Small businesses are moving more and more towards VoIP services for their telecommunications. According to a recent report from Software Advice, small businesses are still using mobile and landlines.
But according to a survey of more than 350 small businesses in the UK during 2013-2014, many small businesses are interested in purchasing a new phone system.
The survey found:
- More than 50% of respondents were interested in purchasing a VoIP phone system for their businesses.
- Buyers’ primary concerns in buying phone systems are reliability and scalability.
- Buyers were interested in buying a hosted solution for a VoIP system, not an IP-PBX that would be maintained on-location.
A hosted VoIP system meets the needs of many small businesses
According to this research, about 31% of small businesses still used a landline, while 13% used mobile phones exclusively. 57% expressed interest in buying a VoIP service for the first time.
When survey respondents discussed problems with their current phone systems, 17% said that unreliable service was a problem. Poor connectivity and dropped calls occurred frequently.
Additionally, 15% of businesses indicated that they were either at the maximum capacity for their current phone system or needed more phone lines to keep up with company growth.
Increased reliability was the top reason why many companies were interested in switching to VoIP. Functional improvements and lower costs were also major motivators. Many buyers said that they wanted to incorporate new features into their phone systems, but didn’t know how to do so.
Poor quality of support also was on buyers’ minds. For example, one buyer complained that whenever he needed to change the phone system, he had to call somebody else to do it.
However, call quality was not of particular concern to the businesses surveyed. Only a handful reported that they commonly experienced static or other problems with audio quality.
These results indicate that small businesses want increased reliability and support for their phone systems. They also want a hosted solution, not an on-premise IB-PBX that would require regular maintenance. These buyers would prefer a hosted VoIP solution that allows users to manage settings via the Internet.
What buyers want from a VoIP system
Most buyers wanted a phone system that allowed for PBX (Private Branch Exchange) functions. A PBX allows users within the same business to transfer calls between users. This feature is essential for almost any business phone system. Even buyers who did not specifically request a PBX when survey most likely wanted this feature.
Many buyers (28%) said that they want voicemail features. Following the need for voicemail, multiple extensions and a directory, an auto attendant was the most in-demand feature for a phone system. One business owner said that she wants an auto attendant in order to give customers the impression that her business is larger than it is. Many small businesses may seek auto attendants in order to demonstrate authority and professionalism.
Standard features of business communications such as conferencing and faxing capabilities ranked just below auto attendants on buyers’ wish lists. These features were of a higher priority to most buyers than specialized applications that address the needs of large call centers. (It is important to note that only 10% of the businesses surveyed were call centers.)
Other features that were commonly requested include caller ID (9%) and voicemail-to-email functions (7%). 7% of those surveyed also requested phone number portability, which is another advantage provided by VoIP services. Many buyers said that they would like to keep their current phone number when transferring phone systems.
These results indicate that many small businesses want the features of a hosted VoIP system, even though many of them still rely on mobile phones or landlines. They want a phone system that is both reliable and scalable, which a VoIP system provides. And because most small businesses are not experts in telecommunications technology, most would prefer that someone else provide technical support.
Small business owners are also increasingly interested in a unified communications system that offers benefits such as voice-to-email. They would like to be able to access and control their phone system from wherever they are, especially those who rely exclusively on mobile phones.
As VoIP technology continues to improve, more and more small businesses will gain access to features that were once the sole province of large enterprises.
If you are a small business owner interested in switching your phone service to a VoIP system, contact [email protected] today.