As the sun starts to set on traditional ISDN telephony, businesses are increasingly looking for futureproof and cost-effective alternatives that use VoIP technology. There are various alternatives that businesses can explore from SIP trunking to an IP phone system. One alternative that is proving increasingly attractive to businesses looking for a versatile and affordable phone system is Cloud-hosted VoIP featuring full PBX capabilities.
In this article we’ll investigate some of the inherent benefits of cloud-hosted phone systems and what these benefits could mean in business terms
But before we get started….
What is Cloud-hosted VoIP?
Cloud-based VoIP, Hosted VoIP or Hosted PBX are some of the terms used to define a range of internet telephony services where the PBX (private branch exchange) and associated infrastructure is hosted in an off-site, ‘cloud’ location. The alternative is ‘on-premises’ VoIP where the PBX server is housed on-site.
The benefits of hosted VoIP…
One of the primary motivational factors behind the adoption of hosted VoIP; it is almost certain to reduce your business’ calling costs compared to traditional telephony. Internal calling is completely free and calls to landlines are almost always cheaper – especially true when making international calls where VoIP can prove dramatically cheaper than traditional alternatives.
Initially you may have to invest a little in new handsets that are ‘IP’ compatible, but this is nothing compared to the costs associated with the acquisition of hardware for traditional phone systems. A ‘hosted’ PBX system also means that most of the maintenance is undertaken by your service provider, reducing the strain on your IT team.
Getting set up is simple
Getting your office ‘VoIP-ready’ is much easier than installing or extending a traditional phone system. VoIP calling can be performed using IP compatible handsets connected to your LAN, or alternatively you could invest a small amount in headsets and allow your employees to manage calls through a client application installed on your computer or a web-based portal.
Scaling up (or down) is a breeze
Adding an additional phone line to a traditional phone system can be a time consuming and costly experience. You’ll have to contact your provider to arrange the installation of the new line; a process that could take weeks from initial contact to completion.
A hosted VoIP system enables the addition of extra lines in minutes and can usually be performed through a central management portal. New lines will be added to your subscription and can be used straight away; ideal for businesses that experience seasonal fluctuations in their telephony demands.
The ability to unify your communication channels
Many providers of hosted VoIP offer the potential to unify several communication media into a single portal. This concept is referred to as ‘unified business communications’ and involves the consolidation of various communication tools such as email, telephony, social media, CRMs, instant messaging, video conferencing and more.
Bringing together all communication in this way can lead to greater productivity and a better customer experience.
VoIP and mobility go hand-in-hand
Another of driving factors behind the move to hosted VoIP is the mobility it affords. Your system can be accessed from almost any device with an internet connection and you can leverage one contact number for all your business communications no matter the device or location you’re working from. All this adds up to a more seamless experience for those calling you. Calls to your office for example can be seamlessly transferred to your mobile in a couple of clicks.
Improved Mobility means enhanced productivity
VoIP users typically miss fewer calls and features such as automatic voicemail to email transcription will let you take immediate action rather than having to arrange a ‘follow-up’ call. Coupling your hosted VoIP system to a CRM or other data source will also help speed up issue resolution and minimise confusion by bringing communication and data into one unified space.
An improved customer experiences
Hosted VoIP is often the go-to choice for companies with ‘call centre’ call handling requirements. Whether your business operates with a few customer service reps or you employ hundreds of agents, hosted VoIP services can be configured to include various call centre features that will enhance and streamline the customer experience.
- IVR (Interactive voice recognition) – Nobody likes being endlessly transferred between departments. IVR can be used to intelligently route calls to the correct department, resulting in a smoother call experience for customers and a more professional first impression.
- Reporting capabilities – Another common ‘contact centre’ feature available through some VoIP services is the ability to access and review call stats. This provides an indispensable insight when conducting staff training or coordinating staff rotas.
- Smart call routing – The best destination for a particular call may be dependent on a number of factors. For example, if someone calls directly from the ‘customer support’ section of your website you’d want to route them directly to a customer support agent rather than to reception. Similarly, if a caller has a long history of loyalty to your company you maybe want to route them directly to someone senior. Smart call routing lets you configure automated routing protocol based on factors of your choosing.
- Unified communications – Utilise various communication methods based on the preferences of individual customers. Reduce confusion and resolve issues with greater efficiency with the ability to view all previous communication a caller has had with your company.
Reduced overheads, greater mobility and all the features of a traditional PBX plus many new ones, there’s never been a better time to explore the transformative potential of a Hosted VoIP phone system. VoIP is the future, so why not make the move today and stay ahead of the pack.
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