Fifty-five billion dollars.
That’s the projected size of the VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) market in 2025. That number represents a 12 percent compound annual growth rate. Importantly, these growth projections were made pre-pandemic. The pandemic has made remote work tools, like VoIP technology, more valuable than ever before.
Why Is VoIP Technology Essential Right Now?
VoIP has allowed businesses to be resilient. Forbes defines resilience as the ability to generate profit through changes in supply and demand while balancing flexibility and productivity.
It’s hard to imagine how businesses would survive mandated social distancing without VoIP platforms.
Upfront costs are minimal as the service is delivered over an existing data network. And, VoIP is entirely flexible, allowing you to scale up or down the number of lines or features depending on your needs.
You pay a simple monthly fee which makes budgeting easy. And you only pay for what you use. The cost savings from using a VoIP can be applied to other parts of the business.
How Does VoIP Fit into the Future of Business Communications?
The Covid-19 crisis has caused many companies to allow employees to work from home. This has forced companies to assess the effectiveness of their communication systems.
In the best of times, using a mix of landlines and mobile phones puts a business at a disadvantage. The trend to replace landlines with VoIP technologies has been increasing.
Before the pandemic, the momentum away from landlines to VoIP was attributed to several factors, including
- Decreasing costs
- Increasing adoption by small and medium-size businesses
- Emerging 5G technology
- The growing trend of mobility in businesses
Remote work needs plus social distancing norms will likely speed up the trend to replace landlines with VoIP technologies. As we’ll see below, VoIP technology is a perfect fit for remote work.
Better, Faster, Cheaper
Even in the best of times, successful businesses need to figure out how to do things better, faster, or cheaper—or all three—than their competitors. Today’s business owners should look to VoIP to help them survive this crisis.
Survival means reducing expenses to offset contracting revenues. It means improving employee productivity while keeping customers happy.
Let’s see how VoIP can play an essential role in helping businesses survive the pandemic’s economic fallout.
More Economical Than Traditional Landlines
VoIP can be as much as 40 to 80 percent less expensive than traditional landline phone services. These cost savings come from the fact that VoIP has very different building blocks than landlines.
Landlines use a lot of hardware. This physical infrastructure requires maintenance and labor. The costs to build and maintain such a network are passed along to the consumer.
This infrastructure includes expensive copper wire networks that are connected around the globe. Businesses that want multiple phone lines need on-site installation of a private branch exchange (PBX). A PBX on-site installation can costs businesses thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars.
In contrast, VoIP networks don’t need this hardware. An internet broadband connection powers the service. This allows data and voice to move between existing networks and on a single channel.
Adding a new landline can cost a business between $50 and $100 per month. This monthly fee generally covers fees to deliver voice over the physical wire network, often called carriage costs.
VoIP plans, in contrast, are available for less than $20 per month.
Another costs savings for businesses that use VoIP technology is lower taxes. Only a 3 percent Federal Excise Tax is applied to VoIP bills.
VoIP technology has features available that may help a business save money on payroll costs as well. One example is the auto-attendant feature that could replace a receptionist.
If a business relies on a receptionist to handle the frontline phone calls, take messages and transfer calls, VoIP may be an alternative.
Consider that a full-time receptionist’s average annual salary is $36,664. Add the cost of health insurance and the cost of training an employee with excellent communication skills. A cost-conscious business owner can recognize the clear savings of an auto-attendant.
Another potential workforce cost saving can be realized by allowing current employees to work from home 50 percent of the time. Workplace researchers have found businesses can save $11,000 annually per employee that works remotely 50 percent of the time. The savings come from a reduction in utility bills and office space.
While cell phones support a mobile workforce, the cost of cellular data for an entirely remote workforce is daunting. Navigating cell phone plans can be a full-time job. Is that really how business owners want to spend precious human resources?
Local and Long-Distance Calling
Many VoIP providers offer unlimited local calls as part of the monthly fee.
In a global economy, making long-distance calls (domestic and international) is common. Imagine the phone bill for remote workers that use their cell phone plans to make long-distance calls several times a day while in quarantine!
Domestic long-distance charges and roaming charges are rare for VoIP. International calling charges are much less expensive with VoIP.
VoIP Is Scalable and Flexible
Running a business is like white water rafting. Today’s environment reflects the part of the ride where rafts are plunging wildly down a fall. The delicate balance between supply and demand has shifted.
VoIP helps businesses confront unexpected shifts. It confers the ability to scale up and scale down at a moment’s notice.
But why is VoIP scalable?
Since VoIP doesn’t require a big capital investment to scale up like a landline would, scaling down doesn’t lead to sunk costs. Businesses don’t have to pay for copper wire and on-site PBX when business is good. And they don’t keep paying for it when business is bad.
When revenues contract they won’t need to keep paying for ten phone lines when they may only need five. At the same time, when their business expands, they can add back those extra five lines.
Let’s take a closer look at the flexible features VoIP technology offers.
Features: Lots of Them, Anytime, Anywhere
The best way to sum up the VoIP experience is anytime, anywhere. At its most basic, a broadband internet connection is all an employee needs to connect to a work phone system from home.
Minimal or No Hardware
There are special VoIP phones that employees can take home with them. There are also VoIP adaptors that employees can use with regular landlines. But most VoIP providers have software apps for use on computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Just a few months ago, video conferencing was uncommon. The Covid-19 pandemic has made virtual meetings via video conference the norm.
Going forward, employees and customers alike will expect businesses to have robust video communication capability. This is possible with VoIP technologies.
Businesses are using video conference calls for more than staff meetings. Social distancing has forced companies to use video conferencing for interviews, training, and coaching as well.
The instant messaging feature common with VoIP allows real-time text communication among coworkers and managers without clogging up email inboxes.
Another powerful feature of VoIP is its portability. With traditional landlines, businesses can’t move to a new physical location and expect to maintain the same phone system.
If a business using landlines relocates, a professional installer needs to visit the new site. If any of you has had to set up a new landline, you’ll know it can take several days to organize and execute.
Virtual Phone Numbers
With VoIP, you don’t have to change your phone number if you move your business. These virtual phone numbers are a feature of VoIP and are completely portable.
Most VoIP phone set-ups are self-install, so you’ll be up and running a few minutes of moving into a new office. If the business chooses to use VoIP phone hardware items, these are also easy to install and they don’t require specialized technical knowledge.
Customers can call the same numbers; employees can dial the same extensions as well as transfer and receive calls. For businesses that were already using VoIP phone systems, the move from office to remote work has been seamless.
Accessible and Secure
VoIP platforms also securely store files, projects, and data on the cloud, which can be accessed anytime and anywhere. An employee doesn’t need to be in the office to access a file. Also, employees’ email inboxes don’t get clogged up with large attachments if documents and data are stored in the cloud.
With screen sharing, employees working at disparate locations can be looking at the same documents simultaneously and view real-time changes.
This feature is also helpful in working with customers. Salespeople who can’t visit face to face with customers to review documents can do this over a VoIP system.
Screen sharing saves time by eliminating email ping-pong. It also reduces the confusion of tracking the most current version of documents.
How Productive Are Employees That Work From Home?
The debate around the productivity of remote workers may finally be settled after this massive pandemic-induced work-from-home experiment.
In a recent productivity survey of a thousand full-time employees across the United States, researchers found that telecommuters worked seventeen more days per year than their office coworkers.
Remote workers also spent 25 more minutes a week exercising compared to their office coworkers. Businesses could indirectly save on health insurance!
An often-cited reason to keep workers in the office is that they would be too distracted at home. However, researchers have found that office employees spent twice as much discussing non-work topics with their coworkers as remote employees. And managers were the worst offenders.
Fortunately, VoIP allows companies to collaborate using voice, video, and text in real-time is as close as you can get to being in the same office space.
VoIP platforms offer monitoring and reporting tools for employers who feel squeamish about not directly supervising employee activity in the office.
VoIP technology is a must for businesses who want to not just survive the pandemic, but who want to thrive in the new world of social distancing.
Now is the time for companies to install VoIP to be ready for uninterrupted productivity during the next crisis.
Customer Experience Improves With VoIP Technologies
There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than their call to a business to go unanswered. Companies know that an unhappy customer leads to lost revenues and lost referrals.
Unanswered calls can be blamed on employees being out to lunch, on vacation, on another line, or the business is closed for a national holiday—or a national crisis. If the business is closed, the auto-attendant can deliver recorded status updates to callers.
VoIP technology’s auto-attendant feature allows businesses to route calls to different people in an organization wherever they happen to be. VoIP helps enterprises present a consistent and unified communication style.
Do You Remember the Office?
That physical location where coworkers gathered daily with receptionists, conference rooms, copier rooms, cubicles, break rooms? Remember when coworkers were suspicious of anyone who claimed to be working remotely? Sounds quaint, doesn’t it?
With social distancing a pivotal strategy to reduce the spread of disease, more companies will need to embrace remote work. Switching to VoIP is a great way to make this transition.
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