Years back, businesses communicated vital information using telephony systems, a system built on top of Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), a dedicated network of wires and switches. In addition, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows for communication over the internet.
These two are called internet-based telephony systems. With cloud-based hosting services, businesses can now combine cloud-hosted phone systems with internet-based telephony services. This integrated service results in a cloud-based phone system. With cloud hosted phone systems, communicating over VoIP is vastly improved.
What Is a Cloud Hosted Phone System?
Before the advent of cloud-based phone systems, telecommunications in most businesses were often with phones and desktops. For example, companies sometimes reserve unique chat rooms to deal with customer complaints or service other consumer needs.
In addition, using our smartphones and other telephone gadgets now makes communication easier. However, these still require on-site communication software and hardware to function optimally. The evolution of cloud-based technology eliminates the need for all these requirements. So what is cloud-based hosting?
Imagine a centralized space in the cloud, utterly virtualized, that hosts all your business data and communication information. This virtualization phenomenon differentiates a cloud-based hosting service from a traditional one.
Cloud service providers like Amazon Web Service(AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are three of the most common cloud service providers. These service providers have various service offerings making businesses adopt these cloud-based solutions.
In addition, following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with employers shifting towards remote work, more companies are embracing cloud-based phone systems.
How Does the Cloud Hosting System Work?
Phones, VoIP adapters, computers, smartphones, etc., are some ways businesses’ cloud-based phone systems make calls. Each of these methods works differently.
Adapters require you to plug into the phone outlet in the wall or via your router. Computers/desktops use software applications like Skype, Zoom, etc., to transmit voice and video messages between individuals.
Let’s walk through a simple phone call made through a cloud-hosted phone system. Firstly, cloud-based phone systems break up voice calls into smaller fragments called packets and then transmit them over the internet to the recipient.
Pros of the Cloud Hosted Phone System
Adopting a cloud-based hosting system has the potential to improve your business significantly. From cutting costs on acquiring hardware to creating communication networks to only paying for what you use, here are some other advantages.
Firstly, the connection is available for use anytime, wherever needed. Furthermore, most cloud service vendors guarantee a service uptime of 99.5 to 99.99% reliability. Also, with most employees now working remotely, this connection is crucial to seamless communication and smooth business day-to-day operations. Finally, the communication network is also available for devices of all types.
Another advantage posed forward by cloud-based phone hosting is the reduced cost of business capital. Businesses spend money acquiring and setting up the communication network for traditional telephony services.
In addition to these service costs, the wait time can be long, thereby costing businesses even more money. Also, traditional hosting on-premise doesn’t easily support scaling up or down on resources.
For example, a new business estimates and acquires a new communication software with 2TeraBytes(2TB) database capacity. However, months down the line, this company may realize it has overestimated its usage capacity. This overestimation means a loss of money because of the unused space. In this case, it cannot return the software, so it keeps losing money.
However, since businesses can readily set up their resources on the cloud for cloud-based systems, the said company can quickly scale down its database size and save costs. In cloud-based hosting, on the other hand, companies only pay for what they use, thereby saving time on unused services as it is subscription-based.
How does this work? Companies set up a plan with cloud vendors, construct services based on their needs, and get things running. If resources do not adequately service business needs, the business can scale up and add more resources.
Another way cloud-based hosting helps save money is in workforce costs. With traditional hosting, transporting and setting up hardware requires a workforce. Cloud hosting requires only a few experienced hands to get things set up and running at a much quicker pace.
A cloud-based hosting system also provides an efficient means of communication to organizations. Communication among businesses and customers is a vital aspect of every business.
Cloud-hosting services allow call forwarding and transmission of voice messages to calls. This service promotes healthy communication between companies and clients, positively impacting profit.
Bringing flexibility to business operations is another advantage of using cloud systems. Businesses can pick what areas to host their data systems with cloud systems. Organizations can choose the country closest to their customers and add other countries when they want to. With cloud systems, businesses have the sole power to make their service theirs.
Cloud-hosting technology supports integration with other valuable tools businesses use for their daily operations. For example, companies can centralize their customers’ contact channels in one location with the cloud-based phone system, making it easier to collaborate with coworkers. This communication could be through voice, video, and conference calls.
In addition, some cloud-based phone systems easily integrate with Customer Relationship Management Software like Hubspot, Zendesk, etc. These integrations allow you to log incoming and outgoing calls from customers and help businesses gather feedback and customer engagement.
When combined with automation tools like Zapier, Hootsuite, etc., integrations like this can improve customer experiences and boost business growth. Most cloud service vendors undertake the security issue of the cloud while leaving security in the cloud to businesses. What does this mean? Cloud service providers ensure that their service and data centers pass security and safety checks to prevent data losses. Other preventive measures include system configuration, security patches, upgrades, etc.
This measure is critical with the alarming amount of scammers and data leaks now present. In the cloud, businesses have to follow security best practices to ensure the safety of their services. Most cloud service providers have guides on building safe and secure cloud hosting systems.
Cons of the Cloud Hosted Phone System
As with all services, each comes with its cons and tradeoffs, and cloud-based services are not an exemption. From occasional downtime to its strong internet connection, here are some cons of the cloud-based phone systems.
Adopting cloud-hosted phone systems means businesses relinquish some control to service providers. This practice means that cloud service providers now have access to manage some aspects of your data to secure it. Cloud service providers may store data on their servers, and since they own these servers, your data isn’t entirely yours.
Cloud-based phone systems need a strong internet connection to carry out their voice and video connections over the internet. This limitation means that the service will not perform optimally in areas where internet coverage is slow.
Additionally, there is the need for high-performance networking equipment like routers and switches to adopt cloud-hosted phone systems. Also, because Wi-Fis don’t work well through walls and may disrupt the connectivity, adding a mesh Wi-Fi network for maximum speed and coverage may help fix this issue.
Another is downtime and low latency. Downtimes refer to periods whereby a service is unavailable to its users. For example, using cloud-based phone systems means your systems are completely in the hands of vendors. When these vendors experience downtimes, which rarely happens, your business service becomes unavailable.
However, cloud service providers often advise businesses to build for failure. Building with the assumption that service may fail at any time prompts companies to create backups ready in case downtimes occur.
Finally, due to the several copies of data made and backed up in servers by cloud service providers, complete erasure of data is hard to achieve. Each cloud-hosting service provider has procedures to go about the deletion. Users need to be well informed to ensure the complete deletion of data when required.
Thinking of Adopting the Cloud Hosted Phone Service?
Ask questions. The first step every business should take towards adopting a cloud-hosting phone system is to evaluate their business needs and goals.
Asking essential questions helps you know your business needs and points you in the right direction to avoid wasting business resources. How large is your business? How many customers, and how often does your business contact these customers?
Choosing the Right Cloud-Hosted Phone Service Provider.
Questions regarding costs, service integrations, system compatibility, and availability of technical support are areas businesses should question cloud-service providers on before making a final decision.
In terms of costs, businesses should inquire about the ease of adopting a cloud-hosted phone system provider. Services that are hard to implement would lead to increased spending and time spent on implementation.
Also, the cloud service providers should have appropriate backup and security systems set up in place in case of data loss. Other sample questions are the lifetime cost of renting phones, integrating services, limitations on integrated services, technical support, etc.
Businesses Offering Cloud-hosted Phone Systems
From managing calls and messaging with Unified Communications as a Service(UCaaS) to Contact Center as a Service(CCaaS), some organizations provide accessible phone systems to small and medium businesses.
The RingCentral office is one such organization. Its comprehensive features like call logging, monitoring, recording, and online faxing provide cloud-based communication and collaboration services to small, medium, and large businesses.
Ooma office is a cloud-hosted service provider for small businesses. Asides from providing the usual call, and messaging feature, it offers advanced features like a virtual receptionist that routes call to the appropriate department.
CoToConnect provides a comprehensive list of features to its customers. General features include custom call-routing and geolocation to ensure quick pick-ups. It also provides screen sharing and private meeting rooms as part of its package.
Each of these three cloud-hosted phone service providers has different pricing available, depending on an organization’s needs and size.
Should More Businesses Adopt the Cloud Hosting System?
Most businesses operate on the ‘use phones till it breaks down’ approach. Unfortunately, these old, worn-out phones come at a high maintenance cost. Instead, small and medium businesses should leverage the cloud-hosted phone systems to provide them quality phone services without worrying about the breakdown of phone hardware. Here are other reasons why your business could use a cloud-hosted phone system:
Cloud-hosted phone systems provide your customers with a better customer experience. Phone calls are one of the most personal means of communicating with clients.
Suppose businesses miss client calls or cannot take calls when needed. In that case, it leaves the customers with a bad experience. Cloud-hosted phone systems have features like call forwarding to enable customers to speak to people instead of voicemail.
Another helpful feature is channel switching. With this feature, customers can switch from one communication method to another, for example, a website chat to a voice call. This feature grows business-customer connection and improves the overall customer experience. It is also generally less prone to errors since all communication channels have a connection with your cloud-hosted phone system.
Another reason businesses should consider a cloud-hosted phone system is to improve the management process. With the integration of business intelligence tools and cloud-hosted phone systems, management can track workers’ reports status and gain valuable business insight.
The easy scalability provided by cloud-hosted phone systems is another reason to consider its adoption. For example, say users increase dramatically over time, and your business needs to communicate with these new clients.
If you’re operating on a traditional telephony system, you would have to purchase and install new phones, all accumulating time and money in the long run. The time spent may even lead you to lose some new customers. On the other hand, you can scale up to increase your increasing customers’ capacity in a matter of minutes with a cloud-hosted phone system.
Cloud-hosted phone systems also help boost team collaboration with easy-to-use tools. Communication is straightforward, and employees can make calls without dialing numbers. Businesses can also sync all customer contacts across all communication devices, making clients reachable with less stress. This system creates a fast, collaborative, and efficient environment.