Choosing a cloud phone system is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll be able to scale your business.
But what services does a cloud phone system offer — besides the obvious ability to add features as you grow and only pay for what you use.
When looking at cloud phone systems like Nextiva for example, consider the company’s ability to customize its technology for any business. Nextiva also says its phone service can add engagement and sales features with an expanded plan. With the next package up, this cloud phone system can even integrate with your existing PBX.
Strategies for Your Cloud Phone System
Creating Synergy By Pairing With Other Tools
When shopping for a cloud phone system, you will also want to look for features like mobile apps, chat, video conferencing and the ability to access the whole system online from a portal. Each of these are important in their own way and when used together can help improve efficiencies in your communication process.
The best phone systems shouldn’t just allow your customers to talk with representatives. They should also monitor these interactions within your CRM and match them with past or scheduled chats or video conferences. That way you can easily refer back to past chat conversations, for example, while on the phone with a customer.
Fortunately there are tools out there that bring all these together in one centralized platform, Nextiva’s NextOS platform being one example.
How a Cloud Phone System Helps You Scale
Growing businesses have at least one thing in common. They all need the ability to “scale”, i.e., be able to grow without infrastructure and systems holding them back. Or as I often say, you have to be able to get out of your own way as you grow.
According to Nextiva, “A [cloud based] system allows for an unlimited number of lines reliant on your internet connection.
For startup companies aiming to expand, this is something that can help them avoid some common growing pains. They can tackle new opportunities as they arise without having to grapple with unnecessary costs, hassle and downtime — and do so while looking bigger than they are by taking advantage of the multiple VoIP features.”
If you are held back from opportunities because your existing systems aren’t flexible enough or cost too much to expand, or you feel locked in to outdated technology that’s cumbersome to manage, then your business will suffer.
The good news in cloud based phone systems, is that there are many more choices for small businesses today than even 5 years ago.
Benefits of a Cloud Phone System
So what are the objective benefits of a cloud phone system?
A cloud phone system is where you use the power and benefits of the cloud for telecommunications. Cloud phone systems offer a number of advantages:
Avoid Costly Equipment
With a cloud-based business phone system, there’s typically little hardware involved (other than the phones themselves). So you don’t need to worry about buying, maintaining and upgrading equipment or even the software, such as for a PBX switchboard. It saves on capital expenditures and also cuts down your internal maintenance costs.
A cloud phone system gives you a Web-based management console to configure features and users. Look for a system whose dashboard is easy to understand and use — for a non-telecommunications professional.
Fast to Set Up
Some phone systems require a lot of lead time to set up. For example, a dedicated VOIP system on your premises may require multiple visits by an installation crew, and training sessions to learn a complex system. A cloud phone system is much closer to “plug and play.”
Get More Leverage with More Features
For small and midsize businesses, you’re able to get the kind of features that large enterprise phone systems take for granted, but without the enterprise cost. You can easily get features such as call logs, conference calling, and auto attendants to handle direct incoming calls.
And while you could piece together such features from a variety of providers, there’s less complexity when you get them through a single provider, manage them with a single interface, and get a single consolidated billing.
Easy to Understand, Predictable Billing
Back in my corporate days, I remember meetings where we talked about nothing but our high telephone costs. Those costs were mainly driven by expensive hardware we had on site — such as a bulky PBX switchboard box — and by complex added charges and complicated discount formulas. On more than one occasion, we hired a consultant to come in and audit our phone bills, and help us to reduce them.
That’s when I learned the value of an easy to understand billing system. A system built on a flat monthly rate, with any add-on charges clearly identified, saves a lot of management time. It also helps control costs because it’s more predictable and you can budget more accurately.
911 Emergency Capabilities
You may have heard that cloud phone systems systems are unable to call 911 or 411 directory services. Though this is a common rumor, that’s all it is. The truth is that you can call anyone — anywhere. The only limitation is that these services may have a hard time pinpointing your location from cell towers because you’re using the internet as opposed to copper landlines.
Unified communications is often an extra feature, and for organizations that do heavy phone work, it can lend considerable efficiency. Unified communications means that you can seamlessly use other devices such as computers for placing and taking calls, getting voicemails sent to email, and other integrated features. It saves users time, and lets them be more productive. For instance, if you’re working on your computer and need to make a call, you can do so right then and there from your computer. If you need to check voicemails, you can go to your email inbox and find your voicemail along with other messages.
Bottom line is this: consider these kinds of benefits when reviewing your phone system needs. And if you haven’t reviewed your phone bills or business phone system in a while, do it soon. A lot has changed in the last five years. It pays to see what’s out there, and how the right cloud phone system can help your business scale, instead of getting in your way.
Cloud Systems Photo via ShutterstockMore in: Small Business Growth