5 reasons to use a virtual phone system with your small business
Do you have a small business or are you in the process of starting one? What type of phone system do you want? The traditional landline or virtual phone system, which is often referred to as a virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system. There are pros and cons to using each, so here is a detailed description of your options.
First, an accurate description of these relatively new virtual phones may be needed to make a sound business decision, especially when it comes to communications from your business office, the heart of any business. Virtual means that everything is handled online or over the Internet. These are VOIP or voice over IP systems, like the popular Skype program, which now has roughly 300 million users according to Microsoft, which acquired Skype for $ 8.5 billion in 2011.
Many skeptics are still reluctant to use the web for telephone communications, but these technologies are improving a lot and may be the norm in the not too distant future. In the same way, many households now use the traditional landline and opt for a completely mobile option. Increasingly, the majority of our daily communications are wireless / mobile, and many are connected via the Internet. Like it or not, most of today’s business communications are done via computers, cell phones, and the web.
It is in this current framework that any entrepreneur must at least consider the “virtual option” when configuring their communication system. So, here are 5 reasons to use a virtual phone system, followed by a few reasons why you shouldn’t use it.
1. Cost – It is definitely cheaper to run a virtual phone system, not only because the operating costs will be lower, but the initial setup or setup costs will be much lower than with a traditional system. In reality, if you are using your current mobile phones, the costs will be minimal compared to installing and maintaining a landline phone system.
2. Setup time – One of the best advantages of opting for a web-based virtual system, the setup is almost instantaneous. If you are ordering virtual phones, these will take a week or a few days to arrive, but for the most part your phone system can be up and running in a matter of minutes. You can even “transfer” your current business phone number to this online service or provider.
3. Mobility – Using a virtual system can give your employees and your company complete mobility. They and their business can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere on the planet. If your operation has an active sales force that travels, having your data and communications in the “cloud” can be very beneficial.
4. Efficiency – Having all your commercial communications easily accessible to all parties can make the operation very efficient. All faxes, sales statistics, notes … can be easily sent / received by all your workers. Using voicemail, message forwarding, Internet faxing … even a 24/7 virtual receptionist can keep your business running smoothly.
5. Interconnectivity – It goes without saying that computers are run by most modern businesses and having all your business phone and office communications seamlessly connected to the web and your computers will sync / digitize your entire operation. Files, calls, sales orders … they can all be in digital format, where all your workers can easily access them. Having all your office communications connected directly to your email, fax and phone calls through a virtual PBX system connects the entire show.
Now, these are all valid reasons to use a virtual phone system, but there are some drawbacks. Mainly, the issue of privacy and security should be taken into account when it comes to the Internet. We have all heard horror stories about private data theft or hacking and any information stored on a computer connected to the web can be compromised. While we are slowly improving security and many in the general public are now using the web for things like banking, shopping, faxing, and phone communication, the general mistrust is still there and needs to be taken into account.
While encryption and increased security measures make most communications secure, small businesses must ensure that confidential data stored online is completely secure. The same goes for your business telephone communications, check with the provider to see exactly what security measures are in place and how your private data is stored online. Similarly, you need to thoroughly check the “quality” of the provider and make sure you have a reliable service with good support.
Another issue simply has to do with your customer or customer base, if you have a traditional customer list that prefers to use landlines (especially when it comes to sensitive information or data), you may want to stick with a traditional system. However, if your customer base is completely comfortable with virtual phones and communicating over the web, then a virtual PBX system may be a more suitable option for your business. Although most of your customers won’t know the difference, the old adage, the customer is always right, comes into play here and should be followed.
Lastly, it might be a bit redundant to say so, but all of your business communications are vital to the success of your business or operation. Just keep in mind that in this age of cell phones, VOIP services, and cloud providers of all kinds, opting for a cheaper and more efficient virtual phone system is a definite choice, but as always, it’s your decision.