Effective communication is the backbone of success for any business. If your business can keep a strong internal and external communication, productivity will never be a concern.
In contrast, miscommunication and delays cause severe damage in establishing relationships with customers, vendors and even your own team. Even with all the communication channels available today, phone calling remains a crucial way to do business for most -if not all- industries.
However, this doesn’t mean that phone calls haven’t evolved over time; quite on the contrary, traditional landlines and faxes are becoming obsolete as smartphones and cloud-based phone systems rise in popularity to unprecedented levels. This is because of the great amount of benefits that these new communication technologies bring to the table, especially when we talk about business phone systems.
You’re probably very familiar with smartphones, so the question is: what is a cloud-based phone system? What are their benefits, and why are businesses switching to this technology? You’ve come to the right place to get answers to all these questions. Let’s find out!
What Is A Cloud Based Phone System?
A cloud-based phone is basically a software that allows you to make phone calls over the internet while safely storing all the data in the cloud. It normally requires a stable internet connection, and a device such as desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. You can also use it on regular phones through an adapter. This technology is also known as Hosted PBX and it works on a protocol called VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).
How Does A Cloud Based Phone System Work?
This service works by transferring voice signals through IP addresses and then connecting them to a PSTN network. When you make a call through a cloud phone, your voice is transformed into data packets. Just like any other data, these data packets are then sent over your broadband line.
Your provider routes the call and it is transferred to the phone number you dialed. When the data reaches the recipients, it gets converted back to voice.
Cloud-Based Phone System Features
Using a cloud-based phone system is convenient, reliable, and less expensive. Let’s have a look at some additional benefits that your business may get if you start using VoIP.
With a cloud-based phone, you are not just replacing the conventional copper wire phone lines, you’re also streamlining your communications by providing outstanding features such as voicemail to email, sending multimedia, call data analytics and more.
These phones are widely used when operating a cloud contact center, which works as the central point for all inbound and outbound customer communications. Cloud contact centers make connections through voice, email, social media, and the web from anywhere. Plus, they take care of all telecommunications for you.
Additional features that every business seeks when opting for a cloud phone include:
1. Unified Communications
UC refers to the integration of communication services such as chat, customer data, business phone systems, video conferencing software, fax lines, file sharing, data sharing, voicemail, e-mail, SMS, team communications, etc.
The goal of UC is to provide a consistent, unified user interface and user experience (UX) across various devices and business software. It also reduces the need to switch between tabs or apps allowing your team to focus on the crucial tasks without wasting time. A cloud-based phone system is a great tool to unify communications because it provides you a single platform from which you can easily interact with customers as well with your own team.
Additionally, it allows you to integrate and consolidate several tasks in a single system. Whether it is inbound and outbound calls, CRM, sending emails, transcribing voicemail or sharing information, you can safely carry out all these tasks and more from an easy-to-use platform.
2. Artificial Intelligence
AI has a huge impact on the way businesses operate today. In the telecom industry, AI can offer benefits such as sentiment analysis, data collecting and interpretation, predicting behavior patterns, real-time translation, and answering simple queries from callers.
3. Team Collaboration
Cloud-based telephone systems remarkably improve team collaboration. For example, you can offer remote work opportunities now that it has become the new normal and allow everyone to share the same information and communicate with each other seamlessly.
Included features like audio and video conferencing will help remote workers to stay on top of their game and connected at all times. Team collaboration platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are supporting all forms of text and call communication, and the trend seems to be that more apps will get integrated with phone systems.
4. Advance Call Screening
Caller ID is not a new thing, however cloud phone systems offer a more advanced call screening. They allow you to connect callers with an automatic voice attendant. This attendant will collect all the necessary information such as the caller’s name or in some cases, the purpose of their call.
Advance call screening also allows you to set rules so you can decide which calls to take and which ones to direct to voicemail or block.
As mentioned before, a cloud-based phone system streamlines the whole communications process by integrating email, Sales automation tools, CRM, ecommerce features, Chat, surveys, helpdesk software, and much more.
All these integrations help your agents to view caller data without flipping between various applications. You will be able to get access to the necessary information in the same window and share files or information across platforms and devices.
How to Set Up A Cloud Based Phone System for Your Business
Setting up a Cloud-based phone system is easy and can be done by following three steps.
1. Choose a Provider
This is probably the most time-consuming step, and the most important one. The more research you do about the available alternatives, the more benefits you’ll get from using a cloud phone.
There are many different providers that include some features or are stronger in certain fields. You need to carefully evaluate each provider’s offer as well as have a good assessment of your business needs. By matching these two you’ll be able to choose the provider that fits your specific needs the best, while also considering the costs, of course.
2. Set it Up and Add your team
Once you choose the best provider for your business all you need to do is wait for the installation process -which usually doesn’t take more than half an hour- and then start adding your team members as users and assigning extension numbers where necessary.
Be careful when assigning permissions and access; sensitive information will need to be protected and there has to be security protocols and special permissions for higher rank employees.
3. Explore and Customize your Cloud Business Phone System Features
There are still countless features to explore and customize according to your business needs once your system is up and running. You can choose for example different layouts and priorities, set up pop-up notifications, customize the recorded messages and instructions, start integrating your cloud-based phone with your current software, etc.
What’s more, this tool will allow you to scale your business at a low cost.
Cloud-Based Phone System Pros & Cons
Everything has advantages and downsides and cloud-based phone systems are not the exception. Let’s take a look at the pros first.
1. It is Reliable
A Cloud-based phone system is much more reliable than on-premises PBX. It is less likely to be affected by service interruptions and natural disasters. Cloud-based phone systems are not stored in a single location, therefore you can keep your communication running in case one of the servers experiences any issue.
Similarly, when it comes to updates, these will be done automatically in the cloud.
A cloud-based phone system can save you money by lowering your phone bills up to 60%. You can easily communicate with international suppliers and customers at a significantly reduced cost.
Not to mention that the initial investment and maintenance costs are much lower as compared to the conventional phone system.
3. Easy to Maintain
Speaking of maintenance, traditional business phones required a dedicated IT staff to look after the telephony networks to make them run smoothly.
Unlike with traditional phones, with a hosted PBX all server maintenance is taken care of by the service provider and everything is done offsite. It’s the provider’s responsibility to resolve your issues and answer all your questions.
4. Build Stronger Relationships with Customers
Customer relationship is the most important benefit associated with a cloud-based phone system.
When you know better and interact meaningfully with your clients through a unified AI-powered channel, you build better relationships with your customer.
You decrease delays and waiting time when you have auto attendants and 24/7 operating bots that give an immediate acknowledgement to your clients. Thus, their satisfaction level rises and your business gets benefitted.
5. Multiple Features
Businesses look for productivity and efficiency to stay competitive. A cloud-based phone system gives you just that. As mentioned above, these phones have much more advanced features than a conventional business phone system such as click-to-dial, integrations, voicemail to text, call forwarding, advanced screening, and many more you can choose from.
6. Supports Remote Working
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and rising trend of remote working, cloud-based phone systems become the need of the hour. You can get your team connected and working just as efficiently as at the office. Now, as far as the drawbacks are concerned the main con is that you need a stable internet connection with enough bandwidth to serve your needs. On the second hand, there’s the chance of latency and jitter, since cloud phones rely on the internet.
Cloud-Based Phone System FAQs
1. What is cloud-based VoIP?
VoIP means Voice over Internet Protocol and refers to making and receiving calls through the internet. Now there are two types of VoIP phone systems, On-premise VoIP and Cloud-based VoIP. When you talk about On-premise VoIP, it means the hardware and PBX are on-site in your business location.
In contrast, a Cloud-based VoIP is hosted at your VoIP provider’s data center, instead of being physically installed in your location. This type of VoIP decreases your responsibility over the system infrastructure, as this is done by your VoIP service provider.
2. What is a cloud number?
A cloud phone number is a virtual number that a business may get when it deploys a cloud-based phone system. This number operates through the internet, which means it does not require hardware or onsite technology to function. This way your workers can access it from anywhere with an internet connection.
3. What is a virtual phone system?
Virtual phone system is a synonym for cloud-based phone system. It’s a telephony software used to make and receive phone calls from anywhere with an internet-enabled device such as laptops or mobile devices.
4. Does VoIP work if the internet is down?
The only drawback of VoIP calls is that it is highly dependable on your internet connection. Therefore, both the call quality and connectivity may be affected if the internet is down.
However, there are strategies to help you overcome this problem. The most common one is choosing a system with built-In redundancy and call continuity, which uses a backup or alternative internet service provider to establish a backup connection between your private telephone network and the internet.
Cloud-based phone systems are a reliable, innovative, and cost-effective solution for small businesses as well as big corporations. Cloud phone system applications let users make audio calls over the internet just as you do it with your regular phone. But they also allow you to connect to a video conference just like you can do with Skype or Zoom. These phones are the perfect match for a remote workforce or teams that need to constantly travel to different places regardless of the industry.
Additionally, any business that deals with a huge amount of incoming calls like retailers, health institutions, real estate agencies, radio and TV broadcasters, etc. would also benefit immensely by switching to a cloud-based phone. Not only do these phones replace the traditional systems, but they also come with significant upgrades and additional features that improve CX, add credibility to your brand and, consequently, increase your sales. All this at a reduced cost compared to a regular phone line.