Softphones Explained: VoIP Software to Make Calls from Your Computer or Tablet

Sean Lund-Brown

Softphones have been around for longer than most people realize. Today, they’re becoming an increasingly common tool for businesses that are going virtual to keep up with communications and create a unified strategy. With the rest of the world going virtual, companies need flexible, dynamic communication solutions. Softphones offer that, coming in several configurations and even with the option to fully customize your solution. 

Forget being tethered to the desk handset—thanks to VoIP software and softphones, you can now take calls from any device, in any location around the world. These systems include tons of standard and premium features and can change how your business communicates in several ways. 

What is a softphone?

As the name implies, a softphone is a software-based phone that includes all the standard features of a business phone, along with plenty of other features like visual voicemail, video calling, and even call recording for training or quality control purposes. Ultimately, a softphone will make it simple for businesses to make calls over the Internet without having to have a physical handset. Essentially, these phones help you make calls without an actual telephone. 

Today, most people understand softphones a little better simply because they use smartphones. These aren’t phones, at all, but pocket-sized computers that also happen to have an application for making phone calls, or a “softphone.” While business providers and software platforms have more extensive features and solutions, they’re essentially the same thing. 

You will be able to transfer, mute, and even put calls on hold, just like you would with a traditional business handset. You will also be able to connect it to the rest of the software’s features and your other software solutions, allowing you to schedule calls on the calendar, send out invitations for calls and meetings, and even access messaging features to keep employees connected. 

Softphones work similarly to traditional desk phones and landline phones, with the exception that they use software to take and make calls. These phones can do everything a traditional landline can, and then some:

Total feature management from an intuitive online dashboard can also be yours when you choose the right VoIP softphone provider for your business. They also work on multiple platforms and devices including:

  • Desktop applications that can be run on macOS, Windows, Linux, etc. 
  • Applications that can be accessed via a web browser
  • Mobile apps for Android and iOS

You’ll need to check with the providers you plan on using to see what kind of applications they offer. 

The benefits of choosing softphones and VoIP software

These days, the switch to VoIP is more of a progression than a choice. However, there are several benefits that you can consider when you’re trying to determine whether it’s the right time to make that switch. 

Using VoIP software with your various devices offers:

  • A more comprehensive selection of features and options
  • Portability so that calls can be fielded anywhere, from any device
  • Privacy, thanks to dedicated business numbers and secure Internet protocol connectivity
  • Less hardware and equipment to purchase because the application can be used on existing devices
  • And of course, serious cost savings with plans ranging from just a few dollars a month, saving thousands on hardware and the setup of a traditional business phone system

Of course, these are just a few of the major perks that come with choosing VoIP. You’ll likely come across many more as you’re setting up and using your own VoIP softphone system. 

How to choose the right provider 

Like traditional telephone service, there are dozens of VoIP providers out there offering their own software to help improve your business phone use. For those who are new to the world of softphones, it could be more difficult to determine which providers are best. Consider the following in your own search.

1. Compatibility is a big factor in your decision. If you run on macOS, you’ll want a system that works with that. Perhaps you need a platform that works on ALL major operating systems. Consider that first and foremost.

2. Size and scalability should also be on your list. Are there enough lines so that you can field calls properly and scale as needed during busy times and slow periods? Does the platform have tools to grow with your business over time?

3. Mobile apps are a must. Today, it’s not a “benefit” to have mobile access. It’s a must-have feature in business tools, including softphones. Make sure that your provider offers apps for iOS or Android, depending on what you need, and that they deliver the same dynamic solutions as the desktop applications. 

4. You should make sure that your provider has security and privacy features in place. Vulnerabilities can be found just about anywhere, but it’s no riskier to use softphones than something like instant messaging or web browsers. Just choose a provider with tools to protect your data and calls and you’ll be good to go. 

There are several other considerations you might add to this list when searching for your VoIP solution. However, make sure that these make the list because they’ll be a big part of the effectiveness of your transition to softphones. 

Partner with Smith.ai for a totally unified communication solution 

While considering the transition to VoIP and softphones, you should also consider the other ways that you can improve your business communications. Enlisting the assistance of a 24/7 answering service like Smith.ai is a smart move to ensure that you never miss a single call, whether it’s a potential customer, vendor, or anyone else. 

Not only that—our dedicated virtual receptionists can assist with live website chat, appointment scheduling, and lead intake and qualification. You can even ask about our solutions for outreach campaigns and outbound sales to help generate the leads in the first place. And of course, we’ll combine it all with the perfect strategy for your needs, no matter what that means. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your business communications and beyond. You’ll also be able to reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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