In business, nothing is more frustrating for a customer (or internal team members) than to be unable to communicate an efficient manner. In the 21st Century, at the very least, consumers expect that a business will offer basic communication tools: a toll free phone number, voicemail, email and a fax number.
For many small businesses, particularly those just starting out, even the basic amenities can be a problem. For example, it’s not uncommon for business owners to use their personal cellphone for business.
When you start a small business you do what you can. But technology has changed quickly. Today, technology has become so versatile and accessible that you’d be surprised at the services you can utilize; and they probably cost less than your monthly cell phone bill.
Future VoIP Possibilities
Gone are the days of the expensive landline. Celebrate a new era of the cloud, where cloud computing affords every startup and small business enterprise level phone service for a much lower price.
In the not so distant past, if you didn’t have a landline phone service for business, you were at a serious disadvantage. Landline phone services provided everything a business needed; voicemail, extensions, call transfer, conference calls, dial by name directories and hold music.
It wasn’t possible to get all of these business phone services without contracting a major phone company. But cloud computing and voice over IP (VoIP) have changed
all of that. Now you can get all of those communication features and so much more, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional phone system.
Reliable Free Phone Service
With the onset of new technology, consumers and businesses alike, opt to end the high monthly costs of a traditional landline. In fact, if your business has an Internet connection, then you can enjoy a full-service business phone with low international rates and unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada.
This is accomplished with VoIP hardware and services like Ooma Telo. Ooma Office uses your high-speed Internet connection to deliver a high quality, affordable business phone service. This includes toll-free numbers, transfers, caller-id, extension dialing, a conference bridge, business and after hours modes and more.
Staying ‘Virtually’ Connected
Virtual phone systems also offer tools that keep you connected with your team and customers in a seamless and effortless manner. From tools like Grasshopper, eVoice, Fonality and Ring Central, these VoIP providers offer phone services with added features that can enhance internal communications.
For example, Grasshopper (and other VoIP services) offers features that convert voicemail to WAV or MP3 format and then email the raw audio files. You can also convert faxes into PDFs and email them as attachments. Consider how much clearer communications would be if you could hear them yourself, rather than receive sticky notes from a team member because you weren’t available to take the call.
Joining the Conference
Conference call services are one of the most important collaboration tools for startups and small businesses. Conference calls are more high tech than ever before with free conference call systems like UberConference. For example, you can readily gain access to free, PINless conference calls with HD audio and recording capabilities.
Meanwhile, with the UberConference App for Hangouts team members can call your UberConference number and join attendees at a video Hangout session. The best part is you bring all of the UberConference features with you; you can see who is on the
call, who’s talking, the social profile and caller ID of participants and you can use mute or record the call. Start with the free version and upgrade based on your business needs.
Whether your sales team is drumming up sales or participating in an on-the-road demo and exhibition, you need to keep in touch. Google Apps is a popular way to do just that. With Google Apps you can share spreadsheets, documents and more. It also offers integrated online calendars so your team can stay apprised of what everyone is doing or make voice and video calls using Google Hangouts.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sheza Gary, a NY-based Project Strategist since 2009, has been involved with launching startups and tech companies for 5+ years. Sheza has a keen interest in sharing her own experiences with business plans and upcoming business supporting technologies. She loves public speaking. Connect with @shezagary on Twitter.