A company’s telephone system has historically operated as a completely separate entity to its other business IT applications, but developments in technology, and particularly the impact of the cloud, have changed this.
Growth potential stymied by the phone system
Many businesses are familiar with and extensively using cloud IT applications, but a large proportion of companies are still unaware of the benefits of having the phone system hosted in the cloud. The traditional approach to telephony – where a company makes use of premises-based equipment connected to the telephone network – is becoming increasingly outdated for a number of financial, technical and business reasons.
The challenge that many growing businesses have faced with business phone systems is a lack of control – and this has often hindered the ability to grow quickly. If, for example, moves and changes of personnel were required, a company would rely on its phone supplier to perform the work remotely or by sending in engineers. Invariably this would take time and incur additional expenditure.
Another issue facing growing businesses has been the lack of any seamless integration between voice and data systems. The business phone set up has historically operated as a completely separate entity to other IT applications, such as a company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, so no mutual benefits were derived. The convergence of telecoms and IT technologies has changed this.
Cloud has been a game changer
Cloud telephony offers several fundamental benefits to growing businesses. Because minimal capital outlay is required, a company can retain capital for use in other areas and enjoy a healthier cash flow. And because a hosted cloud phone system is easily scalable, companies only pay for what is needed and used. If, for example, a period of fast expansion is expected, a business can simply add on extensions and other features quickly and easily.
Beyond these important fundamentals, a cloud phone system really starts to make a positive impact when a business realises what it can achieve way beyond what it could previously and help to fuel growth. Voice communication remains a critical part of many companies’ overall business communications and within the cloud it now has a powerful ability to work as part of a unified strategy alongside other existing and newer types of media.
For many companies, interactions with customers no longer occur in silos and companies have several other touch points, including the company’s website, social media channels and strategic systems such as CRM. By taking a more holistic approach to their communications, SMEs can provide customers with a richer, seamless and more satisfying experience that is on a par with much larger companies.
For example, a company may have previously run its website and telephone system completely separately. Now, companies are beginning to benefit from co-joining websites and phone systems by incorporating WebRTC (web real time communications). With WebRTC, a business can enable their prospects and customers to make a call to the company’s phone system from a website page with a single click. The call may then be routed intelligently to the most appropriate person or team within the business. Not only does this save customers time, but also provides a faster and more personalised experience.
Business trends and telephony in 2016
In 2016 we can expect to see several emerging trends that will influence a company’s choice of a cloud phone system. For example, businesses will begin to take greater advantage of more evolved voice communications that co-join with customer databases to provide intelligent communications hubs operating at the heart of customer interaction. This coordinated approach can have a hugely tangible difference on a company’s productivity as well as a more positive customer experience of the business. Features such as screen pop functionality, for example, enable staff to quickly view relevant information about the caller as the conversation starts.
Analytics will also be big on the agenda in 2016. A detailed and dynamic understanding customer and consumer behaviour has become an important asset for businesses as they increasingly try to anticipate and forecast how people function, interact and buy. Likewise, the ability to analyse employee performance, both at an individual and macro level (such as a department or team), is enhanced through analytics.
Previously companies could only analyse basic metrics with telephone systems. Now recent advances in certain systems allow the capability to measure greater detail of aspects that can show business insight such as performance and efficiencies of different teams.
Rafael Cortes is head of marketing at Foehn.
The Foehn Buyers Guides to cloud phone systems
Foehn has produced a series of Buyers Guides to Cloud Phone Systems, including the second instalment, Cloud Phone Systems for Growing Businesses – which can be downloaded here.
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