For small and medium-sized companies, being able to communicate smoothly with suppliers, other business partners and customers is vital. Intercommunication between different employees and departments is also obviously crucial. For SMEs, the combination of phone calls, e-mails and apps is often overwhelming, especially when employees also work from home.
A traditional telephony infrastructure with a physical PBX and fixed phones is becoming less and less relevant. Most companies these days opt for hosted telephony. And they have good reason to do so. After all, they are much more flexible and cost-efficient.
What is telephony in the cloud?
A telephone exchange in the cloud is a complete business telephony solution that runs entirely over the internet. This is also called VoIP calling, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. A bit like the apps on your smartphone. It is essentially telephony as a service and not as a product. All functions are accessible and easy to set up via the internet.
Because it is a service, it is often offered by a VoIP provider for an attractive, monthly flat rate, including numerous useful features.
What are the possibilities of cloud telephony for SMEs?
The fact that everything runs in the cloud opens up an infinite world of possibilities, previously inaccessible to SMEs.
A PBX that only works in one location is out of date. Today, employees need to be able to call, video chat, email and app from anywhere and from different devices.
The main feature of cloud telephony, and thus at the same time its main advantage, is that the system works using apps compatible with mobile phones, computers and tablets. All one has to do to make calls is install the application, and have an internet connection.
In times when working from home has become a fixture, flexible accessibility has simply become indispensable.
Everything clear in one online portal
Another advantage of a VoIP PBX is that all aspects can be managed from one online dashboard with just a few mouse clicks. So one is no longer dependent on the phone provider or a technician to change certain options. Think of adding new users, changing settings, automatic call forwarding, changing end destinations, changing permissions, and so on. This way, a business owner has full control over business telephony himself.
Intelligent call forwarding
If you work with several employees, it is a tough job to efficiently transfer all those incoming calls to the right person. For that, you either have to employ a full-time receptionist or buy an expensive, physical telephone exchange. With modern telephony in the cloud, that problem, too, is gone.
Thanks to an IVR or Interactive Voice Response system, you can set up your own intelligent call forwarding menu in no time. An IVR system is the beating heart of a telephone system in the cloud. It welcomes callers and transfers them to the authorised persons within your organisation. Forwarding can be based on a traditional dial menu or even automatically based on data from the incoming call, such as the number called or calling, date and time of day.
It gets even better if you know that you can also forward calls based on your employees’ availability schedule. Calls are then simply transferred to the staff members available at that time.
Digital voicemail is a real gamechanger for businesses that have to handle a lot of customer calls. It automatically transcribes the recorded messages into a text message and then sends it by e-mail to the employee concerned. Listening to it can also be done simply via the PBX app. So no hassle with dialing in and codes to listen to voice messages. Employees receive the messages in their mailbox and can immediately start answering questions and assisting customers.
Virtual call centre
And if you combine these advantages and functions of cloud telephony, as an SME you have a real virtual call centre at your disposal. Every call is important, and with smart selection menus, intelligent call forwarding and easy modification of end destinations, every call goes straight to the right person.
Customised cloud telephony for your small or medium-sized business
There is also a wide choice of online business telephony providers in the Netherlands and Belgium. However, it is not always easy to choose the best solution for your small or medium-sized business. Specifically for self-employed, small and medium-sized companies, there are some important points to consider:
– User-friendly? An online phone system should make communication easier and actually be able to work on autopilot after installation on a plug-and-call basis.
– All-in-one solution? What is included in the package offered? Online calling, online interface, smart dialling menu, free fair-use calls, intelligent call forwarding, digital voicemail, and so on.
– Hardphone included? Is a business phone (hardphone) with all the bells and whistles included in the package or do you have to buy this from a third party?
– Compatibility? Can all my employees install the app unlimitedly on their favourite devices (Android as well as iPhone) using a QR code?
Easy-to-remember phone numbers
It is basically possible to register and manage all business phone number variants through a modern PBX.
Broadly speaking, there are 3 options.
– Local numbers
This way one can benefit from the best of both worlds: a professional business landline number with the flexibility of a smartphone. An obstacle that many entrepreneurs have struggled with for some time, after all, an mobile number comes across a lot less professional on a business card.
– National numbers
Especially among webshops and ICT companies, applying for a national number enjoys popularity. A toll-free number is cost-free for callers and therefore enjoys a positive image.
– Foreign numbers
An international phone number is also one of the options, e.g. German phone numbers, Belgian, Spanish, French, UK phone numbers and American numbers. In these countries, too, a distinction can be made between local telephone numbers, e.g. a London 204 number, or a national UK 030 number, or a 0808 number cost-free for callers from the UK.
Telephony in the cloud is the future and that future is now
Hosted VoIP gives you more flexibility, more control and lower costs, which is always nice for small and medium-sized enterprises. This allows you as a business leader to focus on growing your business and increasing customer satisfaction. And precisely because it is so straightforward and efficient, you don’t need to have any special expertise, training or hire specialised people to use all those handy gadgets.
As an entrepreneur, you get enough on your plate anyway. The last thing you want is to break your head over the intricate details of a telephone system. In short, business cloud calling offers everything small businesses need to thrive in an increasingly competitive and fast-changing business world.