As the average worker receiving 121 emails a day – communicating effectively to cut through the noise remains a priority for business owners and one of the key ways to do this is telephony. Any company operating professionally and effectively will attest to the importance of a feature rich and reliable telephony solution. Private Automated Branch Exchange (PABX’s) have evolved rapidly, moving beyond being physical systems located within an office. Cloud computing has allowed these systems to transcend physical location so that you can benefit from all the functionality of a PABX as well as valuable additional features that can help drive business efficiency and productivity without the limitations of being restricted to a single location.
There are two main aspects of location independence with cloud based PABX solutions - the actual PABX solution and then the user interface. Let’s delve a bit into these.
A flexible foundation
Having your PABX delivered from a cloud-based platform alleviates the need for physical PABX hardware. Traditionally “old school” PABX providers would lock you into a long-term contract as the hardware was expensive to purchase outright. With a Cloud based PABX solution there is no need to have any long-term contracts as the hardware for the solution is cloud based and leveraged across many customers. That said, it’s important to note that your PABX is secure and isn’t accessible to anyone other than your company and employees. Good Cloud PABX providers have a multitude of security solutions to ensure privacy.
In addition to the cost-efficiencies, another big advantage of a PABX being cloud hosted is that it can be almost infinitely scalable. If you want to add 1 or even 1000 more employees to the PABX it is as simple as adding the users to the cloud PABX and deploying the solution to the employee’s digital phones or softphones.
From a user perspective, you can either purchase a physical IP phone or use a Softphone in order to receive calls from a Cloud PABX. An IP phone is like any normal telephone. The big difference is that rather than connecting through a physical cable to a PABX it connects through the internet. A softphone works in a similar manner to an IP phone except it is a software application that you can install on almost any smart phone. Another plus is that with both a physical IP Phone or Softphone, as long as it can connect to the internet you can make calls no matter where in the world you are located.
If you are implementing physical IP phones in your office or remote working spaces most IP phones support POE (Power Over Ethernet). POE means you can use a single network cable to not only connect your phone but also to power it. This reduces the amount of cabling required and promotes a neater working environment.
Connectivity is an enabler
A very important facet to consider before changing from an onsite PABX to a Cloud PABX is your internet connectivity. A poor-quality internet connection will result in poor call quality. In addition, an unreliable connection will result in the inability to receive or make calls. A fiber-based internet connection will almost always yield the desired outcome it is also possible to run a cloud based PABX solution via a wireless, LTE or even ADSL connection. On lesser quality connections there are means to improve both quality of calls and reliability. It is advisable to consult with your potential cloud PABX provider on what options are available to you.
Cloud PABX solutions have evolved to offer some great built in functionality that offers real value and efficiency to businesses. We’ve highlighted some of these below:
Easy direction to departments
An IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is where you can setup short codes, or a “menu”, to help direct customers or suppliers in as effective manner as possible to the correct department for your business. For example, at GSolutions you would get an IVR that says: “Press 1 for support, 2 for sales, 3 for accounts or hold for reception”.
Accessibility to functionality
Cloud PABX’s typically include voicemail to email. This is a feature that records a voicemail as an audio file and sends it to an email address you desire. The recipient is then able to listen to the file directly from their email on either their smartphone or computer.
Call recording is often a requirement for business to either monitor the quality of their team's performance, or for compliance in certain industries. Having a cloud PABX with this functionality means you can record and subsequently access call recording from anywhere at any time. It is important from a legal perspective to use the IVR in conjunction with call recording to notify anyone calling in that calls are being recorded.
Access to data has become an integral source of intel for businesses to make strategic decisions. With a cloud PABX, real time reporting can be viewed from anywhere via a web browser. Some cloud PABX services allow businesses to download them to a spreadsheet and or pdf for reference offline. Reporting typically includes call detail records (CDRs) which show real time statistics of important metrices including volume of calls per employee / department, call costs, time each employee takes to answer calls and call flows. The call flow is often particularly interesting to management as we all know the frustration of being passed from department to department.
Reduced setup time
As with most cloud solutions, implementation time and complexity are reduced substantially due to the lack of having to implement any physical hardware. A true cloud PABX solution can be fully remotely deployed without ever needing to go into an office or meet with an employee face to face. Cloud PBX Maintenance time is also substantially reduced for service providers as the setup of your PABX can be modified from anywhere at any time. It is important to work with a Cloud PABX provider that takes a best practice approach to implementation, maintenance and management as the ability to make changes quickly and easily from anywhere can result in functionality being affected if changes are not planned before being implemented and tested.
The functionality, scalability, efficiency improvements and cost of a Cloud PABX in most scenarios almost always concludes it is the correct choice for a modern business. There are scenarios where a physical onsite PABX may still be required to be implemented such as if your business is located in an area with limited internet connectivity. As technology and connectivity continue to evolve at rapid rates, these scenarios have become the exception.