rumor news today is that Microsoft is buying Skype. As long as the company is being discussed – let’s take a look at the features (and cheap, cheap calls) Skype offers business users.
It’s Not Just For Kids
Most people I know have used Skype to video chat with family members, or to keep in touch when a college student is off studying abroad. But Skype is much more than this – the company has a whole set of business features, designed to let companies take advantage of their service.
There are three big benefits to using Skype for business:
- Cost – As I mentioned earlier, Skype is very inexpensive. You can acquire additional phone numbers and make both domestic and international calls at a low price. When contacting others that also use Skype, both calls and 1-1 video chat are 100% free. You can also purchase phone numbers in other locations, and make it cheap for customers to call you.
- Convenience – Skype provides a number of convenient features, such as the ability to redirect your Skype number to a physical phone of your choice. You can also access voicemails at your computer or phone (and have them sent as texts, for an additional fee), and can make calls through your telephone or computer. It is also possible to install a “call us” button on your company website. Finally, the Skype Manager for business allows you to manage features and usage for your employees.
- Collaboration – Even for companies that have no interest in using Skype for general calling, the ability to see other user’s statuses, send instant messages, transfer files, and initiate calls or video chat can be great for companies with a geographically diverse work-force. You can also run free conference calls and share your screen with other users.
Getting Started With Skype For Business
If you’ve never used Skype before (or if you want a separate account for business), you’ll need to create an account. Then, download the business version of their software. Everyone that will be using Skype at their computer needs to install this. It will run you through a setup wizard, to make sure the audio is setup properly on your computer and add contacts.
Once everything’s up and running, you’ll see this screen:
This is the terminal you use to add contacts to Skype, make calls, access voicemails, and reach all the other features.
If more than one employee will be using Skype for business, you probably want to setup the Skype Manager. This will let you purchase an assign credits/subscriptions to your employees, and monitor usage. The dashboard looks like:
Once everything’s installed, you can begin using Skype’s free services. If you’re going to be using paid options (including group video calling, voicemail, calling traditional/cell phones, and making it possible for traditional/cell phones to call you), you can check out the pricing on this page.
For businesses with multiple locations, using Skype for internal collaboration is hard to beat. Using Skype to replace your regular phone can be a bit more challenging, but making international calls or purchasing foreign phone numbers through the service are easy ways to save money. Skype also offers a Skype Connect option, to help companies use Skype with a SIP-enabled PBX (business phone system).
If you’re interested in Skype and are looking to compare, there are other options available. Very small companies can consider Google Voice (previously discussed on this blog), or perhaps Toktumi. RingCentral and OnSip (guest posted about hosted VOIP a while back) are a couple easy to use systems available to both small and larger businesses.