Essentially, this is a very simple argument. And before we explore the pros and cons, let me tell you that the resounding answer is ‘yes’. Eventually, you probably won’t have any choice anyway, as all voice systems will be cloud-based. And before we get to that point, given the choice, the cloud or IP option would always be more attractive.
First off, let’s look at cost, just to get that particular genie well and truly out of the bottle. Every hosted IP voice salesperson will tell you that it’s cheaper by a certain significant percentage. This could be anything from around 30 per cent to 80 per cent. The reason the figure varies is because the actual savings will vary for every business – and you’ll need to choose the right hosted voice service for your needs to maximise those savings.
If you are a small business that makes mostly local calls for example, a simple, all-inclusive service that provides you with a set monthly fee is probably going to suit. If you make a lot of national, and international calls, or calls to mobiles, you will need a package that offers lower costs on these calls. But one way or another, the cost to your business will be lower when you used a hosted voice service. Your supplier ought to be able to perform an audit for you and put forward different options and the approximate savings each one should deliver.
But it’s certainly not all about saving money. There are many other positive reasons to use a cloud-based phone system. (By the way, when we or anyone else used terms such as ‘cloud-based’, ‘hosted voice’, and ‘VoIP’, we are really talking about the same thing. The voice call is made over the Internet (using ‘IP – the Internet Protocol) and it’s managed inside a cloud service that runs on the service provider’s systems).
For starters, it is much more flexible. Because your phone system is virtual and resides in the cloud, you can use it from anywhere. You or any other user – colleagues, employees, temporary workers – can just log onto the system and use all its features as normal. This makes working at home or remotely, or even upping sticks and moving the whole business, very easy.
If you should not be able to gain access to your premises for some reason, or you need to use another location while your own is refurbished or redecorated, it’s easy. All you need are the soft phones or some other access device, such as a laptop, tablet or even a mobile phone. With some services, you get a special app for your mobile that allows you to use it to access the hosted VoIP.
And cutting down on mobile bills is another way in which you’ll save money.
This easy mobility also means you are easier to find, as you can always be available on the same number; providing you can connect the Internet, you have access to your VoIP service.
Choose your location
Also, while you can be physically, anywhere, you can also give the appearance of being in a particular location – or several locations if you wish. You may be located in Birmingham, for example, but you could also set up numbers for Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, London and Southampton, with all calls to all numbers routed back to the same office. You could do the same thing over a much smaller area – within the local towns in a particular county or region, for instance.
With a cloud-based voice service, it is also incredibly easy to add, remove or change users. It is just a matter of setting them up on the management console. It takes minutes, so if you need to bring in more people to work on a project or campaign you can, without incurring any extra cost, barring some having some kind of phone handset (and you can usually hire these) and at the same low fixed per-user cost. You will always know what you are paying.
Management and control is another major benefit of using cloud-based telephony. You will be able to monitor activity and get detailed reports on calls made and received by individuals and teams. This can be really useful in gauging how much time (and thereby cost) is being expended on particular clients or projects, and assessing productivity and performance.
If you have a CRM (customer relationship management) system, you should be able to integrate it with the voice system, so staff can have customer details appear on screen as soon as the call comes in, and call patterns can be set.
Then there’s the almost endless list of features that you get with cloud-based voice. These will include everything from auto-attendant, hold audio or music, call forwarding, voicemail, group calling and hunting, teleconferencing, call recording and more. Most cloud-based B2B voice services offer a very wide range of options and while they may cost more, most are available as part of the different packages on offer. As ever, what you chose will depend on your own particular needs – and you should be able to get all the advice you need from your trusted supplier partner.
But just to reiterate the point; switching to a cloud-based phone system is definitely worth it.