When choosing a business phone system, remember the old adage 'you get what you pay for'. If you put in the effort to start and grow your business, cutting back and using a free phone service will only cause you problems.
So you have a growing company, and you currently pay very little for your phone calls because you are using a free service. It might seem like a good idea now but what about as your business grows? Do you want people to continue to view your business as a one man shop? If not, then you need to upgrade to a professional phone system. And with all the inexpensive VoIP hosted PBX options out there (telecom in the cloud) you not only set yourself up as a professional business but are ready for growth.
VoIP hosted PBX systems typically offer many features that free phone systems do not offer like: call queues, call reporting, call recording, and transcribed voicemails (voicemail to text).
Now, do not get me wrong, those free phone systems a lot of fans who rave about the features it gives them. But, it's simply not a professional phone system that any size business should use for their day to day operations.
Here are the reasons why you should NOT use a free phone system as a business phone system:
1. It Is not a Phone System
No admin login, no separate user logins, no call reporting, no call queues, no unlimited phone numbers, no toll free numbers, no logs for different users, no logs for different numbers, no e911, no dial by name directory, no web faxing, no music on hold etc. etc. It's just NOT a phone system.
But … if you need more reasons:
2. Most free phone systems are not based on SIP (Session Internet Protocol) and therefore Lacks Features
Systems that use SIP have many advantages over a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) in that they can utilize many of the programmable features that only calls sent over SIP can provide. As an example, Asterisk is a programming language based on SIP and is constantly coming out with new features for VoIP providers. Asterisk is an open source software and therefore available for free. Some of the features free services are lacking that a business will need include: Call Queues, Conference Bridges with a Pin Number and email reminders, Call Reports, Administration and User level logins for managing lines / extensions, web faxing, a dial by name directory , music on hold, e911, and much, much more.
3. You Can not Use Free Services on a Soft Phone
Since most free phone systems are not based on SIP, users of the system can not use a SIP based client like a soft phone. Soft phones are software programs that run on a computer that enable users to make / receive calls over the internet. An example of a soft phone is Skype. Soft Phones are used by many companies for call centers and in place of a company phone. Soft phones are free to start and then can cost a small one-time cost for a lot of extra features. One company that sells soft phones is Counterpath.
4. Most Free Phone Systems Only Offer One Local Number
With most of these free phone services you are only given one local number. With the advent of VoIP, businesses can finally get local business numbers for any location in the US without having to have a physical location there. So, many businesses are seeing the benefit of maintaining multiple local phone numbers. For example, if your business is located in Austin, Texas but you have vendors in New Orleans, Louisiana, you may want to give them a local number that they can call instead of having to make long distance calls or using your toll-free minutes on your toll-free number. If you have a VoIP hosted PBX system, you can purchase as many local numbers from as many local US destinations as you want. And, you can forward these numbers to any location you want including your cell phone, an extension at your business, or your VoIP phone (wherever that might be located).
5. Free Phone Services Usually Do Not Work with Powerful VoIP Phones
Many of the features that are making businesses more successful when using VoIP are only accessible using a VoIP phone. Polycom, for example, has a line of VoIP phones used just for conference rooms. There are also phones used by secretaries that show who is on the phone, as well as basic VoIP phones with buttons like 'hold', 'mute', 'headsets', 'conference', 'forward', 'Contact Directory' Call Lists', 'Messages' and much more. And with a VoIP phone, you can use your phone anywhere in the world you have a dedicated internet connection.
6. HD Voice (wideband audio) is Not Available with Free Phone Services
Wideband audio is an audio technology used in telephony. It extends the frequency range of audio signals transmitted over telephone lines, resulting in higher quality speech. With HD, Voice calls sound clear and crisp, almost like the person is standing right next to you. HD Voice is available with most VoIP hosted PBX providers and with most VoIP phone providers but not with free phone services.
7. Free Phone Services – Voicemail to Text Service is Crummy at Best
Perhaps one of the free phone services coolest features is also currently among its weakest. The transcription service can give you some less-than-literal translations. Voicemails may or may not come through perfectly when transcribed to text. “I hope to see you soon” may come through as “I love your friend June.” Ouch.
8. Privacy Can Be An Issue for Free Phone System Users
Preston Gralla of Computer World says “Lost in all the hooplah about the release of — is this disturbing fact: The service will give (Internet Browser Company) — enormous amounts of information about the intimate details of your everyday life, including recordings of your voice mail and possibly your phone calls. Combined with what (Internet Browser Company) — already knows about you, it could mean your privacy is at an end. ” Gralla goes on to say: “— will be offered for free. (Internet Browsing Company) —, though, will certainly be looking for ways to make money from it. especially because the company recently announced that it's going to figure out new ways to target ads based on your interests.
9. Free Phone Services Do Not Offer Phone Support
Okay, this has to be the biggest problem with relying on a free phone service for your companies phone system needs. Have you, or anyone you know, ever been able to actually talk to their support for anything? I doubt it. Go with a provider you can talk to any time since having a working phone system is most likely a critical factor in your businesses success.
10 Free Phone Services Do Not Look Professional
Bottom line is, when you are trying to get a new customer to trust you, the fact that you are using free phone services instead of paying for a better phone system shows that you just do not care. You do not care that your phone calls are possibly being monitored, do not care that your phone calls are breaking up and sound terrible, and you do not care about having reliable business communications.
Free phone systems are not meant to be used to run a business's telecommunications system. The “fun” little features that they tout are just that, fun. They will not help you run your business more efficiently and in fact will most likely slow you down. I mean who has time to set up different voicemail greetings for different callers when you are trying to run a business ?? And do you really need that ?? So stick with what works and grow your business without having to worry that your phone system will drag you down. Choose a VoIP hosted PBX system and you can not go wrong.