Vonage has restructured their small business telephone service to provide not just a basic telephony service, which their residential packages are famous for but also have added collaboration and conferencing to provide true business service. Previously Vonage’s basic service for small business provided small businesses with the basic VoIP services for virtual telephony, such as auto-attendant, call re-direct and other incoming services. Now however, Vonage have stepped further into the business market by providing business class services and functions previously well out of the reach of small businesses.
To consider just what benefits that Vonage has taken to the small business we need to realize just how far they have come – from a residential service to a small medium or enterprise service within just a few years. Today, Vonage are no longer the entry level small business offering that is cheap and cheerful now Vonage offers a fully featured and functionally rich service that can compete with any of their competitors.
For example starting with a small business Vonage cloud-hosted phone system, includes the Amazon Chime, which provides voice and video conferencing as a supplement to the standard phone service and offers many collaboration tools. In addition with over 40+ business-critical features plus conferencing and collaboration tools, your business can operate just like any top enterprise and your customers will not know any difference.
Furthermore, you can have your small business work in more places than the office and long after traditional business hours are done. Your full business phone features can be accessed on employee’s smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops and even their home phone whenever you need them.
A virtual receptionist makes sure you get the calls you need. You can even set different rules for weekdays, weekends, and holidays. And today mobility is an essential feature in business so small businesses that have staff that are always out and about must have a phone system that always accepts calls regardless of the time of day or even the inconvenience of the time.
In order to provide this service Vonage small business notifies the user of incoming calls on every device so you can always be found. It is up to you whether to have calls ring in sequence or simultaneously in order that you never miss that important call.
Also Vonage provides the robust features and functions of your office phone in the palm of your hand through a mobile app that will work on Apple IoS or Android to ensure you always have connectivity wherever you may be.
Unfortunately, Vonage has gone down the route of pricing the service dependent on each quotation so there are no quick and easy service price plans to compare to competitors. However, a similar service such as RingCentral that provides all the features, functions and quality of service price around the $25 to $45 per seat depending on the number of free minutes packaged with the deal so you should not be expecting to pay out with those boundaries.
Business application integration is now included in your Vonage Business Essentials plan to give you an integrated solution for phone, conferencing, and collaboration so that you can seamlessly work with Outlook, Salesforce, G Suite, Microsoft Dynamics, Clio and many others.
Vonage Essentials is the starter pack for business telephony and communications and it boasts over 40 features and functions, runs on your high-speed internet connection, providing high-quality voice and data with simple activation and setup with 24/7 customer support.
Vonage Small Business Essentials also enables mobile working and virtual teams and easily scales as your business grows with month-to-month contracts available
Basic features of all Vonage business solutions
The features that come with all of Vonage small business solutions include:
- An admin portal – this is an online web based portal for easy configuration from anywhere.
- Call continuity – Vonage makes sure there is no interruption to the VoIP service even in a power cut.
- Call waiting – be alerted when another call is trying to get through to you whilst you are already on a call.
- Emergency assistance (911) – direct dial feature for security and safety.
- Directory assistance (411) – standard directory charges apply for this service.
- Multiple devices share an extension number – add a mobile, home or desk phone to the extension then be found where ever you may be by simultaneous ringing.
- Call tagging and announce – tag regular customer’s numbers with a tag such as a name and have it whispered when answering the call but before connection.
- Caller ID – see who is calling before answering, works best with the call tagging feature.
- Call screening – send a call to voicemail.
- Dynamic Caller ID – change the number of your caller ID on your outbound calls.
- Do not disturb – when configured callers go direct to voicemail.
- Voicemail – with customized greeting and multiple mail folders, password protected access.
Teleworking and Mobility
These features of Vonage are very important in the modern world of business as more companies are allowing employees to work from home as this saves considerable amount on office space and maintenance. For the employee, saving time and money of commuting is a definite benefit to working from home. Even if your company doesn’t have a teleworker or BYOD policy having these mobility features means that employees in times of bad weather or service outages can still work even though they cannot make it to the office.
Vonage make this viable through robust teleworking and mobility features such as:
- Work from anywhere – lets an employee work from anywhere there is a network or internet connection.
- Cell phone integration – can integrate with not just smartphones but also regular mobiles.
- Never Miss a Call – Configure the account to ring a home, office or mobile number.
- Call Pass – transfer an incoming call on your mobile to your Vonage deskphone.
- Business Mobile App – available for Android and iOS.
- Voicemail Transcript – have transcriptions of voicemail sent to email.
There are many productivity features built into Vonage that are available such as:
- Click to Call Me – a website plugin that allows a customer to click on an on screen icon to initiate a VoIP call.
- Conference Bridge – this is for conference calling that supports up to 30 participants.
- Dashboard – this is a good administrator or supervisor tool in a call center as it allows stats off every extension to be viewed under a single screen.
- Paging Group – another administrative tool that allows a broadcast of a message to a configured group or groups in the company.
- Click to dial – turns telephone numbers into links to click on to dial, works well with Outlook integration and Skype.
- Paperless Fax – send and receive Fax by scanning docs and sending via the Vonage eFax service, this is a nice feature that some VoIP systems cannot deal with, but it is hardly paperless.
- Unified Inbox – manage all communication such as email, voicemail, fax through one inbox.
- Outlook Integration – integrates well with Outlook so you can easily integrate contacts with the phone system and then click to dial.
There are also other features suited for specialist purposes such as training and compliance via call logs and call recording and call monitoring. In addition, there is a desktop application and a mobile app.
Desktop & Mobile Apps
The Vonage business solution is an application that comes free and it comes with an assortment of plug-ins that boost productivity. The plug-ins do not come free but are additional components charged at a monthly fee.
The typical features are:
- Screen pop-up – which is a heads updisplay alerting incoming calls
- Manage calls – place calls on hold, forward or even to record calls
- Intelligent integration – allows Vonage to integrate with Outlook, CRM, Finance and ERM applications to allow an agent to see current client status before connecting the call.
- Call Queues – this manages an agent to manipulate incoming calls and send calls to a expert agent
- Desktop plugins – this allows maximization of integration with third party applications
Examples of Desktop Plugins are APIs for : Bing search, Call history, Caller location and Google contacts. Furthermore, there are APis for Method CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Microsoft Outlook and Quickbooks.
The ability to integrate with other business applications is a major business feature as data is passed seamlessly between application and this mechanism provides for efficiency and productivity. This is one on Vonage’s best features as a business VoIP solution as it allows a business to collate and collaborate data from different segments of the business. Furthermore, it allows for close interaction between CRM, ERP and Finance application whereby a callers call ID can instigate an immediate retrieval of their customer history file. When a customer agent can see the customer history and credentials, they can answer the call using a personal greeting that can diffuse many angry calls. Additionally, by having the details and call history for an irate customer immediately on screen this assist the call center agent in assisting the irate customer. Consequently, they can by applying a personal introduction and then being knowledgeable with regards the customer’s complaint, the agent can prevent antagonizing the customer by having them repeat their complaint.
What is more, having a system that can identify an incoming call and provide an onscreen customer history allow the agent to answer a returning customer’s calls more efficiently as they have the clients call history before them. This is a fantastic tool for a business, which relies on a customer care or technical support function.
The fact that Vonage has integration with CRM solutions such as SugarCRM, and financial packages such as Quickbooks, means that the business VoIP phone system can be tightly integrated into the business. When a customer calls, an agent can see the caller’s current financial status, perhaps they have an unpaid subscriptions and the agent can address the situation verbally. Additionally technical support can review the customers fault history in order to determine a potential problem without antagonizing the customer asking the same questions over and over again.
Vonage is a market leader in international VoIP calls so any package that can supply those rates is wll worth looking at. Vonage has the basic features that are available with most competitors’ solutions. Where Vonage stands out is with their integration with other third party applications. This is a major thing in business as it can allow finance, admin and call centers to share information and collate reports. Very few VoIP solutions have the range of integration that Vonage has and that is a huge factor in why an SMB might want to go for them. Vonage is also extremely cost effective.
On the down-side they do lack some of the IP/PBX features that are common on open-source services, but the international call rates should mitigate any concerns that you may have.
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