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Written by
Katy Ratican
27 Jun 2022
4 minutes

VoIP providers aren't created equal: Your essential business guide to choosing the best

The complete guide to VoIP providers that will help you choose the best for your business
VoIP providers business guide

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is a superior option to traditional phone lines. Shifting to VoIP providers can significantly benefit your business communication in several ways. But among all the VoIP providers, which one should you choose?

What parameters should you keep in mind when comparing VoIP providers? What features should you be interested in as a small business owner or freelancer? Are there any risks associated with VoIP? Are there better options than VoIP?

Here are the answers to all your questions about VoIP providers in this complete guide specifically created for small businesses and freelancers.

What are VoIP systems?

The conventional phone lines transfer voice through a network made of copper wires. VoIP uses the internet to connect people. VoIP providers convert voice into a digital packet which will be unpacked at the receiver’s end.

In other words, with VoIP, the internet is your telephone network. You can use your laptop, tablet or smartphone with an internet connection to make and receive calls. You can also add an adapter to your regular phone to use VoIP.

Unlike a traditional multi-line or PBX, it’s easy to get started with a VoIP provider. You can easily add a business line to your smartphone with VoIP. Compared to cellphone calls, you don’t have to worry about getting a new device or SIM.

VoIP systems vs. on-premises PBX systems

Those looking at VoIP for their business will have to compare VoIP systems versus PBX. If you’ve ever used a traditional phone system in an office, most likely you would have used an on-premise PBX (Private Branch Exchange).

In an on-premise PBX, the phone system is based in the location. The business has to buy all the hardware and get it installed on the premises. All the calls made through an on-premise PBX go through a call server in the network.

In VoIP systems, the business doesn’t have to buy any hardware. The software on which the system runs will be hosted in the cloud, which is why it’s also called cloud PBX. All the calls will go through a cloud-based server in VoIP. The VoIP provider will also take care of the system’s maintenance.

VoIP vs second-line phone apps

A second-line app gives you a second line through software. By downloading the software on any of your connected devices, you’ll be able to make and receive calls. Second-line apps also allow you to share multi-media content and come with several features that will help your business grow.

Chalkboard is a second-line app built for small businesses and freelancers. Unlike an on-premise PBX, you’re not limited to a location with this app. You could be in the office, outside with a client or at home and still use your number through connected devices.

Second-line apps like Chalkboard give you enhanced features such as auto-reply, contact organisation, number sharing, group broadcast and review management. In that sense, what you get is an integrated business phone system at a fraction of the cost of traditional phone lines.

Looking for a VoIP provider? Features to consider before making a decision

As you compare VoIP providers, keep in mind whether they have the right features that will help manage and optimise your business communication.

  • Call forwarding. Ensure you can stay connected by forwarding the incoming call to another number.

  • Auto-attendant: Can your VoIP provider transfer calls to their desired extensions without human intervention?

  • Integrations: If your VoIP can integrate with other software you use, you’ll save time and increase productivity.

  • Shared numbers: If your team members can share a number, it will improve collaboration and customer engagement.

  • Call recording. By recording calls, you can train your employees on how to better respond to them.

The disadvantages of VoIP

When comparing VoIP providers, you should also be mindful of the technology’s disadvantages. For starters, it will only work if there is an internet connection. In network ‘black spots’ or places with a weak internet connection, your calls will be interrupted.

Secondly, there are several inherent security risks with VoIP. Phishing, call tampering, SPIT (Spam over IP Telephony) and malware and viruses are some of the digital threats you might come across.

Popular VoIP providers in 2022

Business owners, startups and freelancers looking at VoIP providers in 2022 can consider these popular options.

Google Voice

Do you conduct all your business through the Google Workspace apps? Then, Google Voice could be the right option for you. You get voicemail greeting, voicemail transcription and auto-attendant with the app. The basic service is free but doesn’t have the features you would need. Also, its customer support leaves much to be desired.

Grasshopper

Launched as early as 2003, Grasshopper was one of the first VoIP providers. The app gives you call routing, SMS and voicemail. You can port your existing number to Grasshopper. You can also set up custom greetings and choose when to accept and direct calls.

Chalkboard: A second-line alternative to VoIP

Why should you consider Chalkboard as your business phone system? Because it gives you all the advantages of VoIP with none of the disadvantages.

You get a second line for work to separate your work and personal lives. You also get contact organisation and group broadcast to share marketing messages. With Chalkboard’s advanced chat, you can build deeper relationships with customers.

Chalkboard helps with marketing by sending automated requests to your contacts for online reviews. You can also share numbers between team members, which will significantly improve collaboration.

While VoIP needs a stable internet connection, Chalkboard relies on cellular coverage to connect you to the internet. Since mobile coverage is more widespread, you won’t have to worry about dropped calls or interrupted conversations.

Download Chalkboard today and start your free trial. You can finally combine communication and marketing at an affordable cost.

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