After Hurricane Sandy came into town, I was surprised to see that Rekall’s clients did not receive any technology failures when things came back up. This was until I heard that one of our firm’s phone systems had been hit by stray voltage. Their phones were up but their voice-mail was down. They had a traditional onsite PBX system and it needed to be replaced. The experience we have with phone systems is not traditional PBX systems, it’s hosted VOIP systems. A hosted VOIP system is basically a phone that connects to the internet and not a regular phone line. You can also keep your phone number without any issues. These phones come in 2, 3,4 & 5 line versions. There are most definitely ones out there with even more lines for very large firms as well. There are many benefits of a hosted VOIP phone system, here are a few…
1. Travel with Your Phone
Many of our clients who work with VOIP phone systems take their office phones with them when they travel outside the country. By hooking in an internet ready network cable, you have the ability to make unlimited calls within the USA, Canada & Puerto Rico due to your phone being associated with a local number. The phone doesn’t care where you are int he world, it knows you have a 732 number and that’s all it cares about. Often, before a storm, users take their phones home so that they can reconnect them if travel conditions hinder work commutes. People who work from home also have a VOIP phone so that they can be conference call with office users and stay connected through the quick intercom feature. Due to the functionality of the phone, it mimics a traditional office phone system no matter where the user and the phone is located.
2. Virtual Lines
It took me a little bit to understand this but I have it down now. Your phone is configured with a phone number, in fact, every phone must have a phone number associated with the physical phone. The model of the phone directly relates to the amount of incoming calls one can have at the same time. If you have 3 phones calls incoming at the same time, technically speaking, your phone supports 3 virtual lines, still only 1 phone number, but accepting 3 calls. Higher models support more virtual lines. These phones are usually used for reception and people who put callers on hold often. Do NOT confuse this with 3-way calling. All phones support up to 3 people on the phone at the same time and you count as one, which means you can join two calls and have a 3-way conference call. Virtual lines have nothing to do with this conference call feature. They only deal with the amount of incoming phone calls you can have at the same time before a new caller goes directly to a voice mail box or an auto attendant.
3. Total Customization
In addition to voice mail boxes, systems often support voice mail to email. When you get a voice mail, a sound file will be emailed to you or the audio will be transcribed and sent to you via email as a notification. You can customize on-hold music, or an on-hold offer. You can change the outbound phone number presence on your phone, lets explain. Your phone has a phone number attached to it, when you call people, they see your number on the caller ID. It can be configured that they only see the main firm number, thus keeping your phone number private. This private phone number can be your direct dial number, given out to only family and friends bypassing the receptionist. In this way, you have an option for those who you want to filter through the receptionist, and those you you want to speak to directly.
4. Easy Faxing Solution
Since we’re doing away with all your office phone lines lets also provide you with a fax solution. Imagine having the ability to fax straight from your email, a web application or an installed windows application. You’d be able to receive faxes via your email on the go on your smartphone and send faxes on the go via your smart phone or from any PC for that matter. The versatility is endless with a hosted fax service, and coupled with a hosted phone system, it’s just $10/month.
5. It’s Cheaper Than You Think
For my client that I set this up, they were paying $250/month for their telephone lines through Comcast. Through their VOIP host their new cost is $130/month for a law firm of 4. It does get expensive when firms start to grow, but you have to admit, with all these features plus MANY more that I haven’t mentioned, it’s well worth it.
For more information on hosted VOIP solutions, give us a call. While we do not sell these solutions, we steer our clients in the right direction based on their needs.