This is How a Cloud Telephony System Can Benefit Your Business Cloud telephony gives you a far more powerful feature-set, at a drastically reduced cost, and with greater reliability and scalability.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
For most businesses, voice communications is a critical aspect of dealing with customers,and vendors - Unlike email and other communications, voice can often make or break a deal. It's used for the most critical work, and when it comes to CRM, can impact your customers' experience more than anything else.
However, the attendant costs and worries about how to manage a complex phone system tend to make this source of concern for many decision makers.
That's where cloud telephony comes in. As you'll see later in this article, cloud telephony gives you a far more powerful feature-set, at a drastically reduced cost, and with greater reliability and scalability:
Save on infrastructure costs
Trying to set up your own call centre or customer service department using traditional phone systems is an expensive proposition - From trained maintenance personnel, to 24x7 power backups, to redundant phone links, to the building facilities, it can be a major investment for even mid-large businesses (small businesses can't even dream of this).
However, cloud telephony gives you access to a business voice communications platform - with features more powerful than what traditional systems could give - at a fraction of the cost. With most infrastructure and back-end requirements offloaded to the cloud, end-users don't need to spend on infrastructure as it's more than likely that the existing infrastructure will suffice.
Cloud tech means reliability
Except for the largest businesses, the costs of implementing a reliable telephony system go beyond the initial investment on infrastructure. Today, with cloud computing and storage platforms offered by the world's leading experts in IT - Microsoft, Google, and Amazon - being used by cloud telephony vendors to provide unmatched reliability and peace-of-mind, end users need not divert resources towards setting up their own solutions.
Ask yourself an honest questions - would you rather spend a considerable amount on personnel, power backups, quality control, and maintenance (and it's not a low sum if you're expecting a high uptime), or would you rather trust a service hosted on, say, Amazon's world-class cloud computing platform, with built-in redundancy, security, and backup?
Scalable for business of all sizes
One of the best reasons to go in for a cloud telephony platform is that its very nature - of being a SAAS in the cloud - makes it suitable for businesses of all sizes. The entry barriers are low and it's possible for cloud vendors to create affordable, low-capacity plans , making it easy for even small startups to access world-class communications without having to pay upfront for capacity they don't require.
Even better, adding capacity - and capabilities - is usually very easy, and can be as simple as choosing a new pricing plan from your management console. This gives you access to a business communications platform that grows alongside your venture - whether you're just starting out with a handful of employees, are seeking new funding, or are about to go public, you don't have to worry about the costs of switching to an altogether new platform - your current platform will grow alongside you.
Powerful and easy to manage
More powerful and yet easier to manage? Cloud telephony does live up to both these lofty aims with ease. The one-point management console you find in cloud apps and suites makes this possible, allowing for easy remote management of your system.
From changing call flow, to adding new data sources for your executives, to enabling features like call-back and SMS integration, cloud telephony can management seamless and easy. This has a benefit beyond letting businesses cut cost. In fact, this ease of configuration ensures your business can put up a unified point of contact for your customers - something you'd have imagines was only possible for large corporations.
It also makes you more agile - making it easy to change call flow and arrange routing as required - and lets you incorporate marketing campaigns with ease.
Enhances data security
User data and privacy has acquired new significance in today's world. With data breaches taking place at a worrying pace, you need to take a fresh look at the risks of outsourcing your customer service. By doing so, you could be handing over proprietary data and personal information to a third-party contractor.
This holds especially true for businesses dealing with financial data or those who have customers' personal information on file. You can mitigate these concerns by ensuring no critical data is ever sent to a third-party, and is only accessible by your own employees - those who have cleared your stringent background checks and vetting process. This is where an own, in-house call handling system can come in use - and it's something cloud telephony can help with.
Works with your other apps, services, and platforms
Your data is everything. And at the same time, your data which you don't use is a business asset being squandered. Traditional call centres and "dumb' telephones don't let you take advantage of this. Not only does this make your customer service and sales departments inefficient, but it also impacts the customer experience negatively.
By using cloud telephony, you can sidestep this issue entirely - as any leading cloud communications platform will let you share data amongst your other cloud apps - whether they be vendor management systems, logistics apps, CRM suites, or collaboration apps. Imagine a seamless system where it's possible for even a small startup to make sure customers are given prompt, personalised attention at every stage of their relationship with the company - from the initial pre-sales period, to product installation, to warranty support, to repeat sales.
This isn't possible with "traditional' telephony systems - and if it is, the costs and administrative expensive can be prohibitive.
It's a connected world we live in, and that applies especially for businesses which have to be agile when responding to customers. At the same time, growing competition and lowered margins means the luxury of spending on big-ticket projects is long gone. That's where cloud telephony comes in, providing reliable, scalable, easy to manage, powerful, and cost-effective solutions that integrate seamlessly with your organisation's IT systems.