Are you in the process of creating a business or do you run one? Which phone system do you use or plan to use? A virtual phone or the traditional landline, which is generally referred to as a virtual Private Branch Exchange system. There are pros and cons to using each and here is a detailed look at the available options.
Before delving any deeper, it is crucial that we look at what virtual phones are and how they work to make sounder business decisions, especially when it comes to business communication – which is the heart of every company. The term virtual refers to everything handled over the internet or online. These are Voice over IP or VoIP systems such as the popular application, Skype, which, according to Microsoft which acquired it for $8.5 billion back in 2011, has about 300 million users.
Many cynics still hesitate when it comes to using the internet for phone communications; however, these technologies are continually being enhanced and may soon become the norm. As a result, many people are now ditching traditional landline phones and taking on the mobile approach. Today, a majority of our communications are going mobile or wireless, and most of them are connected via the internet. Whether you like it or not, a vast majority of business communication today is being conducted through cell phones, computers, and on the internet.
It’s in this framework that any business owner has to consider taking up a ‘virtual option’ when it comes to setting up a communication system. Here are five reasons why you should consider using a virtual phone system, followed by reasons why you should avoid using one.
- Cost – Virtual phone systems are much cheaper to run not only because their operating costs are much lower, but also because the initial setup or startup expenses are generally lesser than going with traditional systems. If you are currently using your cell phones to communicate, the cost will be much lower than installing and maintaining a landline phone system.
- Setup Time – One of the main pros of going with virtual web-based systems is that setup is almost instantaneous. If you are ordering virtual phones, be ready to wait a couple of days or a week for them to arrive; however, set up typically takes a couple of minutes. The great thing about virtual phones is that you can “port” your current business number over to your provider or online service.
- Mobility – Using virtual systems can give your business and employees complete mobility, allowing both your employees and company to be reached 24-hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere on our planet. If your company has an active-traveling salesforce, having your communications and data in the ‘cloud’ could prove quite beneficial.
- Efficiency – Having all of your business’ communications readily-accessible to all parties can make your operations very efficient. All sales, memos, stats, and faxes can be easily received and sent by all workers. The use of message forwarding, voice mail, internet faxing and a virtual, 24/7 receptionist could smooth out the running of your business.
- Interconnectability – We all know that computers are currently running a majority of today’s businesses and having all of your company’s office communications and phones neatly connected with your computers and the web will digitize/synchronize your entire operation. Sales orders, calls, and files can all be digitized or stored in digital form, making it easier for them to be accessed by your entire workforce. Having all office communications plugged directly to your fax, phone calls, and email via a virtual PBX system will undoubtedly connect the entire show.
All of these are valid reasons why you should consider using a virtual phone system. However, there are a couple of drawbacks with the two main issues being security and privacy, especially considering that you will be primarily using the internet to power your communications. We’ve all heard horror stories of big company computers being hacked and private data being stolen. While online security is slowly being improved and considering that more people are now using the web to bank, shop, fax and communicate, there still is a general overall distrust when it comes to online privacy and security – and that must be considered.
While increased security measures and encryption do make online communications a bit secure, it is vital that small businesses take the necessary steps to ensure that any sensitive information stored online is secure. The same applies to business phone communications. Contact your provider and find out more about the security measures they have in place and how they secure private data stored online. At the same time, it is crucial to ensure that you thoroughly check out the provider’s “quality” – the two things to consider are reliability and quality of support.
Another concern to think about is your client or customer base. If your client list is made up of people who still prefer using landlines (especially when it comes to the sharing of sensitive information or data), then consider sticking to the traditional system. However, if they are comfortable with communicating via the web and with virtual phones, then a virtual PBX system is the most suitable option for your company. While most customers will not even notice the difference, remember, the customer is always right – so, consider using the option that is in their best interests.
While it might sound a bit redundant to say this, it is still worth stressing it out. The channels a business uses to communicate are vital to its operations and success. In this era of VoIP services, cloud providers, and cellphones, going with the more efficient and much cheaper virtual phone system is a move in the right direction – however, the decision will always be up to you.