Upgrade Your Business Telephone System
There are lots of things we take for granted in business – and, for better and for worse, our phone systems are generally one of those things.
I say for better and for worse because it’s an attitude that’s holding a lot of companies back. For better, there’s the fact that you’ve got your phone – unbridled contact with clients, contractors, suppliers, utilities providers and much more; but for worse because they can sit in your office complete static, a technology that you don’t even consider needs changing.
This lack of thought around telephones can seriously limit what you do with your business.
What if your phone system could revolutionise your workflows? Change the way you interact with customers? Free up productivity? Allow clients to settle invoices 24 hours a day? Automate elements of your job that you’re currently paying staff members a small fortune for doing?
Well, there are phone systems out there that can do all of these things – and the good news is that they don’t cost a huge amount of money. Here, we’ll take a walk through the world of ‘hosted voice’ systems – and look at whether or not now might be the right time for you to revolutionise the way phones work for you.
What is hosted voice?
A hosted voice telephone system is one that is provided by a specialist IT communications company. Rather than rely on the traditional copper wire infrastructure that has underpinned telecoms for a century – a hosted voice system works as part of your IT network – using your internet connection to carry voice and other data that can be associated with calls.
A hosted voice system is fully digital – so, it’s sometimes useful to consider your phone system as an IT application – rather than an evolution of traditional systems. Essentially, your phone system becomes a piece of software that takes data and handles it how you see fit. Of course, that’s likely to involve your staff members being on the other end of a receiver in some instances – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be done with this data (more on that later).
What does hosted voice offer?
So, your phones are going to become fully digital and voice is going to be carried by your IT network – but what does that actually mean for your business?
Low startup costs
While ‘the next generation’ of any technology is normally likely to be expensive, the opposite is actually true of hosted voice systems. If you were to install a new analogue phone system into your business and your building – you’d be looking at a huge bill – even just to get the infrastructure into place. With hosted voice, you’re likely to already have the infrastructure in place – and even if you don’t, it’s nothing that a few ethernet cables won’t deal with.
Since a hosted voice system resides in the cloud, you don’t need big infrastructure changes to get you started, in fact, you’re probably going to be freeing up space compared to a traditional system.
But are you going to need a speedier internet connection? Well, perhaps – but probably not. Most business internet connections offer the kind of bandwidth needed to carry voice and other real-time application’s data – so you’re likely to be fine – and, even if you do, you’re offsetting any upgrade cost by doing away with the cost of your fixed phone lines.
In short, hosted voice telephone systems can be brought into your business for a tiny fraction of the cost that you might expect for a technology that could potentially revolutionise the way you work.
Reduced maintenance needs
Of course, it’s not just installation that marrying your phones and IT network reduces. Cloud based technology obviously doesn’t require an engineer on your site disrupting what’s happening in your business – as virtually all issues will be handled by your IT service provider.
Now, that does raise some security issues for some business decision makers – but IT data is already likely to form the backbone of what you do in your business – so your data security needs to be outstanding anyway. With a hosted voice service, you’re simply putting another chunk of your data behind a solid protection.
Most good IT service providers will employ some proactive techniques to make sure your systems are running smoothly 24/7. This kind of network monitoring (and sometimes, remote access) means that you’re never going to be walking into your business to find phone issues – at the worst, you’re going to come in to an email that explains how a problem has been avoided. In a world where downtime can kill a business – it’s nice to know your phones are also always online.
A world of customisation
We talked earlier about how it’s worth considering your new hosted voice phone system as an application, rather than a traditional phone system – and that’s illustrated when you consider what it can do with the data it carries.
Voice data is voice data – right? Well, yes – it can be used to facilitate calls between two or more people – but it can also be used as an input into a vastly customisable application. Would you like your customers to be able to access interactive menus and support with their voice? Would you like to screen your customer’s security details automatically? Would you like a system that can transcribe a call and input the pertinent points into your CRM system?
A lot of customer service agent’s role involves being the middleman between the customer and the application that will be used to access the information they require generate the work that’s needed.
Since this ‘human’ interface takes time and can often be flawed, removing the need for the middleman and creating a system that allows automated and safe access to information or requests significantly improves the customer experience – and reduces the end-user requirement. If you’re looking to improve productivity across your business – freeing up end-users to do work that only they can do is a revolutionary step – especially when it improves the customer experience along the way…