Virtual phone systems turn rigid, traditional phone communication into a bold new way of interaction and collaboration. The limitless power of VoIP allows users to contribute equally to customer-facing activities (such as sales or service) and internal project work from anywhere in the world.
Why Setting Up A Virtual Phone System Is Worth It
Virtual phone systems are cloud based, which enables users to make and receive calls from anywhere using their laptop or mobile device. It’s more affordable than setting up a multi-phone system hardwired at a physical location.
This is especially important for small business owners that don’t want expensive physical infrastructure.
Plus, it’s easy to switch providers if you find one with better rates or features. That kind of flexibility is priceless.
If you had a physical location, switching providers would cost you a lot of money.
Another need you can satisfy is compatibility with remote employees. Virtual phone systems easily provide accessibility without sacrificing the core features your team will need.
All in all, setting up a virtual phone system will give your company better capability and communication at lower costs than you might imagine.
The Investment Needed to Set Up A Virtual Phone System
Setting up a virtual phone system doesn’t have to be expensive, but there are some costs involved.
The biggest cost is the initial investment in software.
With RingCentral, you can start with only paying $19.99 per user. The entry-level plan allows up to 20 employees to use it.
That costs a fair chunk of change, but paying only for the service (and not having to pay for new phones, professional installation, or additional equipment) keeps the all-in expense relatively low.
There also might be some hardware you need to consider purchasing. Maybe your reps will need better computers or you’ll offer a stipend for remote agents to pay for high-quality headsets.
If you already have computers, accessories, and a high-speed internet connection in place, then the investment will be minimal. You’ll only need to pay for the service.
Compared to the cost of traditional phone service, virtual phone systems are a bargain. When you think of cost-effectiveness, a virtual phone system is a no-brainer.
For a deeper dive into the best business VoIP phone services you can read more about them here. We think RingCentral is a fantastic option, but there are others to consider in light of whatever your particular needs are.
Now, let’s look at the steps you need to take to set up a virtual phone system in earnest.
7 Simple Steps to Setting Up A Virtual Phone System
The days of waiting for the phone company to set up your phone system are dead. Now you can have your system up and running in a matter of minutes with a virtual phone system. Game, set, match.
What’s it take? It’s easier than you think.
Step 1 – Have a Strong Internet Connection
Since a virtual phone system relies on your infrastructure, high-speed internet is key.
With RingCentral’s VoIP service, you can make voice and video calls on one platform. But, since it’s cloud-based, you need to do your part to make sure you can use it satisfactorily.
Most problems that affect call quality are because of a dodgy internet connection. So the first thing is to make sure your setup is up to the task.
Run a VoIP speed test. Ringcentral has a test you can use before signing up for their service.
The results will give you a clear picture of whether your connection can keep your calls crystal clear and without issue.
Step 2 – Softphones Vs. Hardware
You might be thinking, “I thought I didn’t need any hardware?” And, in theory, you don’t.
You can use something called a softphone. This is an application that you can download to your smartphone or computer that lets you make and receive calls. RingCentral, for example, has both a desktop and mobile app for this.
Softphone apps eliminate the need for desk phones, which will minimize costs.
But if you already have traditional phones, should you trash them? Heck no.
But you will need an analog telephone adapter (ATA) in order to transform your current hardware so they will work with your virtual phone system.
If you like to move while you talk or want to keep your employees from being chained to their desks, a VoIP headset can be a great addition to boost your team’s productivity, too. Examine your team’s needs for equipment like that before you commit to a virtual phone system purchase.
Step 3 – Find a Provider with the Features You Need
Your business is not supposed to fit with every provider out there. Do the research for the one that is right for you. We can even help with our article on the best virtual phone system providers.
Here are a few things to consider.
First, how quickly can your business grow on a virtual phone system? Do you get call analytics to learn more from your campaigns or efforts? Can you add more employees without having to change providers? Does your provider have packages that fit your budget?
Next, think about how it fits with what you already use and your day-to-day operations. Does a provider integrate with other software and systems you use (like a CRM)? Is this something your employees can use with minimal training and onboarding?
Similarly, how quickly can you get help if something isn’t working as it should? A robust feature set might not be a good fit if features are so complicated that you need to call support everytime you want to do something.
Don’t forget the basics. Do you get call forwarding? Chat functionality? Do you get voicemail to text? What features are you getting that will help you do things better and faster?
Last, always consider reliability. Do your calls seamlessly transition from cellular to Wi-Fi networks and back again without any dropped calls or interference?
RingCentral provides 99.999% uptime. That’s what you want so you won’t ever be wondering if your system will continue working if you experience an internet outage.
For every question we listed here, knowing the answers will increase the likelihood of successfully implementing your virtual phone system on the first try.
Step 4 – Set Up Your Business Phone Number
Now that you found the provider you want, it’s time you figure out the kind of phone number you need. Any good VoIP provider will offer at least one option for a custom phone number for your business.
Are you a local business that services your area? Set up a number with an area code your customers will recognize.
Some providers also allow you to acquire vanity numbers. Say you’re a Cincinnati-based branding firm. You could try to get 513-MY-BRAND, for example.
These can be a huge benefit, since they’re easier for prospective customers to remember when they see your ad or hear the number for the first time.
There are also toll-free numbers. While not tied to a specific location, they can add an air of professionalism and prestige to your business.
Either way, these numbers are tied to your virtual phone system and will be accessible no matter where your callers are trying to reach you from or where your team is working. All you need is an internet connection.
If you already have a business number, most providers will allow you to port it over so your customers don’t need to learn a new one. So, don’t worry, you won’t have to create all new business cards just because you got a new virtual phone system.
Step 5 – Set Up Your Phone Line
This should be quick, since your provider will most likely walk you through this. Your setup can be different depending on the provider and equipment you have.
A hardwired phone that needs an adapter to work with VoIP will be much different than setting up a headset connected to a computer. Or, setting up softphone apps on every company device could be easy enough but just take a while to implement.
Just be aware that, though it’s a less-involved setup than traditional phone systems, there will be some degree of time spent on getting everything ready to go.
Step 6 – Testing Call Quality And Features
Now it’s time to test your equipment and the features you will be using most of the time. This is a major part of a successful transition to your virtual phone system.
This is where the rubber meets the road. If you’ve done things right and your provider has supported you along the way, you should be all set.
Here are some concrete things to test:
- Call lag – Are there delays between when you speak and when the caller hears you or vice versa? If you have lag, this will get old quickly for your employees and customers. If you suffer from this, get your provider’s support team on the phone ASAP.
- Audio Quality – Similar to the previous point, this is huge. Are there crackling sounds or feedback? Are voices cutting in and out? If callers can’t be heard or they can’t hear you, your customer’s experience will suffer.
- Stable connection – Are calls dropping? Are they taking longer to connect after you make a call to your phone number? Run a speed test on your internet and troubleshoot your connectivity.
- Key features – Do calls get forwarded to voicemail? Is the voice to text feature working? Test every detail of your service that you’ll be relying on.
We can’t stress testing ahead of time enough. When you go live, you don’t want problems.
Step 7 – Train Up Your Staff
Virtual phone systems have tons of features to take advantage of. Making sure your staff is properly trained to wield them is key.
You can set up a video call, walking your staff through all the features you want them to be proficient in. You also can send out a survey asking who is familiar with how VoIP platforms work to find out who might be able to help guide other employees in getting comfortable.
In our experience, it’s best to be thorough. Make sure your staff is comfortable with all the features you want them to know. Get their feedback. Many people can be intimidated by learning new software but won’t speak up when they don’t understand how something works.
Do your best to make sure new and current employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns. Show your team how to find the provider’s knowledge base if you don’t have a tech support team.
Make sure everyone makes and takes some mock calls and performs actions in the platform utilizing crucial features. This is a great way to ensure your team’s success and happiness when moving to a new virtual phone system.
Congratulations, you have learned how to set up your very own virtual phone system!
If you’ve done your provider selection and employee training right, it’s pretty much just a matter of running with your new system from here.
But, there’s always a need to keep an eye on how things are going in the long term.
Is your virtual phone system still syncing and playing nice with your CRM three, six, or twelve months down the line?
Are you finding that there are features you’re paying for but never using?
Are there features you’re realizing would be good to have but aren’t on your current VoIP provider’s plan?
You may need to make adjustments as you go. A VoIP provider like RingCentral makes it easy to upgrade or change your plan if you need more users or certain features.
So, keep a watchful eye on how everything’s going with your virtual phone system for at least the first year. Other than that, just enjoy the benefits of better productivity and connectivity.
If you’re looking for a way to improve communication within your organization, provide better customer service, hire more agents remotely, or increase your sales reach to prospects worldwide, then setting up a virtual phone system may be the right solution for you.