With the growth of social media and smart phones, traditional phone systems have been left behind and labeled as obsolete communication channels. As a consequence, many companies have started relying exclusively on mobile phones for business communication. This comes with its own set of challenges and limitations as businesses grow or there is employee turnover. Cloud based Hosted PBX solutions can solve these problems while saving businesses from having to invest in new phone system hardware and ongoing management and maintenance of these systems. A Hosted PBX provides the best of both worlds by marrying the convenience and mobility of smart phones with the rich feature set of an enterprise phone system, all without having to invest in hardware and maintenance.
What is a Hosted PBX?
Firstly, PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, which consists of a private telephone network used within your company. The main benefits of using this service are:
- PBX users can communicate internally and externally using a shared group of trunk channels or lines.
- A PBX allows many phone extensions to share a smaller number of phone lines producing cost savings.
- Calls between users can be dialed with short extension numbers and are always free.
- A PBX also provides features like voicemail, call transfer, call recording, call queues and interactive voice menus.
A Hosted PBX is a cloud-based Private Branch Exchange or phone system which is accessed through an IP network. Hosted PBX are managed off-premises by a PBX provider (or a third party), cutting the big investment and the ongoing maintenance of traditional PBX systems.
Hosted PBX Buyer’s Guide
Hosted PBX services offer an ideal communication solution for most companies. However, it’s important to do your research so you can choose a VoIP provider who clearly understands your company’s needs and can deliver a solution that exceeds your expectations.
Before approaching vendors to gather quotes, it is important to start with documenting your business communication requirements. Below are some questions that may be worth asking yourself to build a high-level requirements list:
– What kind of phone system do you currently use?
– How many user extensions are needed immediately?
– How many user extensions will be needed over the next 12 months?
– How many phone lines do you currently have/ need (external calling capacity)?
– Where are all your users located?
– How many users require desk phones vs desktop softphones vs mobile apps?
– What kind of phone features would you like to have?
– What features are must have or nice to have in your new phone system?
– What are the most important reasons you are looking for a new communication solution?
– Do you have a network designed to support real time communication applications such as voice and video? If not, do you need help to implement this?
Having requirements clearly defined helps to provide a checklist to objectively compare competing VoIP Provider solutions.
What to look for?
When evaluating Hosted PBX VoIP Providers for your phone system solution, here are some important factors to consider:
Features and Functionality
Does the provider offer the features and functionality your business needs? There are many types of Hosted PBX solutions that come with a variety of features. Here are some examples,
- Do they offer a mobile app for extension users?
- Do they allow you customize music on hold and time of day based call routing?
- Can they support call forking so that multiple phones can connect to the same extension?
- Can they support fax to email?
- Do they offer an audio or video conferencing solution?
- Do they offer website integration features?
- Are they keeping up with the latest innovations and technologies?
Service and Support
Getting technical assistance in a timely manner when you run into a problem that affects your business operations is priceless. Here are some questions to ask:
- How knowledgeable is the sales and technical support staff?
- Do they have an easily accessible help desk?
- Is their Customer Service and Support Staff Certified?
- Do they control their own infrastructure or depend on a third party to troubleshoot issues?
- Do they offer 24/7 support?
Administration and Control
Being able to control your phone system at your convenience without relying on a 3rd party is important. Be sure to ask:
- Can they provide you 24/7 control of call flows so that you can easily redirect calls as needed in a failover scenario or a site outage?
- Do they offer a self-serve interface for phone system extension and feature administration?
- Do they allow you to manage your billing and control pre-authorized or manual payments at your convenience?
Reach and Coverage
Your provider will be connecting you to the global telephone network. This means you should make sure they have the reach and coverage you might need.
- Do they have sufficient number portability reach? Can they transfer all your existing numbers so that you don’t end up with multiple providers and bills?
- Do they have sufficient coverage to handle global call traffic?Can they provide premium quality calling routes globally?
Open and Interoperable
Hosted PBX phone systems need to work well with a variety of hardware. A solid solution is designed with this in mind. Here’s what to look for:
- Is the service open standards based or does it require proprietary phones and accessories from a single vendor?
- Do they offer interoperability with a multitude of IP phone and accessory vendors?
- Can they auto-provision your phones to avoid labour intensive manual configuration?
- Can they easily migrate you if your business has already invested in IP Phones?
It is important to know that your service provider is capable of supporting you when needed. Some questions worth asking are:
- How long have they been in business?
- Who are some of their clients?
- Are they willing to provide testimonials?
- Are they willing to provide references customers that you can call?
When selecting a Cloud Communication or Hosted PBX phone system provider for your business, make sure you understand the provider’s strengths and value proposition so you can choose a reliable partner that prioritizes quality and gives you flexibility and control to manage your communication services as needed.
If you are not sure which service is right for you or have questions about Hosted PBX solutions, contact the experts at RingOffice. We are here to answer your questions and help you design a solution that best suits your business needs.