Businesses are competitive when it comes to acquiring and retaining their clients. Even a split-second delay can severely impact decisions and cause them to lose their clientele. Similarly, to ensure smooth operations, different departments of an organization need to communicate with each other, and the information flow should be seamless. For both scenarios, business communication channels play a major role. What was once dominated by physical telephone lines is being replaced by VoIP systems that provide advanced features on top of providing better ROI. From a business perspective, switching to VoIP is a smart move as the advantages are multifold.
Benefits of VoIP phone system for business
- Significant year-over-year savings: VoIP uses the internet to send and receive calls. Compared to a conventional phone, call rates using VoIP cost a fraction. While the equipment and initial setup costs are higher, the cost of adding new phone lines is very cheap compared to a conventional telephone.
- Advanced enterprise-grade Unified Calling (UC) features: In addition to transmitting voice and video calls using the internet, VoIP also offers advanced features such as voicemail-to-email, conferencing, fax services, multimedia transfer using WebRTC, auto-attendant, live call transfer, and more.
- Scalable solution: VoIP systems are future-proof and scalable solutions where the addition or removal of phone lines is as simple as changing the toggle state on the admin dashboard. Catering to the requirements of enterprise-level businesses, a robust VoIP system is capable enough to handle a large volume of concurrent calls efficiently. Your business only focussed on voice calls? Your service provider only charges you for voice services. As a hosted system, scalability is a plus point for businesses using VoIP systems.
- Reliable: VoIP being a hosted system, it is very reliable. You get superior voice quality and round-the-clock uptime. Since VoIP only relies on the internet, even if power outages take down one server, the system falls back to a backup server, depending on the architecture.
- Secure: All calls are encrypted using additional security protocols, such as a session border controller, to prevent call eavesdropping or call jacking. Moreover, admins can add firewall systems for PBX servers to prevent any DDoS attacks.
You can further read the advantages of the VoIP system over PSTN. Suppose your business is one of the 61% of businesses transitioning from traditional phone lines to VoIP (source: Blueface). In that case, it is wise to repurpose the existing infrastructure by replacing traditional telephones with IP Phones. Simply plug in the LAN to the appropriate port, set up the SIP profile, and start making calls. However, if you are a business with no communication modes in place or planning to shift bases, it is wise to opt for a softphone.
Let’s understand the purpose of both and differentiate them.
What is a Deskphone/ IP Phone?
Deskphone, commonly called an IP Phone, is physical hardware that resembles a standard telephone but has additional hardware for VoIP-enabled features. Instead of the 4-pin RJ11 cable, the IP Phone uses the ethernet (RJ45) cable to transmit voice signals in the form of digital packets through the internet.
What is a SoftPhone system?
A softphone is a software emulation of the IP Phone that can be installed as an app on a wide range of internet-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. You can get a softphone through a business phone service provider or through third-party softphone apps.
To answer the question of “how does a softphone work?”, the user installs the app on their device. Then they log in using their SIP profile. Once logged in, the user can either dial the number or call directly from the contact book.
You can learn more about What is a Softphone, and How does it work?
Softphone vs Deskphone
Both serve a common purpose, i.e., making and receiving calls, as well as provide additional call management services such as call hold, transfer, park, etc., and voicemail services. However, on the five evaluative factors (versatility, cost, functionality, quality, and ease of use), both have major differences.
Contrary to the popular misconception, a desk phone doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice mobility. Deskphones are plug-and-play devices that can be easily operated once connected to the internet.
However, the softphone solution has an edge here. The softphone can be used remotely if installed as an app yet fulfilling the features available in an IP phone. Moreover, the outgoing calls made through the softphone display the business caller ID rather than the personal caller ID. This helps present the business with a polished and professional look.
Depending on the features you need, a wide range of desk phones are available at different price points. From a durability point of view, most IP phones are well-built and can last for years. However, once again, the softphone gains an advantage over desk phones. Most softphones are free of cost or available for a monthly subscription for a fixed number of users. Additionally, users have the flexibility to choose the features they need and only pay for them. Businesses can choose to employ a BYOD (bring your own device) policy to allow their employees to use the softphones on their personal devices to cut down on equipment costs.
Top-of-the-line IP phones are premium VoIP calling devices with advanced features such as:
- Backlit LCD
- 4-way conferencing
- Video call support
- Multiple Ethernet ports with Gigabit support
- Busy Lamp Fields
- Speed dial keys
- Call Parking/ patching
- Cutting edge security and encryption technology
- Bluetooth Headset support
- SMS support
- Call Transfer
- Easy plug and play support
Best Softphone offers almost same features with an exception that softphones offer a better level of mobility when installed on a mobile device. So for an office setup, IP phones are suitable, but for remote operations, softphones are the superior choice.
While both rely on internet speeds, connectivity plays a role in internet quality. An ethernet cable is a reliable connection mode, whereas wifi and cellular internet depend on signal strength. In this factor, IP phones have a better edge.
This is a tie as both are fairly simple to use, and the initial set up is easily manageable. A user can make or receive calls within minutes through the IP phone or softphone.
Is Softphone a better choice?
Even though VoIP softphones are better in 3 out of 5 evaluation factors, it is unfair to tag them as a better choice. It completely depends on the business needs it should fulfill. Best VoIP softphones are really suitable for a remote work environment. Businesses gain the flexibility and mobility required for running their business remotely without sacrificing any features.
Softphones are a good fit for businesses that have:
- Telecommuting employees.
- Call centers with fluctuating agent volume
- Working remotely
- Need to record calls for training purposes.
- Customer support staff.
Benefits of a Softphone
Businesses eliminate the equipment costs and only opt for per-user fees as well as pay for any optional features they want. This reduces maintenance costs, and businesses can enjoy international call costs at lower monthly service charges.
Promotes remote working.
Softphone systems are a boon for businesses as employees can enjoy remote communications. All they need to do is configure the SIP extensions and be present in a region with reliable internet speeds, and they can make calls easily. Additionally, managers and admins can keep track of call performance from a centralized dashboard. Using the auto-provisioning method, users can activate their SIP service via a web interface instead of doing it manually. This reduces configuration errors and improves the user onboarding experience.
End-to-end integration support
Using APIs, the softphone can seamlessly integrate a wide range of VoIP hardware such as softswitch, auto-provisioning servers, SIP servers, session border controllers, etc.
White labeling possibilities
Being a software, the level of customization possible is too many when opting for a white-label softphone. Softphone development companies can provide white labeling services that deliver a personalized user experience as per the look and feel of the client’s business.
There is no clear victor between softphones and desk phones as both are VoIP-enabled phones with fascinating capabilities. Instead, you should choose the one that best suits your company’s needs. We hope we managed to clarify the differences. There is no rule against the usage of both phones, but if great call quality and straightforward call handling are crucial to you, desk phones are what you need. If you want a little more flexibility and the ideal arrangement for a remote workforce, then opt for a softphone.