Your Complete Guide to Cloud Phone Systems
What cloud phones, PBX, and VoIP mean for your business
Phones have come a long way from the shared lines of generations past. Today, callers expect clear communications on a simple calling platform. And for customers, the ease of reaching the right person can determine which company they want to do business with. In an increasingly fast-paced world, a business’ phone service needs to keep up with customer expectations.
So what should you expect from your phone company? High quality calls, superior support when you need it, and features that make your customer calls simple and efficient. That’s why it may be time for you to cut the landline and switch to a cloud-based phone services, also known as Business VoIP.
We’ll break down the benefits of VoIP calling and then explain the differences between VoIP, cloud phone systems, and PBX so you know what to look for when you’re shopping for a new phone provider. You’ll learn:
What is VoIP?
Your IP address is how your devices are connected to the Internet. With VoIP, your phone makes calls through your Internet provider rather than a copper landline. Just like the switch from television antennas to streaming television resulted in better quality picture and features like on-demand viewing across multiple devices, switching to VoIP gives businesses access to several perks.
Here are 5 benefits of a VoIP phone system:
VoIP vs. Cloud Phones vs. PBX: What’s the Difference?
If you’ve been researching phone systems, then you might start seeing a lot of different terms to refer to online phone systems. In general, VoIP, PBX, and cloud phone systems are all referring to phones that make calls through the internet. All three terms still exist as it’s still an evolving industry, but most businesses do not need to know the nuances between each one.
Overall, the term “cloud” refers to data storage that can be accessed from any internet access point. For instance, cloud phones allow you to access voicemail from any internet-connected device, not just the one phone with the number assigned to it through a landline. Meanwhile, VoIP services usually include hardware – a physical phone – to access the full feature set. Cloud phone systems may be able to make calls over cell phones, tablets, computers, or any other device without needing a desk phone at all. Most VoIP providers offer calling through internet connected devices, making these interchangeable.
Finally, businesses usually use PBX phone systems – but these, too, are now integrated into VoIP and cloud systems. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange which means that it is a private phone network. If you’re in an office and can pick up a phone and just dial a 3-digit extension without having to dial a full number, that’s because you’re on a PBX. PBX systems enable internal calling and are combined with VoIP for external calling.
Increasingly, companies are relying on cloud phone features to be integrated into their PBX phone systems. If you want to monitor how phone calls are being handled or record calls for training purposes, then you’re using cloud features along with your PBX.
These features are likely all bundled into one cohesive phone system from your telecommunications provider. By bringing them all together into one business phone system, you get access to all the features you need while still getting to use simple hardware.
How to Choose the Right Business Phone Solutions
Your phones are one of the most important building blocks of your business. From prospective buyers to loyal customers, the experience that people get when calling your company can affect their overall satisfaction. Plus, with more efficient phone systems, your employees can work smarter and give you access to data you need. Here’s what you need to do to choose the best provider for your business.
1. Identify Your Options
Choose 3-5 companies to research. Don’t go with the first one you talk to or the one who just happened to mail you a postcard without more digging. Your phone system is an investment, and you should take the time to let each company explain to you why they’re a better fit.
2. Do Your Research
There is a wealth of information on the internet from other consumers. Check out review websites like Capterra or simply Google search for each company’s name to see their Google reviews. If you see recurring issues, take note and address these concerns with their respective company. Ask other business owners you know about which providers they use and what issues they’ve run into.
3. Interview the Companies
While this can seem tedious, hop on a sales call with each company. Tell them which other services you’re researching so that they can identify the differences between the competition for you. Ask about their service, support, and installation. Push to find out the closest estimate they can to what you’ll actually be paying. Do features that you need cost more? Will they charge you for installation or service calls? Take notes so you can refer to them later.
4. Compare Providers
Once you’ve compiled all your research, review what you’ve found. Are you concerned after seeing a number of 1- and 2-star reviews online? Did you find people complaining that it’s hard to get support? Are there any standouts that don’t have any red flags? If you uncovered any features that one provider offered that you are interested in, check back with earlier ones to see if they can compete.
5. Make Your Choice
Remember that phones are the lifeblood of your business. Your employees will use them every day to help customers, take payments, and acquire new customers. Choose the system that you think will best serve your business with the ability to grow alongside you. If you’re still feeling unsure, choose a provider that offers month-to-month payments without contracts so that you’re not locked into a commitment. Hopefully, you won’t need to switch again.
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