Stop Managing Your Phone System
How a hosted communications solution gets the telephone system expense and management burden off your back.
By: John Shepler
What is a common denominator for all businesses? Telephones. What’s a common denominator among business phone systems? They need to be managed. Well, what if they didn’t. Would that be a load off your mind and a competitive edge for your business? It certainly could be. Let’s see why. Even more importantly, let’s see how.
The Trouble With Desk Sets
The legacy business phone is a heavy black box full of analog circuitry and connected to the phone company its own telephone “line”. Today, the phones are lighter, some have digital circuitry, others are cordless with multiple handsets. They still have their own unique “telephone” network wiring.
When you have a single phone or a cordless set with several handsets, managing the phone system is no big deal. There’s really nothing to manage. If you’ve got a dial tone, you’re good to make and receive calls. The one thing you might add is a backup battery if the phone has an AC power adaptor. Legacy analog sets get their power right from the phone line. Newer electronic phones, especially the cordless variety, have DC power supplies that plug into the wall.
Management headaches begin when you get a number of phones shared outside lines. Sure, each phone can have its own outside line, but that gets real expensive real fast. Plus, not everybody is making outside calls at the same time. Some are calling within the company. Many are not on the phone at all.
Types of Business Phone Systems
The two most popular types of business phone systems are Key Telephone Systems (KTS) and Private Branch Exchange (PBX).
Key systems let you call between phones inside the company using only your internal telephone wiring. That’s a big advantage over independent phones because the telephone company will charge you for every call that has to go through their network. The limitation of KTS is that each line has its own button on every phone and has to be manually selected to make or receive calls. That limits the practical number of outside lines to typically 4 or 6.
Private Branch Exchanges are little phone company switches within your business. You can still make internal calls through the PBX without using an outside line. The PBX system manages a pool of outside lines that are shared among all the phones in the system. The number of lines you need depends on what percentage of employees are making or taking calls from outside the company at the same time. A dozen lines can often serve dozens of users.
Why Get Rid of Your Phone System
Someone in the company, and it may be you, is responsible for telephone expenses. These include local and long distance charges, the cost of purchasing and maintaining the phone system, plus moves, adds and changes to your telephone assets.
The cost of “moves, adds and changes” comes from the fact that each phone has a dedicated line that goes to the KTS or PBX. The connection tells the system which phone is picked up or needs to ring. If you want to move a phone to another desk, you have to also move the connection in the phone wiring or reprogram the system so that it knows the new location. Otherwise employees have to change phone numbers every time they are relocated. Add a phone? You’ll need to add a phone jack at that location and a line back to the system.
The larger the company, the more phones there are, the more phone wiring there is to wrangle and the more expensive the phone system becomes. Worse, if your company grows beyond the capacity of your system, you’ll have to upgrade it if possible or rip it out and put in a new one if not. At some point the technology will become obsolete and it will get really pricey or impossible to keep the beast running. Then you are looking at a major capital investment.
How to Get Out of the Phone Business
Whatever business you are in, it is probably not the telephone business. You simply need those phones to get your job done. Even call centers are focused on the services being provided and not the telephone equipment itself.
What if you could just buy or rent the telephone sets as you need them, plug them into your existing computer network and let somebody else worry about buying and maintaining all that expensive switching equipment?
You can with a service called Hosted PBX or Hosted VoIP. Both mean the same thing. VoIP is the technology that turns telephone sets into network peripherals. Like all computers, the phones have their own internal address on the network. They can be plugged into any network jack and will work just fine. No need to change any wiring.
There is no KTS or PBX on your premises. A much larger “Cloud” system is located at the service provider’s data center. All you have on-site are telephone sets called SIP Phones and a special router or call controller to direct phone calls to the provider. You no longer need outside lines to the phone company. Instead, you have a digital SIP Trunk that connects your location to the provider.
The Pay as You Go Advantage
What’s happened is that you have traded a large initial investment in a phone system and the ongoing costs to maintain it and make changes for a simple “cost per seat” for each phone. Some providers include all new SIP phones when you sign up for service. They’ll send more when you expand the business. No need to pay up-front for phones and lines that will sit unused until you need them. If you need to downsize at some point, you return the phones and stop paying for the ones you no longer need.
Chances are that your existing business phone system doesn’t have the ability to include smartphones or integrate with computers for efficient call center operations. You many not even have the functionality to support auto attendants or hunt groups for multiple agents for your call center. The hosted system will not only have many more advanced features that what you probably have now, but will be kept up to date as new features are offered. You never have to upgrade your phone “system” because the system isprovided for you in the cloud.
Are you feeling limited by the functionality, inflexibility or high costs of your current phone system. Before paying a small fortune to upgrade your in-house equipment, take a closer look at Cloud Hosted PBX Business Telephone Service.
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