You’ve heard the term VoIP caller and maybe even heard it can help your small business. But what exactly is it and how do you know if it’s a better option than using a cellular provider or landline?
As a quick example of VoIP calling, I travel often and like to stay in touch with my family when I’m on the go. I take my personal device with me when I travel but it’s wildly expensive and inconvenient to try and make calls over my cellular device. Not to mention, sometimes I can’t even get service in the country I’m calling. So, when I want to get in touch with my family, I connect to WiFi and make calls via WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is an example of VoIP calling, as it uses an internet connection, rather than a cell phone carrier, to make calls and send messages. While WhatsApp is great for personal calls and messages, it’s not feature-rich enough to work for my small business. But, there are VoIP callers that work perfectly for businesses of every size.
This article will dive deeper into what a VoIP caller is, how VoIP works, and the benefits of using a VoIP solution like OpenPhone to manage small business communications.
- VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol” and allows you to make calls using the cloud rather than a cell carrier or landline.
- A VoIP system will allow you to associate your business name with caller ID, so it never shows up as “VoIP caller”.
- VoIP solutions help you automate tasks with features like VoIP call routing, auto-replies, scheduled text messages, call recording, and voicemail transcription.
- OpenPhone is the best VoIP for small businesses.
VoIP caller meaning
A VoIP caller uses the internet to make and receive calls — rather than a traditional landline or cell carrier. VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”, letting anyone using a VoIP system complete calls via an internet connection without relying on cell towers or a telephone network of wires and cables (in the case of landline phones).
VoIP systems: A deeper dive
Now that you know what VoIP is, let’s dive deeper into what VoIP systems are and how they work.
A VoIP system is a technology provider that makes VoIP calls possible. OpenPhone is an example of a VoIP system that helps businesses call, text, and manage all communications through the internet.
How does it work? VoIP users can log in to their VoIP provider from anywhere in the world as long as they have a strong internet connection. The VoIP solution, like OpenPhone, transforms voice and text communications into digital data. This data is transmitted via an internet provider through a WiFi router to VoIP servers. Servers receive the call and route it to the intended recipient. Despite the intricate process, the end user only hears the voice of the person on the other side.
The intro of this article cited WhatsApp as an example of VoIP. Facebook Messenger and Instagram Messenger are also examples of apps we use every day that use VoIP systems to help people communicate.
While WhatsApp and Facebook are great tools for simple texts or quick calls to friends, they don’t hold a candle to a dedicated VoIP platform like OpenPhone — especially if you are using VoIP for business communications. Not only should a business VoIP solution allow you to make calls, but it should allow your whole team to manage all team and customer communications without a hitch. More on that later.
What is a VoIP phone?
While VoIP phones use the internet instead of a landline to make calls, that doesn’t mean you can’t use a traditional hard phone to make your calls.
In fact, the singular term “VoIP phone” is misleading, considering there are several phone options you can use with a VoIP solution, including hard phones and softphones.
Hard phones are physical devices that resemble traditional phones but use the internet for calls. For example:
- Desk IP phones: Stationary phones designed for VoIP calls, often equipped with advanced features for offices.
- Wireless phones: VoIP phones connect wirelessly, typically via Wi-Fi or carrier connection.
- Conference phones: Devices designed for group calls, emphasizing speaker and microphone quality.
- USB phones: Phones connecting via USB to a device, relying on specific software or apps to function.
Many businesses also use softphones with VoIP technology. These are software-based phones operating on computers or mobile devices, including apps that let you call from a mobile device, tablet, or computer (e.g., Skype or WhatsApp).
VoIP and caller ID protocols
Have you ever received a call that says “VoIP caller” and been afraid it’s a spammer? Your fears aren’t completely unwarranted. Since VoIP works over WiFi, anyone with a strong internet connection can make calls.
This may make you concerned about how your professional calls will look to your customers if you start using VoIP technology. But there is no need to worry. Not all VoIP systems are created equal.
When you use a professional VoIP platform like OpenPhone, you can get dedicated numbers with local area codes. Alternatively, you can port your current numbers or use a toll-free number. This means your calls won’t show up on a customer’s phone as “VoIP.” It will show up as a legitimate number.
What’s more, most VoIP providers allow you to associate a CNAM (caller ID name) with your telephone number. This means when you call a customer, your business name will show up, not something that looks weird and spammy.
How can you get a VoIP number?
When you sign up with a top VoIP service provider, you’ll first choose a local or toll-free number. If you already have an established number, you can port that number over to OpenPhone.
Costs for new numbers and porting old numbers can vary depending on the VoIP provider. But each user on your OpenPhone plan comes with one local US, Canadian, or North American toll-free number upon sign-up.
Who uses VoIP calls?
The term “VoIP” may be new to you, but the technology is more prevalent than many realize.
For example, anyone who uses social media messaging apps like Facebook or Instagram is using VoIP technology. It’s the same with Skype, Google Voice, and WhatsApp — all of these technologies work by sending calls or messages over the internet.
Unfortunately, there are also more nefarious uses of VoIP technology. People who run scams and fraudulent organizations can use VoIP services to create a fake caller ID to try and swindle people. People need to be vigilant about not answering calls that appear as “VoIP caller” and not giving out personal information to strangers.
However, legitimate businesses use professional and secure VoIP services that protect their customers and help them conduct day-to-day business — and save potentially thousands of dollars upfront on their business phone system (more on this later).
For example, many realtors use VoIP phone services. A VoIP system helps realtors organize and categorize their extensive list of contacts — differentiating buyers, sellers, inspectors, and contractors. With features like auto-responses and call forwarding, realtors can serve customers all the time — whether they’re at the office or busy showing a property.
DUO, a top Keller Williams office in the DC area, uses OpenPhone to ensure no leads slip through the cracks and their agents follow up faster When DUO gets a new lead from Realtor, Zillow, or Google Ads, it will text the DUO team’s main office number on OpenPhone with the new leads. DUO uses shared phone numbers, so everyone on the team gets a notification of a new lead. The first agent to respond with a text on the platform secures the lead.
The result? DUO’s leads stay organized, which decreases speed to lead time, makes the team more efficient, and ensures potential customers don’t just move onto another business.
5 key benefits of using a VoIP phone system
The immediate benefit of investing in a VoIP solution for your small business is evident: you don’t have to have your team tied down to copper wires or invest in hefty and complicated cell phone carrier plans to conduct business.
But there are so many more benefits to VoIP systems besides flexibility and ease. Let’s discuss 5 other reasons why the Global VoIP market size was valued at almost$154 million in 2021 and why it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.52 percent, reaching nearly $225 million by 2027.
1. Lower costs
When you’re running a business, lower expenses means increasing your profit margins. As communications technology advances, it’s possible to easily update your phone system to a VoIP solution and save money.
First and foremost, US cell carriers like Verizon and AT&T keep raising prices. If your business runs on a cell phone carrier, not only are you missing out on key features you get with a VoIP, but you’re also chaining yourself to incrementally increasing costs.
Compared to desk phone system, you can save up to 71% on your first year of costs for a business phone system using a VoIP solution like OpenPhone.
OpenPhone charges you a flat monthly rate depending on your service tier and the number of users. Any additional fees you may pay are based on your team’s needs and are transparently listed on our pricing page.
Now, let’s say you’ve been using a traditional phone system at your desk as your business communications solution. You already know how expensive it can be to invest in hardware — including desk phones and a PBX box. All you need for a VoIP is an internet connection.
2. Call to and from almost anywhere in the world
The growth of the internet and the increase in eCommerce has also shifted the way we work and how consumers buy. You’re no longer restricted to selling to your local area, and consumers from almost anywhere in the world can benefit from your services.
Since most businesses these days are global businesses, you need a phone system that helps you effectively and affordably communicate with your global customer base and remote employees.
Since VoIP systems like OpenPhone are cloud-based, your team — no matter where they are located — can make calls from and to anywhere in the world via the OpenPhone app.
3. Improved scalability
Picture this. You have an office of 10 employees — all of whom use a desk phone. Then, you experience rapid growth and need to hire 50 more employees — stat. If you’re using desk phones, you have to drop a pretty penny, wait for the hardware to ship to your office, and then set up the technology. PITA, much?
VoIP phone systems, on the other hand, make it easy to scale. With VoIP phone systems, you don’t need hardware or phone lines. You only need your existing computer and mobile device. Additionally, OpenPhone lets team members use personal devices with separate work and personal numbers, eliminating costs and making it possible to onboard a new employee immediately.
Plus, if your team wants to have a more seemingly local presence in different cities, you can easily sign up for phone numbers in different area codes.
4. Time-saving features
Remember that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Toula is the only phone employee at the travel agency, and she’s answering a bunch of calls and putting everyone on hold? Then, she clotheslines herself and passes out?
Sadly, Toula did not have a VoIP system, and there was no way for customers to get service — or even an auto-reply — when she conked out.
Today’s VoIP systems have features that automate tasks, help save time, and make it possible for customers to get relevant information, even when you’re off work, busy, or…blacked out. Automation features include call routing, auto-replies, scheduled text messages, call recording, voicemail transcription, and other helpful tech integrations.
5. Better security
Remember how we talked about how some VoIP users can be suspicious? The best VoIP providers are not shady, and they use IP technology to protect both your company and your customers.
OpenPhone, for example, encrypts calls and draws attention to potential security threats. With OpenPhone’s SOC-2-compliant platform, rest assured all your communication is secured using 256-bit AES encryption.
Potential drawbacks of VoIP business phone systems
VoIP business phone systems can be life-changing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t drawbacks, especially depending on the provider you choose. Here are some things to look out for when picking a VoIP solution.
1. Call quality issues in poor internet conditions
VoIP systems rely on stable internet connections. When bandwidth is constrained, it can lead to poor call quality. When moving over to a VoIP, first make sure you have a strong internet connection. If you have problems, consider periodically resetting or repositioning your router or liaising with your internet service provider to mitigate these issues.
2. Lack of customer support
The quality and responsiveness of customer support varies between VoIP service providers. Select a provider like OpenPhone with a strong reputation for customer service to ensure someone is available and can answer your questions.
3. Difficulty tracking caller id during an emergency
One limitation of many VoIP services is the inability to pinpoint the exact caller identification or location during emergency 911 calls. However, certain providers do offer location tracking as a premium feature to enhance user safety.
When picking out a VoIP, don’t only look at the good features — look at the problem areas customers report. Remember, OpenPhone is rated the top cloud-based VoIP system by hundreds of businesses on G2.
5 popular VoIP service providers for your business
If you’ve been researching VoIP service providers for your business, you know there are dozens to choose from. It can be overwhelming to sift through the features, benefits, and reviews of your top picks.
The solution you pick will depend on the type of business you run, how big your business is, and what features you need. Here’s a quick overview of 5 popular VoIP service providers and what each one is best known for:
- OpenPhone: OpenPhone is the best VoIP for growing teams and businesses. It comes with unlimited calls in the US and Canada, shared numbers, and is infinitely scalable.
- Nextiva: This VoIP is known for its integration with Microsoft products. It also has a great auto-attendant feature. It doesn’t allow texts on the basic plan.
- RingCentral: If your company needs to rent desk phones, then RingCentral is a good VoIP for you. Keep in mind though RingCentral has limited toll-free minutes and SMS messages.
- Dialpad: Is your business an established enterprise call center? Then, Dialpad may be the best fit for you. It has a user-friendly interface but requires an upgrade for many of its most attractive features.
- Ooma: Ooma is a good solution for large retail stores. It has an intercom feature that makes it possible to page in-house employees.
Use OpenPhone’s VoIP caller to supercharge your customer support
By now, you know what VoIP is — a system that lets you call and text over the internet.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for growing businesses. Your team can also work more cost-effectively, save money, increase efficiencies, and scale your company.
Ready to get started? Sign up for your free trial of OpenPhone to try out VoIP calling today.
VoIP calling FAQ
The primary distinction between VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and regular phone calls lies in the technology and infrastructure they use. VoIP is more flexible and allows users to make calls using any smartphone, computer, laptop, or tablet. The key requirement for VoIP is a wireless internet connection in tandem with a VoIP service provider. Traditional phone calls operate using plain old telephone service lines (POTS), transmitting signals through copper wires.
Since VoIP callers usually have a local or toll-free number, you likely won’t be able to tell them apart from standard phone calls. If the VoIP caller ID explicitly says, “VoIP caller” and you’re concerned, let it go to voicemail. If you do answer a VoIP call, as with any phone call, use caution and don’t give personal information.
If you receive a call from a VoIP phone number, there’s no need to panic. It might be a friend without access to their regular cell phone or a business you’ve permitted to contact you. For example, if you’re looking to purchase a new home and you add your contact information to the inquiry phone, the realtor may add your information to their VoIP system. Essentially, it just means they’re using VoIP technology to call you and not a traditional cell phone or landline.
IP phone and a VoIP phone are terms often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two.
An IP phone (Internet Protocol phone) uses Internet Protocol (IP) technology to transmit voice calls over an IP network. This is typically the internet or an internal local area network (LAN).
On the other hand, a VoIP Phone (Voice over Internet Protocol Phone) is a broader term that encompasses not only dedicated hardware IP phones but also refers to any device or software application that allows voice communication over the internet using VoIP technology.
One effective way to reduce SIP/VoIP attacks is to block suspicious or unrecognized numbers. Implementing advanced security measures like strong authentication protocols, regularly updating VoIP software, and using encrypted connections can further fortify your VoIP system against potential threats. It’s also smart to monitor call logs for unusual patterns and to employ network firewalls tailored for VoIP/SIP protection.
Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, marketing, and e-commerce. She also writes Content Connect, the newsletter that helps you grow your freelance writing and content marketing muscles. And she co-hosts the podcast and video series Freelance Bitters.