What is the Ideal Phone Setup for Your VoIP System?

Posted by Cherie L. Steffen on March 19, 2015 at 2:32 PM
Cherie L. Steffen
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For the past couple of months we’ve worked closely with Software Advice, a top notch telecom software reviewer, to bring you the most up-to-date research conducted in the VoIP industry. With articles such as What Matters Most in a SIP Trunk Provider?, Free Communications Apps, Switching to VoIP, and Telecommunications Search Trends we aimed to enlighten, inform and enable you to make educated telecom decisions. After one day and 151 responses, enough data was collected by this terrific telecom software reviewer to do it again! This time, we’re determining what is the ideal phone setup for your VoIP system.

We will go step-by-step bringing you the results of hardware vs. software phones, their users and preferences. If you are a business owner, or are simply on the fence between a desk phone and something new-to-you such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), this is a must-read. For the complete article, please click here.

Before getting into the nitty gritty, we’ll start with a few basics. There is the hardware phone and there is the software phone (softphone). If you’re primarily interested in VoIP for your business, we’ll state it right away—both phones can be used with VoIP. But the pros and cons as to which one is right for your business run the gamut. As we will see, many different factors come into play. For the purposes of this data research, employees at organizations which use VoIP service on both software and hardware to make and receive calls were surveyed.

The Most Widely Used Phone Type? Desk Phones

At least for the foreseeable future, desk phones, connected to the Internet or hard-wired, are the preferred phone used in the workplace. VoIP is surely making its move to ensure the death of the landline in due time and mobile apps and softphones are on the hunt, but at 64%, the desk phone is the most widely used phone. In their research, they discovered that 35% of respondents would describe landline phones as “very important” to their jobs, while only 24% would say that about smartphones or cellular phones.

Please take a look at the chart below to see the overall adoption rates for different phones.

Chart1-PhoneTypesUsed

Software and Hardware Phones Both Prove to Make Employees Comfortable

To find out the comfort level of employees when comparing hardware phones to software phones, only respondents who had experience using both types were screened. It turns out most of the employees were comfortable using both to receive and make calls. When employees did have a preference, 20% were much more comfortable with software. Their research suggests that even if employees are not used to using softphones, most of them could adapt somewhat quickly. None of those surveyed indicated that they are “much less comfortable” with software than hardware.

See the chart below for the breakdown of comfortability levels.

Chart2-ComfortLevel

Top Advantages of Softphones? Remote Work and Software Integrations

Softphones, compared to hardware IP phones, are at a relatively low price point, they offer a number of operational benefits, and considering how comfortable employees are with using them, they do have some advantages over desk phones. When respondents were questioned about these advantages, 72% said the ease of working remotely was the top advantage. If you have a lot of employees who work away from the office, it may behoove you to have your staff use softphones. They are portable and can easily integrate with other types of software. Additional highly regarded benefits were the click-to-dial functionality and a simpler graphical interface.

Looking at the chart below, you can view the percentage of advantages of softphones over desk phones.

Chart3-SoftphoneAdvantages

Reliability and Audio Quality are Primary Advantages of Desk Phones

Continuing with the survey, employees were asked to turn it around and identify the advantages of desk phones over softphones. At a whopping 79%, dependability rules as the main advantage desk phones have. As most of us know, computers sometimes crash, and usually at the worst times! Hardware IP phones are stand-alone devices, not applications, so they can continue working when a computer is down for the count. Depending on the type of business you have, if constant reliability on phones is a major priority for your organization, hardware IP phones may be the best option for you.

The next highest advantage, at 53%, was better audio quality. Take a look at the chart below to see the ranking of other advantages desk phones have over softphones.

Chart4-DeskPhoneAdvantages

Employees Who Frequently Work Remotely Primarily Rely on Softphones

As we stated earlier, only employees who have access to both software and hardware phones were questioned. With that in mind, and seeing that 44% of the respondents use desk phones to make or receive more than five calls on a daily basis, it is suggested that the type used most often is the preferred type.

Looking at the chart below, we can also see that many employees use a wide range of devices to receive and make calls during their work day.

Chart5-AverageNumberofCallsEmployeesMakebyPhoneType

Lastly, 100% of employees who are not remote workers, use desk phones at their jobs and 74% of this group use softphones. In surveying the workers who spend 50% or more of their time outside the office, they only use desk phones 69% of the time. If that number seems high, keep in mind that it is possible for remote workers to take their desk phones home due to IP phones possessing the ability to be connected to a company’s phone system. Remote workers have greatly adopted the use of the softphones, by far surpassing the use of desk phones at 79%.

Please see the chart below to look at the average number of desk phone calls by frequency of remote work.

Orbit1-Chart6-AverageNumberofDeskPhoneCalls

The Breakdown of Demographics

Human resources or managerial were the roles in which many of the respondents worked. IT services was the most common industry in the sample and the study suggests that IT professionals could possibly be more comfortable using the multiple phone options compared to other employees in other industries and roles.

Take a look at the charts below and you can see the breakdown of respondents by industry and job title.

Orbit2-Chart10-RespondentsbyIndustry

Orbit2-Chart11-RespondentsbyJobTitleConclusion

As you can see there is a lot to consider. It can be difficult to determine exactly which phone set up will work best for you. If it isn’t tailored to your employees’ work habits and their needs, it can hurt your bottom line. After thoughtful consideration with your business and its employees in mind, think about these final five points:

♦ Employees are comfortable with both types of phones.
 More remote workers rely on softphones than on desk phones.
 Employees value the ease of softphone integrations.
♦ Employees view desk phones as more reliable than softphones.
 A phone isn’t just a user interface for your phone system.

As much information as there is packed into this post, there is even more in the original study. Be sure to head over there and check it out today! In the meantime, also make sure you don’t miss any of our VoIP Innovations’ posts-- please subscribe to our blog and get them delivered right to your inbox!
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Tags: Entrepreneurship, Telephony

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