Part 4 of 6
Part 3 of this series dealt with implementation and database location and storage options, now let’s talk about a phone system that should grow with you and your multi-practice entity.
5) Start out with the right phone system. This is another aspect of incorporating that, when realized too late, can be extremely costly to implement. Traditional analog systems are all but disappearing as the business world begins to fully embrace VoIP technology. VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, takes advantage of internet bandwidth for calling.
The benefits of using this technology across multiple locations are compelling. For example, gone are the days of roll-over lines that require you to maintain several phone numbers. You can now have just one phone number and still have multiple team members making and receiving calls at the same time. Extensions can be created that connect a caller/user in one office to a caller/user in another seamlessly. This is done without having a phone system “brain” in each location. A phone can be unplugged from the wall, plugged in at home, and with a few keyboard strokes, can function as an extension with minimal effort. Ring groups, voicemail, etc, etc is all managed via web portals eliminating the expense of the aforementioned “brain.” Domestic Long distance calling now functions like it does when calling a long distance number from your cell phone. Metrics can be tracked as well. If you decide to create a number for a marketing piece, you can add it to the system and track not only calls to that number, but call length times, and even, listen to recordings of the calls for training purposes.
There are, as with any technology, a few cons to be aware of. VoIP is dependent on the internet. If your internet goes down, so do your phones. However, depending on the system, that most likely will not be apparent to your client. They will still be able to call the number – they’ll just get sent to voicemail as if no one was free to take the call. Most systems also have the ability to forward phone calls to a designated mobile phone during the outage. My recommendation to every business that has internet dependent technology, is to have a backup internet provider and an IT support provider that knows how to set up your firewall to automatically kick over to the backup internet connection when the primary fails. So you see, even this is manageable.
In most cases, VoIP is less expensive than the current analog and digital phone systems and can grow with you as you add locations and people.
That was short and sweet but oh so important! Next time we will talk about the power of consistency and one of my new favorite topics, Data Centers!