Author: Leo D’Alessandro – Product Marketing Manager, Sangoma
If you are looking for a cloud-based phone service for your business, you may find it confusing to decide between the many options available. The low cost of the internet infrastructure is allowing more companies to offer their own cloud-based phone solutions. Since many of them are already bundling local & long-distance calling, caller-ID and voicemail into their monthly service, how do you know which option makes the most sense for your business?
The following information will provide you some of the top criteria to keep in mind when choosing your cloud-based service.
1. Local Presence
If your business operates from multiple locations, or you simply want to project a local presence to your customers, you will need to have a local phone number. A Cloud-based vendor should not only allow you to select from many ‘rate centers’, which are basically local calling boundaries, but also provide you with many phone number options to choose from, so that you can pick the one that suites your needs.
You will also want to Investigate how ‘easy’ it is to select your phone number. Do you need to submit a request form and wait for confirmation? Do they allow you to check on-line for a list of currently available numbers and activate it right away?
2. Mobility and Collaboration
If employees roam in and out of the office and need to keep in-touch with remote workers, your cloud solution should provide you with these tools. These can be things like:
- A Softphone – a software program that would be compatible with your laptop and mobile device(s).
- Find-me/Follow-me – The ability to have the call forward to your cell or another number you choose if you are away from the office.
- Click-to-Call – Having the ability to dial a number displayed on your computer just by clicking it.
- End-User Unified Communication Dashboards or Chat – These options allow for enhanced communication and productivity.
Additional questions to consider are:
- Do these tools integrate with your current workplace computers, laptops and/or devices?
- Do you need both Microsoft and Mac support or iOS/Android device compatibility?
- Is there a learning curve and training required for your staff to adopt or do they simply integrate with your current software and applications?
Once you have determined what is offered, you need to determine if these features are included in the monthly cost.
3. Easy Setup and Operation
Configuring a phone system can be challenging. Try to find out if the cloud provider offers an intuitive way to help setup the basic elements, such as inbound caller greeting, routing options and phone extensions. Look at the process for adding users and services down the road, is that an easy process?
Questions to ask:
- Do they offer a Quick Wizard or ‘Simple mode’?
- Is there an online self-serve method, allowing you to make adjustments immediately or do you need to connect with a customer service rep or wait for email confirmation?
4. Future Proof
Setting up a phone system for your business is an investment. You want to make sure that the solution you choose allows it to adapt to your business needs.
Questions to ask:
- If you need to switch to an on-premise solution can you easily switch to one provided by the same vendor?
- Is there training required if you make this change or are the features and functionality the same?
- If you need to change desk phones or devices, is the cloud provider flexible enough to adapt to new endpoints or are you locked in?
There are many things to consider when choosing your Cloud-based phone solution and depending on your business some points are more important than others. These criteria can change how ‘competitive’ the available solutions are and narrow down your choices for you.
For information on Sangoma’s Cloud-based Telephony Solution, called PBXact Cloud, please visit http://www.sangoma.com/products/pbxact-ucc/ and feel free to contact us directly with any questions you may have.