By Jessica Day
Everyone seems to have been talking about cloud phone systems lately, so what gives?
If that’s a question you’ve asked yourself, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to show you why people are so excited about cloud phone systems, and why you should be joining them.
Before we can get into the benefits and features of cloud phone systems, though, we’ve got to establish some basics. That’s why we’re going to ease you in with a definition, followed by a quick explanation of how cloud phone systems work. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
What is a cloud phone system?
In the simplest terms, a cloud phone system is a type of communications platform that lets users connect with others via the internet.
Cloud phone systems can do anything their traditional counterparts can, and then some. For example, you can use them to hold audio conferences, place international calls, and manage business communications.
There are two main differences between cloud and traditional phone systems.
Firstly, cloud systems rely on routing calls using the internet, while legacy systems use phone lines and cellular connections. Secondly, traditional phone systems rely on hardware to work properly where cloud phone systems can be used regardless of hardware.
How do cloud phone systems work?
Cloud-based systems rely on VoIP (voice over internet protocol) technology. This essentially works by converting your vocal input into data packets, then sending those packets to the other person or people you’re speaking to. The packets are sent via the internet.
As it turns out, VoIP is changing the telecom industry thanks in no small part to how useful it is. VoIP makes it easy to connect to anyone in the world, and can be used from anywhere – the only thing you need to place VoIP calls is an internet connection.
It’s no surprise, then, that the VoIP market is estimated to get close to $200 billion in the next few years:
What are the top benefits of cloud phone systems?
Now that we’ve seen how cloud phone systems work, it’s time to consider what makes them so great.
Below are some of the most notable benefits that come with using cloud phone systems. There are plenty of others, of course – these are just the ones with the biggest impact.
We’ve mentioned that cloud phone systems don’t rely on hardware. That fact helps with more than just avoiding more tangled cables in the office – it comes with a high degree of scalability.
After all, adding new members to your teams becomes a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about getting the right bits of hardware for them. With a cloud phone system, you can get them started using any device, and you don’t need to buy any extra bits of equipment first.
Whether you’re looking to expand one team or implement 24/7 customer service in your contact centers, cloud phone systems will make the process easier for you.
It’s very frustrating when you’ve set your sights on a particular piece of equipment, only to find out that it won’t work with the tech you’re using.
Cloud phone systems avoid that issue altogether.
Whether you’re using a brand-new softphone, or a mobile phone you’ve owned for years, cloud phone technology will work with your gear. All you need to be able to do is download your chosen provider’s app, and you’ll have access to your cloud phone system right away.
When you’ve got a traditional phone system installed in your office, there will always be some degree of equipment involved – and equipment can break. That means you’ve got to cover the equipment maintenance, as well as pay for any repairs or replacements.
Cloud phone systems, on the other hand, don’t require nearly as much maintenance.
Almost all of the time, choosing a cloud phone system provider also means choosing the company that’s going to handle your phone system maintenance. On your end, there’s no real maintenance to be done, except to your own devices.
While the cost of cloud phone systems can vary depending on which provider you’re using, cloud phone systems generally come with fewer fees attached than their more traditional counterparts.
For example, using VoIP calling saves you money on international calls, local call bills, and general phone bills:
It also helps that cloud-based phone technology doesn’t come with an upfront installation fee. That’s because there’s no physical hardware to install or set up, so you get to save money on that count.
Your cloud phone system can be adapted and customized to suit your business needs, particularly if you’re using it as a unified communications platform (more on these later).
Basically, they’re highly flexible solutions that help you achieve your goals.
Looking to increase traffic and sales for your ecommerce store, for example? Use a cloud phone system that comes with built-in customer relationship improvement software so you can encourage people to visit your site and make purchases.
What are the features of the best cloud phone systems?
It’s time to consider the kinds of features you should look for when you’re choosing your own cloud phone system. While each business has its own needs and priorities, these are some particularly useful features anyone can benefit from using.
Enhanced calling functionalities
Being able to place a phone call is all well and good, but what about the times when you’re hoping to do more than that?
Your cloud phone system should help you handle any workflows related to making calls.
That includes helpful assistant-like features such as a call transcription service, an automated meeting note-taking AI, and a fully automatic call logging system.
In other words, the best cloud phone systems need to be able to support you and your business needs properly when you make calls. If you’re running a contact center, your phone system should support lots of simultaneous calls, for example. If you’re going to be in lots of audio meetings, your system should let you clearly hear every speaker that’s in the call, and so on.
This is one of the best ways to take your phone system to the next level. Instead of having one tool to place calls, another to send emails, yet another to video call, and so forth, UCaaS (unified communications as a service) brings all your communications channels together into one platform.
In short, it’s a single tool that covers all your telecommunication needs.
It’s a more streamlined way to connect with others. It’s also more cost-effective, since one solution covers all your needs. That’s why UCaaS is getting more popular all the time:
Functionalities to help with your daily workflows
This one is going to have a lot of variety depending on what you do during your average work day.
If you need to have tools to help your team figure out how to measure ROI on content marketing, for example, then those should ideally be integrated into the communications platform you’re using to do that measuring.
Essentially, you’ll want to choose a system that’s well-tailored to fit your business needs, and a major part of that is providing appropriate functionalities. A multinational company might need features to help with asynchronous teamwork, for example.
Unlimited calling plans
For companies with tight budgets, paying for calls by the number of minutes spent phoning others can work out to be cheaper. That’s just not the case for any medium or large sized businesses though – which is why unlimited plans are a great feature to look for.
Having your minutes pre-paid each month thanks to an unlimited plan is kinder to your budget when you make a lot of calls. That’s especially true for companies with contact centers, or ones with sites in various different countries that often need to work together.
An important part of relying on cloud-based technology is keeping your cloud secure. Your phone system should protect you from common cloud security threats like identity theft, financial fraud, and unauthorized account access, among others:
A cloud phone system that protects you from these kinds of scams is a good system.
Lastly, you’ll want to look for any add-ons and extras that work for your specific needs.
For example, let’s say you need a specific note-taking functionality. You might consider cloud phone system providers that offer otter alternatives, especially if those alternatives come in the form of a built-in solution or integration.
Cloud phone systems are what you make them.
No, really. They can serve as little more than the thing you use to place calls, or you can use them to their maximum potential and reap all the associated benefits.
In the end, what makes a cloud phone system worth the hype is when it’s able to give you exactly what you need. Are you hoping to convert more of your customers to Shopify plus users so they’ll spend more time and money in your ecommerce store? Then your cloud phone system should help you do just that, and so on.
When your cloud phone system becomes a crucial part of your business strategies rather than just a device you use to call people, you’ll probably be tempted to join the people hyping these phone systems up.
About the Author
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. She has written for Zumvu and eHotelier.