Voice over Internet Protocol is a hot-topic amongst small businesses and nonprofit organizations, because it provides greater utility compared to traditional phones at almost half the cost. However, not all organizations take advantage of the feature-rich phones of the future. Of course there is nothing wrong with using a VoIP phone, well, as a phone, but many organizations are unaware of the benefits that come along with using the advanced features.
To increase awareness, we put together a list of the top features nonprofits should be using on their VoIP phone, and how to use them effectively:
- Set up conference calling.
Conference calls are vital to organizations working with other businesses or professionals from a distance. Using a VoIP phone or VoIP conference console, you can connect with multiple parties using a conference service or request a conference console from your VoIP service provider.
- Receive calls in the field.
One of the best VoIP features is the ability to forward calls, not to just one number, but multiple. By programming a list of numbers your VoIP phone should try if you don’t pick up your office phone after a few rings, your VoIP phone will automatically try the next number on your list. For nonprofit employees who spend most of their time in the field or telecommute, this feature is a lifesaver. Also, if the power goes out or the Internet goes down, calls are automatically forwarded to your other listed numbers.
- Create virtual extensions for remote staff.
Staff who telecommute or spend most of their time in the field may rely on their cell phone as their “office” phone. While this is a valid solution, VoIP greatly improves this option by giving these employees a virtual office extension. The virtual line can be accessed on the user’s cell phone using a VoIP application, which will allow the user to make and receive calls through the virtual extension, rather than using their actual cell phone number.
- Take advantage of long-distance calling.
Does your nonprofit have partners and multiple offices around the globe? If so, you know how costly traditional long-distance and international phone calls can be. Organizations using VoIP typically have no fees associated with long-distance, U.S. calling and international calls are significantly cheaper.
- Set up call screening.
Easily manage calls by receiving caller ID information, with the ability to receive, reject, or direct the call to voicemail, instantly. This is especially great for discerning between telemarketers and important contacts. Related to call screening, some VoIP services also allow you to add phone numbers to a “blocked” list, so recurring telemarketing and phishing scammers don’t waste your time at work.
- Forward voicemail messages to email for quick reading.
Another feature any busy person can appreciate; your phone will actually transcribe your voice mail and send the message to you in an email! This feature not only saves a significant amount of time, but allows you to casually check your messages whenever. Who hasn’t caught up on email in a meeting? Why not voicemail too?
- Record incoming and outgoing call data.
VoIP tracks all incoming and outgoing calls. For organizations interested in meeting communication goals, whether a support hotline or personal communication with donors and volunteers, VoIP can help you determine if communication goals were met and set new goals based on current call data. Even if your nonprofit is not interested in the quantity or type of phone calls, auditing call data can yield interesting insights into how your organization operates on a daily basis in order to improve communication in the future.
- Set up an auto attendant.
When a potential volunteer calls your nonprofit to find out more about donating their time, they might reach a real person who they believe is the correct contact for volunteers. In reality, callers are not always in possession of accurate information, leading to a lot of call transfers or manual instructions for the caller. Rather than trying to manually sift potential volunteers, donors, or even business partners to the correct party, allow your user to receive accurate information and choose the option that best describes their purpose for calling. Auto attendants do exactly this, posing several options for callers to select from in order to direct them to the correct department.