Ohio.net: How software development is improving the VoIP experience

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offerings have come a long way in a short time. One of the primary advances has been the evolution from fully hosted VoIP systems to VoIP solutions that can be managed internally.

Such a setup is ideal for IT managers or telecom managers in organizations that are moving to VoIP platforms, says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net.

“The VoIP provider provides the environment — so it is secure, stable and packed with feature-rich options — while the day-to-day details can be managed by a client’s telecom professional,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about software developments, integration and how to properly evaluate VoIP systems.

What’s in telecommunications that is improving the business phone service model?

The VoIP software industry is creating a feature-enhanced experience not only for the end user, or the people using the phones, but also the people who manage the phone systems. By utilizing cloud-based platforms that are virtually housed, businesses can manage their own systems internally. The phones are deployed wherever they are needed, regardless of geography.

The end-user experience is enhanced because the same phone service is accessible even if there are multiple locations. For example, a company might have five locations spread across the country, each with a different phone system. From a corporate standpoint, training employees on phone systems becomes difficult, and managing the system so customers have a uniform experience is even more challenging. With VoIP, all the phones are on the same platform, look the same, work the same and the end user’s experience is identical.

From a traditional phone system perspective, whenever you want new features, you have to buy new hardware and pay someone to upgrade the system for you. However, with a cloud-based system, it’s as simple as having your VoIP provider make a configuration change. For example, you can tell the provider to add call recording to your system remotely and then select which users on the system need it.

What are the benefits of working with a VoIP provider that can offer multiple platforms?

Traditionally, when you buy a phone system, you’re buying from a provider that represents a specific brand or type of offering. So, in most cases, you need to bring in three or four different service providers in order to evaluate different versions. However, a versatile VoIP provider should have the ability to offer multiple service packages with completely different software, hardware and deployment options. This is ideal for companies that are growing and want to evaluate different options from a single source.

What are some of the new trends in VoIP?

VoIP providers are now implementing software for phone systems designed to seamlessly integrate with CRM and other customer management software. Typically screen-pop technology and data queries can be launched from a VoIP phone system.

Finally, smartphone and app integration are becoming increasingly popular. For example, employees can have apps on their smartphones, which allows them to toggle back and forth between their cell phone and office phone. Basically, the smartphone serves as an extension of the office system.

What is the best way to determine an appropriate VoIP solution?

It’s important to perform a thorough evaluation of what’s out there. VoIP is portable, so have a provider come to your office and give a demonstration. It’s important to see it function in your environment and test various features to ensure the system is a good fit. Any VoIP provider that is offering a modern platform should be able to bring its system directly to you for an evaluation from the comfort of your own office with no charges incurred.

Alex Desberg is sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. Reach him at [email protected].

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