voip phones In many ways, communication is what drives a business — communication with customers, vendors, partners, employees, and so on. The medium and the devices that carry that communication are no less important.  

In the digital age, the options for communication are endless, from email to video conferencing, online chat, and social media. But at some point, it always circles back to the old-fashioned phone call. That’s why your voice-over-IP (VoIP) software is one of the most critical pieces of IT infrastructure. If it’s not functioning at its highest level, your core business processes will suffer.

Maybe your current VoIP solution leaves a lot to be desired, but you can’t quite put your finger on why. How do you know when it’s time to go back on the market and shop for something better? Well, for starters, you can look for the following five key indicators.

1) You’re Having Trouble Connecting

If you do a lot of list-based calling, you probably use some kind of auto-dialer to feed the numbers into a queue and route them to agents. An auto-dialer is a great way to bring scalability to teleprospecting or telesales, but if there’s no discretion built into the system, your reps are going to waste a lot of time dealing with busy signals and disconnected numbers.

During your next VoIP software comparison, look for a solution with predictive dialing — a feature that uses real-time analytics to remove unavailable numbers and answering machines from the auto-dial queue.

2) Lack of Mobility

Your current solution has employees leashed to a hardphone every time they make or receive a call, and telecommuting is out of the question. If that’s the case, you’re missing out on a lot of productivity and convenience. In almost every industry, workforce mobilization is helping companies collaborate better and keep an edge over their competitors, and telephony is a big part of that. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce is now at least partially compatible with telework, and almost 90 percent of employees say they would like to telework part-time.

Get with the program. Look for a VoIP solution that offers softphones and native mobile apps, so your employees can take calls on the company line whether they’re sitting at their desk, grazing for snacks in the break room, or sitting at home in pajama bottoms.  

3) Lack of Data or Visibility

Are you tracking call metrics to analyze usage? Does your current system provide reports on call volume and queue activity? Can you discreetly record calls and screen footage for coaching and compliance?

These insights (and others) are vital to improving business performance and keeping communications efficient. If you have limited visibility into how your phone system is actually being used, you might consider upgrading to a platform with better built-in analytics. About 55 percent of global enterprises say that analytics have improved their competitive position.

4) Lack of Continuity

Especially in customer-facing roles, it’s critical that VoIP technology integrates with other business systems such as CRMs and help desk software. This is usually referred to as computer-telephony integration, or CTI. CTI allows users to make one-click calls without leaving their current program, automatically retrieve customer records (i.e., “screen pops”), and easily enter notes.

If you have to jump around between three different systems and a hardphone keypad, it might be time for an upgrade. Find a solution that supports native integration with your most important applications. Common examples include:

5) Limited to One Channel

Despite the name “Voice over IP,” modern VoIP is becoming more than just voice. Vendors are adding multi-channel support and collaboration tools, and the market is drifting toward a strong preference for these features. A 2014 report by UBM Tech found that 44 percent of North American companies have deployed some kind of “unified communications” system, and 13 percent plan to do so in the next year.

Unified communications, of course, is the notion that all corporate communication channels (voice, chat, video, mobile, email, fax) can become part of a single integrated platform. You don’t necessarily have to go that far, but it is important to consider the utility of a multi-channel approach. If your current vendor is stuck on voice and voice only, consider alternatives.

Your VoIP software needs will obviously depend on the type of customer you serve, your industry, and the size of your business. Regardless of where that lands you, it doesn’t hurt to run a basic audit of your communications technology and identify gaps or weak points. Can a new solution with a different vendor solve any of your current challenges? If your evaluation points to “yes,” then you’re probably ready for better VoIP software.