature set that drives performance, collaboration and productivity for enterprises.
Taking full advantage of the technology, enterprises are given complete control over their business communications through a single user-friendly solution that helps them stay connected, anywhere, at any time, and on any device.
- Includes 500+ phone system features
- Individual DID, Toll Free numbers and minutes included
- Up to 65,000 users and 1000 branch offices per Enterprise customer
- Centralized management. Connect multiple offices.
VoIP offers a rich, integrated Unified Communications (UC) feature set for differentiated service bundles.
Integrated UC features include:
- Collaboration (Voice Conference, Screen share, Video)
- Mobility (Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops and more)
- Integrated multichannel desktop and phone panel
- Conference Phone Collaboration Point inter-working
- Microsoft Lync integration
- Dynamic Extension
- Audio & Video
- Audio & Video Conferencing
- Instant Messaging
- Group Chat
- Presence Visibility w/Control
- File Sharing/Screen Sharing
- Call Recording
- Softphone Calling
- Voicemail Retrieval
- Voice-to-Email Transcription
- Screen Recording
Enterprise VoIP and Customer Experience
The way customers and contact center agents communicate is changing. Customers are demanding more from their businesses of choice, and enterprises must oblige to the rapidly changing environment in order to remain on top of their customer service experience.
Enterprise VoIP customers leveraging advanced cloud multimedia contact center technology are seeing significant improvements in the way they deliver services to their customers.
Does your business closely monitor these 6 key contact center performance management indicators?
- Average Time Spent in Queue – The cumulative amount of time customers waits in queue prior to an agent responding divided by the total number of calls answered by agents.
- First Center Resolution – The percentage of calls in which an agent is able to completely address the customer’s needs without requiring a transfer or having to call the customer back.
- Average Abandonment Rate – Percentage of customers who disengage before speaking with an agent.
- Average After Call Work Time – The amount of time an agent spends finalizing a transaction after the caller has disengaged.
- Average Handle Time – The elapsed time from when an agent answers a call until the agent disconnects.
- Employment Turnover Rate – The percentage of agents that terminate employment with the contact center to work elsewhere.
You or the contact center supervisor most definitely do closely monitor those Key Performance Indicators, if you value customer experience!
We have arrived at a time when it’s imperative for enterprises to deliver a memorable customer service experience with a hyper-connected and hyper-personalized multimedia contact center that offers your customers various channels to communicate including voice, email, webchat, fax or SMS.
With multimedia contact center functionality, enterprises are able to provide a comprehensive customer experience and create a customer-centric culture that separates them from their competition.
It’s time to create a culture of rapid response times among your employees from anywhere, at any time and on any device.
Here are 3 ways that leveraging a cloud contact center is streamlining operations for enterprises:
ENSURING BUSINESS CONTINUITY
Business continuity within a cloud contact center operation promises that businesses are provided with a highly resilient architecture, designed to ensure uninterrupted business communication and customer experience.
DEPLOYING IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT
With a virtual contact center, businesses can tailor a solution to meet their unique needs, with a combination of Automated Call Distribution (ACD) software, robust communications platforms, and a modular suite of feature-rich, web-based applications.
UTILIZING MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING APPLICATIONS
Contact Center Operations Management – Providing real-time and historical analytical reporting, contact center agents and supervisors are equipped with critical data to more efficiently improve contact center Key Performance Indicators.
Workforce Scheduling and Schedule Adherence – With workforce management tools, contact center supervisors are able to forecast, monitor and manage customer-agent interactions to better optimize internal operations for a more cost-effective workforce.
Empowering productivity with advanced tools:
- Agent & Supervisor Web-based Client – a single application designed to handle all digital customer interactions so agents and supervisors experience synchronicity between all media channels
- Agent Call Recording– ensure superior customer service through quality control and agent performance-based monitoring that encourages a highly productive work environment
- Flexible Reporting – equip supervisors with real-time and historical reporting of call center agent performance metrics to easily determine strengths and weakness
- Salesforce Integration – deliver a true multimedia customer experience with Salesforce CRM software
Enterprise VoIP Security
With data being transferred over the internet, VoIP solution providers must make data security an absolute priority in order to ensure their customers are properly armored against the widest range of data security risks.
Securing information with cloud VoIP by adhering to best-in-class industry standards and data security protocols is not an option, but a requirement.
Examples of full scope countermeasures:
- Encrypted signaling protocol
- Deploying Session Border Controllers (SBC) in data centers to protect against voice network attacks
- Data centers that provide 99.99% availability with geo-redundancy for workload balance
- TCP for call signaling to ensure end-to-end call completion
- Encrypted voice communications using Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) with 128-bit AES encryption adding confidentiality, message authentication and reply protection
- Password protecting user interfaces including online portals, desktop, and mobile applications, as well as VoIP phone handsets
- Providing private link voice traffic with an MPLS circuit
The Simplicity of Setting Up Your Enterprise VoIP System
Simplicity is key when migrating to a VoIP solution and being proactive in preparation, pre-migration, is what will contribute most to a positive experience.
As part of the VoIP implementation process, enterprises may have to increase the bandwidth capacity in order to successfully power the new VoIP phone system. This should, and is often, something that the business development executive will discuss during the initial stages, and if not, then it’s time to find another provider.
The VoIP service provider assists in determining LAN and WAN infrastructure requirements and includes any provisioning in the plan.
From there, setting up an Enterprise VoIP system is seamless and without disruption or downtime.
While no two VoIP service providers are the same, and experiences may vary, the implementation process should be a breeze and fully managed by the provider’s support and provisioning team.
What to Look for When Choosing a VoIP for Your Enterprise?
When choosing the best VoIP provider for your enterprise, there is a slew to compare and choose from. So how does an enterprise decide? With an average of 14 decision-makers involved in selecting an Enterprise VoIP solution, it’s critical that each stakeholder fully understands what they are getting themselves into with a VoIP service provider.
You have to move slowly and do your homework…
Don’t choose your VoIP service provider solely based on price, especially. In many circumstances, “you get what you pay for.”
It comes as no surprise the #1 complaint among enterprises is that their customer experience with their VoIP service provider is mediocre at best, and downright frustrating at worst. It’s never a good thing to feel like just a number in a sea of other customers bidding for equal attention. That’s why it’s critical that enterprises look at the entire picture before deciding on which solution is going to not only fit their needs but become a long-term fruitful partnership.
Here are some critical questions that need to be asked before moving forward with any provider:
- Do they offer user training? Is it free?
- Is there US-based customer support? Is it 24/7/365?
- Will I have a dedicated account manager?
- Does the provider listen to my needs and uniquely tailor my experience?
- Do they offer a lifetime warranty on hardware?
- Are features and upgrades included?
- Is there a Service Level Agreement?
- Is there a Business Continuity Plan in cases of system outages?
- Is the provider conscious of my budget?
- Will I receive regular communication regarding new features available to me?
Making the Switch to Enterprise VoIP
Whether businesses like it or not (they should), everything is entering the virtual environment. There was a time where phones were the only source of communication for businesses, and while that was an incredible advancement for the business world, phones are now only the foundation of communications.
Cloud VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) is the new generation, and it’s undeniable that enterprises that do not adopt modern forms of telecommunications will not see progress, if that is, their doors even stay open.
Between instant messaging, web conferencing, video conferencing, e-mailing, fax via email, and so many other new methods of communications, it’s a necessity for companies to adopt VoIP solutions. It may seem complex for many “traditional” users; however, it is implemented seamlessly and incredibly user-friendly – even for those that are not technologically savvy.