What Is a Softphone and How Does It Work for Businesses?

February 6, 2024

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In the new digital reality, flexibility and mobility are vital for businesses. Fortunately, advanced solutions have arisen to give forward-thinking companies an edge.

As an example, web-based software has replaced old-school hardware, and even software has evolved into a subscription model that ensures organizations have a system that never goes obsolete. Businesses have found the software as a service format to be so practical that they’ve driven its growth to $261 billion in two decades.

How is this changing professional communications? At one time, hardwired private branch exchanges dominated the business phone industry. Now, the most innovative organizations are relying on softphone services.

What is this technology, and how can it make your business better? Learn what you need to know about softphones here.

Key Takeaways:

  • A softphone is software that allows you to make calls from an internet-connected device just as you would on a traditional telephone.
  • Modern companies are switching to softphones because they’re less expensive, easier to install, and offer more advanced features.
  • Softphones now offer higher-quality calls than landlines and are much more secure.

What a Softphone Is and How It Works

The term “softphone” popped up in 1996. At that time, business and home computing were experiencing explosive growth alongside new online capabilities.

Regular people could now use the internet to transfer information, including voice and audio through Voice over Internet Protocol. While you could have made calls using a specially designed VoIP phone that plugged directly into an internet router, you could have also used software on an internet-connected device to place calls. 

The ability to use computer software as a phone gave rise to the mashup word “softphone” (a software-based phone). The first softphone services were low-quality and expensive. Now, the abundance of high-speed internet and excellent software make VoIP calls easier and cheaper than landlines ever were.

While the actual functions behind VoIP are technically complex, the process is simple to understand. Your softphone hears your voice and converts it into compact data to send across the internet to the intended receiver. The receiver’s softphone “unpacks” that data into audio for a seamless conversation.

Developers often design their softphone applications to look and feel similar to a traditional phone for ease of use. The basic app might have an on-screen number pad with one button to place a call and another to disconnect. 

The best apps also have other advanced features and capabilities for texting, emailing, faxing, and video calls for totally unified communications in one service.

Why Innovative Businesses Love Using Softphones 

Softphones have many times the advantages of traditional business landlines. Consider a few.

Less Expensive To Install and Use

It can still be practical for companies to buy “hard” phones for employees as they expand. However, a business of any size and in any location can set up an internal exchange for a low cost by using softphones. 

Once, you had to install complex wiring and infrastructure in an office building for a PBX. For remote workers, you’d have to use expensive forwarding services. Now, your team only has to download your company’s communications software to their own devices for a secure internal business line. As a result, you avoid the high costs of equipment and installation.

Quicker Installation and Upgrades

Not only is the cost lower for a softphone system, but you can also get started in as little time as the same day. When you want to add or remove lines and permissions, your administrative dashboard lets you do so whenever you choose. You’ll never have to wait on technicians for installation and modifications.

More Features

Setting up an automated answering service, hold music, or call recording and monitoring in the past could be difficult or prohibitively expensive. Accessing reports and analytics for how your employees used your phone system and interacted with customers might be impossible.

When using a softphone system, you can integrate those features easily. In fact, many of those features come standard with your system. Plus, as new technological capabilities appear, you can access them to stay at the forefront of your field.

For example, your unified communications can now include an AI assistant that helps you to be more efficient and productive. One of the best is Intermedia’s SPARK AI, which helps you craft responses, analyze data, and translate text to enhance your workflows. 

Greater Security

True, communications over the internet mean that cybercrime is a risk you have to confront. However, illegal interference has always been a concern for businesses, whether using landlines, faxes, or snail mail. 

Utilizing softphones through unified communications as a service enables you to gain greater insights into your security and enhanced responsiveness. Top providers (such as Intermedia) keep you compliant with regulations and use world-class data protection measures to keep your communications safe.

With all of these advantages, it’s no wonder that businesses love using a top-rated softphone provider. In fact, Intermedia’s solutions have helped over 135,000 companies improve their communications so they can work safely from anywhere.

Key Softphone Features 

You can’t just use any VoIP service for your business if you want to be productive. Ensure your provider has the following features:

  • Shared contact lists: With UCaaS, you can easily store and manage contacts across your organization.
  • Visual voicemail: You can hear or read voicemail messages with a few simple taps.
  • Conference call calling: Connect large teams for audio or video meetings with the same calling software you use every day.
  • Call recording: Retain access to conversations on your lines for quality assurance and compliance.
  • Team member presence: Team members can easily share their status so you know when others are available, offline, or busy. 

With these components, your softphone service will help you take your business to the next level so you can please your customers and keep productivity high.

Intermedia: The Top Softphone Provider for SMBs

Clearly, a softphone system helps you get the most out of your small- to medium-sized business communications. Request a callback from our team to determine which Intermedia Unite plan is right for you.

Mark Sher

Mark is the Senior Vice President of Unified Communications, Product and Marketing at Intermedia.

February 6, 2024

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