What is Softphone and Do Businesses Really Need It?
You’ve heard of smartphones, you’ve heard about landlines, but what the heck are softphones?
Chances are you’ve already used a softphone without knowing it! Confused?
Read on to know what a softphone is, how it can help businesses, and if you should consider getting one for yourself!
What is a Softphone?
A softphone is essentially a computer software application that allows you to make, receive and manage calls. If you have used Skype to call someone, you have already used a softphone. Softphones enable you to handle calls from any computer or mobile device that has a microphone and speaker.
You will not need any desktop phone or physical hardware to make calls. Everything will be done through the application and the only thing you need to have is an internet connection.
How does a Softphone Work?
Softphones use the internet to provide calling services. Most softphones use a technology called VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol to make the calls possible, without relying on traditional landlines or mobile phone networks.
A softphone uses VoIP to convert analog voice signals to digital signals and sends them as small packets of data over an internet connection. The technology offers several advantages over traditional phones and landline networks in terms of flexibility, quality and cost savings.
The softphone, or the application itself, provides an interface to manage your calls. Based on the program you use, you can have several features that mimic those of actual phones. That means having a dial pad and options for hold, mute and so on. You may also have extra features like contacts, call forwarding, call waiting and more.
Most softphones don’t charge you anything to call someone who has the same program installed on their computer or mobile device. But you will need to pay some charges for making calls to landline and mobile numbers. Softphones can come in the form of standalone software or can be included in the package with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and cloud phone systems.
Most business softphone solutions also let you use chat, messaging and video conferencing among other services.
The Benefits of Softphones
So why would anyone want to stop using their landlines and mobile devices in favor of softphones? Let’s find out!
1. Save Money
Softphones don’t require any special hardware like landline phones do. You also don’t have to shell out anything for maintenance or support. There’s no need of upgrading your hardware every few years, as a simple software update takes care of everything!
When you add up all of the above, you are looking at a significant amount of savings which softphones can bring to your organization. And that’s not the only place you can save your money!
The typical calling charges for VoIP softphones are also less than a traditional landline, especially for international calls. On top of that, you can call anyone who has the same softphone for free. That means you can bring down your monthly communication expenses a considerable amount!
2. Work from Anywhere
Employees are working remotely more often. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of people working remotely four to five days a week increased from 24% to 31%. Remote working is not a passing trend anymore, it has proven benefits such as increased efficiency and productivity.
Softphones enable your employees to work remotely. There is no need to stay in the office to make and receive calls from the official business number. Your employees can use the same business number while traveling on the road and make and receive calls from their mobile devices or laptops.
Whether they’re working from home, a coffee shop, or from a resort seven seas away, softphones allow your team to communicate easily in the least expensive way.
3. Less Maintenance and Disruptions
Traditional landline phones are not cheap to install or maintain. If you decide to change offices, you have to call your phone company and wait several days for the installation to complete. The whole process is full of hassles and may even interrupt your normal operations.
Softphones don’t have any such drawbacks- you can just install your softphone on a new device and start working right away!
You can also create a much cleaner and streamlined office using softphones. They don’t create a clutter of wires or take up desk space from your employees. There’s also no need for power adapters or Ethernet connections like in the case of IP phones.
4. Conduct Video Conferences and Video Calls
Most enterprise-class and even some free softphones like Skype let you do video calls and video conferencing without the need for special hardware or connections. You can just use the camera on your laptop or mobile phone to conduct meetings with clients or employees positioned out of town.
Many softphones also let you host multi-party video conferencing. You can hold your department meetings remotely at a much lesser cost than third-party platforms. Most of the time you will not need to pay a dime as communication between same softphones are free!
5. Improve Customer Satisfaction
Softphones can also play a big part in achieving customer satisfaction and addressing their pain points. Many softphones will let you record calls with important variables like the location of caller, number and time. You can use the call recordings to gather customer feedback and find out what they’re saying. You can then refine your services and products accordingly for higher conversion and sales.
Softphones can even help you provide stellar customer service. You can use the call recordings to find out how your representatives are performing and if they are making any mistakes. Then you can use the insights to train them accordingly to address the gaps in their performance.
You can also integrate enterprise-level softphones with your CRM to develop complete profiles of your customers and help boost customer service.
The Drawbacks of Softphones
Softphones don’t have any disadvantages if you can ensure the following three things:
- A device with a microphone and speaker (or support for headsets)
- The softphone application
- An internet connection
Problems can arise if you don’t have access to any of the above. Also, the quality of calling and availability of calling services is completely dependent on the internet. So, if you don’t have a stable internet connection or suffer from slow speeds, your calling services may be negatively affected.
Normally, you won’t need to worry about internet as regular fiber optic or even broadband connections are more than enough to run softphones without any interruptions.
Softphones can be a boon for businesses that want freedom from the hassles and costs of owning a landline. Start using a softphone today!