Tech basics: What is a cloud phone system?

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Tech basics: What is a cloud phone system?

Want a 1300 number? Need more phone lines? Wish you had voice menus for your customers? Here is a basic introduction to the virtual PBX.

[Rene Sugo from MyNetFone gave a very interesting talk about this topic at our BIT Roadshow recently - for those of you that missed it, we decided to share with you his summary below. A special note: MyNetFone is an advertiser on the BIT site. As we reported earlier this year, many businesses in Australia haven't heard of this technology. You can also read our other introduction to the virtual PBX here.]

Do you know what a PBX is? You might say it’s that tangled mess of wires you have in the back storeroom.

That PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is the “brains” of your office phone system. Typically you pay upfront for the equipment and installation, and then pay for ongoing maintenance, in addition to paying a telco for the actual phone service.

Such phone systems have served businesses, large and small, for many years. But such devices are getting a bit long in the tooth. There are now “cloud based” virtual PBXs where that “brain” is located in the cloud and you simply rent its capability as part of your telco service. Much easier and no tangled wires.

Business benefits

Why would a cloud based PBX be useful for your small business? For starters, this kind of Virtual PBX does away with physical equipment and, in doing so, removes the limitations it presented.

A Virtual PBX can save your small business a lot of money. Some examples of these savings are:

 

  • Reduced upfront expenses – you no longer need to purchase expensive PBX equipment to be installed in your office. This upfront cost is the reason many small businesses thought of PBXs as being out of their reach
  • Savings on call and service charges – most Virtual PBX users report up to 60% savings on their phone bills.
  • Increased productivity – you get call features that help your business run more efficiently, such as call transfers, call forwarding, voice menus and more.
  • Scalability – the ability to grow your small business with a ‘future-proof’ phone system, and not worry about expensive upgrades down the track.

 

Professional Impression

Apart from the cost savings and increased productivity, the cloud gives small business access to features that were the stuff of fiction only a few years ago. Your business can sound professional with ‘big business’ call features like: 

  • Geographic call routing  – Locate where your customers are calling from, and redirect their calls seamlessly to the office or store nearest to their location.
  • Automatic Answering systems - Regardless of how many (or few) phones you have, a Virtual PBX can answer calls with a voice meny and organise callers into call queues set by you, such as Sales, Support, Accounts etc.
  • Time of day routing – Directing calls differently based on the time of day someone is calling. Redirect them to a mobile service or a paging service after hours, for example.
  • Virtual fax – a fax service that sends incoming faxes straight to your email inbox and is never ‘busy’. No paper, ink or fax machine required.

 

Grows with your business

Most business owners hope that with enough dedication & time invested, their business will grow & keep growing. Then at some point, it will also need more phone lines. 

In the past, the turnaround time from identifying you need an additional phone line and phone, through to actually getting it, could have easily been weeks.

With Virtual PBXs you upgrade your service plan to more lines & order an additional handset.  The phone is delivered in a matter of days, and a new user can be setup in minutes through an Online Account Portal or over the phone with the provider.

Make it easy for customers to call you

Cloud-based VirtualPBXs mean your small business can now easily have a 1300 number. Why is a 1300 number important for your business?

Historically only large, established, national businesses could afford to invest in a 1300 number. Even now, a business with a 1300 is still perceived as such, even when it’s just a two-man band. It makes your small business appear not only more professional, but also more established & reliable.

Now, with cloud telephony, 1300 numbers are accessible to anyone - even a one person business with the 1300 number routed to their mobile. For larger business with a Virtual PBX, you can get the 1300 call to ring multiple lines, or ‘hunt’ for the first available line amongst your staff.

One of the added benefits of moving your telephony into the cloud is that it ensures that your business phone system is ‘future-proof’, with new innovations and features deployed in the cloud and available to you without the need to upgrade any equipment. . Communications applications will only get more powerful - and exciting - as time goes on.

Questions to ask when choosing a business communications provider

In practical terms, there are several important factors to consider when choosing a communications provider.

  1. What are the upfront and ongoing costs?
  2. How long does it take for the service to be ready to use?
  3. What happens when my small business grows and I need more lines?
  4. What happens to my number if I move offices to another area?
  5. What if I need a specific feature like time of day routing or geo-routing

 

 

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