Phone calls remain an essential line of communication between customers and businesses, especially small businesses. According to research by Bright Local, 60% of small business customers would rather call the business than email (16%) or stop by in person (15%).
Having reliable phone systems with reputable services and legitimate business phones is just as important in the other direction, with customers answering those calls 69% of the time. That said, your business can’t use this continued preference for phone calls without a phone system that both you and your customers can trust to be reliable, secure, and convenient.
In 2022, those systems aren’t traditional phones—they’re virtual phone systems. Keep reading to see precisely what virtual phone systems are and why they’re so vital. Then use the following list of seven crucial virtual phone system features to find the right fit for your business.
What Is a Virtual Phone System?
Virtual, or cloud-based, phone systems allow laptops, desktops, and mobile devices to operate as phones. Users can make or receive audio phone calls with their devices, without a dedicated phone or phone line.
The phone numbers are tied to a digital account rather than a specific device or SIM card, allowing businesses to keep their phone numbers and contact systems organized year after year, especially if they have numbers for different roles and locations.
Why Do Today’s Work Environments Need Virtual Phone Systems?
At first glance, the difference between traditional phone systems and virtual phone systems may just seem like a difference in hardware: traditional phone systems use telephones, and virtual systems use any device with an Internet connection. However, the implications and capabilities of a virtual phone system go much deeper than that.
Virtual systems offer a greater degree of flexibility, convenience, and utility for businesses of any size and in any industry. Some of the key benefits businesses experience immediately upon setup include:
Alignment With Remote and Hybrid Work
For many professionals, their home office is now their main office. Since the pandemic and the rapid shift to remote work, employers of all sizes are increasingly shifting to a work-from-home model that appeals to top talent in their area. Business tools must align with this new shift, making traditional business phones an impossibility.
With virtual phones, employees can run their “work phones” through their work laptops or even their personal mobile devices. This facilitates greater flexibility so employees can speak with clients and business partners whenever needed. Virtual phones also provide video chat and conference call options, which many users are beginning to prefer for group conversations and meetings away from a central office.
Because virtual phone systems are built to use a wide range of Internet and WiFi infrastructures, they also offer smoother, less interrupted communications that don’t rely on landlines.
Virtual phone systems can integrate with many of today’s modern tools like CRMs, support platforms, and sales platforms. Not only does this allow your employees to pull up relevant account details faster for a more satisfying customer experience, but it means the calls themselves become valuable recordings that can be saved as part of those customer records.
Instead of relying on notes taken during the call or after the fact, everyone from CSMs to the VP of Sales can easily listen to those important phone calls themselves. Smart platforms can even analyze the call to pull out key details.
Above all else, today’s virtual phone systems offer consistently high-quality and reliable communication. According to an analysis by Cyara, “poor voice quality caused a 27% average AHT [(average handle time)] increase of calls” in assessed call centers.
You can reduce the risk of poor connections and poor audio quality dampening the customer experience by switching to virtual phones that use native sound systems or hardware add-ons. Clear, uninterrupted conversation fosters better customer relationships, better partner interactions, and stronger cohesion between remote teams.
Related: Auto Attendant Phone System vs. a Virtual Receptionist
7 Must-Have Features of a Virtual Phone System
Many virtual phone systems can give your business access to several of these benefits. However, if you’re evaluating your company’s priorities or switching to a completely new virtual system, it’s important to find a system with all of the features and capabilities you need for your business—both now and in the future as your business grows. As you start browsing through different options, make sure your final choice offers these key features:
1. Video Meeting Capabilities
Many of today’s business calls aren’t simply audio communications; they’re video calls. This functionality is essential for meeting new clients (especially if you want to share your screen or a slide deck), interdepartmental calls, demos, and more. Look for virtual phone solutions that offer:
- Crystal-clear visuals
- The ability to operate across a wide range of devices, operating systems, and configurations
- Recording capabilities for quality control and to sync with team members in different time zones
2. Mobile Functionality
Many of your employees might not actually have a dedicated home office. Maybe they’re on the go in field sales or field service roles, or maybe they can do business in virtually any setting on their mobile device. Ensure that your software choice can be installed on mobile phones as a secure app that doesn’t compromise your business information or your employee’s personal privacy.
3. HIPAA Compliance
The medical industry is expanding. Not only do hospital call centers, insurance departments, and other traditional business fields need to comply with HIPAA regulations, but there’s a growing host of tertiary and support businesses that handle medical information matters. Phone calls are a frequent communication channel for handling sensitive information, and sensitive information is always at risk of data theft and loss (especially when the WiFi doesn’t have top-tier protection). Opt for a virtual phone system with proven HIPAA compliance and other signs of cybersecurity best practices.
Adopting secure systems and software is the best way to protect your business and your customers. It also makes your business a more viable business partner to major corporations, government institutions, and other customers with very strict vendor standards.
4. Business Phone Numbers
Many small businesses with remote teams of employees or contractors make do with their employees’ personal phone numbers or Google numbers. This division can seem a little informal. It also leads to confusion when employees leave, clients try to call back, or you want to standardize processes.
But business phone numbers present a unified, cohesive front so clients and customers know who’s calling. They can also save your number and know it ties to your business, not an employee’s personal cell.
Optimize this feature by tying business phone numbers to specific roles, store locations, or functionalities. That way, as your business expands or as employees filter in and out, you always have the same number for Sales, Customer Service, or security claims.
5. International Numbers
If your business is international, you need an international number. This helps cultivate trust with audiences in different countries, as recipients are much less likely to perceive the call as a scam.
Also, consider looking for virtual phone systems with international or global calling programs. These programs may offer helpful benefits, such as standardized and low rates that make picking up your call less stressful for you and your audience.
6. Live Receptionist for a Good First Impression
While robot phone systems are more streamlined than ever before, they still create a hiccup in the user experience. Customers simply don’t like having to go through numerous pre-recorded menus with limited options whenever they call in.
Having a live agent pick up the phone improves the customer service experience. A live receptionist can empathize with their question or problem, route them more efficiently, and help with complex queries. For small businesses, this feature can definitely make you stand out in the crowd.
Related: 7 Ways a Virtual Receptionist Service Will Improve Your Business
7. Standard Business Phone Features
Despite the growing popularity of virtual phone systems that travel with professionals wherever they go, it’s still important to have all the typical hallmarks of business phone systems. This includes professional pre-recorded greetings with contact details, hold music, and menus or automated options for when no one is available. These foundational elements of business phones are still crucial for older demographics and convenient communication in every industry.
Choose a Virtual Phone System That Offers Everything Your Business Needs
The right virtual phone system complements your business and makes your team more reliable, accessible, and productive. If you know it’s time to make the switch to a virtual system, Phone.com is here to help.
Phone.com offers all of the above features and more so that you can focus on high-quality content and service in every phone call and video meeting, regardless of the method you use to communicate. Contact us today to see how it can work for your business.