More and more small businesses are choosing a cloud-hosted telephony solution to manage their calls.
If you’re thinking of making the switch, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions to find out if it’s the right choice for you:
Have you outgrown your existing phone system, or is it time to replace it?
Pbx (switchboard) hardware is expensive, needs to be regularly maintained and at some point replaced. If your business is growing faster than you expected, you might even need to discard it before it breaks down.
Whatever the reason, it makes sense to consider a cloud-hosted, virtual switchboard. There is no upfront cost to buy one and all maintenance and upgrades happen automatically with no disruption or extra cost for you.
A virtual switchboard is also incredibly flexible and scalable, giving you access to a full range of features and options you may not have had previously. It’s easy to add new users and extensions in just a couple of minutes (without special programming skills), so you can adapt it to the precise needs of your business.
Would you benefit from having multiple phone numbers?
Switching to a cloud hosted system means that you can take advantage of having multiple virtual phone numbers, all linked to your main phone system. You don’t even have to change your existing phone number, so there is no disruption to your business as you make the switch.
Some examples of how this might be beneficial are as follows:
- You want key staff members to have direct dial numbers that can reach them wherever they are, whether in the office, working from home or on their cell phone.
- You want to set up a toll-free number for your advertising and have all calls diverted direct to your sales department.
- You want to set up several different numbers and use them in different advertising pieces to track which ones generate the most calls.
- You want to appear as a local business in different areas, so you set up various numbers with local area codes, all diverting calls to the closest branch office or back to your head office.
- Similarly, if you do business abroad you can set up virtual international numbers without having to open an office in each country. Calls can be diverted to a local representative, or else back to dedicated staff in your head office.
It’s really up to you – the combination of multiple numbers and a range of services allows you to create the perfect system for you.
Do you have multiple offices, or staff who work from home?
A hosted phone system is a great way to connect staff across multiple offices or who are frequently out on the road or who work at home.
It’s simple to set up call diverts to any landline, cell phone or international number, so your staff can be contacted wherever they are.
If you want to take things further you can use a business grade VoIP service (VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, or in other words calls made over the internet). With this, all your internal VoIP to VoIP calls are free, whilst outbound calls are usually charged at a much lower rate than traditional telephony. What’s more, you can even get an app that lets cell phone users make and receive VoIP calls wherever they have a wireless connection.
Do your business needs change dramatically over the year?
If you have a seasonal business then a hosted phone system makes a lot of sense. Due to its flexibility you can easily scale up at busy times of the year, then cut your services back to the essentials during quieter periods.
There’s no need for you to pay for expensive equipment you won’t be using all the time – a virtual switchboard will be able to handle all your requirements without the high price tag.
Are you worried about high phone bills?
Cloud hosted systems are almost always much better value than traditional systems. There are usually no set up costs or outlay on expensive hardware and calls are significantly cheaper. Some providers even offer fixed price, all-inclusive deals so you can fix your monthly phone bill to make your outgoings more predictable.
Is your phone system protected from the risk of fire, flooding, or other kinds of disaster?
Another advantage of a cloud-based phone system is that you have business continuity advantages already built in.
Your phone system is not fixed to any particular location, so even if your office is destroyed or inaccessible, you can simply redirect all your calls to other numbers (landline or cell) and continue to make and receive calls whilst you’re dealing with more urgent matters.
You could also set up a recorded message to keep employees, customers and suppliers updated on the current situation, or send out bulk SMS messages for instant updates.
Only you can know if now is the best time to switch over to a cloud-based system. Hosted telephony is already a reliable and established technology, and is well on the way to becoming the default choice for businesses large and small.
About the Author:
Matthew Guise is a digital marketing expert for Callagenix, a UK-based telephony services provider that specialises in business grade hosted phone solutions.