By Matthew Guise
In the past, businesses had very little choice when it came to their phone system. They had a physical line, or lines, connected to pbx (switchboard) hardware, that was then programmed to handle calls as desired.
With the rise of the internet, cloud hosting, VoIP and mobile phones, nowadays there are many more options available. Yet many businesses are still using the old switch and physical pbx based phone system.
This is changing and the shift to cloud hosted phone numbers and services is only going to increase over the coming years.
Here are 4 good reasons why:
1. Location Independent
It is common these days for staff to spend time working from home or out of the office. Previously, this would have made them harder to contact, which meant added frustration for colleagues and clients.
Hosted numbers and services are location independent, so you needn’t be tied to the office any longer.
Now, with VoIP enabled devices and mobiles, it’s possible to receive all your calls on a single 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 perfectly meet your requirements.
As your company grows, it’s a simple matter to add extra users and extensions whenever you need to. Your 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 VoIP, calls can be quickly and easily transferred between team members no matter where they are working that day.
Rather than having a physical pbx with limited capacity and complicated programming, hosted numbers and services can be added and updated in seconds. All changes are virtually instantaneous too, giving you great control over your business communications.
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. Should your circumstances change, you can easily update your phone system in a few short minutes.
3. Cost Effective
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 find you need to replace it before it wears out, or buy additional hardware to get the functionality you need.
In comparison, virtual pbx solutions are hosted in the cloud and require no initial outlay. As covered above, they are very flexible and scalable, and there’s no physical unit to be maintained, or damaged.
Also, with a hosted system 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.
At peak times, if you run out of circuits your lines will become jammed and you won’t be able to make any outbound calls. Any additional callers will also be unable to get through and 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.
VoIP calls are indistinguishable in quality from regular, wired calls. In fact, a large volume of calls today are already routed over the internet without the callers noticing any difference in call quality. Provided a suitably fast broadband connection is available, VoIP is an attractive option for most businesses.
4. Built-In Business Continuity
Hosted numbers and services are completely portable, so if you ever want to move premises or 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.
An added benefit of using cloud-based telephony is that it has disaster recovery / business continuity features built in. If you have business continuity plan for your business, that’s one more item to tick off your ‘to do’ list.
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. Numerous 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. Although many forward thinking businesses have been quick to adopt this sophisticated technology, many more are still to discover the benefits. However, as time goes on we foresee a switch to where virtually all telephone services are cloud based, with only pockets of late adopters still using a traditional switch-based system.
About the author
Matthew Guise is a digital marketing expert for Callagenix Ltd, a UK-based hosted telephony services provider that specialises in enterprise calibre VoIP solutions.
Callagenix Ltd offer a full range of hosted numbers and services, backed up with over 14 years of experience serving businesses of all sizes. To discover how Callagenix can help your business, please contact us today by one of the following methods: