By Huw Rees, Sr. Vice President of Business Development, 8x8, Inc.
Think your business is “too small” to go international? Want to go abroad, but you’re not sure you can keep the US side of your business going from an ocean away? Many users are turning to business VoIP—Voice over IP, otherwise known as Internet phone service—to manage businesses and careers around the world.
Business VoIP companies, too, are announcing expansion, moving to offer their services in other countries. But many business VoIP customers are already bending international boundaries as they expand and grow. They’ve been using VoIP provider 8x8’s services for years to take their own US businesses international in unusual ways.
1. Expand to new markets
Some, like Ken Gardner, president of West Coast Marketing Inc., use 8x8 business VoIP to offer local-looking phone numbers in other countries. These “virtual numbers” automatically forward calls to their associated US-based businesses. And some business VoIP users employ the technology to manage business back home inexpensively and easily—from wherever business takes them.
“I'm very impressed with the ability to call several countries [for free] as part of the 8x8 service, and by the virtual numbers program that allows a number in the UK to ring on our office phone in the USA,” Gardner says.
2. Close deals abroad without dropping the ball stateside
Others just use it to travel abroad without dropping the ball back home. “What I love about 8x8 VoIP is the ability to make calls from my iPhone (VoIP) app, says James Germani, president of Germani Insurance.
“This past weekend I was in Bermuda, and since the phone calls and cellular data were so expensive, I put my phone into airplane mode when I arrived, to save money,” says Germani. “While using the hotel’s Wi-Fi, I was able to stay connected with the office using the 8x8 VoIP app. During the weekend, I was able to close a BIG account and also help a client with an emergency that needed to be dealt with immediately.”
3. Easy office expansion abroad
Many businesspeople have found that VoIP allows for quick expansion, and as the US recovers, they’re able to open up new offices quickly and inexpensively, following fresh opportunities.
Noelle McEntee, director of sales and marketing at Authentic Voyages, says that 8x8 VoIP has been instrumental in helping her company expand. “8x8 VoIP lets our team—based out of our home offices in Hong Kong, Lima, Dallas, and New York—to talk with our clients as effectively as we would in an office together,” she says.
4. Tie traveling workers back into the home office—as if they never left home
And, adds McEntee, 8x8 business VoIP supports international travel particularly well, bringing together a mobile workforce even as they’re globetrotting. “Checking voicemails while in airport security, making calls while grabbing our afternoon coffee, and having team meetings without poor connections--these are just a few of the things that tie us together.”
That so many businesses are using business VoIP this way—even in small and midsized businesses—is a testament to the advancement of the technology. Often, VoIP is not only the least expensive technology, but the most reliable and practical one available to businesses that don’t want to be forced to rely on an army of consultants every time they want to make changes to their phone systems.
“We have several people that work in remote locations, one of which is in the Dominican Republic,” says Marcellete Donato, a project manager at Coastal Consulting Services. “Prior to getting her an 8x8 VoIP phone, we had a very hard time connecting with her because of dropped calls, static, no connection etc. Since we configured the phone line, we’ve had zero technical issues!”
5. Make US operations look bigger and more professional than they are
Other businesses use the features of business VoIP-based communication systems to look a lot bigger and more international than they are. For example, Anne Randall conducts international business on behalf of Atlas RFID, not from some tony New York, San Francisco or Hong Kong address, but from her home in Alabama, in the evenings.
“As an outbound sales and marketing rep, I rely COMPLETELY on looking professional and being available to prospects all over the globe,” says Randall. “8x8 VoIP helps me to conduct that call to China late at night from the comfort of home. It also keeps me updated on my voicemails and helps organize my contacts, no matter where I am.”
So as VoIP expands its global reach, companies everywhere will continue to turn to cloud-based unified communications to power their international expansion. And the army of road warriors and boundary-bending businesses that employ them will only increase with time.
Sr. Vice President of Business Development, 8x8, Inc.
Huw Rees serves as Sr. Vice President of Business Development at 8x8, Inc. Focused on strategic partnerships and acquisitions, Huw is a telecom industry veteran and strategist, focused on finding ways to leverage 8x8 technology and extend 8x8’s reach and influence in the communications industry.