For those who have historically relied on an on-premise office telephone line, the shift to hybrid working is now exposing a series of communication challenges. From the problem of an unmanned or diverted phone during lockdown, to difficulties in transferring calls from a landline to mobile, these traditional telephone lines are hampering productivity, restricting collaboration and costing significant amounts.
Another factor in the mix is the ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) switch-off, which will take place in the UK by 2025, in favour of a move to IP voice services. More than 3 million organisations still rely on an ISDN telephone line, and yet many have no ideas this change is coming, with more than three quarters of SMEs saying they have not made preparations.
While the world of business communications is fast evolving, organisations can look at this as an opportunity to increase productivity and reduce costs by making the move to a more flexible cloud telephony solution. Here are three questions any organisation looking to migrate should be asking:
1. What payment model is right for me?
Cloud telephony offers significant cost savings. The traditional model of paying for lines and numbers is removed as organisations only need to pay for the number of users. Additionally, international and long-distance calls can be made more economically over the internet or over your company data network, which can provide sizable savings for those with a global team.
When exploring your options, it’s important to evaluate how many calls you’re making over a typical period. This will help to gain a realistic understanding of your usage, so that you can avoid going with a package where you end up paying for more than you need. Cloud telephony provides the flexibility to scale up or down, so whatever you choose you will be able to change it later.
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2. What features and capabilities should I be considering?
The real deal-breaker with legacy solutions is that they only work in the office. This relies on the ability to transfer calls to staff working remotely which can be both time-consuming and unprofessional if calls fail to connect, or the caller is left waiting. This has the potential to result in damaged reputation or lost business. Recent research undertaken by Probrand highlighted that 61% of receptionists are still unable to transfer calls to those working anywhere outside of the office. By contrast, one of the benefits of cloud telephony is that it’s highly mobile – IP phones can be relocated anywhere on an IP network and so can be used in any location.
As well as enabling seamless communication, it’s important to question how a cloud telephony solution will integrate with current systems and workflows. This isn’t just about facilitating a smooth experience but helping employees do their job better. For example, is there a function that allows sales teams to integrate call records with the company CRM in order to manage customer satisfaction levels?
Certain organisations may also want to consider any compliance you need to adhere to. Does your business require call recording – and is that included in the current package or an added extra? Perhaps you need to collect credit card information and need a function that will mask card details being entered so that you’re not falling foul of PCI DSS compliance.
3. What equipment will I need?
One of the benefits of cloud telephony is that there’s no hardware to install, providing greater flexibility if you decide to switch to a different provider at a later date. This also means when you can avoid being tied in to a single vendor when sourcing different handsets and other accessories – and can explore options to find the right fit for the job.
No hardware also means there’s less admin and maintenance releases – as well as a reduced chance of things going wrong. Instead of the single point of failure that you get with a dedicated on-premises solution, the cloud gives you the same resilience and multi-site replication that you get with any other cloud-based application. This means your phone service keeps running across your whole business, even if your HQ or backup data centre has an outage – freeing up your tech team to focus on more important projects.