Many of my friends that own businesses consider me a geek because I have an intense fascination for how businesses can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging the latest technologies. I’m always excited to hear stories about companies, especially my customers, taking the latest technology and morphing it to fit their business needs.
For businesses to maximize growth, they absolutely need to embrace the latest business tools and technology. One of the easiest and most fun things a business can do today to improve its image and services is to throw out its old POTS, otherwise known as plain old telephone service, and replace it with a far more flexible and affordable communications option: cloud or hosted VoIP services.
Cloud computing is simply another way of describing the use of the Internet to deliver all types of services, and the concept is changing the business and consumer worlds at an incredible rate. As consumers, we’ve become used to getting our news, music and video content delivered through the cloud. And now many businesses are discovering the advantages that cloud-based services provide.
Here are my top six reasons why businesses should throw out their POTS.
Because Your Business Needs the Money
The cloud has gained such tremendous momentum because business systems, and even entire businesses, can be launched with significantly reduced up-front expenses and minimal maintenance and upgrade costs. POTS requires businesses to use space and cost-consuming hardware that necessitate having personnel with specific skills to maintain and update it. Many projects that would have required the purchase and maintenance of expensive hardware now have a fundamentally different starting point because of the cloud. With hosted VoIP services, for example, a business can save 50 to 80 percent on telecommunications costs.
Because Customer Satisfaction is Still the Key to Business Growth
Hosted VoIP solutions can be tied directly to other business systems like Salesforce.com (News - Alert) or QuickBooks. These connections allow businesses to use tools like dashboards or desktop applications to automatically look up and display information such as customer notes, balances owed, case histories and other details stored in a customer relationship management database or accounting system before a call is even answered. Having this information immediately available means customers who call your company won’t have to answer all of those routine questions that reps usually need to ask to pull up an account, making for a better experience for everyone.
Additionally, VoIP solutions provide sales and marketing teams with a distinct advantage in their efforts to generate new business for the company. Features such as unique phone numbers, customized caller IDs and enhanced call routing can ensure sales teams have all the information they need before making a call and provide marketing teams with details on which programs are performing best.
Because Your Business Can’t Go Dark
The cloud-based architecture behind hosted VoIP solutions lets businesses enjoy a tremendous level of reliability and redundancy because of the geographically distributed nature of the cloud. For example, when Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast, customers calling businesses that had communications services hosted in the cloud didn’t get a busy signal. Intelligent cloud services rerouted customers from data centers that were impacted to other locations that weren’t affected.
Because Your Business Doesn’t Go On Vacation When You Do
Unlike POTS connections, hosted VoIP solutions also provide a high level of mobility through the use of mobile applications and features. When I am out of the office or in meetings, I still have control and visibility of my business through my mobile phone. I can look at things like our call queue times to make sure the team continues to do what is expected. I love that I get a text translation of every voicemail on my smartphone so I can see if I need to respond to a call before I have time to listen to the recording.
Because You Plan for Your Business to Grow
Cloud solutions allow for businesses to easily expand their telecommunication capabilities and breadth of services by simply acquiring new Internet-capable handsets and plugging them into an Internet connection. This enables VoIP users to expand their service as rapidly as needed, in either a single location or locations spread throughout the world. Even better, through the use of mobile applications and/or softphones and depending on the company’s needs, businesses can accomplish the same expansion without needing to purchase additional hardware.
Because Top Talent Wants the Amenities
Teleworkers and geographically distributed workforces have become more common and are increasingly becoming a key component in attracting and retaining the most talented employees. Whether they’re in Boston or San Francisco, VoIP solutions delivered through the cloud provide companies with all of the connectivity needed to effectively collaborate from any office or location.
POTS solutions will continue to be squeezed by the incredible pressure applied by the cloud because of the ease with which cloud telephone services can be deployed. The ability to add new features across the entire company by simply changing the software hosted in the cloud and the flexibility to expand capacity to accommodate tremendous demand are areas where a POTS-based system falls short.
Companies have always had the need and desire to find the most efficient, cost-effective means for meeting the needs of customers. The mainstream acceptance of cloud-based solutions, combined with ever expanding access to high-speed connectivity, will place hosted VoIP at the forefront of communications options and continue to push POTS from the market.
Wain Kellum is CEO of Vocalocity (News - Alert) (www.vocalocity.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi