The ‘landline’ telephone system that sits at the heart of most businesses is often taken for granted. People call your business using a local or national number, then they’re either put on hold, transferred to the correct end-user or the call is handled.
Although we perhaps consider the way that we work to be dictated by the needs of our business – often, we’re actually only working around the limitations of the technology we’re using – and, in most cases, that telephony technology is enormously out-dated.
The next generation of telephony systems work online as part of your IT network. Like the other applications and system you use as part of your computer systems, they can be largely tailored to suit your exact needs. Here, we’ll look at what these ‘hosted voice’ systems can offer your company and how much they might cost.
What is hosted voice?
Before we explore what a hosted voice system is, it’s useful to understand how a tradition phone system works.
An analogue phone system is the norm in a business. Analogue systems rely on copper wires to connect every device on the network. The system will be based in the building that it serves – and, as such, an engineer is required to visit the site if or when any problems occur.
Generally, an analogue system has just a small number of functions. You’ll be able to hold, mute, redial and forward calls – but not a great deal else.
Of course, not all companies have analogue systems – some are using the first generation of digital systems, with handsets that are equipped to handle some of the digital information that carriers transmit across their lines – such as number recognition and some voicemail type functions. While these are useful features, they’re still based around analogue technology – with just a small fraction of what’s available digitally. In addition, they also require an on-site engineer if anything need attention – as they’re still based on a copper exchange.
So, how does a hosted voice next generation system compare to all of this? Well, importantly, they remove the system from your site completely – so there’s very little equipment involved. A hosted system is cloud-based and packed full of features – and will usually be provided by a company who specialises in IT networks and next-generation phone systems. Effectively, a hosted system is delivered to your business in much the same way as you access the internet or cloud-based applications – you buy or lease the hardware, plug it in, then the service is delivered through your internet connection.
What can hosted voice offer your company?
Because of the way hosted voice is delivered, your company can unlock an almost endless range of features. At this stage, it’s useful to think outside of the traditional telephony box – and instead start thinking about your phone system as an IT application – one that can be tailored to your needs.
There’s a feeling of security that comes from being ‘self-sufficient’ and having all your business infrastructure under one roof – but, in actual fact, the security around a hosted voice system often far outweighs what’s possible with a traditional system – normally because the company that’s providing it specialises in IT security as part of their service.
With hosted voice systems, there’s very little human interaction needed – especially from a hands-on maintenance point of view. As a result, you have a system that’s virtually free from human intervention – and, importantly, human error.
Of course, it’s not just human error that leads to phone problems when your system is based on-site. From a disaster recovery point of view, connecting to your system through an internet connection also makes a lot of sense – and allows for a quick relocation of your business should anything untoward ever occur to your premises.
A range of customisation options
The customisation options that come with a hosted voice system can almost be overwhelming if you’re coming at them for the first time. In effect, all the data that’s going to be carried over your phone system is now digital and can be handled as such. As a result, you can add applications of features to handle that data in any way you wish.
For instance: One of your end users takes a call to receive payment from a customer. The customer calls in, holds for an advisor, discusses the situation, payment is taken, the call ends, then the end-user notes the content and purpose of the call on a CRM systemAP.
So, what are the options with a hosted voice service?
Well, if you want your customer to talk to an end-user they can – but, you could just have them put through to an automated payment line then generates a receipt that will be automatically sent out. Then again, if talking is important, then you could have the system automatically transcribe and describe the call – so the end-user can pick up their next call immediately – and the CRM system is still complete.
When you look at how much of a workflow can be automated by a hosted voice phone system, it’s clear to see how enormous productivity benefits can be unlocked. You can have your phone system handle most of the work – with end users just getting involved if the customer needs them.
How much will a hosted voice system cost?
With such incredible possibilities surrounding a phone system, it’s normal to think that the cost would outstrip the benefits – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, a hosted voice system is likely to weigh in far less costly then a traditional system – both from an installation and maintenance point of view.
The reason is simple. If you’ve got an IT network already in place, you’ve also got the foundations for a hosted voice system in place too. No additional wires to have pulled in, no extra companies needed to install the system – and generally, a very small amount of additional hardware. The future of phone system is extremely exciting from a business point of view – and the best part is, it’s all within the reach of even the smallest companies.