As technology becomes more sophisticated, businesses are using softphone apps instead of landlines to ensure their business phone systems are more accessible and cost-effective. But softphones may not be the right choice for every business. Here is everything you need to know about softphones and how to determine if they are the right solution for your business.
What is a softphone app?
Despite its name, a softphone is not, in fact, a phone. A softphone is software that allows you to use a computer, phone or tablet to place internet-based calls. Softphone software is typically provided by your Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider, and functions as a familiar, user-friendly interface that operates similarly to a traditional phone – users can dial numbers and access their VoIP features (voicemail, auto attendant, do not disturb, etc.). Softphones also have features such as mute, hold and transfer.
How does a softphone app work?
To use a softphone, you need a computer, smartphone or tablet that can access the internet and either a VoIP headset or access to a microphone and speaker on your device. While an internal speaker and microphone will work, a proper VoIP headset ensures the best possible sound quality by diminishing ambient noise.
Softphones function much like a traditional phone, allowing you to:
- Make, receive and transfer calls
- Manage contacts
- Set up call waiting and do not disturb
- Assign rules for call forwarding
- Keep cell phone calls private
- Share contact lists
- Instant message co-workers
- Video call
How to choose a softphone?
When choosing the best softphone app for your business, weigh features and cost. While softphones are largely considered a low-cost option compared to other phone systems, monthly service costs and features vary by provider.
When evaluating the cost, think carefully about which features you can and cannot do without. Many providers offer free, limited versions of their software, which may work for you, depending on your needs. Do an analysis to see how each provider compares in features and costs to ensure the best bang for your buck. Features you should look for include voicemail, call forwarding and transfer, redial, hold, auto answer and call ignore.
You should also look at how many phones, or lines, you will need. Choose a provider that can easily support the number of lines you need.
Next, consider the operating system. Not all softphone apps are compatible with every operating system, so choosing software that works with your operating system is vital, be it macOS, Windows, iOS or Android. Also, check to see what other systems the softphone app integrates with, such as a CRM, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) or Outlook.
You must also ensure that your softphone supports the same protocol as your VoIP provider. Protocols determine how data is processed and transferred over the network. There are multiple protocols supported by VoIP services and softphones.
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