What is a Cloud Phone System?
Cloud phone systems are phone systems that are hosted through a third-party platform and allow you to use your electronic devices to place and receive calls through your Internet connection.
In a way cloud based phone systems are a modernisation of the already existing VoIP (Voice Over IP) phone systems that allowed companies to use their Internet connection rather than a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) service and landline for their calling needs.
Why choose a cloud phone system over a traditional PBX system or a traditional VoIP system?
Traditionally companies who wanted to have a phone system would usually opt for either having a PBX system – that is a telephone system that uses the landline and several extensions one for each employee- or a VoIP system, which used the companies Ethernet and calls were received and made through a VoIP phone device. Both of these systems had an initial upstart investment as they required central hardware which would allow the system to operate, as well as, designated hardware such as phone devices for each employee and user.
With cloud-based phone systems the need for central hardware is eliminated, as your phone services are hosted in a third-party company through cloud. Each company can use their existing Internet connection and through their computers, tablets or phone devices they can sign up and download the software and apps necessary to connect to their cloud phone systems.
There are a few benefits that come with the use of cloud-based telephony. Firstly, as there is no need for hardware within your business, you are given greater flexibility and mobility. Your phone system is no longer tied to one place and can be used both from within your office as well as, from outside it. This means that your employees can make use of your phoning system to take care of their tasks from wherever they are, all they would need to do is sign in to their account and access their phone service through their devices.
As the cloud phone system can be accessed from any device, the need for company bought phones and devices is phased out. Users can use their own devices and still get all the benefits of having a designated business phone. What’s more this further reduces the amount that is spent by a company for their phoning service since less business phone devices will need to be purchased and given to each employee.
With cloud-based phone systems, you will also have support immediately in case of any errors with your system. Where previous telephony systems had expensive hardware that required specialised personnel to ensure the functionality and health of the telephone system, with cloud phone systems you are usually able to track that yourself through an administrative centre. If you notice that anything is out of place you are able to perform basic troubleshooting or contact your chosen phone systems support team for further assistance. In this way you have much more control over your company’s phone system.
What equipment is necessary?
While we have established that there is no necessary installation of a phone system in your premises, there are some things that are necessary for your phone system to be working. These mainly relate to your employees having access to the cloud phone system service that you are using, as they are the devices necessary to either access of utilise your cloud phone.
Most users should be able to access their cloud phone through the use of either their laptop, desktop computer, tablet or even mobile phones.
For phone users, it is important to note that most cloud phone systems are compatible with both android and IOS devices as they have available applications or both operating systems. If this is an important factor for you, you can always check the website of your chosen cloud phone system to ensure that they have applications for both operating systems.
If you are using your cloud phone system through a laptop or a desktop computer, you might find that you will need to make a further investment into getting a proper microphone, headset and even a camera, if that is necessary for your phoning needs. These are relatively inexpensive and depending on the usage you wish to make you can usually find these for a couple of hundred pounds or less.
Both setting up your phone devices and your laptop or desktop device to facilitate your cloud phone system is a fairly easy procedure as it usually only requires some software or application to be downloaded and from there all you will need to do is have each user sign in using their own individual credentials
Are cloud phone systems a better financial choice?
Now that we have covered what you need and what you do not need in terms of both hardware and software for your cloud phone system, you might be wondering how all of these compare to a regular phone system in regards to finances. While many individual factors will affect the economics of this decision, such as the size of your company, the initial investment you were willing to make into your phone system, and your phoning needs in terms of making calls internally, domestically and internationally, there are also some general economic facts regarding the cost of using a cloud service over a traditional PBX or VoIP phone system.
With traditional systems the cost for the set up and initial hardware needed could range from a couple hundred to a few thousand pounds depending on both the range of hardware and the size of your company. While we have established that this cost is no longer necessary with the use of cloud phone systems, what you might not have yet considered was the money needed monthly to maintain this system.
To ensure that your telephone service was running smoothly there was often the need for monthly maintenance costs. These were the cost of bringing in a specialist or hiring someone to maintain the health of your phone system. They were responsible for ensuring that your system was running well and could also be used for troubleshooting when you were having trouble with your phone system. This meant that for even the most basic of troubleshooting it was often necessary to spend extra money on hiring someone to come out and assist you.
By comparison, cloud phone systems do not have any extra maintenance costs per month, this is because within your monthly subscription most cloud services will also be offering you some customer support that will be able to troubleshoot any problems that you have. For more basic troubleshooting and for ensuring your systems phone health you will usually get access to an Administrative Centre which can be used to monitor your systems health. This eliminates one big cost of telephone systems, the need for extra money to be spent on specialised personnel per month so as to ensure that your system is working appropriately.
Another big budget saving part of cloud phone services is that they can be personalised to each user in your company. Previously to use your phone system you would be using PTSN. Often the phone plans used were not personalised to each user in a firm but rather they were general payment plants available to many different users through the phone devices in their offices. While that may have worked well, it often also meant that companies ended up overpaying on plans that were not truly utilised by all members of their company.
With cloud phone systems this is something that can easily be changes as you can select different phoning plans for different user. If one of your employees needs to make a lot of international calls while the other one is usually only using their phone for internal communications and domestic calls, then these two people have different phoning needs. Not only are their needs different in nature, but they are also different in the phoning plans that each of them needs. While the one who makes international calls might need an international calling plan, or a higher range phone plan, the other user might have their needs completely fulfilled by the standard phone plan available with your cloud system. This complete personalisation means that you will get to save money as you will get to decide and pay for exactly what is needed for each different employee. In a sense with cloud phone systems, you will get the option to pay for only what you need.
What’s more you will also save money on extra phoning devices since your new system can be used through your employees own personal devices. This means that you a separate business phone can become a thing of the past for you, as you will utilise your cloud service so as to limit the amount that would need to be spent on individual devices. At first, this might not seem like a big money saving thing, but you also need to consider the individual devices for each employee would be at least a few hundred pounds for each, not to mention each new device will also need a calling plan associated with it. Essentially, to allow your employees to perform their tasks with greater flexibility you would need to expand your already existing expensive installed phone system to include mobile devices that were not previously there.
Finally, with a cloud system, you will have complete control to monitor the usage of each user, in this way you will always be able to tell whether you need to upgrade or downgrade a certain user’s plan so as to ensure that you are not overspending on your phone system. In a sense, a cloud phone system gives you greater control not only over your infrastructure but also over your phoning plans and budget.
You can use our services to get quotes and compare the prices in the currently available phone systems for your company by clicking here.
What are some important features of cloud phone systems that can modernise your business?
We have established the monetary benefits of cloud phone systems and how they offer you more control over your business’ phoning needs. However, it is important to look at some key features that many cloud phone systems offer so as to provide you with a better understanding of everything that you might be able to expect from your phone system. These will of course vary slightly from one cloud phone service to another, but generally these are features offered by most of the frequently used cloud phone services.
It goes without saying, but of course, each user will have through their cloud phone system the option of placing calls as well as receiving them. Furthermore, they are usually able to place emergency calls, while also having the option to receive Voice Mail, have Caller ID recognition and even in many services having call Menus.
Most cloud phone systems also offer auto-attendants, these could include greetings for those calling your line, with specific messages depending on the time they are calling your business as well as an IVR Menu, which will guide the caller to be transferred to the right queue so as to immediately come in contact with the department that they need to speak to. This feature can be important to both smaller business’ as your employees will not become occupied with calls that were not meant for them, but also in larger enterprises, where the process of connecting with the right personnel will become much more stream lined and the caller will be able to directly access the department they need.
Each user will also get their own phone number and address book. In some cloud services you are also able to use Number porting to transfer your already existing phone number to your cloud phone, this means that you will not need to change your business phone number if you make the switch. With the use of address books users will also get the option of adding the information of each caller as needed, as well as use their address book to place call where needed.
Most cloud-based phone systems will also allow you to have call transferring and even a call routing system in place. This means that through your phone system you will usually be able to see whether another person is available to take a call that you need to transfer to them. This will be because in most services users have the option of enabling and disabling call forwarding as needed. Because of the capabilities that many of these systems have, you might also be able to contact someone while on the line with a client through the text service so as to get immediate updates on a case should you wish for them. Many cloud phone systems also allow call routing which means that you can transfer a call between your own devices as needed, allowing you in this way greater flexibility and mobility.
Finally, a feature that can truly change the way that you operate your business available in many cloud phones is the function that allows you to do audio conferencing. What this means is that using your cloud phone -depending on the service you choose to opt for- you will have the option of hosting calls with multiple callers from both within your team as well as with external users through your phone service. With many businesses having gone remote, this feature is proving to be more and more useful and it is often the feature that makes firms lean more towards using one cloud service over another.
If you would like to read more on available cloud phone system features click here.
What are some of the options for cloud phone systems?
There are many different options for cloud phone systems and depending on the size of your company and your individual needs one service might suit you better than another. The best way to decide on which phone service best suits you is to first look at the type of features that are necessary for your business. After that you can narrow down the list of available cloud phone services by location and pricing. In this way you can ensure that you are receiving all the benefits of the cloud service that you need while at the same time staying within your designated budget.
Three very popular cloud phone systems services to consider are the following:
- Microsoft Phone System: With this phone system you can use number porting, audio conferencing, calling capabilities, while using a service that is included within your already existing cloud services. In its basic form this has a limit of 300 users.
- Avaya Onecloud: Avaya is often considered ideal for businesses that are still growing as it has great capabilities for expansion, and is not limited by the number of users in the way that Office 365 is.
- RingCentral Office: This cloud phone system is available in both android and IOS. What’s more it often includes unlimited calling, all PBX functions and audio conferencing.
For more information on comparing currently available cloud phone systems you can click on the following link.