A cloud-based phone system is a telephone platform hosted on the internet by a third party. All functions are performed on computers inside a data center. These centers are off-site and accessed via an internet connection. Even though these phone systems are remote, they have all the features of an on-site system—and more.

Cloud-based business phone systems use a private branch exchange or PBX. With a cloud-based PBX, a major telephone company delivers the service, but the phone system is in a data center off-site. Cloud-based systems also use voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology to transfer data.

Advantages of Moving Your Business Phone System to the Cloud

Moving your phone system to the cloud gives you the ability to harness the power of the internet. A landline-based phone system used to be an adequate solution, but the way business is done has evolved. The features available in an internet-based system make it the most viable option.

Benefits businesses can enjoy with a cloud phone service include:

1. Easier Scaling

With a regular phone system, adding users may involve considerable expense. You may have to run new lines or buy new hardware. This is particularly true if a new employee replaces a former one. Their new workstation may force you to re-route existing lines, which takes time and money.

With a cloud-based business phone system, the process is easier. You only have to request an additional extension for the new user. When you give your provider the employee’s information, the setup will only take minutes.

2. Fewer Limitations

When your phone system is in the cloud, you do not have to worry about running out of bandwidth or other resources. You can add as many lines as you want without impacting your local network. This means other operations in the business that depend on the internet can continue.

For example, you do not have to worry about making difficult bandwidth decisions. If you’re streaming a video conference in several rooms, for instance, each needs a lot of bandwidth. This is especially true if the images are high -definition. With a cloud-based phone system, all communication happens via the cloud-based network. Everything has its own dedicated network infrastructure. This allows for simultaneous operations that do not rob each other of vital bandwidth.

3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration

A cloud-based phone solution allows you to integrate with a CRM system. The software running the CRM can connect with the phone system, which keeps a log of the calls you make. Later, you can access your list of calls. You can see information about who called, when they called and from where.

The CRM system can use that data to organize callers into categories. You can analyze the data to keep track of trends about when people call and where they call from. Also, you can use the data to decide how and when to reach out to customers you missed. For example, you can organize the calls according to time. These may be the best times to call customers back. This is particularly useful if you have clients in different time zones.

Instead of having to track the calls yourself, you can devote time to other important tasks, such as connecting with clients and supporting your team.

4. Support for Remote Work

If you want to give your people the freedom to work from home or on the road, consider getting a cloud-based phone system. Users can connect from anywhere. Once they are in the system, they can communicate as if they were in the office.

Even if someone has to be in the field or on customer premises, they can still stay in touch with customers and team members. Remote workers can take part in meetings, access the CRM and reach out to potential leads.

Why Is It Necessary for a Small Business to Move to the Cloud?

The limitations of a brick-and-mortar infrastructure can stunt business growth. In today’s business climate, data no longer has to sit inside bulky computers perched on top of desks. When data is in the cloud, it is accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. The same should be true of your communications system.

Moving your communications infrastructure to the cloud comes with the following advantages:

1. Anytime, Anywhere Access

The cloud cuts the leash. It gives anyone with an internet connection access to your most crucial communications. No matter where an employee is, they can connect with key players. Also, they can log in to the CRM and engage with potential and existing clients. You have the ability to listen to messages no matter where you are. Further, you can do it with just a few clicks.

2. Mobility and Ease of Expansion

One of the most compelling reasons for using a cloud-based phone service is the freedom of movement. Your office can be a useful-yet-restrictive environment. If your phone system is in a physical location, expansion is more difficult. As the company expands, you may outgrow the office space. You would then have to uproot your entire communications system and replant it in the new space. A cloud-based telephone service saves you from this extra work.

3. One Number for Many Teams

Also, the traditional office setup may not work for your organization. This is particularly true if your business has an evolving workforce. Having smaller teams in many areas is often more efficient. With a cloud phone service, you can custom-design your “office” layout. Regardless of the configuration you choose, everyone can still connect with team members and clients.

What Are the Major Features of a Cloud-Based Business Phone System?

Cloud-based phone systems offer all the functionality of normal business phone platforms. They also have features that are impossible without the use of the cloud. Because they do not depend on physical equipment, expanding the system’s features involves a simple call or email to the provider.

Some of these features are:

  • Web phones: A web phone is an application that allows you to make phone calls online. You can use almost any web browser, such as Safari, Chrome or Firefox. The call sounds as it normally would, but the voice data transmits over the internet. You can make the call using a headset or cell phone. You also have the option of using a more traditional phone that’s connected to your computer. You can make and receive calls to any landline, cell phone or internet-based phone.
  • Automated assistants: An automated assistant can be a virtual gateway between you and callers. They answer the phone and give callers preprogrammed messages. They also take messages, forward calls and provide important information. They can also take information that callers enter on their keypad during the call. You can program an automated assistant to provide basic information. This enables callers to get the answers they need without having to wait on hold. This saves time for both the caller and employees. It also frees up employees to handle other tasks.
  • Conference calling: With conference calling, three or more parties join the same conversation. With a cloud-based phone service, the location of each person does not matter. Whether participants are in different cubicles or continents, all they need is internet service.
  • Video conferencing: Video conferencing allows participants to talk face-to-face via a video stream. The signal is processed at the data center and delivered to the screens of each participant. An organization can use video conferencing to share screen recordings and video content.
  • Call transfers: The ability to automatically transfer calls saves significant time. You do not have to have someone transfer incoming calls to everyone in the organization. Your business phone system can do it for you. The system gives callers the ability to choose the person they want to talk to. This happens via a variety of data entry methods. Callers can enter numbers or spell all or some of a person’s name.
  • Call forwarding: A system with call forwarding can send calls to a phone number chosen by the recipient. If you have employees in various locations, this can help streamline communications. The same is true if people in your organization need to travel. For instance, an employee may be going away and only have a cell phone. The system can forward all calls to their mobile phone so they do not miss opportunities while on the road. Calls can be forwarded to web phones and landlines.
  • Hold music: Hold music helps people relax while they wait for an answer. It also reassures them that they’re still on the line. You can further tweak the hold music feature with periodic, helpful messages. These can vary based on the needs of the organization. You can provide information about the business or tell the caller their position in the call queue. A business phone system can also inform the caller approximately how much time they have to wait.
  • Message management: The message management feature collects and organizes messages. A cloud-based business phone system can deliver messages to the right people. It can also store them for as long as you need. Team members can access the messages while on the road, at home or in preparation for a meeting.
  • Voicemail: Voicemail with a cloud-based phone system is accessible to all players in the organization. You can set up a variety of voicemail boxes—each meant for a different department or team member. The organization can also choose to keep voicemail for later use.
  • Business SMS (short message service). Business SMS is a powerful tool for time-sensitive communication. Emails work well, but people often check them too late. Even voicemails may go unchecked for days. Sometimes, people can get too busy to take a phone call. A business SMS system allows the recipient to get information right away. It’s an effective tool for getting quick answers to questions and updating team members on the go. You can store messages to reference them later. You can also send out scheduling information so team members can make the necessary adjustments. As well, you can set up text groups so entire teams can get the same message at once.
  • Call queuing: When you have multiple callers trying to reach the business at the same time, call queuing can help. Each caller is put in a queue to wait for their turn. A cloud-based business phone system can inform callers of their place in the queue. It can also automatically move people up in the queue when others hang up.
  • Call recording: Call recording makes it possible to record and store entire conversations. Managers or team members can review calls later for quality control. Decision-makers can use recorded calls to plan agenda items for meetings. You can also use a content management system to store conversations for training or promotional purposes.

How to Set Up a Cloud-Based Business Phone System

Setting up a phone system based in the cloud is different than that of a traditional one. First, you decide your needs and then discuss them with your provider. With a traditional phone system, the lack of options limits the possibilities for your business. With a cloud-based business phone system, your needs help determine the setup. The discussion includes both the current and future needs of your organization.

Depending on the features you choose, you may have to install hardware. This is then linked with the cloud-based network. There is no central, on-site server. You also do not have to connect to the local telephone provider. Everything is managed at a remote data center. Once the system has been set up and tested, you’re good to go.

The 8x8 Cloud-Based Phone System Solution

With 8x8’s business phone solution, the needs of your organization determine the infrastructure. 8x8 has years of experience custom-fitting cloud-based business phone systems. You select features according to the objectives of your business. 8x8 has systems to suit virtually any business’ needs. All of 8x8's solutions are supported by reliable data centers to help enhance dependability and security.

Get the easiest and most affordable phone system for your small business. 8x8 Express provides you with unlimited calling, HD audio and video conferencing, business SMS and more. Start your free 30-day trial today.