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What is Cloud Hosted Telephony and How Can it Benefit Your Business?

Although cloud hosted telephony is fast becoming the norm these days, many business owners have either not heard of it or are unsure of the options available to them. To clarify this, let’s discuss what cloud hosted telephony is and how it can benefit your business.

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You can break down cloud hosted telephony into four elements, as follows:

  1. Virtual Phone Numbers.

Rather than being tied to a specific physical location, virtual phone numbers are based in the cloud. Calls made to a virtual number can either be diverted direct to another number (landline, mobile or international) with a simple call divert, or they can be handled in any way you specify by linking your number to a virtual pbx (switchboard) and one or more hosted services.

Virtual numbers are available in all ranges. So, whether you want a regular 01 or 02 number, a non-geographic 03 number, an 0800 freephone number or a revenue generating number such as an 0844 or 0871 number, you can have it.

  1. Hosted Services

Hosted services of the building blocks you can use to create your perfect phone system. They range from the simple to the sophisticated. Examples of simple services are fax to email, answerphone (voicemail) and call divert.  Sophisticated services include group divert (also known as a hunt group) supervisor access, and the virtual PBX, which is covered below.

Hosted services are designed to play well together and can be combined in any way you like. This gives you great flexibility to build the phone system your organisation really needs.

It’s easy to set up and amend hosted services whenever you like, and all updates take effect immediately.

  1. Virtual PBX

A virtual PBX (virtual switchboard) is the central part of all but the simplest phone systems. It allows you to connect all your numbers and services together and choose how you’ll handle your calls.

You can also add extra functionality with a virtual PBX, such as setting up a call menu (press 1 for sales, press 2 for accounts, etc.), call waiting – so callers don’t get an engaged tone during busy times, and the option to enter an extension number if one is known.

You can define rules in the PBX on how to handle incoming calls, e.g. diverting all calls made to a dedicated sales or support line to the relevant department.

  1. VoIP

VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”, which means phone calls made over the Internet. Most people we will be familiar with the concept, having used services such as Skype. Business grade VoIP services are far more reliable than free services. Call quality and reliability are indistinguishable from that of regular phone calls. In fact, many regular phone calls are now routed over the internet at some stage without callers noticing.

By choosing to route your calls over VoIP, rather than traditional phone lines, your business can make significant savings on your monthly call bill.

 

What are the advantages of using hosted telephony?

Cost: Hosted telephony can be significantly cheaper than traditional options. For a start, there is no need to buy expensive PBX hardware. This is a large outlay for most businesses, and that’s without ongoing maintenance, repair and replacement costs.

In contrast, there is no initial outlay for a Virtual PBX. It is also constantly monitored and updated by your provider, without you having to do anything or pay extra.

Choosing to route your calls over the internet using VoIP is also a simple way to bring down your monthly phone bill.

Flexibility: Hosted phone systems are incredibly flexible. You can easily add new numbers, services users and extensions via an online control panel. You can make changes to your phone system as your business grows and develops. Hosted phone services can adapt perfectly to your changing business needs. What’s more, it only takes a minute to make any changes and they go live virtually immediately.

Scalability: A hosted phone system is incredibly scalable. You could go from 1 to 100 users in a short period of time without it affecting call quality or availability. This is perfect for seasonal businesses, where business is often slow for part of the year and then extremely busy for another part.

Location independence: A hosted system is not tied to any specific location, which has many advantages. If you ever want to move premises, it’s quick and easy to do so without having to set up expensive redirects. Your number stays the same and you just divert calls to the phones in your new premises instead. Disruption and hassle are kept to a minimum and the switchover is seamless as far as your customers are concerned.

With a cloud hosted system you can also connect different offices or people who work from home or who are out on the road. Your virtual PBX can divert calls anywhere, even abroad.

Hosted telephony also gives you built-in business continuity advantages. Should you ever have the misfortune to be affected by fire, flood, or any other type of disaster, your phone system will be unaffected. Rather than being tied to a physical location through a line and PBX hardware, your system is hosted in the cloud. It’s a simple matter to log into your online control panel and divert calls elsewhere, such as a makeshift office or staff mobile phones. You’ll be able to receive calls as normal and keep in touch with your suppliers, customers and prospects to keep them updated until things get back to normal..

Conclusion

There is no doubt that hosted telephony is the future. If you haven’t already made the switch, it’s highly likely you will do so in the near future. And with so many obvious advantages, it makes perfect sense to consider a hosted phone system your business.

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