A reliable, secure, and feature-rich phone system is paramount, whether you operate a large enterprise, mid-market organization, small business or nonprofit. This ensures effective internal and external communications, while streamlining daily business activities.
As more and more companies recognize the need to transition toward remote workforces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a properly designed communication system in place is critical.
Consider a cloud-based phone system for interconnectivity that’s reliable, secure, cost-effective, and easy to use. Also known as a hosted private branch exchange (PBX), it’s designed with a mobile workforce in mind.
Below, we’ll discuss this technology’s advantages, benefits, work-from-home tools, and more.
You’ll still receive all the features of a traditional phone system, and much more, such as visual voicemail and auto-attendant technologies.
This frees IT departments from spending extra time on installations and adding/removing phone lines.
Whether you’re maintaining communication systems in-house or working with an outside provider, cloud-based phones can help with limited budgets, mobility, bring your own device (BYOD) and work-from-home policies, scalability, and more.
1. Work-From-Home Tools
Cloud-based phone systems feature the following tools and capabilities—all of which are beneficial for work-from-home employees:
- Auto Attendant: This virtual assistant welcomes callers with a detailed menu and reroutes calls.
- Find-Me/Follow-Me: The former routes incoming calls to a specified location, while the latter sends them to any designated phone, to ring simultaneously or in a specified sequence.
- Caller ID: Especially critical for BYOD users, the company’s phone number appears, rather than the personal cell or home numbers of employees.
- Call Queuing: This automatically queues-up callers in the event the number of incoming calls exceeds the number of employees that are available. Nice messages can be played, and some, more advanced systems even offer a choice to “keep your place in line and get a call back when it is your turn.”
- Call Recording: Capture crystal-clear audio for documenting important details or sharing with the team. This is also good for new employee training (learning from more experienced team members).
- Voicemail Forwarding & Access: Designate messages for other team members, and translate voicemails to voice or email.
Prior to COVID-19, most BYOD users were referred to as mobile workers or road warriors. Now, with social distancing mandates, this is used just as much by work-from-home employees (and sometimes an entire staff)!
A cloud-based phone system easily supports mobility and BYOD measures for these new setups. Consider the following features:
- Desktop & Softphone App: This emulates a traditional handset on any desktop or laptop.
- Mobile Device App: Employees stay connected, regardless of location. They can answer calls and messages without having to provide a personal phone number and/or email address.
- Web-Based Switchboard: Many system features should be viewable and changeable on an easy to use, intuitive web-based “switchboard” app and/or user/manager portal.
The final cost of a cloud-based system depends on design, implementation, and a needs-based subscription package. Most services should offer an “All-you-can-eat” usage plan that includes unlimited support, to prevent unexpected spikes in monthly charges. Predictability should be the new normal.
If issues do arise, it's best to work with a provider offering service level agreements (SLAs). This ensures quick emergency and non-emergency response times.
Most services should offer an “All-you-can-eat” usage plan that includes unlimited support, to prevent unexpected spikes in monthly charges. Predictability should be the new normal.
High quality cloud-based solutions (video conferencing, phone calls, etc.) include significant security to eliminate call bombing, hacking, intercepted calls, and other threats. Consider protective measures such as network security, data encryption, and other audio and video security components.
There’s also the physical security of hosted solutions. Network access is controlled with trusted connections—and physical access has the same level of security entrusted by large organizations such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Oracle.
A cloud platform provides added flexibility, functionality, and versatility. Scaling up or down is easy, convenient, and cost-effective, mostly because there is no equipment in the closet. This is one of the biggest benefits in moving to the cloud.
This is helpful for organizations experiencing greater call volumes at specific times, such as academic institutions, contact centers, automotive dealerships and other seasonally-busy organizations.
All-Encompassing Cloud Communications
Whether your organization has expanded its remote workforce, or requires a more streamlined, cloud-based phone system, it’s best to consult an experienced provider for viable options and best practices.