We recently received an email from a medical office administrator who is very frustrated with his telephone service provider.
VoIP features are attractive and exciting. VoIP Features are also one of the major benefits associated with switching to VoIP.
Even the names sound cool: "simultaneous ring", "hunt groups."
Good job, marketers! We're intrigued.
But what do these features do?
Use the links below to find the feature you are curious about. Click the link to read our definition.
Are we missing a feature that your VoIP provider has advertised? Let us know! Use the contact link below to suggest a new feature for us to define and explain.
If you have a more general question about VoIP, please check out our general VoIP FAQ.
A: Talk to two people at once with 3-way calling. How do I use 3-way-calling? You call the first person, place them on hold, then call the second person. The first person then joins the conversation. The actual method for 3-way-calling varies from phone to phone and provider to provider. Related Features and Additional Facts about 3-way-calling 3-way calling is an "older" and cheaper version of conference calling. Frequently, you can speak to more than two additional people at a time with 3-way calling. It's not a conference Barge-in is like reverse 3-way calling; with barge-in, an outside caller can join the conversation by barging in.
A: 411 is general services directory, run by the VoIP service provider. It's also known as directory assistance. How do I use 411? Dial 411. (Your VoIP service provider may have a different set of numbers). Answer the operator's questions to find the business or individual you are trying to reach.
A: An Address Book stores the names and phone numbers of business and personal contacts on your phone, in the control panel or within a company directory. How do I use my Address Book? Speed Dial or click to call the name or phone number of the contact. Some providers call this a "Dial by Name Directory." Features Related to Address Book In addition to the features above (control panel, speed dial, click to call), the address book works with Office - Outlook Integration. You can store email addresses in addition to phone numbers in your address book.
A: Choose an area code for your phone number, independent of your actual location. How do I select an area code? You choose your area code from your provider's list of available area codes. You may have to choose a new phone number to go with it. Features Related to Area Code Selection Selecting an area code is similar to selecting a virtual number. Area code selection can apply to your "original" number with the VoIP provider; you can still change the area code.
A: The provider includes an analog telephone adapter (an ATA) with their service. What can I do with my included ATA? Plug your analog (traditional) landline telephone into the ATA adapter included by your VoIP provider. Make sure to follow your VoIP service provider's or the ATA's manufacturer instructions. Use your old phone like you did previously. Related Functions Also called an ATA adapter. ATAs establish SIP Trunking and are used with BYOD services.
A: A specialized control panel for your human receptionist (as opposed to your auto attendant). How do I use an Attendant Console? The Attendant Console's features and use vary by provider. Your receptionist can use the attendant console to track call statistics and route calls. This will increase your receptionist's effectiveness; you can also use an Attendant Console to increase the effectiveness of your sales staff.
A: A computerized PBX (Private Branch Exchange) that answers calls and sends callers to the correct extension. How do I use an auto attendant? You can set up your auto attendant's menu options and messages through the control panel or account management. Callers will be able to use your auto attendant to navigate and contact people in your company. Features related to Auto Attendant Auto attendant is customized by control panel and/or account management. A professional greeting can enhance your customer's experience. Music on hold can be customized for extensions and groups.
A: Automatically forward calls. Auto forwarding is also referred to as Ring Splash. How do I use Auto Forwarding? Program your phone, control panel, or VoIP software to automatically forward calls to your cell phone, home phone, or other phone. Features Related to Auto Forwarding Auto forwarding is an application of call forwarding and one of the key functions to Find Me/Follow Me.
A: Enter a conversation between two other parties by barging in. How does Barge-in work? Managers and administrators can barge in to conversations between extensions or between an extension and an outside caller. Features Related to Barge-in Barge-in is like reverse 3-way calling.
A: "Bring your own device" and use it with a new VoIP service. How do I use BYOD? Add your own IP Phone to VoIP service to save money. BYOD is useful if you purchased your phone separately from your previous VoIP service. Features related to BYOD: "BYOD" allows previously installed business phone systems to be re-used with SIP trunking.
A: Block unwanted calls. How do I use Call Blocking? Program your phone to block calls per number, block international calls, or block anonymous calls.
A: Specialized features for call centers. More than a call queue. Call center options vary widely from provider to provider.
A: Call conferencing allows more than three people to converse at a time. Technically, conference calling has two definitions: 3-way calling that involves more than three callers Dedicated call conferencing services I(4);C(0);CR(0);R($0) With most VoIP providers, call conferencing means expanded 3-way calling. Dedicated Call Conferencing providers may be VoIP providers or they may not be. How do I use Call Conferencing? Just like a 3-way call. Call users until everyone you need can join. The maximum number of users varies between providers.
A: Forward a call to another number, intentionally or automatically. Can work before or after a call is answered. Related Uses: Call forwarding is the "follow me" function of Find Me/Follow Me. Call transfers are technically call forwarding.
A: Receive many calls and answer them in the order you receive them. How do I use Call Queue? Most call queuing functions are automatically activated. Features Related to Call Queue Call queues are controlled and administered by a specialized control panel.
A: Transfer an answered call to another extension. Features related to Call Transfer Call transfers and call forwarding are nearly synonyms. Transfers are a specialized form of forwarding.
A: Receive a second call while on the same line. How do I use Call Waiting? Your phone will alert you to the incoming call (by distinctive ring, Caller ID, or both). You can choose to answer the new caller or let him go to voicemail.
A: Identify callers by phone number or their user name (depending on the caller). How do I use Caller ID? Caller ID is an automatic function performed by the VoIP software, phone, or service provider. Features Related to Caller ID Caller ID is a standard VoIP feature; it works with nearly every other VoIP function.
A: Within the control panel or other web portal, click on the name of contact or their number to call them. Features Related to Click-to-Call Click-to-call needs Caller ID enabled to work.
A: A browser-based or software-based program that allows you to use and manage all aspects of your VoIP phone service. How do I use Control Panel? Control panels differ from service to service, but most are designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. Certain providers, such as Aptela, have user-friendly webinars that explain how to use their control panel. Features Related to Control Panel Control panels can manage auto attendants, track calls like an attendant console, and update accounts like or with an account management.
A: Customized ring tone for specific callers or groups. How do I use Distinctive Ring? Program it to correspond to your Caller ID. Features Related to Distinctive Ring Some providers allow custom ring tones, programmable by Control Panel. IP phones sometimes have distinctive rings.
A: Ringing wont stop until the call is answered. Diversion inhibitor overrides voicemail. How does Diversion Inhibitor work? Uses simultaneous ring and automatic forwarding ensure you never miss another important call. How do I use Diversion Inhibitor? Program your diversion inhibitor from the control panel. You can set it to attempt a certain number of rings before moving to a different answering service, like voicemail or find me/follow me. Features Related to Diversion Inhibitor Diversion inhibitor is the opposite of do not disturb.
A: Your phone does not ring while you are working; Do not disturb forwards the call along a pre-specified path. How do I use Do Not Disturb? Set "Do not disturb" with your IP phone or by your control panel. You'll also need to specify who the call will forward to. Features Related to Do Not Disturb Do not disturb is the opposite of diversion inhibitor.
A: Enhanced 911. VoIP-specific emergency services contact, with a pre-registered address for the specific phone being used. How do I use E911? Register your address (according to the VoIP provider's instructions). Dial 911 in the event of an emergency. Important Notes About E911 E911 fee may or may not be included with your VoIP service. A mandatory "feature" for public safety.
A: Adds functions to enhance voicemail use. For example, Access your voicemail from anywhere via control panel or by calling your IP phone. Convert voicemail to email attachments. How do I use Enhanced Voicemail? Use your control panel or other service-specific method to enhance your voicemail.
A: Necessary VoIP equipment to enable or build a VoIP phone system. How do I use the Equipment Included? Your provider will provide precise installation instructions. If not, contact them for support. Features Related to Equipment Included Analog Telephone Adapters may be included. Included equipment can help establish SIP trunking, too. Equipment included is the opposite of BYOD.
A: Branch incoming/outgoing lines to multiple extensions. A basic function of all office phone systems. How do I use Extensions? Some providers offer unlimited extensions all you need to add an additional extension is to change the use on your control panel. Others offer their service per extension or service per user. To add an extension you will need to contact your provider.
A: "Find Me" rings multiple phones in multiple locations until one is answered; "Follow Me" transfers calls to other phones so you can continue conversations on the move. How do I use it? Program the paths for your simultaneous ring and call forwarding to follow when you use this function.
A: Put down a call and pick it up again. A basic "feature"; of all office phone systems. How do I use it? Usually, there is a button on the IP phone. Features Related to Hold Call Some providers offer music on hold.
A: Simulated "hang up and answer" cycle. Signals to the caller that some kind of transfer is happening. How do I use Hook Flash? Hook flash is a built-in function. Either you have or you don’t. In the past, hook flash was used to signal to an operator to move the call.
A: Distribute calls to a previously selected group of users. How do I use Hunt Groups? Hunt groups by setting up a system of calls as a manager. This system can: Organize users into the same group. Send calls to specific users or groups. Send a certain number of calls to specific users or groups. Features Related to Hunt Groups Hunt groups is a specialized and compact version of a call queue. Similar to an automated attendant console.
A: Block international calls. Prevents higher phone bills. How do I use International Blocking? Use account management or the control panel to disable or enable international calling for certain users.
A: Transfer your local number between VoIP providers. As of November 2007, all VoIP and phone services must let you port your number to a new VoIP or phone service if you remain in the same geographic location (same area code). How do I use Local Number Portability? Inform your current VoIP or telephone service provider that you are porting your number to a different service. The port must be made in one business day, according to FCC regulations. Important Information: Local number portability is now mandatory. Number portability is a feature if you own a virtual number or other numbers via area code selection.
A: Multiple lines ring when someone calls. First person to answer gets the call. Also known as Ring Splash. How do I use Multi-Ring? Program the phone numbers, Caller ID, or other circumstances in which you want your phones to Multi-Ring. Features Related to Multi-Ring Multi-ring is similar to auto forwarding and is a specialized application of simultaneous ring.
A: Play music for callers on hold. How do I use Music On Hold? With some services, you can specify: What music to play When to play music If the caller has a choice. Caller choice of music on hold is specific per provider.
A: Transfer your Virtual. Toll-free. or other number between providers. Unlike local number portability, this is not mandated by law. How do I port my number? Request that your current VoIP or telephone provider transfer your virtual, toll-free or other number to your new VoIP service. You may have to pay a fee. You may be unable to transfer these numbers. If this is the case, please let us know. Write a review of your VoIP provider.
A: Integrate VoIP service with Microsoft Office and Outlook programs. Outlook - Office integration is one of the most important features of unified communications. How do I use it? Outlook - Office integration is specific to your VoIP provider. With Outlook - Office Integration, you can click-to-call email contacts and perform other productivity-enhancing tasks.
A: Software-based phone service (also known as VoIP softphone, which connects your PC to the public network. How do I use it? Download the software, and then type or click to call. Important Information Most PC to Phone services advertise themselves as free - usually, they only allow free calls from network user to network user. You will pay for calls to the PTSN. But these services are very cheap, usually 1 to 2 cents a minute.
A: Professionally recorded greeting for your auto attendant and/or voicemail extensions. How does it work? Professional greetings represent your company to whomever calls. Either you, or your VoIP provider, write the greeting for the professional voice actor that the VoIP provider uses. She records your greetings and menus - down to extensions and voicemail greetings.
A: Call the number you just called again. How do I use it? Press the redial button on your IP Phone or use the similar function from your control panel. Features Related to Redialing Redial is used with Repeat Dialing.
A: Employees work from remote locations but remain on the network of the VoIP provider. Useful for on-the-go and work-from-home employees, Remote Office allows you to separate personal and business phone calls. How do I use Remote Office? Once in place, Remote Office allows employees to communicate for free regardless of distance. Most VoIP companies do not charge for calls within the provider's network.
A: Continue to dial a number if it returns a busy signal or if you reach voicemail. Useful for urgent calls. Features Related to Repeat Dialing Repeat dialing uses redial to call a person again and again. It may also work with diversion inhibitor or barge-in.
A: Ring multiple phones when someone calls. The "Find Me" function of Find Me/Follow Me. One of the most commonly-used features of VoIP phone service. How do I use it? When someone calls a specified phone number (like your office), simultaneous ring will ring your: Office Phone Home Phone Cell Phone The ringing may continue until your phone is answered or if the phone goes to voicemail.
A: Dial programmed numbers by pressing 1 or 2 digit codes. A basic VoIP feature. How do I use Speed Dialing? Dial the 1 to 2 digit code to connect with your most important or most called contacts.
A: Pay for incoming calls when your number is dialed. Toll-free numbers include 800, 888, and other similar numbers. How do I use Toll-Free Numbers? Toll-free numbers are a caller convenience. Expect to pay extra for this service, either a monthly fee or a per-minute charge. Features Related to Toll-Free Numbers Toll-free numbers are a type of Virtual Number.
A: Multiple phone numbers linked to the same phone line. How do I use a Virtual Number? Select the different numbers you want. Then advertise your virtual numbers. Virtual numbers allow you to establish a large local calling base. Features Related to Virtual Numbers Virtual numbers are an auto forwarding-type service.
A: Voicemail is attached to your email address as an audio file. Occasionally, the voicemail is transcribed, automatically or manually. Featured Related to Voicemail to Email Solves some of the problems with voicemail.
A: Answering machine service provided by your VoIP service provider. A basic feature of business VoIP systems. How do I use Voicemail? Voicemail options can be controlled from your IP phone or control panel. Problems with voicemail. Features Related to Voicemail Enhanced Voicemail and Voicemail to Email solve some of the associated problems with Voicemail.
A: Send and receive faxes over your VoIP connection. Requires an IP-enabled fax machine. How do I use VoIP Fax? Send and receive faxes as normal. Alternatively, your VoIP service provider may offer dedicated internet fax service. Features related to VoIP Fax: VoIP Fax is similar to SIP trunking, but for your fax machine.