Now that everyone is working from home during lockdown we’ve noticed some people are struggling with their phones.
We’re hearing the problem when we call an office and the number is forwarded to someone’s mobile. We’ll leave a message but sometimes it just rings out.
When we get a call back later it might not be from the person we want to speak to. That means waiting for another call, and playing telephone tag doesn’t make life any easier.
This is frustrating because we know we can deliver a better phone experience for you and the people who want to call you.
Move to a VoIP Phone System
Part of the answer is to adopt a cloud-hosted VoIP phone system. VoIP is “Voice over Internet Protocol” – in other words, using internet technology to carry your call as data. When that is cloud-hosted, it takes the system away from your office and into the phone company’s cloud computing system.
Putting your phone system into the cloud means you don’t need an office for your phone lines any more. Your colleagues are probably now working from home around Edinburgh and the Lothians, so a hosted VoIP system is ideal for communicating with your clients in a professional manner.
Which VoIP System is Best for Me?
There’s one question to consider and then we can move forward. How do you want to make phone calls?
The traditional option is a handset on your desk. VoIP systems do this very well even when you’re working away from your office. However, if your kitchen table is your temporary desk then plugging in and starting up your telephone every morning is not such a great idea.
Using VoIP with a Softphone
The next option is to have VoIP software (a “softphone”) on your computer. (From now on I’ll assume you’re using a laptop or a Microsoft Surface, but the software works perfectly well on a desktop PC if you have a headset attached to it).
The softphone option works well with a headset which includes a microphone. That can be a traditional set of headphones with a boom mike, or perhaps a Bluetooth earphone which hooks over one ear; there are lots of options available.
The other trick you can do is install a softphone app to your mobile. This lets you make and take calls on your office phone number as long as your mobile has a WiFi connection or a data signal.
When the public heath situation changes and we’re all able to work from our offices again, you can change over and use handsets on desks if you want to. It’s also possible to have both; you can choose to use the handset or the softphone so this is the most flexible VoIP option.
Using VoIP with Microsoft Teams
We’re finding that many people love the user experience with Microsoft Teams. We’re getting enquiries about using Teams to make and receive phone calls as well as text chat and video call.
It is entirely possible to use Teams as the phone system “client”. Some of the jargon is American because the system comes from Microsoft, but that might not be an issue once it’s been set up for you.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to set up Microsoft Teams as your main phone system.
We’d suggest it’s maybe not appropriate to trust your phone service to a large corporation. If there are any outages you will probably not be able to get support just when you need it. Depending on the problem, it might also be difficult to forward your number temporarily so that you can keep calling and working.
We’d suggest the better option is use a local telephone provider to provide the infrastructure behind Microsoft Teams. This keeps your support with people you can talk to and maybe actually get to meet! You’ll have more options for flexibility if changes have to be made and the calling plans are usually cheaper.
One point to note – if you’re going to use Microsoft Teams for your phone system, you won’t be able to use traditional handsets when you get back into your office.
If you’ve opted for a local telephone service provider, though, you will be able to migrate your phone numbers over to a VoIP system which offers the handset option. The same flexibility is on offer if you try Teams and decide you don’t like it; you won’t have paid for handsets until you decide you need them.
Internet Services for VoIP Phones
We’re often asked “what internet service do we need for VoIP?” and I’m afraid the answer is “it depends”.
If you have a leased line or fibre internet service to your office premises you probably won’t need to add another service but you might have to upgrade your router.
If you have another kind of internet service we’ll examine your data traffic and check the router you’re using. If you need to upgrade we’ll be able to advise and price for the service and equipment you need for a successful VoIP system.
As ever, we’ve got experience of using these systems ourselves and we’ll be pleased to give you references from our happy clients.
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