What is a Softphone?
Depending on the size and the industry of your business, you might be swimming in a sea of desk phones. As life becomes more mobile and digital, especially after the pandemic, the desk phone’s days are numbered.
Companies, especially small- to mid-sized businesses, are ditching clunky telephones in favor of mobile communications. Here’s where the answer to “what is a softphone?” comes to save the day.
Softphones are basically software-based phones. They connect calls via a computer or mobile phone, relying on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. By using VoIP, you can place voice calls over the internet instead of over a regular, analog phone line.
VoIP converts your voice into a digital signal which moves through the internet. When you call a regular telephone number with VoIP, the signal converts to a standard telephone signal before it reaches its destination.
VoIP vendors typically offer a software application that’s installed on an internet-connected device. It works much like a regular telephone without the need for a complex hardware installation. With this interface, you can access your VoIP solution’s dialing features and all other functionalities.
Top softphone providers will offer dozens of services besides just basic phone calling/receiving capabilities. All you need to use a softphone is a computer, a headset or speakers, and a good internet connection.
Some features from reputable vendors are:
- SMS text messaging
- Call routing
- Video meetings
- Voicemail to email
- Address book
- Hold music
- Audio conferencing
- Call queuing
The general benefit of softphones is that they can access and enhance all VoIP calling features, something traditional analog phones have difficulties with, including those with adapters. A user-friendly softphone interface could be a perfect match for your business communications needs.
Related: What’s the Best Virtual Phone System for Small Businesses?
How Can Your Company Benefit from Softphones?
Now that you know how to answer what is a softphone let’s go over some business-specific benefits. Even with the rise of chatbots, or customer interactions via text, we still can’t completely discard the idea of traditional phone calls.
As digital technologies evolve, more and more businesses have chosen to clear the desk, literally, in favor of softphone tech. Why? Because it makes good business sense for several reasons. Let’s dive into those advantages.
Connectivity through Flexibility
Because you’re no longer tied to a desk phone, with a softphone, you and your staff have the ability to stay connected all the time, no matter where you work. This technology will let you be on top of the current mobile workforce trend, as these recent stats show:
- According to a recent global study, 71% of businesses believe offering flexibility contributes significantly to their ability to attract and retain top talent.
- A second international study found organizations that adopted digital tools for an untethered workforce increased their productivity by 67%, increased employee engagement by 53%, and increased revenue by 43%.
- Projections indicate that, by 2030, millennials and even younger generations of Gen Z will make up nearly 70% of the workforce. The millennial generation expects instant access to information.
- Globally, 1.87 billion people will be mobile workers in 2021.
While the idea to have you and everyone in the company permanently connected sounds attractive, it’s obviously best to unplug for breaks. The best softphone providers may even help you during these well-deserved days off and support business continuity 24/7 with features such as a virtual receptionist.
The most significant softphone benefit is you can bring your business communications anywhere you go without feeling tied to a single location. As long as you have an internet-connected desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet, you can make and receive calls.
Related: How to Set up a Virtual Phone System for Your Small Business
Softphones are low-cost by nature because they use the technology you already have. This is why VoIP technology is so popular. You’re utilizing your own computer, turning it into your business phone service without needing to buy more devices or needing to invest in expensive installation fees or qualified telecom staff.
Landlines can cost between $50 and $100 without the headset, installation expenses, etc. Between the hardware and installation and valuable time, VoIP softphones can save your company hundreds of dollars.
Overall, softphones make your business much more scalable and flexible. If budget constraints are an issue, you can explore smaller offices or coworking spaces and have most of your employees work remotely. It’s simple, easy, and cost-effective.
This may seem an obvious advantage, but if you’re still asking yourself, “what is a softphone” consider it as a technology designed to save space in your office and on your desk. This benefit mainly helps with mobility and keeps your reliance on hardware pieces to a minimum. No wires, no cords, and no wasted space.
Now, there are some softphone cons to keep in mind. Let’s quickly review them next:
- Softphones rely entirely on the internet: This is a con, but it should not stop you from purchasing a softphone service. While VoIP phone services depend on the quality of your internet connection and bandwidth to function, you can install a backup plan to make sure you and your employees still have telephone access if the service is interrupted. An excellent example is having data plans available with your mobile phone contracts.
- You may be affected by power outages: They may occur rather infrequently or regularly, depending on your location and the area where your provider is. In either case, choose a company with an emergency power source, such as a power plant, to ensure service stability during a power outage.
- You need to consider 911 access: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warns that since people can use VoIP services virtually anywhere, it makes it difficult for emergency services to determine the location where a 911 call originated. In order for emergency services to be dispatched promptly to your location, you will need to provide your VoIP provider with both your accurate physical address and phone number. If your address changes, ensure to update address information as soon as possible by familiarizing yourself with your VoIP provider’s procedures.
How to Choose The Best Softphone Provider?
What is a softphone isn’t the only question you should ask. You need to consider a few things when you are looking for a softphone system for your company:
- How much are you willing to invest? Be sure to understand the initial and monthly costs associated with the set of services you want. You may also need to provide devices to your employees.
- What’s each vendor’s reputation and track record? Because there are many vendors in the market for virtual phone systems or softphones, there are many options available. Make sure the company you’re looking at has a good reputation for customer satisfaction and a proven track record.
- Can this provider fit my small business requirements? In some cases, vendors are focused on servicing big corporations. The smaller your company, the less likely they are to concentrate on the essential features your business is looking for or offer reasonable prices. It’s necessary to pick a vendor who will pay attention to your requirements instead of charging you for features you will never use.
Flexible functionalities and saving money are key factors to consider when choosing the right softphone system for your business. Phone.com crafted their services with the entrepreneur in mind and can help you get started if you aren’t still sure if digital is the right option for you. Sign up now.