Ever wondered if your business phone system is due for an overhaul? Look out for these tell-tale signs.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a business owner who claims they have enough time on their hands.
Day-to-day running takes up so much time and energy, let alone dealing with resource management, sales, marketing, and product development. So when systems work, it can be tempting to leave them exactly as they are.
This is hardly surprising: processes take time to establish, so as companies grow and face ever-changing challenges it’s easy to settle into a routine. But without looking to the future, businesses fail to prepare for changes coming their way or to identify opportunities to get a foot in front of the competition.
Your business phone system is no different. If you stay hooked to a traditional phone setup for too long, it could do more harm than good. Every business deserves a modern phone solution that will help it interact with customers easily and effortlessly. Such a phone system will also help the business deliver better customer experiences.
If you are wondering if a business phone system is still relevant today, be informed that they are more important today than ever before.
According to CCW Digital, 64% of businesses believe customers should always have the option to talk to an agent, and 60% of companies say that phone systems and live agents are their most urgent investment priorities.
Clearly, phone systems are integral to business communications. Making sure they’re working effectively for you – and not costing a fortune – might just be one of the biggest decisions you have to make.
After all, any good business is built on communication between customers, prospects, and colleagues. And with Digium finding that businesses using unified communications save an average of 191 hours a day and 49,660 hours a year, it’s clear that there’s plenty to be gained.
But how can you tell when it’s time to upgrade?
We’re going to break down our top 10 tell-tale signs that you need to start thinking about a new business phone system, whether a minor upgrade or wholesale replacement of your current office phone setup. Let’s get started.
What is a business phone? How does it differ from a domestic system?
A business phone is a system designed specifically for commercial use and can come in many different forms. At heart, the systems are built to deal with the specific needs of businesses: high call volumes especially at peak times, numerous employees working on the same network, and the need for a reliable and stable connection.
The working of a business phone line
Traditional phones use a Private Branch Exchange (PBX), which essentially acts as a miniature telephone exchange, connecting different extensions to calls to the outside world. These ‘landline’ or ‘on-premise’ setups use copper cabling, central server systems, and hard-wired Primary Rate Interface (PRI) lines to connect to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
Today, most remaining PBXs are in fact Private Automatic Branch Exchanges (PABXs). The automated part essentially means that calls are connected between extensions automatically, usually using Interactive Voice Response (IVR), without the need for a receptionist or switchboard operator.
However, traditional PBX hardware is slowly being phased out and replaced with virtual telephony systems that take advantage of SaaS applications.
The shift to VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
Understandably, many businesses are adopting more advanced telephony technologies, which take advantage of the remarkable bandwidth available over a broadband internet connection. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was the first technology that allowed for audio communication over a data connection and has since been supplemented by the likes of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and other technologies.
In essence, these technologies allow business phones to be far more flexible, scalable, and reliable than traditional infrastructure and open up wide new possibilities for omnichannel support, such as web chat, email, video conferencing, and social media messaging.
Even a small business phone can be used for:
- Making sales calls to prospective customers, both nationally and internationally
- Running a call center, such as a support line for customers
- Providing a first-class service to your customers, increasing retention and loyalty, and helping you stay ahead of the competition
- Connecting employees working remotely, so that they can collaborate on projects and work together seamlessly
- Operating a remote office in any number of locations in countries all around the world, increasing your presence and access to international markets
Plus, with the advanced functionality made possible by modern VoIP phone systems, a small business phone service can become an omnichannel tool used for even more:
- Video conferencing across timezones and international borders
- Social media messaging as customers seek more diverse ways of communicating
- Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) allowing your phone system to speak to other software, such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
- Allocating calls based on automated filters thanks to call forwarding
- Instant chat at the point of sale or to provide customer service
- Allowing employees to connect to the phone system, voicemail, and your database remotely via any internet-connected computer or mobile device
- Unlimited calling
10 tell-tale signs that it is time to change your business phone system
Now that we know what modern small business phone systems can offer your business, it is necessary to check whether your current traditional phone setup is due for replacement. There are specific signs that indicate that it is time to switch to a VoIP-based virtual phone system.
Sign #1: You’re still managing phone calls manually
Do you have a switch operator or virtual receptionist manually orchestrating call routing to relevant members of your team? This might have made sense twenty years ago, but today with call centers constantly busy with customer support calls and callers’ expectations becoming ever more demanding, it might well be time to consider an upgrade.
According to American Express, 75% of consumers believe that phone calls will help them get a quicker response from businesses, and in an increasingly crowded marketplace, good customer service might just be the only way of standing out.
This makes it necessary to have an intelligent phone system that can take care of automatic call routing ensuring that callers end up with the right number or extension based on preset filters. This can improve customer support efficiency by getting customers to the relevant employee faster and maximizing the chance of their issue being resolved in the first contact.
Sign #2: You’re still reliant on “experts” or “technicians” for maintaining your phone system
On-premise business phone systems that come with desk phones put the maintenance responsibility on your shoulders, with repairs only possible on site. That puts you at the mercy of visits by technicians for restoring up-time, potentially leaving you with incapacitated communications for an extended period when things go wrong.
Cloud-based telephony is highly customizable and you’re in control of your system, so you can cut your overheads and rest easy knowing your communications are secure.
Sign #3: It takes a long time to add, edit, or remove phone numbers
Bringing new members of staff onto the team should be as seamless as possible, but with legacy phone systems adding phone lines to the network is nothing short of a hassle. If you find you’re having to manually update the extension numbers, the custom greeting, voicemail, IVR menus, and so on, each time, it’s time to consider an upgrade. Cloud-based business phones have their data stored centrally in a cloud server, so making changes takes mere moments.
Whether your business is growing, adapting, or if your staffing fluctuates seasonally, the flexibility of a modern system is clearly worth having.
Sign #4: You cannot forecast the costs for a specific period
On-premise phone systems make financial forecasting tricky. Not only do you need to spread the high initial investment across your whole period of use, but pricing can vary wildly depending on usage, repair work, and the costs of any staff needed to oversee or operate the system.
Cloud-based business phone service providers offer straightforward subscription pricing models, so you can easily predict your billing over a specific period, and dial up or down your package to match your needs. Upgrading can save you money, stress, and time spent calculating your costs.
Sign #5: It lacks advanced telephony features (such as)
By advanced telephony features, we are referring to automatic call routing, skill-based call routing, auto-attendant, call transfers, call waiting, call conferencing, sending text messages through SMS, and so on.
If you find your employees spending obnoxious time in call transfers, your business isn’t operating nearly as efficiently as it could. Advanced features answer calls automatically, and make sure they’re sent to the right member of staff. Not only does that save your agents time from answering calls they can’t resolve, but it also drastically improves your customer service provision.
After all, a phone system must make your staff’s lives easier. It should fit itself around your business needs and not force employees to change their ways to its working.
Sign #6: You don’t know how effective your customer service is
We’ve already seen just how important customer service is today, with the growth of competition giving consumers more and more choice. As with anything, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it, so you need a phone system that tells you what’s going right, and what’s going wrong.
Cloud-based telephony offers advanced analytics that lets you identify efficiency savings, best practices, and other tangible improvements you can make to your service provision. Also, it can give collect CSAT ratings from callers once the call concludes. The ratings can then be compiled for further analysis.
Sign #7: You are moving towards a remote working model
Supercharged by the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more companies are moving to a remote working model, whether in a full-time or a hybrid setup. That might mean employees working from home, from dispersed locations, or from a few offices that are geographically scattered. In the most extreme cases, businesses are building global workforces, taking advantage of advanced tools to keep teams connected and collaborating.
Traditional on-premise small business phone systems simply aren’t cut out for these kinds of operations. Cloud-based ‘softphones’ can be used equally effectively anywhere in the world with an internet connection, ensuring staff can be as productive out of the office as they are in it.
Sign #8: Your repair work or downtime is becoming more frequent
Like with any infrastructure, on-premise PBXs age. The copper cabling and network carrier connections can be damaged, server equipment can fail, and hardware can break down. As they get older, that means you’ll be investing more and more time and money in repairing and replacing equipment, which can also mean expensive downtime for your business.
A cloud-based telecommunications system is based entirely on a remote server, and redundancy is built in at the server end. That means zero maintenance expenditure for you and secure up-time, allowing your business to run smoothly and productively without any unexpected bills coming your way.
Sign #9: You’re opening a new office or working with an international workforce
If you’re expanding your business to a new location, installing a brand-new PBX is an expensive undertaking. A full installation requires expert labor and a completely new network, which can take time and cost more than you might think.
On the other hand, cloud communications are simply installed over the internet, so once your broadband connection is established your business phone system can be put online almost immediately. And with subscription-based pricing, there’s no need to make a long-term commitment or to build in capacity for future growth up-front. Instead, simply flex your plan to suit you.
Sign #10: New staff are struggling to get to grips with your systems
As businesses become increasingly complex, so do the tools your staff need. For many companies, this means working across numerous platforms and systems that don’t talk to each other. That means your employees will waste a lot of time moving between platforms, and it makes training new staff a laborious process.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) bring all your systems together in one place, drastically increasing staff efficiency and cutting down the time it takes to get new employees up to speed.
Why choose Freshcaller as your business phone system
A quick search for business phone systems will give you at least 53 top phone systems, including suggestions from Amazon for telephone devices. Well, choosing one from that list is a time-consuming affair.
If ease-of-use, affordability, and reliability rank high on your priorities in selecting a phone system, then Freshcaller should be your choice. Freshcaller is a cloud-based business phone system that is engineered specifically for businesses of all sizes to simplify their telephony operations.
Here are some reasons that make Freshcaller a worthwhile choice:
As a cloud-based phone system, Freshcaller requires minimal installation time. The installation process is also akin to setting up an email id. The only additional tasks would be configuring call flows, custom greetings, voicemail, IVR menus, etc. all of which require no technical expertise or technician intervention. With an intuitive interface, Freshcaller ensures that your business telephony setup can be handled on your own at zero additional costs.
Freshcaller is designed to help users — call center agents and admins augment their productivity. It requires minimal training since the interface and the application are designed knowing how these users use and configure a phone system. Even for new recruits, the learning curve would be short ensuring that your staff can hit the ground running and taking calls in quick time.
One of the USPs of cloud applications, especially SaaS applications is that the costs can be forecast with certainty. Freshcaller follows suit and helps take the guesswork out of pricing. The licenses costs and the phone credits are well-defined ensuring that you can easily calculate your monthly or periodical costs with certainty.
Want to add more numbers or agents while keeping the system running? Or want to port your existing numbers to Freshcaller without losing them? How about continuing with the same carrier while replacing your on-premise PBX with a cloud one? Consider all of that as done easily with Freshcaller.
Your business phone system should scale in capacity and capabilities along with your business growth. Be it adding phone numbers across countries or adding more agents to your call center, it should take on every demand with relative ease. Freshcaller does that efficiently thanks to its cloud-based architecture that is easy to scale at any given point in time.
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