5 minute read |

Are cloud communications right for small businesses?

VoIP phone service background

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful business, no matter its size. Consumers have multiple alternatives to communicate with a business in 2021 including email, online chat, and social media platforms. However, the vast majority prefer to call and talk to someone when they need help.

It’s not just customers and suppliers, internal communication is vital to a business as well. Small businesses face uncertainty on several fronts and the ability to communicate quickly can mean the difference between success and failure. Employees may have specific job roles but they need to collaborate frequently. Efficient communications lead to cost savings, better performance, and fewer missed opportunities. 

No business communication system would be complete or effective without voice calls. It’s a crucial component and is a significant differentiator between organizations. Why then do small businesses continue to struggle with sub-par analog technologies? 

Small organizations and the problem of PBX

Larger companies have always enjoyed the benefits of adopting a Private Branch eXchange (PBX). Such a system allows businesses to manage a large volume of calls, devices, and lines. You can direct customers to the person who can best serve them, without having to leave messages or hear a busy signal. A salesperson can start a conversation over the phone and seamlessly switch to email when discussing the details. With fewer missed calls and shorter hold times, large corporations improved the experience for their customers.

Unfortunately, small businesses could not benefit from these tools for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is the cost of purchasing and maintaining a PBX system. It requires capital budgets, multi-year service contracts, and significant investment all around. Few businesses could afford such a luxury, let alone those with less than 10 employees. 

In addition, maintaining those systems needs expertise that smaller companies don’t have access to. When you already have employees sharing job roles, you may not have the resources to hire someone just to manage the phone system. What’s more, many businesses feel they do not need a PBX system when mobile phones or even a single fixed line serve their needs quite well. 

Cloud communications for small organizations

While there are valid reasons for a small company to avoid traditional PBX systems, there is no such obstacle when it comes to modern cloud communication tools. You may think your business is fine with a single line. But do you know how many potential customers you’ve lost because they couldn’t talk to a salesperson? You don’t know how many customers purchase something from a competitor because they hear a busy signal every time they call you. How many opportunities have you missed because you didn’t have the right tools to exploit them?

The fact remains that a lack of effective communication tools can limit the growth of any business. This is precisely why smaller organizations need to capitalize on cloud communications, so they can realize the benefits long available to their larger brethren. Cloud communications systems are flexible, scalable, and cost-effective to boot. They are also quick and easy to deploy, requiring little to no maintenance on a regular basis. 

How do cloud communications systems manage it? In a typical cloud platform, the infrastructure is owned and maintained by a vendor that specializes in that domain. Other businesses can then share those resources over a secure, cloud-based system as per their individual requirements. The best example of this would be hosted email services. Many companies no longer run their own email servers. They rely on third-party providers instead.

Cloud-based voice communication systems are no different. Instead of spending capital budget on buying and setting up your phone system, you pay a monthly price for accessing voice services provided by a third-party expert. These services are usually delivered over the cloud, hence the term. 

If you’re still hesitant, here are 5 reasons why cloud communication is the way to go for a small business:

1- One number to rule them all

Every business has a phone number that’s recognizable and familiar to everyone they work with. From customers to suppliers, that number is the face of your business. But what if you have a single line tied to it? 

A single line may not have the capacity you need, now or in the future. When you have a customer on the line and someone else calls, all they hear is a busy signal. Similarly, when one employee is calling a customer from that line it is tied up. If other staff make a call from their mobile phone, it’s not your familiar business number that shows up on the customer screen. It is an inconsistent experience and definitely not ideal for the customer

With cloud communications, you can increase the capacity for multiple simultaneous calls as you need. Your staff can make outbound calls from different devices using the same business number. Customers are more likely to reach a person instead of hearing a busy signal or having to leave a voicemail. 

2- Efficient and effective call management

Efficiency is all very well but it’s not much use when customers get transferred to the wrong department or person. Cloud communications allow you to communicate effectively. Make a good first impression over the phone when you:

  • Welcome callers with a pleasant message and giving them important information like office hours
  • Automate call routing by using IVR prompts to make sure customers are directed to the correct queue
  • Help customers reach the right person the first time, no more waiting or transferring them to several departments
  • Use hold music and let customers know how long the current wait time is
  • If wait times are too long, offer to call customers back when it’s their turn instead of leaving them on hold

Whether you use some or all of the above, you can see that the experience is much better than what you can offer with fixed or mobile lines exclusively. 

3- Combining fixed lines and mobile

Mobile devices are increasingly gaining a foothold in the business world. From laptops to tablets and phones, mobility is crucial. It allows your staff to respond to customers effectively. They can work from anywhere, giving them the flexibility to do so from home, a coffee shop, or anywhere else. The benefits of mobility to any company are immense. For example, you could:

  • Hire the best talent from anywhere in the world and do not have to recruit only from your city/state
  • Give employees the option to work partly from the office and partly from home
  • Allow some staff to telecommute permanently, so you don’t have to lose valuable staff when circumstances change (they have to care for kids or elderly family members)
  • Enable staff to continue working from an alternative location in case of an emergency such as a natural disaster or a pandemic

But integrating mobile devices in a traditional phone system is often next to impossible. If at all possible, it is rudimentary and does not allow for much flexibility. In a cloud communication system, however, that integration is entirely feasible. In fact, most cloud phone services offer smartphone apps to use voice services. All your employees need to do is install one of the apps and start making business calls. They can use a laptop, a tablet, or a personal mobile phone to make calls with their office numbers. They can also use multiple devices with the same number and seamlessly switch between them. 

4- Portability

Number portability is an important consideration when switching to a phone service provider. Considering all the places you use your phone number – from the letterhead to advertisements – it’s a valuable asset you don’t want to change. With number portability, you can keep your existing number even as you change the service behind it. Most cloud communication providers can port your number over in a few days.

Cloud communications allow portability in other situations as well such as offering virtual numbers. What is a virtual number? It’s a number that is not tied to a particular location or physical address. If you want to expand to a new market but don’t have an office yet, you can still get a local number for customers to call. 

5- Collaborate across channels

Another benefit of cloud communications is that they integrate with several enterprise systems like CRM software, scheduling tools, and appointment calendars. Your staff can switch between email, text, voice, and video calls without having to use several apps. All their conversations are in one place and easily retrievable later. This integration helps you save time as users don’t have to stop and use multiple applications to accomplish a single task. You can also move data from one system to another.

The price of cloud communications

There are many advantages to using cloud communications but it does not mean much if you cannot afford it. Fortunately, these systems do not require much investment upfront. You pay monthly charges just like any other service and you can even add or remove services depending on your needs. 

Some businesses may have to upgrade their internet speed and bandwidth to allow cloud communications but there is little else you have to do. So what are you waiting for? Investing in a cloud communications system could be the best thing you can do for your small business today. 

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Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Start a free 30 day trial now, no credit card details are needed!