Considerations for Selecting a Cloud Phone System for Your Business
As a business owner, you know how critical it is to have a reliable phone system for your business. However, choosing a new system can be overwhelming because there are so many options on the market.
Transitioning from and upgrading an on-premise business phone system to a cloud phone system (VoIP) can be exactly what you need to take your operations to the next level. Given the growing remote workforce, it is more vital than ever to select a business phone system that includes a wide range of valuable calling, collaboration and mobile tools that your employees can use whether they’re in the office or working from home. However, not all cloud phone systems are created equal, and providers offer a wide variety of options and services that can confuse even the most tech-savvy of individuals.
Here we’ll cover what to consider when choosing a cloud business phone system. This guide is adapted from the Selecting Your Next Business Phone System webinar, hosted by Kite Technology—view the entire video here.
Why Get a New Cloud Phone System?
Many established organizations have had their same phone system for years. These systems are reliable and can work for a long time—maybe too long. Because the phone keeps ringing, many will take the approach of, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But our work has changed. There are three main reasons why a new phone system can help accelerate your business operations:
- New tools require new integrations: Microsoft 365, Zoom, Google Teams, Slack, and all the other common tools used regularly in the office should be seamlessly integrated into a cloud phone system for optimal results.
- Employees need (and want!) flexibility: The rise of remote work and offshore teams means employees need a more flexible phone system to complete their work.
- Customer demands: Despite the importance of a phone system, calling is not all that important for many customers. They’re expecting live-chat services, texting, or other ways to connect with the company in addition to phone calls.
These factors mean that most companies need to upgrade their system to meet modern work demands.
Phone Systems 101
Before diving into what exactly to look for, let’s review the three essential pieces of a phone system. The anatomy of any phone systems is made of three parts:
- System (PBX or Private Branch Exchange): This refers to the “brain” of the phone that allows calls to be made on the network. It can be a physical system, a hosted service (i.e., public or private cloud service), or an on-demand “as-a-service” system.
- Endpoints: This used to be a physical handset on a desk or conference room phone, but now includes anything to receive calls. Common endpoints today include softphones that operate on Windows or Mac operating systems, and mobile apps that operate on iOS or Android.
- Dial tone: This is what connects you to your system. Old analog technology was only available on-premises and operated as a pay-per-line system. Today we use either PRI (Primary Rate Interface) circuit or SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) as flexible connection methods.
The main reason to understand these three parts of a phone system is to know how much variety there can be between options.
Key VoIP Phone System Features
Not all cloud phone systems are made equal. They differ significantly in their features and capabilities, so you need to know what’s important for your business and team. Here are some features to consider:
Flexibility is so important in today’s modern work environment. Phone systems come in a few different formats:
- Hot desk or hoteling gives you the ability to walk up to any physical phone in an office space, put in a code, and have it be your personal line for the day.
- Mobile apps are the ultimate flexibility and can be installed on any mobile phone.
- Omni channel messaging allows for different types of communications, including SMS and MMS.
- Remote handsets allow employees to take calls without being tied to a physical phone.
- Brower control lets you access a VoIP phone system from a web browser, which is more flexible than a specifically installed app.
With a remote or offshore team, visibility is important. Some things to think about:
- Presence: Who’s available? Who’s on do-not-disturb? Who’s away from the phone?
- Reporting and analytics: How many staff are available? How is the connection? How long is each call?
- Receptionist console or switchboard: How will phone-call triage work?
Phones aren’t just single person to single person anymore. VoIP phone systems need to manage one-to-many communications such as intercom, overhead paging, call queues, and faxing.
Quality and security
High-quality and secure cloud phone systems are a must today. A few features to consider are:
- Call recording: Here, you need to know state recording laws and may need to train people and say if they’re on a recorded channel.
- Secure SIP: This is an encrypted channel.
- Session border controllers: This is for a physical phone system to ensure multiple units are operating correctly.
How to Choose a New Cloud Phone System?
When choosing a new VoIP phone system, you need to think beyond a simple phone call but at a holistic communication strategy. Here’s how to choose one:
Evaluate your starting point
Know where you are starting by analyzing your current technology, processes, and channels. Here are some questions to ask:
- What type of in-office technology do you have?e., CAT3 vs. CAT5 cabling, power over ethernet connections. Connect with your IT department to understand current capabilities.
- What do your team members have at home to work with?
- Who answers calls in your organization? Is your system easy to use from a client perspective?
- What are your communication channels? Do you also use SMS, web chat, or Facebook Messenger? How do they integrate?
Determine where you need to go
After getting a really clear idea on your current capabilities and starting point, you can begin to think about where you want to go in the future. There are some trends you need to plan for:
- Remote work: How to people interact with each other? Consider how a strong, streamlined communication system will help mitigate loneliness and trouble collaborating.
- Office and home-office upgrades: Think about technological improvements that are needed in your physical space, including routers, cabling, Internet bandwidth, and more.
- Security: With people at home, you’ll need to boost security by ensuring there’s a secure SIP and you’re able to report and record calls.
- Omnichannel: This refers to the integration of multiple platforms, so that customers can access you anywhere and employees have full visibility of all communications.
Plan for a change
By now, you should know the type of system that will best suit your needs. As your implementing the change, be aware of two last barriers to adoption:
- Pricing: Your choices may be constrained by budget. Consider if you’re going to lease or own a system, and what pricing model it’s billed as (per user/extension, per concurrent call, or in minute blocks).
- Learning it: It’s hard to make changes, but it’s necessary. Start by identifying people who “get it” and will be champions of change. Then, implement a careful and thoughtful training program to get everyone on board. Videos and cheat sheets go a long way, too!
Choosing a new VoIP phone system is a challenging but necessary, undertaking. You can purchase a new phone system on your own, or you can use strategic IT support services to help make the best decision. Connecting with an IT partner to help you plan and implement your system is vital to a successful transition and adoption. Learn more about our Managed Cloud (VoIP) Phone Solutions today. You can also check out the recorded webinar for more in-depth details on how to choose a VoIP phone system or visit our YouTube channel to check out our other helpful videos.
Kite Technology is committed to helping businesses across the country with their IT needs. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how we can help you leverage technology for greater business success.