For most UK businesses, these are the primary advantages and disadvantages of VoIP:
A brief introduction to VoIP
Before we dig into the various advantages and disadvantages of VoIP compared to traditional phone lines, here is a brief intro to VoIP phone systems.
What is a VoIP phone system?
Very simply, a VoIP phone system is a cloud-based communications platform that allows you to make phone calls over the internet. Rather than having a physical telephone system in your office, you subscribe to a VoIP service, much the same as you would your broadband. As we'll explain later in this post, the great thing about cloud-VoIP services is that even if you only have a few employees, you can access these same valuable features that larger companies have.
Benefits of VoIP Services
Ok, without further ado, let's share with you the top advantages of VoIP for businesses in the UK today:
1. Flexible working is a breeze
With all of us having to adopt a level of remote and flexible working in the past few years, we think that the flexibility that VoIP can give a business is perhaps the most significant benefit. In short, by signing up for a leading VoIP service, you and your team can work from anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection. Yes, that's right, as long as you're connected to the internet, you can make and receive calls, as you would in the office. That means that customers, suppliers, and other contacts have a single business number for you, but where you take their call doesn't matter. This flexibility means that your employees can switch between working in the office and home with ease without customers noticing a difference.
2. VoIP is cheaper than traditional phone lines
The next benefit of VoIP is the cost savings it provides to businesses, not only in ongoing call costs but also by removing the need to purchase costly equipment. As there are no upfront costs or ongoing maintenance fees, just a monthly subscription fee, you free yourself from needing to purchase, maintain and upgrade hardware. Alongside this, many of the best VoIP services include generous free call allowances (to UK landline and mobiles), so typically, and unless your team is making a considerable number of calls, you'll get minimal call charges each month. Finally, as calls are being made over your internet connection, you also remove the need for costly ISDN services. It's a win-win-win all around, and the cost savings are a massive reason for UK businesses to switch their communications sooner rather than later. Oh wait, before we forget, there's one final cost-saving we should mention, IP handsets, or should we say the lack of the need for them! As we'll explain a bit later in this guide, rather than using traditional desk phones, if you want to, you can just use a softphone, which is an app on your computer or mobile phone.
Where you'll typically save money with VoIP:
- No hardware costs
- No need for telephone lines
- Substantially lower call costs
- No need to buy desk phones
- No ongoing maintenance or support fees
And these are just the direct cost savings; there's a whole host of other in-direct savings you'll make through efficiency and productivity improvements.
3. Cloud-phone systems improve efficiency and productivity
Leading into our section about the advanced features you get with VoIP phone systems, we want to highlight the improvements you'll see in your business communications when it comes to efficiency and productivity. With features like auto-attendant, which routes calls to the right people the first time, through the ability to take calls anywhere, you reduce the time people spend "handling" calls and focus more energy on speaking to people.
4. Improved customer experience
Speak to anyone in your marketing team, and they'll know the importance of customer journeys online, but what's sometimes overlooked is the experience offline too. Suppose you have a customer that regularly calls and needs to speak to a specific person or team but frequently finds themselves talking to the wrong person and being transferred around the office. In that case, it's far from a good experience. Equally, what if they call and the person in question is working from home? Are they expected to phone the employee's mobile number and track them down?
In our experience, in specific industries where employees are frequently in and out of the office, for example, estate agents, a customer's experience of reaching the person they need to is often relatively poor. They typically have two or more numbers for the person, which means two voicemails and twice the numbers to call. By switching to VoIP, your customers only need to call a single telephone number, and they will be connected to the person they need, wherever they are.
Auto-attendants are another great feature that businesses can utilise to improve customer experience; by simply giving the caller a couple of choices when they ring, you can get them to the right person or department much faster than manually.
5. Excellent features to enhance your communications
We've already touched on some of the features most of the leading VoIP phone systems will give you, but here we'll get into them in a bit more detail. It's important to note that not all VoIP providers will offer all of these features, so it's always worth requesting a comparison quote from us to find out which fits your requirements.
Features of leading VoIP systems include:
- Voicemail-to-email - get important messages delivered as audio files directly to your email account so you can pick them up on whatever device you're using.
- Play messages to people on hold - this is a great feature that allows you to play pre-recorded messages to people while they wait on hold. Some businesses use this feature to promote new products or services; others simply provide information like opening hours to their customers. Either way, it's another tool in your business communications armoury.
- Hunt Groups - this feature allows you to group people with similar roles in your business so that all of their phones ring when someone calls the group. It could be that you have separate sales and service departments, or perhaps different office locations? Hunt Groups is one of those features that'll improve customer experience and internal efficiency.
- Call recording - it's sad to say that the level of verbal abuse employees receive on the phone has increased in recent years, even more so than was picked up by this 2003 HSE study. While there is no way to eliminate it, Call Recording does tend to reduce it by making the caller aware they are being monitored. Alongside helping support your employees and their wellbeing, Call Recording is hugely valuable from a training perspective. Of course, in some industries like financial services, it's mandated in any case.
- Unlimited VoIP numbers - one of the key advantages of VoIP that's often overlooked is that you can get a nearly endless amount of VoIP phone numbers. Whether local, national or even international, you can get a new number quickly and inexpensively added to your VoIP service.
- Out-of-hours-routing - this feature allows you to set up call routing based on the time of day, so calls are sent to various destinations or played a different recorded message depending on the time they call you.
- Call-park and pickup - need to dash out partway through a call? Park the call on one device and pick it back upon another.
- Busy lamp keys - another time-saving feature is busy lamp keys. Quickly see whether colleagues are already on a call before even trying their extension on your handset.
- And usually much more - this is a quick summary of what you can expect; for a more extensive list, please read our guide to the best VoIP phone systems for small businesses UK.
6. Better voice quality
In comparison to a traditional phone system using ISDN or even PSTN lines, you can expect VoIP telephone systems to provide a far superior call quality. Say goodbye to crackly lines and jitters, enjoy high definition conversations regardless of where you are. One thing to note on this front is that as the calls come to you via your broadband, it's essential that you have a stable and robust internet connection, be that hardwired, WiFi, 4g or 5g. The more stable and reliable your internet connection, the better the quality of your calls will be.
7. Improved reliability and disaster recovery
Whereas in times gone past, you would have a physical phone system in your office and one or more telephone lines coming into it, with VoIP, all of that is in the cloud. What that means is your companies office can suffer a power cut, or worse and assuming you can move your employees to somewhere else with an internet connection, they'll be able to continue to take calls. On the note of reliability, as these cloud phone systems are located in multiple highly secure and resilient data centres around the UK, the chances of the actual service going down are far less than your office having an outage. So, in summary, there's less chance of an outage, and even if there is, you can simply send your employees home to work.
8. Future proof your business
You may or may not be aware that in 2025 BT is switching off its PSTN and ISDN networks. Yes, it's a bit deal and means that all businesses will need to move to VoIP before then. Fortunately, there are enough other benefits to VoIP to make it worth doing sooner rather than later. Importantly, if you've been in business for several years, the chances are that you'll want to retain your existing telephone numbers. The good news is that all of the best providers will be able to "port" your numbers, so your customers and contacts won't know that anything has changed. On this point, please make sure that when you port your numbers, you do so with a reputable company and one that it's easy to speak to if there's a problem. We've heard many horror stories about people trying to port numbers to companies overseas and then having difficulty getting access to them.
9. Easy to scale as you grow
Unlike a traditional phone system and dedicated phone lines that limit you to a certain number of people or lines, hosted VoIP services can typically scale as you grow. So while you may have a dozen or so employees today, even if you grow to 500 soon, the VoIP telephone system will be able to support your growth. The same is true if you need to downsize for any reason; you can reduce the number of users on the system as you wish.
10. Integration with other business systems
The industry jargon for this is Unified Communications, which simply means bringing all of your communications under one roof. Many of the best phone systems currently available support far more than voice calling. They'll allow you to send instant messages, have video calls and much more. Not only that, but because VoIP is IP (internet protocol) based, you can often integrate your business phone system in Microsoft Outlook, Teams, your CRM and much more. It's a potent way to enhance communications within your business and ultimately streamline things.
We're an independent business telecoms company that acts as an adviser to businesses across the UK. We're not tied to a single brand or phone system, which means we're able to offer genuinely impartial advice on which platform is best for your business. If you need help choosing a business phone system, please click here to compare them now or give us a call on 01202 854111; we look forward to hearing from you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the advantages of VoIP?
These are the primary advantages of VoIP:
- More flexibility
- Lower costs
- Extensive features
- Future proof
- Improved reliability
- Better call quality
- Excellent integration with other systems
What is VoIP, and why is it important?
VoIP is the technology used to make phone calls over the internet. It's essential because soon, traditional telephone lines such as PSTN and ISDN will be phased out in the UK, meaning everyone that needs a landline will need to move to VoIP.
Why is VoIP better than a traditional phone service?
VoIP has many significant benefits, but it comes down to the fact that you're not just getting a telephone line with limited features; you're getting an internet-based voice service that does so much more.
What is the main disadvantage of VoIP?
The most significant disadvantage of VoIP is that you need a stable internet connection to make and receive calls.