Even with technology advancing at unprecedented speeds, there are some things that the majority of businesses — especially small businesses — are still behind on. Faxes may be going the way of the dinosaur, to be replaced with the quicker, cheaper, and more reliable email, but landline phones are hardly an endangered species. But why? Landlines are expensive and bordering on archaic, but many small businesses have found themselves in the uncomfortable position of having outdated hardware, leaving them seemingly unable to upgrade even from one landline service to another without paying to have their entire switchboard or access point replaced.
This would cost upwards of $ 8,000 for most businesses in need of the service.
The most common alternative, of course, is to go wireless. Cell phones are smaller, more advanced, and portable; multi-line calling capability comes standard with most cellular plans — but the service just isn’t as reliable. Calls drop, batteries die, small voicemail boxes fill up, and you’re left hanging whether you’re the business or the client. There’s also the issue of upgrading the phone later, which can be a living nightmare for many business owners.
Being forced to change your number with a change in contract, importing years’ worth of contact information, re-recording voicemail greetings and re-training on the use of multi-line systems and call forwarding might not completely outweigh the benefit of getting rid of your landline, but it’s sure to come close.
While the reliability and familiarity of a landline makes it the most common choice for business phone lines, the advent of virtual phone systems has brought about a whole new way of taking calls. Virtual phone systems eliminate the need for the bulky, outdated hardware that’s left so many businesses in a lurch, and streamline different technologies together to cooperate as a single cohesive unit. Requirements are minimal, costs are low, and the amount of flexibility puts virtual phone systems leagues above the standard landline.
Virtual phone systems require nothing more than a computer and an active and steady Internet connection, but can be integrated with so much more. Virtual calling can be linked to any Internet-ready mobile device, freeing up valuable employees from hours at a desk waiting for the phone to ring, and keep your most valuable clients from becoming missed calls — and the link can be broken at any time, meaning you won’t be asked to take reservations or make an order while you’re on vacation.
Service providers also offer compatible handsets and headsets to connect to your computer, giving you the option of maintaining the standard answering process: Just pick up the phone.
Complex Features, Simple Execution
The technology behind virtual phone lines is complex, but the execution is simple: When a client calls your number, instead of travelling through phone lines on poles lining the street, reaching a switchboard and being directed down the right line to reach you, the call is routed digitally through a virtual system and transmitted to you via the Internet. The call comes in the same way an email makes it from one computer to another, or from a computer to your smartphone.
Because everything is done virtually, the need for a technician to do on-site support is limited, if it exists at all. Where landline phones need to be tagged for new extensions and voicemail boxes by a professional, with cost for labor, virtual lines have no such requirement. All it takes to get a new employee situated is a call to your service provider and the new extension is live instantly.
Other features of virtual phone lines include:
- Digital Fax Service: Have faxes transmitted directly to your computer, and eliminate the need for another bulky machine.
- Virtual Receptionist: Most virtual phone systems have the option of integrating a touch-tone menu for callers who just want simple information. Let them listen to a recording of your business hours by pressing 1 instead of taking up your employees’ valuable time asking simple questions.
- Local Phone Numbers: If your business operates in more than one area code, virtual phone systems allow you to seamlessly integrate multiple numbers with multiple area codes into the same line. All calls forward to the main number, or to the extension of your employee in that area.
Virtual phone systems are an easy, cost-effective way to keep up with advancing technology, and highly recommended for businesses looking for reliable ways to stay relevant in today’s changing tech-driven marketplace. With more features than a landline phone at noticeably lower cost and with next to no hassle, there’s simply no contest.