Vonage has announced an enhancement to the Vonage Extensions app that ensures small businesses never miss a call. It is now possible to route a landline call to the Vonage app on a mobile, so that the call can either be taken or moved to voicemail. There is no charge for this service, thus call diverts become a thing of the past.
The Vonage app is not the first solution to deliver this functionality, Skype already delivers the same functionality. For Vonage users however this improvement will be of significant benefit as they no longer need to divert landlines through to their mobile when they are out of the office and potentially incur additional charges.
It also means that wherever a Vonage user is located, as long as they have an Internet signal they will be able to make and receive calls to their business number. This can be especially useful when stuck inside a building that has a poor mobile signal and even at home when not sitting in one’s office. It now means that staff are able to keep mobile numbers private and personal but delivers company calls direct to their mobile phone.
The app is supported on iOS version 6.0 and above and Android devices from version 4.2.
Why landlines are important
There is an active debate about what phone numbers a company should have. The decision to purely have a mobile number in this modern age seems obvious and yet a survey carried out in February 2015 by YouGov found the opposite. Of the 2165 people surveyed, 63% of Britons found that companies having a mobile numbers as the primary number to call were deemed unprofessional, 60% saw them as untrustworthy.
Vonage offers customers the ability to have a landline number from any location no matter where they are based. The Vonage extensions app enables those companies that wish to display a professional image the ability to have a cloud based landline number but deliver that number to a mobile at no extra charge.
The issue here is that with a growing number of cloud communications providers such as Vonage beginning to offer virtual landline numbers it becomes possible for anyone to have a landline number regardless of whether they have a physical location. It will be interesting to see whether trust in landline numbers diminishes or whether there is any regulation that tightens up their use.
The ability for someone to appear to have an office at a specific location is useful, but is disconcerting when you realise that the London number you are calling is actually a call centre in a completely different location.
Advantages to small business from Vonage App
Vonage believe that companies taking advantage of the new functionality will be able to dispense with company mobiles, where individuals already have a private mobile. There are however some downsides to this that some employees may object to.
Some people like the separation of work and personal devices. The ability to have a personal device that is completely free of corporate applications creates separation from home and work. Always being “connected” to ones work phone, despite being able to move those calls to voicemail out of hours can become intrusive.
There is also the consideration of battery life. With only a single phone, battery life is likely to be reduced as staff use the single phone where both were in use before. For heavy phone users this will be an issue. Previously the second phone split the battery usage and meant that both phones would probably still function at the end of a working day.
If it is possible to remove the company phone from the cost base this will be an excellent way of justifying the move to a cloud provider such as Vonage. Pricing starts from as little as £7 per month and the Vonage app is free to use for customers with a call plan. (Outbound call charges will be as the Vonage contract while data usage comes from the personal mobile contract).
Simon Burckhardt, Managing Director of Vonage UK Ltd, commented in a canned statement: “Missing important business calls can be very destructive to freelancers and small business, but luckily with Vonage Extensions they no longer need to worry about this.
The update also means that businesses can help keep their overheads down, as having Vonage Extensions is essentially like having a business mobile phone without the cost of having to invest in an expensive second business mobile contract.”
The Vonage App is an obvious and welcome step from Vonage. It delivers the functionality that some of its competitors already has and the announcement also creates an environment for SME leaders to consider their communications bills. Over time these can become bloated and a rethink of strategy is worth considering.
Moving landlines into the cloud and removing corporate mobiles is a step that can achieve some considerable cost savings, if employees are behind them. For sole traders and freelancers that have a separate business line at home and a separate corporate phone this could achieve considerable cost savings if planned carefully.