Small businesses are shifting toward VoIP solutions, report finds

Small businesses are shifting toward VoIP solutions although still rely heavily on both mobile and landlines also according to a recent report by software company Software Advice. The report, which surveyed over 350 businesses (those from companies with annual revenues of £120 million or less) during 2013-2014 to try and determine common pain points and reasoning for purchasing a new business phone system.

  • More than half of prospective buyers were investing in business VoIP service for the first time.
  • Buyers were primarily concerned with reliability and scalability when evaluating new phone systems
  • No buyers were interested in an on-premise IP-BBX, while a vast majority wanted a hosted solution.

Moving away from traditional PSTN and mobile connections

The research illustrated that some thirty-one percent were still using a landline whereas 13 percent relied exclusively on their mobile phones as their main source of business communications. Well over half of buyers asked intimated that they were looking to invest in a VoIP service for the first time (57%).

Buyers want both reliability and scalability

Seventeen percent of the sample specified lack of reliabilty as a pain point with their current business phone system: connectivity problems and dropped calls frequently induced issues for the buyers spoken to. Whilst a number of other buyers noted that they were at the system’s maximum capacity or otherwise needed more phone lines to accomodate company growth (15 percent).

Top reasons for software purchasesReasons for VoIP System Purchases

In addition to seeking a system with a lower price, increased functionality was another major incentive for buyers looking to switch to VoIP (the former came in at 15 percent; the latter at 14 percent).

One buyer lamented that “no one told us how to use the capabilities of our current system,” and a number of buyers noted the difficulty of incorporating new features.

On a related note, support was a major pain point for a number of buyers. For instance, one buyer was incensed by the fact that every time he needed to make changes to the system, he had to call someone else to do it.

Improved call quality was perhaps not as major a concern as telecom professionals might expect. Only a few buyers reported audio quality issues such as “static.” This finding tallies with the results of a recent survey we conducted on public concerns about VoIP, which found that only 10 percent of consumers were worried about call quality with VoIP services.

Small businesses seek cloud-based systems

The concern with reliability and support that the analysis uncovered correlates with a high level of interest in hosted (Web-based) solutions. None of the small business owners with whom were spoke wanted to purchase an on-premise IP-PBX: 77 percent of the sample wanted a Web-based solution, while 23 percent didn’t specify a preference.

This finding suggests that many small businesses lack the IT staff necessary to maintain an on-premise system. Buyers in this niche tend to prefer a hosted solution that they don’t have to maintain themselves and that grants administrative and user access via an Internet browser.

Auto attendant tops list of desired applications

Nearly all of the buyers surveyed were seeking private branch exchange (PBX) functionality from their phone systems—and those who didn’t specify this preference probably wanted a PBX without knowing the word for it, since PBX functionality is the backbone of a business phone system.

After the basic need for extensions and directories, an auto attendant was easily the most in-demand application among the buyers surveyed. The popularity of the auto attendant stems from its ability to lend the air of an enterprise to even a small business, such as a local florist. For instance, one business owner noted that she wants an auto attendant to give the appearance that hers is a larger company than it really is.

Top VoIP Applications

After auto attendants, staples of business communications such as conferencing and faxing were more of a priority than specialised applications such as computer telephony integration (CTI) and automatic call distribution (ACD) for most buyers.

This is perhaps because only 10 percent of the sample consisted of the contact-center employees who would most need these applications to handle high call volumes.

Buyers want voicemail-to-email and number portability

Though journalists have been proclaiming the death of voicemail for nearly a decade now, more buyers requested this feature than any other (28 percent). Additionally, buyers expressed a high level of interest in caller ID (9 percent) and voicemail-to-email functionality (7 percent).

Another very popular feature (and one offered by many VoIP service providers) is number portability (7 percent). One buyer insisted that keeping his original number was a requirement, and a number of other buyers in the sample expressed similar sentiments. Lack of number portability can thus be said to be a dealbreaker for many small-business owners.

Top-Requested Phone System Features

Top VoIP Features

Conclusion

The data shows that small businesses are shifting toward VoIP solutions, even though many still rely on landlines or mobile phones. Moreover, these buyers are interested in solutions that are not merely reliable, but also scalable: They want to add users easily and cheaply as they grow. Few buyers in this market niche have an IT background, so they place a high premium on both reliability and effective technical support.

Finally, small-business buyers are increasingly interested in unified communications solutions that offer features such as voicemail-to-email. Because 13 percent of the buyers surveyed are totally reliant on their mobile phones for business communications, small-business owners are interested in remote access to, and control of, their phone systems. As VoIP technology continues to advance, it will become easier for small businesses to integrate voice calling, video conferencing, email, voicemail and chat using technologies that were formerly restricted to the enterprise.

A copy of the full report from Software Advice can be found here.

If you are interested in VoIP and the benefits to small businesses then contact incovo today to find out how your business phone system can be upgraded at an affordable price.

The post Small businesses are shifting toward VoIP solutions according to report appeared first on Incovo Blog.

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Sandra
29 Aug 2014, 6:49 a.m.

It's interesting to see that surveyed buyers felt that the Auto Attendant feature was a higher priority than the on- hold music and messaging. VOIP hold-music features are becoming more manageable for small businesses. With custom GUI's for managing content and scheduling playback, on-hold advertising should top the list in my opinion. There is an opportunity while your client, or potential client is placed on-hold to truly engage them. Why not take advantage of that time and promote specials, services, location information, or entertain, inform, and educate. We provide on-hold advertising and our web based tool was designed exclusively for VOIP users. Out of all the VOIP on-hold systems we manage, maybe 10% of utilized our recording studio and voice talents for Auto Attendants... which is why I'm surprised by those numbers.

Sandra Sanchez
On Hold Revolution
www.onholdrevolution.com

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David
13 Feb 2015, 5:32 p.m.

This has all been down to the improvements and reduction in price of connectivity for smaller businesses. The benefits of VoIP for organisations small and large were always there. But with smaller companies rarely being able to justify the cost of EFM or a leased line, it made life difficult for VoIP in that sector. Exciting times ahead for the VoIP for Small Business sector.

David White
Your Telecom
www.your-telecom.co.uk

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