18 Sep 2018
Businesses around the world are no strangers to disruption in the form of new technologies geared towards cutting costs, improving customer service and enhancing efficiency. Through the ages, they’ve never been shy to adopt a good thing when they see one. Email replaces fax, fibre replaces dial-up, server rooms and the cloud replace warehouses and filing cabinets – it’s only natural, right? Why, then, have phone systems remained so stubbornly… the same? The handsets may look a little sleeker, but workplace telephony hasn’t changed all that much in many decades. And though both cloud solutions and on-site PBX systems have existed for some time, it’s the combination of these two technologies that is finally revolutionising office telephony – and elevating it to a new pinnacle of efficiency and affordability.
WHAT IS A PBX?
Private Branch Exchange, or PBX for short, refers to the telephony system that enterprises use to route the calls through their network – and the case for bringing this system under the control of your business is compelling. Organisations with the inclination, budget and skilled personnel to do so have long been moving PBX systems on-site to handle more phone calls more efficiently.
But the upfront costs and skills required for private PBX implementations are significant, often representing an insurmountable feature-rich telephony systems simply can’t function properly without them – and in this competitive age of instant customer gratification and live, always-on customer support, the pressure is on for companies to cut costs and streamline their service offerings at the same time. It’s a tall order in our current business landscape, but one perfectly suited to the rising star of managed cloud-based telephony services.
HOW CLOUD IS SHAKING UP THE PBX GAME
Cloud technology relies on nothing more than a stable internet connection for the delivery of practically any tech-based service. It has been lauded as a gamechanger in the fight for business efficiency and agility, granting even small business players access to affordable, world-class technologies they otherwise would never have the funds or expertise to use effectively on their own. Delivering PBX solutions as a managed service, via cloud infrastructure, means that any business has access to the right equipment (without having to buy it), the right expertise (without having to hire anyone), and an always up-to-date, secure telephony service (without having to do any of the updates themselves). And with concerns over expense and maintenance taken care of, the advantages of a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) model can truly be realised.
THE ADVANTAGES OF CLOUD-BASED TELEPHONY:
1. Happier customers
It’s widely acknowledged today that great customer service in the digital age relies on the seamless integration of cutting-edge tools (think AI chatbots and social media-based customer touchpoints, just for starters) with the age-old appeal of the human touch [https://www.inc.com/melissa-lamson/its-a-digital-world-how-to-keep-the-human-touch-al.html].
A solid cloud PBX strategy can limit the amount of downtime to an absolute minimum
A cloud PBX system integrates telephony with other customer service functions to an astonishing degree, allowing call centre agents and support staff to call up customer records instantly, record voice-based interactions automatically, personalise automated response menus, route calls to exactly the right person in the organisation (even if they’re on a mobile phone in another location), and much, much more.
2. Growth and Agility
Naturally, scaling up a business requires funds, and one of the best ways to ensure these funds are available when needed (to hire new employees, for example, or open a new branch) is to avoid major capital expenses. This is what makes the SaaS model so enticing. A pay-as-you-go model means that cloud PBX vendors can offer tailored solutions based on each business’s needs and budgetary constraints, with streamlined billing and maintenance agreements that ensure costs remain predictable and affordable.
With these barriers to entry removed altogether, even small businesses have the agility to compete with the most established players in their markets. Such increased competitiveness can only be good news for customers and the business landscape at large. Businesses that scale up efficiently won’t spend extra money on unnecessary hardware, servers and phone lines. By outsourcing these functions to the professionals, they can funnel their resources where they’re needed most, rather than needing to become experts in phone system management.
3. Security and disaster recovery
In the age of bigger and more sophisticated corporate cyberattacks, it is unwise to underestimate the inherent risk in doing digital business, or how tempting your own business could be to potential attackers. No data is safe, and private customer information is often first prize for hackers.
Security has long been seen as one of the cloud’s perceived weak spots, with many business leaders expressing hesitance at the thought of having vital information rushing to and fro across an increasingly dangerous online environment. But what was once considered the cloud’s biggest weakness has, in recent years, become one of its greatest strengths. Just as cloud PBX puts your business’s phone systems into the hands of experts who know what they’re doing far better than you, alone and on-site, these same cloud providers have become cybersecurity experts in their own right [https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/09/18/cloud-storage-is-much-more-secure-than-you-think/#5218ef577403] – passing on each security update and patch directly to their clients via (yep, you guessed it) the cloud.
And if a business ever needs to activate its disaster recovery plan, they’ll be glad that the cloud has been with them all along. A solid cloud PBX strategy can limit the amount of downtime to an absolute minimum, or even eliminate downtime altogether, with data securely stowed in a high-tech facility in the data centre of the provider itself.
In a business landscape where it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay ahead of competitors on the merits of your product alone, it is exceptional customer service that differentiates those that thrive from those that merely survive. And while fostering the spirit of customer-centricity in an organisation is the job of every employee, the same cannot be said for mastering and maintaining the complex IT infrastructures that enable it.