It’s a dilemma for small businesses, and often a prohibitive one: how do you present your company as an established and professional organisation without spending a fortune?
For many start-ups and SMBs looking into small business telephone systems, the aspirations often outweigh the budget when it comes to Private Branch Exchanges (PBXs). It feels like a necessity but it comes at a high price.
Or at least it did…
Small Business Telephone Systems of the Past
The traditional way – PBX:
A PBX is a telephone switching system which manages internal and external calls. It allows shared numbers to be used for external calls and it can be used to route certain calls to specific extensions.
Traditionally this involved internal and external phone lines, a computer server for call switching and routing and a console to enable manual control.
It sounds costly – and to small businesses it was a bit of a conundrum.
Small Business Telephone Systems for the 21st Century
The new way – VoIP:
Cloud-based hosted phone systems which use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) have opened up a new world to SMBs – from accountancy practices and law firms to manufacturing and retail, and everything in between. In simple terms, specialised subscription-based software allows them to use their computers and mobiles to manage, make and receive calls over the internet, with additional features to rival those used by larger companies.
At MirrorSphere, we use a cloud-based phone platform and we’re also helping other small and medium business implement their own. We are proud of the fact that we can back up our technical expertise with an understanding based on experience within our own business and the day-to-day benefits (and pitfalls) of using such a tool.
Unlike with traditional PBXs, there is no need for additional dedicated hardware and no hefty fees to traditional phone companies when chosing one of the VoIP based small business telephone systems. A monthly subscription priced per user is less daunting and more manageable for companies put off by the costs associated with taking the traditional route.
Many of the vendors offering cloud-based phone systems have an extensive range of features. These include call management and admin, mobile apps, unlimited calling and video conferencing, online meetings and reporting capabilities as standard for a monthly subscription fee. Additional features (which may cost an additional fee) can include voicemail-to-text, CRM integration and automatic call recording.
Internet-based calling solutions give SMBs an affordable way of accessing enterprise-level features, creating a first impression to rival larger organisations and presenting a slick, professional first point of contact. Automated options can be selected and calls routed to the appropriate person – even if they’re out and about with a mobile phone.
Technology – including phone technology – is ever-evolving. While it’s unlikely that traditional phone systems will become obsolete in the near future, there is a move towards VoIP solutions and the trend is growing. By taking the leap now, you’re not only accessing an extensive range of current features, but also opening yourself up to new functions as they are introduced. Cloud-based phone systems allow for scalability both in terms of cost and features. They enable you to pay for what you need now without having to predict future growth, then add further capacity and features as and when needed.
*When looking at cloud solutions of any kind, it’s important to bear in mind that these rely on internet connections so if your internet connection is down, many features of your phone system will be affected.