A Softphone Makes Calling Faster, Cheaper, and More Flexible

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A softphone is a software-based phone system that allows devices like tablets, laptops, and cell phones to make and receive calls over the internet through a VoIP service. 

In general, softphones are popular because they’re cheaper physical phones, but their appeal is not limited to reduced costs alone. For example, mobility is another factor because you can make and receive softphone calls anywhere as long as you have a stable internet connection.

Softphone services offer many (if not more) distinct advantages for businesses, too—especially when integrated with other business apps for things like emails, video conferences, and chat systems. These integrations can create a unified platform for companies and their employees.   

Businesses can also take advantage of softphones for:

  • Adding contacts from other apps
  • Automating tasks and generating follow-up notes
  • Integrating with customer relationship management (CRM) systems to improve the employee experience
  • Improving the customer experience as a result of improved employee workflows and lead management features
  • Scaling up the company without having to buy new equipment for each new employee
  • Handling seasonal staffing fluctuations 

Turning a Device Into a Softphone

You can turn almost any device into a softphone. However, older or less powerful devices may experience performance issues. You can check the system requirements of each softphone app on its company support page. 

Ooma support page for Desktop Application system requirements.
Source: https://support.ooma.com/office/desktop-application-system-requirements/

To make and receive calls, you need a device, an internet connection, and a VoIP softphone app. A VoIP phone service comes with all the infrastructure and services for making and receiving calls via the internet through an app. In essence, it’s what turns your device into a softphone.

The best way to get a VoIP app is directly from the company’s website. By downloading from the website, you avoid phishing scams, bundled software, and out-of-date app versions. 

Choosing the best VoIP phone service for you will depend on the size of your business and your unique needs. Some work best for remote teams, others for small businesses, and some are more budget-friendly.

Once you’ve decided on a softphone service, sign up for an account, select a payment plan, and download the app. Follow the installation instructions from the VoIP provider. 

When installed, launch the app and log in using your signup details. 

Most VoIP services run you through configuration at this stage. You can adjust audio and video settings, configure your notification preferences, and familiarize yourself with the interface. 

Nextiva communications platform.
Source: https://www.nextiva.com

Some services may require you to verify your phone number with a code. Other services only require email verification. This verification also typically comes in the form of a security code. 

Softphones Vs. Wi-Fi Calling

Softphones and Wi-Fi calling features both use the internet to facilitate calls, but they’re not the same thing. 

A softphone is a service for making VoIP calls on several types of devices with an internet connection. It’s typically the most cost-effective option, especially for international calls. 

Wi-Fi calling, on the other hand, is a service provided by some mobile carriers, allowing you to use a Wi-Fi network instead of cellular towers to make and receive calls on your cell phone. Depending on your carrier, this option can be cheaper than the regular network. 

Keep in mind that only smartphones (and some web app interfaces associated with them) support the technology to use Wi-Fi calling. Your network service provider must also support Wi-Fi calling for it to work. 

Softphones Have a Better Interface for Business

Having your CRM system, collaboration tools, and email clients in different places is oftentimes inefficient, causing employees to switch between systems in order to find emails, messages, and other information. Softphones are able to pool all of these into one platform, which makes more sense and saves a lot of time for teams. 

RingCentral product team page.
Source: https://www.ringcentral.com

Softphone interfaces also come with a number of other features that help out businesses. 

  • Conference calling
  • Call forwarding
  • Voicemail options
  • Real-time analytics and reporting 
  • Insights on call duration, user activity, and call volume
  • Accessibility options like voice commands, text-to-speech, and screen-reading options

Why are softphone systems simpler for administrators to manage?

Administrators can manage softphone systems from a centralized interface meant for controlling settings, permissions, and features from a single point. This allows for remote updates and quick adjustments to configurations. 

Adding new users to a softphone system requires little effort compared to a physical system. Administrators can set up new users with accounts and login credentials in just a few clicks.

Unlike physical hardware that’s subject to wear, tear, and obsolescence, softphone systems are virtual and can be updated and maintained without on-site technicians. 

Is it cheaper to switch to a softphone VoIP provider?

Yes. 

Most businesses that operate across borders and time zones know that international calls using a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) system can get expensive. Meanwhile, softphone VoIP providers offer more competitive international rates than traditional network providers. 

But softphone systems also save money on hardware, maintenance, and infrastructure—there’s no need to buy physical phones, no need to install phone lines, and no need for on-site maintenance. 

In short, using a softphone system offers significant savings over using the PSTN system. 

What’s the Catch With Softphones?

Stable connection required

As with most internet-based services, softphones are only as reliable as their connections. You don’t need the world’s fastest internet to make calls with a softphone, but it has to be stable, and you must stay within its range. 

If your connection is spotty or your internet speed experiences significant lulls, softphones run the risk of calls getting dropped or being too low-quality to work. Similarly, if you walk too far away from the router, you run the risk of losing connection. 

Network congestion

Network congestion can also affect call quality. This congestion is a common concern for larger businesses. The network must be able to support the bandwidth required at peak times. You can prioritize VoIP traffic using your router’s Quality of Service (QoS) settings.

Prioritizing VoIP traffic means other data doesn’t interfere with communications. It can improve the quality and stability of calls throughout the network. 

Integration with legacy systems

Softphone systems integrate well with existing business apps, but companies with complex legacy systems may need help. Integrating with older CRMs or proprietary comms systems could be difficult or downright impossible, for example. 

Regulatory concerns

Some businesses must use traditional phone systems due to regulatory concerns. 

For example, the US healthcare and finance sectors must meet specific communications and data criteria. In these cases, using PSTN may be a necessity.

Softphone Wrap-up

Using a softphone system is oftentimes the most cost-effective, productive, and efficient option among its alternatives. Softphone systems also offer features that help businesses plan ahead for seamless growth and scalability. 

Unless restricted by regulations or legacy systems, having a softphone system for your business is likely a worthwhile investment. 

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