It’s a good thing that bulky on-site PBX phone systems are pretty much a thing of the past. Cloud-based phone systems with the same or similar features are the best option for today’s business phone system. Cloud-based phone systems don’t require a room full of equipment on site, but they provide all the features you need and want using the same VoIP technology over an internet connection.
Here’s what we’ll cover today:
- What is a “cloud phone”?
- Benefits of a cloud phone for small businesses
- How to choose the right cloud phone for your business
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What is a cloud phone?
Simply put, a cloud phone is a phone system that runs entirely over an internet connection (a.k.a. VoIP), instead of with on-premises technology. A cloud phone can be answered on a desk phone or even through your computer or mobile device.
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Switching to a cloud phone: 4 big benefits for small businesses
If you’re still using an on-premises phone for your business, you probably already know the drawbacks of that system. They take up valuable space, require a lot of maintenance, and—worst of all in the era of hybrid work—there’s limited mobility for your team.
1. Easy to use
One of the biggest benefits of using a cloud-based phone system is how easy the system can be to use. Without any expert help, you can be up and running with your new phone system right away, rather than waiting for installation and training that could take days or weeks.
Starting to use your new phone system can be as easy as downloading an app and you are ready to go. The app is configured to be user-friendly and intuitive so that all your employees can easily understand how to use it.
In many cases, you can use your existing phones, and employees can use their own devices with the app to make the learning curve practically non-existent.
For small businesses that can’t afford a large up-front cost for equipment, but can afford the small monthly fee, cloud-based phone systems can give them exactly what they need at a cost they can afford.
Similarly, small businesses can run the system with existing staff–with no hires needed to administer the system or maintain it. While some startups may have the capital to afford investment in equipment and personnel, there is simply no need to with the right cloud phone. Take RingCentral, for example. With a simple download, you’re up and running on any device in a matter of minutes. Plus, the interface is user-friendly, even for the technophobes on your team. Jump from one-on-one calls to a conference in just one click:
2. Easy to grow
Another strong advantage to cloud phone systems is that they easily scale as your business changes. Most businesses expect to grow over time, and your phone system can grow easily with the business by adding users to the system as you hire more employees.
As much as companies expect to grow, they also understand that business cycles dictate they may contract at times as well. In times of contraction, it can be of the utmost importance to cut costs so that the business can survive a lean period until the next time of growth comes. Cloud phone systems can scale either up or down to best handle any business’s needs at all parts of the business cycle.
Instead of being saddled with a permanent, ongoing cost for phone services, the scalable nature of cloud phone systems can help businesses respond better to current conditions and maintain their level of service without costs they can’t afford.
3. Take your business on the go, anytime
Small businesses have never needed to be more agile than they are today. With an office-based phone system, you’re tired to your desk and so is your team. A cloud phone system is run entirely via the Internet. That means you can answer calls on your desk phone, computer, or your mobile devices (without having to give out your personal phone number!). Whether you’re working in a brick-and-mortar building, your home office, or the road, your customers can always get a hold of someone.
This kind of flexibility is also a huge bonus for your team. Employee retention is critical today, and a cloud phone system can allow your employees the freedom to do their best work, from anywhere. Plus, when you’re set up for remote and hybrid work, your talent pool expands globally. You can even recruit and hire remote employees from a distance, if you have the right cloud phone provider. A platform like RingCentral combines a powerful cloud phone system with HD video conferencing and team messaging:
4. Make your small business feel big
In order to survive, small businesses need to compete with those who have much more experience, revenue, and reputation than they do. In other words, small businesses need enterprise-level tools and capabilities even though they rarely have the budget for that level of solutions.
It’s crucial to work smarter, not harder, and to find ways to get access to enterprise-level resources and tools without the enterprise-level price tag.
Cloud phone systems give your business the big-company polish you need at a price you can live with. This goes a long way to helping level the playing field.
Psst: TechRadar ranked RingCentral the best cloud-based phone system for businesses of all sizes in 2022. In addition to the main phone service, RingCentral also offers Android and iOS apps for mobile use as part of the system to increase functionality.
How to choose the best cloud phone for your business
When choosing your business phone system, you want to make sure it has all the features you will need.
- Will you need call routing, auto-attendant, or call forwarding?
- Are you looking for the cloud version of a PBX system, or a virtual phone system that can be used in any location?
- Are you looking for a free cloud-based system? If so, can you be content with only basic features and no live customer service?
- Do you want to automate any aspects of your calling, such as using sales call lists, contacting customers to offer special promotions, or sending out messages to team members?
- How does your team work on a daily basis? Could a cloud phone that includes video conferencing and team messaging solutions help streamline your operations?
- What kind of tech support / onboarding assistance does the provider offer? How much hands-on help would you like upfront and ongoing from them?
Once you have decided what you want from a phone system and identified all the features you will need, you may want to consider the pros and cons of different options.
While you never want to pay for features you don’t need and won’t use, but you may want to be forward-looking and think about features you may need as the business grows. Choose a system that includes your projected future needs as well as current ones.
In reality, the best business phone system for your business will be the one that meets your specific needs now and in the future. Typically, this now goes way beyond just phone calls or a VoIP phone system that doesn’t have cloud capabilities.
Even if you think a PBX or non-cloud VoIP system is what you need, it’s important to consider whether such a system will meet your needs in the future. While site-based phone systems may work for your business now, they are already outdated and will only become more so in the future.
It doesn’t make sense to pay large up-front costs for a phone system that will likely be abandoned within a short period of time as more and more businesses move to the cloud.
Find the right cloud phone partner for your small business
The right cloud phone system could save your small business time, money, and countless visits from the phone company. Be sure to take your time deciding what the best phone system is for your unique business and team, and ask the questions that matter.
When in doubt, be sure to look for a cloud phone provider that offers the kind of hands-on customer service and tech support that puts you at ease. That’s why we started the RingCentral Advantage: a white-glove onboarding program designed especially for small businesses. We bring the IT expertise so you can get back to growing your business. Learn more about the RingCentral Advantage for small businesses.
Originally published Mar 17, 2022, updated May 04, 2023