This is a comprehensive guide to cloud based business phone systems.
In this expert-written post we'll cover:
- Cloud based phone systems 101
- Everything you need to know about choosing the best cloud based phone system for any sized business
- What are the best cloud phone systems in 2020
- How to configure your cloud phone system for maximum productivity
- How to optimise your phone system in the cloud for better CX as well as
- Advanced cloud based phone system features and best practices to be aware of
So if you’re looking for better customer connections, as well as more upselling and call centre efficiency, this guide is for you!
Let’s dive right in.
Chapter 1: Cloud Based Phone Systems 101
Let’s start things off with the basics.
Specifically, we will cover what a cloud based phone system is and what its benefits and most essential features are. You will also learn what a softphone is.
What is a cloud based phone system?
A cloud based phone system allows you to make and receive calls over the internet and store data in the cloud. It’s a phone system that does not need to be installed in your basement, and typically no upfront investments are needed.
It is delivered by a service provider and usually purchased on a subscription basis. A cloud based phone system is also known as cloud PBX, hosted PBX or virtual phone system.
You can set up IP phones, softphones, laptops and other devices to make calls with your cloud phone system. More advanced systems, even include the possibility to connect your mobile devices, provide Call Center functionality and offer integration with your Unified Communications platform. All delivered to you from the cloud.
Traditional business phone systems have been around for decades to make calls within organizations and to the outside world. When VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) was born around 1995 it completely revolutionized business communications. Calls could now be sent over the internet instead of using a traditional landline or cellular networks.
Cloud based business phone systems completely eliminate the need for on-premise equipment and the use of traditional phone lines which frees businesses from IT overhead and reduces costs significantly, no up front investments are needed. They include full functionality while all data lives in the cloud.
Cloud based phone systems with VoIP technology adapt to the needs of businesses of any size and allow employees to be available from any device regardless of their location.
Cloud based phone systems offer numerous benefits and enable advanced features like intelligent call routing, unified messaging and integration with CRM platforms in an affordable and scalable way.
Cloud Phone Systems Help Cut Business Costs
A cloud based phone system can lower costs significantly in comparison to a conventional on-premise PBX.
Setup costs for an on-premise phone system can be an average of $500 - $1000 per user, depending on the specific provider and features.
Setup costs for a cloud phone system can be as low as $0.
Cloud phone systems have lower set-up costs because they don’t require large upfront investments to purchase physical hardware nor need any complex local installation and separate cabling infrastructure. The virtual phone system is operated by a managed service provider (MSP). This means there is no need for you to own any software or equipment and you don’t have to worry about running updates or hiring and training technical personnel to operate and maintain the service.
Because of the subscription model, the cost is not only consistent (you generally don’t pay for individual calls) but also much lower due to bundling users into a usage based plan. To evaluate the cost benefits of VoIP, Telzio analysed over 1,000 small businesses and found that companies who switch to VoIP can reduce monthly telecom costs by between 50% and 75%.
New businesses that use hosted VoIP from the start benefit even more. They can cut initial startup costs by up to 90%.
Harbor Networks has some more compelling and concrete numbers: “A business with 30 users could see savings of up to $1200 per month with a new VoIP system. [...] Furthermore, businesses that use softphones can save an average of $1,727 per month.”
Cloud Phone Systems Offer Easy Set Up
Getting started with a cloud based phone system is incredibly easy. It only takes a few minutes and you can be up and running!
All you need is a fast and reliable internet connection, VoIP-enabled devices and a data network that can handle additional voice traffic and you’re good to go. You could even use your existing devices as softphones.
Gone are the days when a business phone system required wiring in a closet, clunky hardware equipment, system upgrades and on-premise maintenance by a trained technician.
A cloud based phone system is easy for your employees to set up and no training is needed.
It also allows your business to achieve flexible scalability because you can add new features immediately without having to install new hardware. As your company grows you can easily scale from 50 to more than 1000 users without having to add new features.
In addition modern cloud based systems also allow you to scale down when the amount of users is declining. In the old world there was no other way than to scale for the maximum amount of simultaneous users.
Cloud Based Phone Systems are Mobile-first
Mobility is inherently one of the big advantages of cloud based phone systems. Since all data is stored in the cloud, it gives users a virtualized experience allowing them to work from anywhere.
Cloud hosted software allows employees to make calls from their desk phones, desktop computers, and other VoIP capable devices. Calls can automatically be transferred to mobile or set up to ring at both the desk phone and mobile device simultaneously.
Mobility is important for businesses with multiple locations and employees who are travelling on a regular basis. It is a huge advantage over traditional solutions, allowing users to take their device, remain connected and work productively from anywhere. Be reachable regardless where they are. With a cloud system, your employees can make professional and reliable phone calls and join video meetings from a stable internet connection wherever they might be.
A cloud business phone system can increase productivity and promote a better work-life balance as it makes working from home easier. A survey by the International Workplace Group showed that 85% of the respondents confirm that productivity and efficiency have increased in their businesses due to greater flexibility.
Cloud Phone Systems Have Advanced Functionalities
Cloud-based communication tools are some of the most powerful benefits that a cloud based phone system brings to your organisation. You have access to numerous sophisticated features your teams need to work more effectively. Some advanced functionalities are included in basic subscription plans, others are offered as add-ons.
Tailor your cloud phone plan to your company’s needs. Options such as help desk and contact center functionalities, database integration and remote maintenance allow your employees to enjoy an efficient and flexible working day.
CRM integrations and real time call analytics help customer service teams streamline business processes and optimise performance.
Functions like call recording, HD video conferencing, voicemail to email and data and screen sharing transform business communications and improve employee productivity and performance.
By choosing a provider who offers a comprehensive range of advanced features, possibilities are nearly unlimited. Through unified communications, all communication channels can be connected which offers enormous advantages for small and large companies.
Cloud Phone Systems Support Business Continuity
Ah, the feared phone system failure. We’ve all heard stories about businesses that never recovered from long stretches of downtime. Whether caused by a cyber attack, big storm, power outage, hardware failure or some other unpredictable problem.
On-premise business phone systems are dependent on the centralised device that’s installed in the user’s office. If it fails, your entire system will no longer be working, disrupting your entire business communications.
A cloud based business phone system ensures that you retain uninterrupted communications with your customer since you’re working with software services delivered from resilient data centers rather than being dependent on a single piece of equipment. The crucial hardware is stored in secure remote data centers and the cloud is much faster and safer in terms of disaster recovery.
Even if total outage strikes, calls can still be made from or to other phones for continuous service. A cloud phone system allows your employees to connect from anywhere they can tap into power and data connection.
The 6 Essential Features of a Great Cloud Based Phone System
When you’re shopping for a new cloud phone system, it’s important to identify the most important functionalities you actually need. Cloud-based systems offer numerous features that can improve your team’s productivity.
Not every provider offers the same functionalities. Standard subscription plans include most basic features while premium plans offer more advanced functionalities. Most providers will allow you to add or omit single features as needed, so you only pay for what you’re using.
Let’s look at some of the top more advanced features:
Mobility for WFH Generation
Mobility features like softphones and smartphone apps enable you to handle business calls effectively on mobile devices. Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever and features that allow employees to work from home (WFH), or anywhere else, are a big advantage.
Integration with Your CRM
CRM integration allows you to connect your cloud phone system with your CRM tool to exchange data between the two platforms. This gives sales and service teams valuable insights into interactions with customers they can leverage.
Unified messaging is the integration of different methods of communication into one single interface. This feature brings voice, voicemail, e-mail, SMS, messaging and video all into one solution that you can access from the device of your choice.
With call analytics you can securely collect and analyse the data records of all calls made and received. It helps you assess and measure performance and optimize the handling and processing of sales leads.
Personalised On-Hold Music
Adding your company’s own hold music and personalised hold messages allows you to create a pleasant customer experience while delivering important information and announcements. Make this feature work for you because the first impression matters.
If you want to learn more, we’re giving you a features deep-dive in Chapter 5: Advanced cloud based phone system features and best practices. Hop on our mailing list to get notified when each chapter is published.
Smarter Call Transfer
Call transfer or call forwarding lets you transfer incoming calls from your phone to another phone number or extension. This is especially helpful for customer service, when a customer might need to speak with multiple people to get their issue resolved. Benemen's call transfer functionality allows you to seamlessly redirect any connected call from your phone number to a more appropriate or available team member, working from anywhere.
What is a Softphone?
We’ve mentioned the term softphone a couple of times already in this guide. With a softphone you can make calls via your PC - without a physical telephone. A softphone is a software application that is typically provided by your VoIP provider. It simulates the function of a telephone and allows you to make, receive and manage voice and video calls over the Internet.
Softphones can be run on computers, tablets, PCs, and smartphones and are required for VoIP and video calls. They allow you to access all the features that come with your VoIP solution.
In some cases, the user-friendly interface is based on a real telephone and pretty much functions like a regular phone. Dialing is simply done via the interface. Instead of a traditional handset you’re using a headset or the device’s microphone and speaker.
In other more advanced cases the user interface can be embedded in your business applications, making them even easier and more relevant to use.
With a softphone you could even answer calls that initially go to your mobile phone on your PC and don’t have to switch between devices while working. That makes communicating seamless and with a CRM you could even have all information about the caller right there in front you on your screen.
Softphones are great for employees who are constantly traveling or meeting with clients and partners outside the office. Desk phones can be expensive and not every employee might need one. Softphones are a great option if you want to keep costs low and not compromise on functionality.
Conclusion: Discover the Right Phone System for your Business
Cloud phone systems are rapidly replacing traditional PBX (Private Branch Exchange) systems and revolutionising the telecoms industry.
Any business into day’s fast-paced business environment that wants to make the most of communication channels from phone calls to emails to text messages, in ways that delight customers and maximise efficiencies, should be at least considering a cloud based phone system.
Benemen offers the smartest cloud communication technology on the market today. We combine cloud telephony, customer information and various communication channels into one controlled entity, which allows speakers to focus on the essentials and succeed. Request your free demo today!