A cloud-based phone system allows you to make and receive calls over the internet while also storing data in the cloud.
These systems are both cost-effective and dependable, but only provided you have a fast internet connection.
Although cloud telephony systems are popular, they are not appropriate for all businesses.
Unlimited calling, automated menus, ring groups to reach numerous employees at once, voicemail-to-email functionality, and call recording are all common features of a corporate phone system.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), private branch exchange (PBX), and key system unit are examples of business phone systems (KSU).
The best small business phone systems feature VoIP technology, which allows you to use your company’s internet connection for the entire system.
Cloud-based phone systems are becoming more popular among small businesses, delivering dependable service, affordable pricing, and a plethora of business-friendly features, but they may not be the best choice for everyone.
Continue reading to find out more about cloud-based systems and how to determine if they’re ideal for your company.
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What is a cloud-based phone system?
A phone service that lets you make calls over the internet is called a “cloud-based phone system.” It is also called a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system or cloud calling.
One way in which a cloud-based phone system is different from traditional analog phones, which connect callers using copper wires or optical fibers, is that it can store data, which is hosted in one or more secure data centers that are not on-site.
Cloud-based phone systems can be used with a variety of devices, such as traditional phones with adaptors, smartphone apps (like Google Voice), computer calling software, or VoIP-enabled phones.
A hosted PBX, or private branch exchange, is a type of cloud-based phone system. All of your data is stored and accessed through the cloud, which saves you time and money by making it easy to keep your data up to date and safe.
What is the operation of cloud-based phone systems?
Cloud-based phone systems break up your calls into small digital audio packets that are sent as data over the internet to the person on the other end of the call.
For example, when you call a regular phone number, the signal is changed into a regular phone signal before it gets to the person you’re calling.
SIP trunking uses a cloud-based PBX to route the call. [Find out more about SIP Trunking: What Is SIP Trunking? Does your business need it?]
Cloud-based phone systems can be used in different ways, so anyone with an internet connection can use them. You can make calls through the cloud by:
A regular phone with an adapter for VoIP. You can use a regular landline phone to make internet calls with an adaptor. The adapters can be plugged directly into your router or into a phone jack on the wall.
A computer, also known as a “softphone.” There are many programs and apps, like Skype, Google Voice, Apple Facetime, and others, that let you make voice calls over the internet.
A mobile phone. With your smartphone, you can get apps like Google Voice or Skype that let you make calls over the internet.
A phone that is only for VoIP. These look like traditional analog phones, but they don’t use a phone line. Instead, they connect directly to a computer network.
The advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based phone systems
As businesses become more comfortable with digital and internet-based services, cloud-based phone systems are becoming more popular.
However, it is still important to look at all aspects of cloud-based phone systems before deciding if they are right for your business.
Pros of cloud-based phone systems
As with most cloud services, the main benefit of cloud-based phone systems is that they are cheap.
Since all of your calls go through the internet, you only have to pay for your internet use and not for your call minutes or phone service, as you would with a traditional phone system, which charges extra for features like voicemail and auto attendant.
Most cloud-based systems include major features with your phone service, so you only have to pay one monthly fee for all your communication needs.
One of the best things about cloud-based phone systems is that they work well. Since most businesses need to talk to customers and other people outside of the company, a reliable line is important.
Since cloud-based phone systems are hosted in more than one place, you and your data are safe even if one server goes down.
This is called geographic redundancy, and it helps businesses avoid service problems and downtime in a very effective way.
Cloud-based phone systems give you almost unlimited freedom, which makes them a good choice for businesses with workers who work from home or who travel a lot.
If you have an internet connection, a cloud-based phone can route calls to your VoIP-enabled phone no matter where you are.
If your business is growing, a cloud-based phone system gives you options for how to grow.
A cloud management system makes it easy to add phone lines, extensions, and advanced features as needed, without having to pay for professional installation or buy more equipment.
Maintenance and updates are also done directly in the cloud, which saves you time and money and keeps your communication from going down.
Cons of cloud-based phone systems
Even though cloud-based phone systems are popular, they may not be right for your business because of their flaws.
The main problem with cloud-based phone systems is that, since they are based on the internet, they can be affected by problems and outages with the internet.
If your internet service is spotty or unreliable and often drops or stops working, a cloud-based system might not be right for you. For a cloud-based phone system to work, the internet connection must be strong and stable.
Using the internet also makes people wonder about safety. Cloud-based systems can be hacked or infected with malware if the right precautions aren’t taken.
Make sure your internet connection is safe and that your cloud system provider has security measures in place to protect your data even more.
If you are worried about being able to get help in an emergency, you should know that some VoIP and cloud-based phone systems may not support calling 911.
This is because cloud-based phone systems are not tied to a single location like traditional phones are. This makes it hard to accurately track a 911 call.
So, VoIP and cloud system providers must have Enhanced 911, or E911, turned on. This lets customers set a physical address that shows up when they dial 911 on their IP phone.
But not all cloud or VoIP providers offer this service because to do so, they have to work with traditional phone companies that control access to the public telephone system and 911 operators.
This can be hard because cloud-based phone system providers and the public telephone system are direct competitors.
Asking the VoIP provider directly is the best way to find out if 911 service is automatic, if it needs to be turned on, or if it is not supported at all.
Lastly, if your business already has a lot of traditional phones, buying adaptors to turn them into cloud-enabled phones or buying all new IP phones can be very expensive.
Think about the equipment you already have and decide if it makes more financial sense to pay to change your current system or buy a whole new one.
Considerations for a cloud-based phone system
One of the best things about a cloud-based phone system is that it usually comes with a lot of features. Here are the most important things to look for:
Voicemail. Most cloud system packages come with this feature, which lets you get messages from calls you missed.
Messaging: This feature, which is also called “team collaboration,” lets people work together in different ways, such as by sharing a screen, files, editing a document, or conferencing.
Do not disturb. If you turn on “Do not disturb,” all incoming calls go straight to voicemail without the phone ringing.
ID for callers. With caller ID, you can see who’s calling. Caller ID shows you the caller’s number, while caller ID with name shows you both the number and the caller’s name. This can help you tell the difference between important calls and spam calls.
Groups of rings. Teams that answer calls from the same group of customers can benefit from ring groups. Every member of that team will know when the phone rings for that team.
Forwarding a call. With this feature, users can send a call to a different number.
Online management. Most cloud-based phone systems are managed through an online portal or management system where the administrator can add users, set numbers, make ring groups, and see call data.
Users can check their voicemail, look at company directories, and set up call-forwarding routes.
Integration of communications. Unified communications, also called a single cloud solution or a complete cloud platform, lets people work together in real time and lets a business put all of its communication services, like CRM, live chat, analytics, and more, into one application.
Voicemail to email or text. Voicemail-to-email or voicemail-to-text is a useful feature that turns audio voicemails into emails or text messages that are easy to read and manage.
Automatic greeter. An auto attendant answers the phone when someone calls your business and puts them in touch with the person they want to talk to.
How to Determine Whether Your Company Needs a Cloud-Based Phone System
There are several aspects to consider when evaluating if a cloud-based phone system is ideal for you, regardless of whether you are contemplating switching systems or beginning from scratch. Here are some important beginning considerations:
Equipment. Existing IP phones that can be simply integrated into a cloud system?
Or do all of your phones require a desk phone adapter since they are conventional? Existing equipment might have a significant impact on expenses, so think carefully.
Costs. Aside from the equipment, you must assess what features you pay for in your existing system, whether there are features you do not need, and which features you prefer in your new system.
You must determine whether these features are included in your plan or must be purchased separately.
Reliability. Cloud-based telephone systems rely solely on the internet. If you lack a reliable and secure internet connection, you should not select a cloud-based phone system. A classic landline telephone may be preferable.
Your enterprise. If you own a small or medium-sized business, a cloud-based phone system may be an excellent alternative for saving money on installation and maintenance, as well as allowing your communication system to adapt as your firm evolves.
Control. Since calls are routed through a provider and kept on a hosted server, a cloud system may not be the ideal option if you prefer or demand complete control over your system and data.
Businesses that handle sensitive information may potentially confront security difficulties.
How to find a cloud-based system provider
When you have decided that you want a cloud-based phone system, the next step is to find a provider. Each provider will have different packages and features with different prices, so you’ll need to figure out which one fits your needs the best.
Researching hard and thoroughly is the best way to find the right provider. Read reviews of the companies, see if any of them offer free trials, and talk to other small business owners in your industry to see if they have any suggestions.
Read about the best business phone systems in our reviews. Here are some of the most popular hosted VoIP and cloud-based services:
Conclusion about cloud-based system
Most businesses now use VoIP or cloud-based phone systems instead of traditional landlines.
Modern phone service providers offer unified communications across phone, video, chat, text, and fax with key software integrations that help companies make better use of every conversation.
Some systems offer SIP trunking to connect to older hardware on-premises, but most service providers only work through the cloud and don’t need any hardware to make calls.
You can still take calls on an IP desk phone that looks like a traditional phone, but most people use a headset with a desktop app or just their mobile phone.
The best business phone systems of today have a lot of tools for managing calls, like virtual receptionists, advanced call routing, custom business hours, and many other features that make sure calls never go to voicemail when someone is there to answer them.