For most businesses, making the switch to VOIP is a no-brainer. Between the flexibility, software integration, and the significantly lower account and per-line cost, it's no wonder why VOIP is considered the cutting edge of modern business communication. Not only does it provide a flexible solution to get a business number for every single employee, even those who work remotely or on the road, it also allows you to seamlessly integrate your voice services with other aspects of business communication like email, text and instant messaging, call recording, and your complete CRM. However, simply buying a VOIP plan and installing the software isn't actually the end of your infrastructure transformation.
Like all business software tools including your EMS, CRM, and inventory management system, your VOIP needs to be configured to serve your company correctly. Employee numbers don't assign themselves, bandwidth doesn't come out of nowhere, and your VOIP strategies won't write themselves. Not sure where to get started? Between your VOIP service provider and this handy guide, you should be able to quickly make the most of your new online phone system.
Making it Work
The first step is to get everything set up correctly. If you've ever worked with Skype, you may have an idea of what this process actually entails. Not only does the software need to be installed on every computer and device you want to use, it also needs to be properly supported by your internet, otherwise call quality can suffer.
Prepare Your Bandwidth Supply
Bandwidth is like a river of internet and most businesses have a fairly deep supply. Every time an employee uses a bit of internet for something like visiting a website, uploading a file, or making a VOIP call, they 'divert the flow' of a small portion of the river based on how much internet they need. Three employees doing the same internet task take up three times the bandwidth and, eventually, it is possible to create too much demand at which point everyone deals with slower internet which can damage your VOIP call quality.
To solve this, make sure that you have enough bandwidth both for regular online employee tasks and as many calls as you expect to go on simultaneously. If you're not sure how much what you have compares to how much you need, talk to your VOIP provider.
Reduce Jitter and Packet Loss
Unfortunately, not all bandwidth is equal. Even if you have plenty of 'flow', if your ISP has too much packet loss, packet delay, latency, or jitter, this can cause imprecise and irregular data transmission and results in what most people experience as 'lag'. Lag in a video game or streaming movie is bad but in a phone call, it's terrible and sounds incredibly choppy. Work with your ISP to reduce these irregularities.
Use a Business-Grade Router
There are a lot of different ranks of router depending on how much activity you need, how many computers you're supporting, how many network sources you're bridging, and the quality of internet connection you require. A consumer-grade router can serve a small business well for some time but when you upgrade to VOIP, it's time to make sure that you're also dealing with a business-grade router.
A business-grade router is much more likely to have the CPU, RAM, flash memory, and available bandwidth to support clear and constant online voice communications and will help in reducing any glitches or choppiness during calls.
Regularly Test Your VOIP From Multiple Call Sources
Finally, because circumstances can vary, if you want to truly optimize the performance of your VOIP system, it's best to perform regular tests and make improvements based on the results. You can run simulation stress tests, call from a landline, call from a cell phone, and call from a variety of online programs as well. This will give you a clearer idea of what your customers might experience no matter how they call you.
This has only been the first half of our two-part article on optimizing your business VOIP system. Join us next time for the second half when we'll talk about how to integrate the VOIP with your current workflow. For more great tips, tricks, and trends in VOIP and managed IT services, contact us today!