The thing about the internet is that for almost every product, you’ll find a free version. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is no different. If you’re looking for a VoIP system, you’ll come across free VoIP services and cheap VoIP services. But are they the right solution for business communication?
Hundreds of thousands of people use these free VoIP services. And that’s what you have to understand. They’re used by people and not by businesses. To know whether a free VoIP system makes sense for you, let’s understand how VoIP works.
Traditional phones use PSTN or Public Switched Telephone Network to connect people. These run on copper lines and you need a PBX or Private Branch Exchange if you want to connect multiple users and want functionalities such as call routing or auto-attendant.
VoIP uses the internet to connect users. It converts voice into digital data packets and transfers them over the internet. At the receiver’s end, the data will be unpacked into voice. You don’t need expensive hardware to use a VoIP system. All you need is a compatible device, headset and a reliable internet connection.
Like any technology, VoIP has its advantages and disadvantages. If you’re considering a VoIP system for business, here are the factors you should keep in mind.
Do you plan to use your VoIP number for customer support? Will you be fielding a lot of incoming calls? If so, you will require additional business features such as voicemail and auto-reply. When you search for VoIP systems, beyond the cost (and whether it’s free), find out if they will support your current and future requirements.
Getting a VoIP system for personal use is very different from getting one for business. When researching VoIP systems for business, find out if the system has:
All the features you need
An easy-to-use interface
Reliable customer support
A free trial period
An easier way to find out if a VoIP system will meet your requirements is by going through online customer reviews. But it’s business users that you should be looking for. Personal users are more likely to be happy with the fact it’s a free VoIP service.
Yes, you can get VoIP for free. Some providers have a free version for individual usage and paid versions for those looking for premium features. Regular users won’t mind if the service comes with congested bandwidth or limited features.
Business users, however, want additional features and dedicated customer support. That’s why for business use, you should opt for a subscription price plan.
A VoIP system is considerably cheaper than a landline. You don’t have to buy hardware or pay for its installation. You also don’t have to worry about its maintenance. Moreover, VoIP services have lower monthly fees, which will reduce the operational expenses of businesses.
Before getting a VoIP service, specifically a free VoIP service, you should be aware of its limitations.
Some free VoIP services allow you to make and receive calls but they don’t give you a specific phone number. So, you won’t be able to call that number from a landline.
Another problem with free VoIP systems is that you can’t call people outside that network. For example, if you use Google Duo, you can only call others who have the app.
Your VoIP system will work as long as you have a reliable internet connection. If there are disruptions, your calls will be interrupted. Personal users may not be bothered but a customer calling a business might be.
Free VoIP services are vulnerable to security breaches including phishing and scams. That’s why business users look for VoIP alternatives.
All VoIP providers aren’t created equal. Some such as Skype are primarily video conferencing platforms, whereas WhatsApp is for personal calls.
Google Voice comes with basic features like voicemail transcription and number porting but has no reliable customer support. Grasshopper, one of the earliest entrants in the sector, has better features aimed at early-stage startups and entrepreneurs.
Landline is fast becoming an archaic tool for modern businesses that have remote or hybrid work models. It limits you to a location, is expensive and comes with basic features.
VoIP is a popular alternative but free VoIP services have their limitations. You don’t get business tools and will run into problems with customer support. Plus, free VoIP systems without phone numbers limit you to that app.
Second-line apps are a smarter option. For starters, you get a second number for work. This is how you attain a better work-life balance. With Chalkboard, you can also share numbers to improve collaboration and to ensure that someone in your team will always be there to take incoming calls.
You also get business tools to enhance your communication. Chalkboard gives you auto-reply for calls you might miss. You can organise your contacts and broadcast to groups with marketing messages. The advanced chat allows you to build and maintain engaging relationships with your customers.
If you’re looking for VoIP for business, here’s everything you should know about the best VoIP alternatives
Looking for a VoIP phone system for your business? Here’s everything you need to know