This is the final article in the Can You Hear Me Now? Series of blog posts in which I embark on a journey to find the most cost effective home office VoIP plan for my computer repair business.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been looking for a low cost VoIP solution for my home office based computer consulting business. You can catch up on the series by reading the last two articles here and here.
After much consideration, I finally settled on a provider that I think will fit my needs as my business grows.
And the winner is…
I must be honest, I had reservations about Skype at first. It’s overall vibe seemed too casual and cutesy for my tastes. I didn’t see it as a serious business-class solution.
But after weighing my options I realized that I really didn’t NEED a business-class service. All I needed was a cheap and convenient way to make and receive calls, retrieve voicemails, and forward calls to my cell phone. As my business grows and the need for more features arises, Skype seems to have the flexibility to accommodate.
Then there is the price. Initial sign up is easy and free and within minutes I had a brand new local phone number and credit on my account to make and receive unlimited calls, all for less than $10 a month.
Other benefits of the service include robust online administration which provides a slick interface to do anything from paying bills to assigning phone numbers to changing my voicemail messages. Along with that, the Skype API is available for 3rd party developers, which means if Skype doesn’t provide some kind of functionality that I need, I can probably find an application out there that does.
Finally, I’m really impressed with the customer support so far. I was wary at first because they don’t provide an obvious phone number to call for assistance. But I had the opportunity to contact their online support and was pleasantly surprised. I had registered a phone number for my Skype account and, after about an hour, realized the number was not very user friendly or marketable (no repeated numbers, awkward to say out loud) so I contacted support to ask if it was possible for me to replace my number with a new one. Within a few hours I received a response that they had taken the liberty of refunding my money and de-activating my number, no quesitons asked.
The thing I really like about Skype is it’s very open ended. I can use only the features and services I want, most of which are free. I can also choose the kind of phone I want to use. Many of the other providers I evaluated forced you to use their phone or adapter. With Skype, I can use any phone I choose, or skip the phone altogether and use headphones and a microphone on my computer. I’m going to opt for a regular cordless phone connected via a phone adapter, all for about $40.
The Future (aka my readers rock!)
Before I started writing this series of posts, I had a vague idea of what VoIP was and why I thought it was the best phone service for my business. After writing that first article, my readers stepped up and offered some great suggestions. One of the coolest ideas was the option to use open source software like Asterix to build my own VoIP server! I hadn’t heard of this possibility before, but it looks very interesting.
I think my tentative plan will be to use Skype for now, while my time is limited to running my business part time, and eventually set up an Asterix box to tinker with and prepare to use when I take my business full-time.
That concludes my VoIP series here on Y.F.N.C.G. I hope you’ve learned something, I sure know I have! If any of you are using Skype, let me know so I can add you to my Skype contacts list.