Many households have been replacing their traditional landline phone lines with cell phones or other alternatives for several years. A study by the National Center for Health Statistics in the U.S. last year showed that nearly one out of every six American homes (15.8%) had only wireless telephones during the second half of 2007.
But what about phone use for business? If your household is one that ditched your personal landline, you probably don’t have a separate dedicated landline for your business. If you are just starting your business, adding a landline may not be practical or cost efficient. Or, if you’re a seasoned freelancer who has found that you spend very little time on the phone, a dedicated business landline may not make much sense.
So what are your options? Here are a few alternatives to a landline that you can consider for your business, and a brief look at the pros and cons of each.
As mentioned above, many professionals opt to use a cell phone as their business line. The benefits of doing this include reduced expenses, the ability to be accessible even when you’re away from work, and not having to maintain a separate line for business.
The biggest drawback is reception and the lack of professionalism in dropped calls and other common cell phone issues. Plus, some of the benefits can be considered drawbacks as well – being accessible all the time and mixing personal and business phone use.
VoIP is a very popular alternative to a landline, with a number of providers to choose from. You can use VoIP through your computer, such as Skype. Or you can get VoIP service from your broadband provider or other VoIP providers, such as Vonage, that includes a modem to allow you to use a regular phone.
The benefits of VoIP typically include reduced cost for monthly service, a full set of typical telephone line features (such as caller ID and voicemail), faxing capabilities, and the ability to take your phone line with you when you travel.
One of the biggest drawbacks of VoIP is reliability. If you lose your Internet connection or have a spotty connection, your phone service will be impacted. You may also experience poor call quality, which can be a major negative for a business line.
Virtual Phone Line
A virtual phone line is another alternative to a landline for business. Through services such as RingCentral, you can choose a toll-free number or a vanity number, and your calls are either routed to a private voicemail box or forwarded to another phone line (like your cell phone). You can make calls from your primary phone line and mask them as if you are calling from your virtual line. Another benefit is the ability to setup voicemail boxes using a greeting and extension system which can add to your professionalism.
One of the drawbacks is the management and rule setting that is required to get your line to function as you want it to. For example, unless you set up the virtual line to forward to your primary phone line, all of your calls will be routed to voicemail. Another drawback is that it can be an expensive way to get a business phone number unless you use all of the features it offers.
There are other alternatives like telephone answering services and dedicated business cell phones, but with any option you will need to consider your needs and the pros and cons of each option to determine the best fit for you. Some areas to think about include:
- Call quality
- Accessibility of emergency services
What type of phone service do you use for your business?
Image credit: zvon