Do you have a phone on your desk? No, not your mobile that’s probably charging right now, but a big, clunky one with wires that disappear into the wall. How often does it ring? Is it more of a curiosity than a necessity these days?
The Pew Research Center reported in Feb. 2018 said that 95% of all Americans owned some kind of mobile phone. Meanwhile, Statista published estimates in 2017 that the voice-over-IP (VoIP) market would grow to nearly $150 billion by 2024. VoIP offers more features and is more cost-effective than plain old telephone service (POTS). And, more employees are working remotely, relying on mobile devices to stay in touch.
Taken together, these trends beg the question: does your business still need a landline telephone system? There’s no easy answer, but there are some questions you can ask yourself as you make that decision.
Are You Wasting Money Maintaining Outdated Tech?
Like anything else, phone systems break down. A multi-line phone system with a lot of features can require real expertise to maintain. You must decide whether to require this breadth of knowledge in your IT team or keep a service agreement with someone outside your company. Depending on how old it is, the company who sold it to you may not service it anymore. Plus, if you lease the equipment, it may be costing you money every month that you could direct elsewhere.
Is Your Company Growing Quickly?
A downside to landline phone systems is their scalability is limited. This is especially true if you purchased the hardware a while ago and the same model is no longer available. With VoIP, there is no limit to the number of lines or numbers you can use. So when you add new team members or even new locations, you can easily adjust your phone system to your size.
Would the Change Affect Customer Service?
Many companies -- particularly those that serve industries with mission-critical applications, such as healthcare -- differentiate themselves by offering 24/7/365 customer support. However, that typically means that the phones must operate without fail.
Internet can go down as a result of weather, a downed utility pole, or high usage. In any of those situations, critical applications could have been maintained via POTS landline -- particularly the police department. Thus, if customers absolutely, positively need to be able to get in touch with you, or vice-versa, a landline might be wise.
Do You Need to Coordinate with Field Personnel?
If your business model requires you to stay in touch with personnel in the field, you can typically do so easily. In Aug. 2018, TechTarget reported on the variety of apps in development to help make field service workers more efficient and effective.
However, apps are cloud-based tools, and you cannot access the cloud without reliable internet service. And again, VoIP systems go down when the internet does. So what do you do when this wonderful technology becomes temporarily unusable?
Assuming that your field employees still have mobile telephone access, a landline at your office to communicate with them until the internet returns could serve a purpose.
Are You Out in the Boonies?
The remoteness of your location might also play into your decision whether to invest in a landline. This situation affects employee safety more so than customer service. A study in the journal Resuscitation said that a rapid response by paramedics to calls about heart attacks improved patient survival rates and positive neurological outcomes. Specifically, the response time needed to be 6.5 minutes or less.
If your company is rural or otherwise outside of a major metropolitan area, getting an ambulance to your facility might be geographically challenging. But imagine if your VoIP system is down and one of your employees requires emergency medical assistance. Although things are changing, landlines still give emergency services the most accurate location information.
A Word on Security
Some people assume that an internet-based system is automatically less secure because of the threat of hackers. In fact, landline systems, including voicemail, can be hacked, too. Regardless of what kind of phone system you use, always take proper steps to keep it secure.
In short, your company’s telecommunications needs should be evaluated holistically to see how a failure could impact your business plan. With today’s technology, you have many options available and a good provider will tailor a solution to your exact needs.