Why Cloud-Based Phone Systems Are So Popular in Small Businesses
It seems like everything is moving to the cloud these days, and phone systems are no exception.
Cloud-based phone systems describe VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), aka “Internet calling.” These systems allow you to use the Internet to make phone calls, as opposed to traditional analog phones that rely on older infrastructure like copper wires.
The infrastructure that runs traditional landline phone systems is being phased out, and telecommunication companies have stopped investing in upgrading it. At the same time, computers have become more powerful and economical, which has helped VoIP providers make massive strides in quality, reliability, and functionality. This combination of factors has prompted small businesses to switch to VoIP in record numbers.
In this article, we’ll uncover the top reasons why cloud-based phone systems are so popular in small businesses.
No Equipment to Maintain
The distinguishing characteristic between a cloud-based phone system and an on-premises VoIP system has to do with where the hardware is stored. This equipment includes a PBX server and a switch that prioritizes traffic to maintain your QoS (quality of service). Companies that choose a cloud-based phone system don’t have to purchase or maintain any of this equipment, which can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Not having to buy and maintain equipment helps a small business in a variety of ways:
- Lower upfront fees to set up a phone system.
- Peace of mind because the small business doesn’t have to deal with maintenance or unexpected repair or replacement costs when a piece of hardware fails.
- Businesses don’t need to worry about having an IT person on staff to keep everything running or customize the software.
Because the VoIP provider procures and maintains all of the equipment for the phone system, small businesses can focus on what they do best – serving customers.
A traditional phone system is limited with the features it includes, and often, those features come at an additional cost. With a cloud-based phone system, organizations can consolidate all of their business communications in one place. This includes voicemail, instant messaging, team chat, video conferencing, faxing, email, web applications, social media, and internal tools like a CRM.
Powerful Built-In Features
The ability to unify all business communications in one place is just one of the features of a cloud-based phone system that comes standard. There are several others that are included, often at no extra fee. These include:
- Customizable on-hold music and marketing messages
- Speed dialing
- Contact directories
- Call trees
- Ring groups
- Auto attendants
- Call recording
- Call analytics
- Call forwarding
- View which phone lines are available for call transfers
- Voicemail notifications
- Changing office hour settings
- Multi-way conferencing
- Video calls
A traditional phone system may include these features at a price point that’s out of reach for a small business. But when a company forfeits this functionality, its professional reputation can suffer.
Today, customers expect a professional greeting when they call a company, regardless of whether you have one employee or one thousand. A sloppy phone greeting, silent holds, and non-intuitive or unresponsive phone directories can result in lost revenue and opportunity.
No Long Distance Charges
Long-distance charges can add up, even for small businesses with relatively low call volume. Part of this stems from arbitrarily drawn lines that can put a customer down the street in the long-distance calling category.
Instead of getting a surprise bill each month or overpaying for built-in long-distance coverage from a traditional phone provider, small businesses are opting to use a cloud-based system where long-distance fees don’t exist.
Remember, because VoIP uses the Internet to transmit voice data, making a phone call is very similar to sending an email, so most VoIP providers charge nothing for domestic phone calls, even if they’re across the country.
Lower Phone Bills
In addition to no or low long-distance fees, small businesses can also drastically reduce the size of their phone bill, sometimes by as much as 70%! These savings come in the form of not having to pay long-distance charges, buy or maintain equipment, and not having to pay for extra phone lines. Cloud-based systems can support a large number of users for one small, flat fee.
Even the best traditional phone line can’t compete with a cloud-based phone system when it comes to integrating with your business applications.
Though not all cloud-based systems offer this functionality, some do (including Weave), and it’s worth taking a look at.
Here’s a simple scenario of how this integration would work:
Let’s say you run a dental office, and one of your patients is calling to reschedule their appointment. A traditional phone system limits the data you see about the patient unless you pull up their record in a database. You might see the phone number and maybe a name on a caller ID screen, but that’s about it.
An integrated cloud-based phone system, on the other hand, would show you the entire patient’s record right on your desktop computer screen or on your mobile device. You would see their full name (so you don’t have to ask them to confirm how to spell their last name to look them up in your system), their appointment history, family members, birthdates, appointment preferences, and outstanding balances on a single dashboard.
You can make notes about your conversation, and their incoming call would also be recorded in your system. After you end the call, you could even send a follow-up text confirming the rescheduled appointment!
If you’re at all familiar with the Super-Man storyline, then you know that Clark Kent was in constant danger of being exposed as a superhero because he couldn’t be in two places at once. One of the most powerful advantages of a cloud-based phone system is that you can answer your business phone no matter where you are, as long as you have an Internet connection.
This phenomenon is possible due to ring anywhere functionality, which is sometimes referred to as “find me / follow me.” The way it works is that multiple devices can ring on the same phone number. This means your desk phone and your mobile phone can ring simultaneously and you choose which one to answer.
You can even transfer a call between devices. Let’s say, for example, that you’re on an important client call in your office, but you have to leave to go to another appointment. You can transfer the call to your mobile phone and continue the call while you’re in transit.
This feature is also invaluable even if you and your team rarely leave the office. The reason is that even if you’re chained to your desk 95% of the time, you’re bound to miss a call at some point. Perhaps you took a longer lunch than you anticipated, or you’re on one line while someone is calling you on another line. If a caller goes to voicemail, you could use a feature called “missed call texting” to immediately interact with the caller, letting them know that you’ll reach out to them as soon as possible.
This text messaging feature can also be used to begin a dialogue where you can resolve an issue or schedule an appointment with a new prospect without a voice call at all!
Mobility and Flexibility
As the lines between the office and home become blurred, many small businesses benefit from having a cloud-based system that allows them to take calls from anywhere. As long as you have a working Internet connection, any device that’s a part of your system can be used as an extension of your business. This includes your smartphone, laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.
Small teams with employees that wear many hats will also appreciate this functionality. For example, if your office manager is driving to the office and a potential new client is calling to make an appointment five minutes before you open, that call can be routed to your office manager (or someone else on your team) instead of going to voicemail. Now that the caller is chatting live with a person instead of being prompted to leave a message on a machine or with an answering service, your business now has the opportunity to close a new client.
Even small businesses that don’t have remote teams or employees that work from home still benefit from this feature if they have multiple locations. While a traditional phone system would require unique setups at all locations, a cloud-based phone provider can connect each of your sites to the same phone service.
If you own a small business, you’ve got a lot on your plate, and you shouldn’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty details of maintaining a phone system. A cloud-based phone system allows you to “set it and forget it,” and if there’s anything you need to customize or change, that’s a breeze, too.
Are you ready to see how Weave can revolutionize your business communication system? Schedule a demo today.