Don’t count on dulcet elevator tunes if your call ever gets put on hold at Toronto creative and interactive marketing agency Derooted.
You could get some current pop number when dialing for Michael Wilson, the company’s designer and copywriter, or something from the 70s punk rock band The Clash if you were calling for Amir Ebrahimnia, Derooted’s CEO, and it’s going to be a Chilly Gonzales modern classical number if you happen to dial Simon Rojas, the firm’s creative director.
“What can I say? We’re a young creative agency and we love our music. It means a lot to us that we could customize our on-hold music this way,” said Rojas.
But music, Rojas admitted, is just one of the many reasons the company will soon be unplugging its landline from BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada and switching entirely to Rogers Communication Inc’s. hosted voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. Bell, however, has its own VoIP service targeted at SMBs since 2005. Derooted still maintains their Bell landline while they are currently trying out the Rogers service, which uses a cloud-based business phone system developed by RingCentral Inc., a virtual PBX (private box exchange) and hosted e-mail company based in San Mateo, Calif.
“The array of features of the RingCentral system provided at the price point Rogers offers are just too compelling when compared to our landline service,” Rojas told ITBusiness.ca.
Derooted is just one of many small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) that are increasingly turning away from hardware PBXs and switching to VoIP telephony, which enables conversations to travel as data across the Internet. By 2013 more than 80 per cent of businesses will use VoIP, according to In-Stat, a research global service firm.
Tisha Rattos, director of SMB for Rogers, said hosted IP voice services are helping many budget-constrained small businesses boost their productivity. “These types of services provide SMBs with more useful features without the heavy capital investment required by traditional PBX systems,” she said.
Functions such as auto attendant and external dialling that typically come as a paid-for option with landline systems are included in the package with hosted Web-based voice services, she says.
More services for much lower price
Derooted is a small four person firm that provides advertising, copywriting, publication, Web design and interactive marketing services to companies and cause-oriented organizations. The firm has been using the hosted VoIP system for about a year now and Rojas says the service is cheap but helps Derooted project a very polished and professional image to their clients.
“A common reaction of our regular clients upon hearing our automated attendant is – Wow you guys are so big now, we didn’t know you’ve hired a secretary,” said Rojas.
The company’s single landline from Bell costs around $89/month to maintain and only comes with a call display feature. Unfortunately, Rojas said, they are locked into this service for two years.
The hosted VoIP from Rogers costs $100/month for the four lines installed for Derooted. Rattosh of Rogers said RingCentral plans are priced as low as $29.99/user/month.
The system comes with:
- A hosted phone and fax system
- Features such as: multiple extensions; auto attendant; multiple voice mail boxes; call management and call routing; and Internet fax
- Unlimited local, long distance calling and faxing anywhere within the U.S. and Canada
- Pre-configured IP phones
- Integration with smartphone devices such as Apple iPhone, Android and BlackBerry
Derooted’s creative director who also acts as the company’s VoIP administrator, said the system’s Web portal is an essential feature.
Through the portal, Rojas and his colleagues can check the status of the systems and their respective lines even when they are away from the office. By connecting to the portal through any Internet connection, users can view and send faxes, check and send voice and email messages as well as respond to calls.
Users also have back-end controls which enable them to change settings such as out-of-office messages or customize their hold call music.
Mobile features and cheaper long distance calls
Another feature that Derooted workers like is the mobile integration. “The mobile phone application just rocked our world,” said Rojas.
He said this feature enabled his iPhone to function just like his desk phone.
Through the mobile-synch feature, users can access their e-mails and voice messages with their smartphones. When the system receives a call it gives the user an option of whether to send it to voice mail or transfer it to their mobile phone.
Rojas said the system can be set up to automatically forward the calls to his mobile phone. “I can receive and make phone calls on my mobile phone and to the person on the other end it would appear as though I am using my desk phone.”
Derooted also gets the benefit of lower international call rates when they use the hosted VoIP when calling with their mobile phones.
Implementing the technology can help to shrink or eliminate the cost of long-distance and conference calls.
Look before you leap
As for the drawbacks, a hosted service may lack the customization you crave, or charge you extra fees for adding features or new users; it could leave you high and dry if the company goes belly-up, too. With on-premise VoIP, you may suffer the obvious headaches and costs of managing any tech equipment in-house, including a large up-front investment.
Before you make the big VoIP switch-over, look closely at the numbers. Compare what you currently spend per user on phone service with what you project to pay a VoIP provider. Read the fine print of any service to determine any hidden fees. Figure in hardware and ongoing maintenance, and don’t forget to add the cost of a faster Internet connection, if you need one.
To determine what VoIP service is best for your business read: Choosing the right VoIP service for your business
(With notes from By Elsa Wenzel- PC World (US)
Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, read his blogs on ITBusiness.ca Blogs, email nestor at email@example.com and join the ITBusiness.ca Facebook Page.