Mar 11, 2021
VoIP 101 with Reiner Schrenk
Everything you need to know about VoIP
You might be wondering who Alexander Graham Bell is? He invented the telephone many years ago. That device has changed the way that we communicate around the world. We're going to talk about how to ensure that you are cost-effective with how you communicate. And more importantly, what is VoIP? We've got Reiner here from VoIP studio to go through how a cloud-based phone system works. What is the difference between VoIP and a traditional phone system?
Learn more about VoIP at dorksdelivered.com.au
Reiner: The main difference between the two is traditional phone systems are traditional analog, and VoIP is digital. Analog is not as versatile as digital is nowadays. And with that comes a lot of benefits.
I would say from personal experience is that it’s very convenient. The first analog recordings from recorded tape players were no longer valued as they went over further distances. You'd get weird noises and interruptions. But with using VoIP, the difference between having to go through your CD collection to find a song, you only need to jump onto Spotify with just one click. That's one of the benefits of VoIP being cloud-based. There are different flavours of VoIP and the way it can work. But why should a business jump into a cloud-based phone system?
How VoIP works
Reiner: Yes. Traditional phones have less versatility. For example, when you are on a call with an electrician, you can't move from one point to somewhere else because you are using a traditional wired phone. The advantage of switching to VoIP would be, you can easily have your laptop with you anywhere you go by connecting it to Wi-Fi without moving your desk.
You've got a lot of versatility, traditional phones. You have to have a traditional phone line coming into your property. You then have to have that wired to different rooms, and then you end up having to call an electrician if you want to move the point somewhere else where a huge, big advantage to VoIP would be that you can easily have that on your laptop that can be going over Wi-Fi, you can move your desk, and it's not going to cost you any money.
So there's a lot of these other just infrastructure costs that aren't necessarily always taken into account that you can have that flexibility with VOIP.
Reiner: I've known a lot of people who work from different locations. When they move from the UK over to the US every few months or every few weeks, they'd pack their laptop up and plug in their VoIP phone and use it over the internet.
Finding a VoIP Provider
With VoIP, you also don't get that annoying echo because the whole phone system is digital and faster than it used to be. Rather than running copper lines or going underneath the ceiling around the place. It sounds super, super flexible. But if you've got your current phone system, can you still use a normal phone with VoIP?
Reiner: You can. You just need a VoIP provider. Some people have their phones at home or in their business, and they are looking to swap to VoIP. So what other companies provided was this little box that you plugged into an internet cable and plug your phone in. This transforms your analog phone into a digital phone. This is way more cost-effective and less expensive. These boxes I am talking about are configured.
That’s great that it will give you the ability to use your old phones. You can also go to new phones by using an app, which is another cool thing. Am I right in saying that most providers would allow you to have an app on your phone you can use to make a call using a professional business number? So you don't end up getting calls at midnight from a client through your mobile?
Reiner: Yes. Most providers have both applications. And in some cases, you can still use third-party applications that might be a little bit more lightweight. It's become a far more common practice nowadays with 4G strengthening and with 5G coming in. This will make everything better.
If I'm not in the office, I've got the softphone. A softphone is a little program on your computer that allows you to answer and hang up the phone and take and transfer calls. But when I'm on the run, I jump into the mobile and use the same app when someone is calling in. How does this vary, especially if you're a smaller business without an existing phone system in place or an intelligent phone system? How do people get that sort of hold music in place? One of the cool things about cloud-based phone systems is you can add your hold music, which could be promoting your products. But you're able to add your own hold music, which could be promoting your own products and things like that while people are listening in, is that right?
Reiner: I've been in the VoIP industry for over ten years, and one of the main things that I've realised now is, everybody has blind spots. Someone might be an expert in medieval literature. They might not know anything about VoIP or computers, so you need to make it simple and easy to use while still maintaining that versatility. I know people who were born sometime around the Second World War who use VoIP like most of us. You just need to know which buttons to click then you are set and ready to go and do it all on.
Some of the people that you're talking about were probably around when they had one phone for the street to share as opposed to a phone. If there is a problem with it or clarity solutions, you can always call someone else if needed.
Reiner: It happens quite often as someone will learn how to use the system and then won't change anything for over a year because they don't need to. It just keeps working for them as to how they need to.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of VoIP
A few things that I know people might be wondering about the advantages and disadvantages? Will people lose their number if they move across? This is their lifeline to most people's businesses. The last thing they want to do is to lose their phone number. What's the process around migrating a phone number?
Reiner: There is a porting or migration process depending on the country. Germany has quite strict rules when it comes to telecoms. It can take quite a long time to complete. But in the US, they have this intense competition amongst telecoms providers. The main thing is, while you're waiting for the porting to happen, your number doesn't stop working.
You can have it set to automatically and go to a new number which has the flexibility. And then when you're calling outbound, any of your staff can use the number you've got. The new number will appear and even if people are still calling the old number. Is this a workaround?
Reiner: That's a common workaround.
In Australia, the average onboarding time would take around 30-35 days. This means that you can change the solution without having to worry about being locked into another contract. What are some of the disadvantages of using VoIP? Is there any scenario where you'd say it's important to make sure that you have this extra backup for an emergency? Or is there any time that you'd say VoIP isn't the right solution?
Keeping a Stable Internet Connection for VoIP
Reiner: VoIP needs a stable internet connection. If you are somewhere where the connection is a bit spotty, you might need to find a way to strengthen it. Stability is important because it's a constant transfer of data. You also need to secure an emergency service connection because as soon as the power goes out, your internet goes out, which means you won't have the VoIP either.
Yes, that makes sense. During a blackout, as long as you have a traditional non-cordless phone, the electricity is provided through the telephone line. If you've got a bad internet or satellite internet connection, it might not be the best solution. But the advantage is, it's more cost-effective. It's still good to know that if you are looking at something like an Internet-based phone system for your business, you're aware of some of the potential downfalls. So when comparing different phone systems, how do you choose what is the best phone system?
Reiner: Everybody has different needs. The solution we have at VoIP studio might not fit everyone's needs. Most of the time, we need to schedule a meeting and ask the client's specific requirements, then we will try to wing it. So the best solution for getting the best phone system is to choose the right provider that can provide what you need. A lot of providers can offer a month or a long-term contract if you need additional features. But take note that they might be strict with cancellation fees. What I can recommend is you can ask the provider if they can provide a trial so that you can test it out and make sure it can work for you.
I'd agree with that. You don't know what you don't know until you know. For you to understand more about what the best system is, you need to understand the way different people build the system. I prefer cloud-based VoIP systems. We can get an on-premise solution. Other phone systems can work by charging you per user, per minute or call. And that's where you need to work out what works best for you.
Reiner: Some providers may ask for a credit card upfront for trial services. Trial services may vary depending on their terms. If the trial services worked for you, then you can either move on or ask them about your options. It's always a good idea to discuss what you need more than what you want because once your needs are met, you will have a strong foundation.
The Final Word
We have covered a lot today. Reiner, is there anything in particular that we should leave any of our listeners with to be aware of before we close off for today?
Reiner: A good thing to consider is what is special about you and what you do, and how can VoIP enhance that. Because any company can get away with any kind of telephone system, but if you go for VoIP, it's something that will not just replace the phone system, rather it'll enhance it. And how can VoIP make it better? There are loads of features out there, and those things can make a company sound better and look better.
We're going to have you for a couple more episodes to talk more about that. It's been lovely having you, and I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this. If you have any questions, feel free to email us and as always, stay good.