Previously, businesses didn’t have a lot of options when it came to choosing a phone system. A piece of pbx (switchboard) hardware was connected to a physical line (or lines) and then programmed to handle calls as required.
The internet, more specifically cloud hosting, VoIP and mobile phones, has changed this and there are now many more options available. In spite of this many businesses are unaware of what is now possible and still cling to the old switch and physical pbx systems.
However, awareness is spreading and the shift to cloud hosted phone numbers and services is gathering momentum.
Here are 4 great reasons why cloud hosted phone systems will benefit businesses:
1. Location Independent
Nowadays, it is not unusual for staff to work from home or across multiple sites for at least part of the week. With an old style phone system, they would have been harder to contact, leading to colleagues and clients getting frustrated.
In contrast, cloud hosted numbers and services are location independent, so staff are no longer so tied to the office.
With VoIP enabled devices and mobiles, it’s possible to receive all your calls on a single hosted phone number and have them diverted to wherever you are. For example, you may have an office phone, a home office phone and a mobile. Using your online control panel or a mobile app, you simply toggle each extension on or off as required to forward all incoming calls to the appropriate location.
In the foreseeable future it’s also possible that an app on your mobile will detect when you connected to a wireless network and route your calls for free over VoIP. As soon as you are out of range, your calls will automatically be carried over your regular mobile provider’s network. With this, you could conceivable set yourself up in a wi-fi enabled coffee shop and call your overseas clients on your mobile at a greatly reduced rate.
2. Adaptable and Scalable
A hosted phone system is incredibly flexible and can adapt to meet your needs. It can easily be changed as often as required, with all updates being almost instantaneous. This makes it the perfect tool to help you manage the peaks and troughs of your business.
As your company expands, it’s easy to add extra users and extensions whenever they are needed. Staff can be based at different sites, such as a second office or at home, but still be directly connected via your company switchboard. When combined with a business class VoIP service, it’s a simple matter to transfer calls between team members no matter where they are working that day.
Physical pbx systems also have the drawbacks of having limited capacity and requiring complicated programming. On the other hand, hosted numbers and services can be added and updated in seconds.
With a cloud based system, your hosted numbers are linked to various hosted services through a virtual pbx. Services range from the simple, such as call divert, answerphone and fax to email, to the sophisticated, such as group diverts (hunt groups), call menus and call recording.
All services integrate seamlessly together and can be combined to create the perfect phone system for your business.
3. Cost Effective
Let’s face it, traditional pbx systems are expensive. First of all you need to research and buy the right pbx unit, which is rarely a cheap investment. Then you have to pay to maintain, repair and ultimately replace it. Should your business expand too rapidly, you may even need to replace it before it wears out, or buy additional hardware to get the functionality you need.
In comparison, cloud hosted, virtual pbx solutions are available in minutes with no initial outlay. They are flexible, scalable, and there’s no physical unit to be maintained, or damaged.
Another huge advantage of hosted systems is that you don’t need to commit to installing and maintaining circuits. Circuits govern the number of concurrent phone lines in and out of building. For example, if you have 20 staff but only 10 circuits, only 10 people can be on the phone at any one time.
With a hosted VoIP system you can potentially have all 20 on the phone, as long as the broadband connection is sufficiently fast.
If you have an old-style phone system and experience a rush of calls (for example, due to a promotion you are running), you could run out of circuits your lines will become jammed. You won’t be able to make any outbound calls and callers will just get the engaged tone. Contrast this with a hosted service, where callers can be queued in the cloud at busy times, so as not to overload your system.
You can then choose whether to play them ‘on hold’ music and messages whilst they wait, ask them to leave a voicemail message, or divert them on to an overflow service, such as an external call centre.
Business grade VoIP services are also bringing the cost of calls down. Internal VoIP to VoIP calls are free, whilst calls to landlines, mobiles and international numbers are cheaper than with regular phone providers. All inclusive VoIP packages can also provide predictable expenditure and significant savings.
4. Business Continuity Built In
Cloud-based telephony has disaster recovery / business continuity features built in.
Hosted numbers and services are completely portable, so if you ever want to move premises, or if you’re forced to locate elsewhere due to an emergency (such as a flood or fire) it’s quick and easy to do so without your service being affected.
With a regular, fixed phone number and physical pbx, any damage to your premises or the local area could put you out of communication with your suppliers and customers for days or even weeks. Many, many businesses have folded because an incident of some kind has shut them down for an extended period, causing them losses from which they never recover.
As you can see, there are many advantages to cloud hosted telephony. Many forward thinking businesses have been quick to adopt this simple to use yet sophisticated technology, but many more are still to discover the benefits. However, it’s surely only a matter of time before virtually all telephone services are cloud based.
This article was written by Matthew Guise from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.