Cloud Phone System: What Are They & Why Use One

Cloud phone systems are replacing landlines. Here's why cloud based phones are better for business operations.
by
Daniel Weiss

Advancements in technology, such as cloud phone systems, have forced valuable and distinct changes in the way businesses work. If you think about all the other people and businesses you connect with during the course of your workday, the number is pretty astounding. 

When your customers or prospects call, they expect the line to be picked up in short order, preferably by a human voice. As a busy business person, you need to be accessible and flexible, and you need the right tools to support you. 

At the same time, while digital tools have helped you streamline your business practices, it’s vital you don’t become digitized to the point where you lose the human connection. This is a great reason to consider switching to a cloud-based phone system. 

What is a Cloud Based Phone System?

Before everyone switched over to mobile phones, it was common to have a landline in every home and office. Phone systems are known by lots of names — public switched telephone network (PTSN), circuit switched telephone network, plain old telephone service (POTS), or landline. 

This type of system converts sound waves into electrical signals and sends them across a cable to a terminal. The signals go through various terminals, offices, and fiber optic cables (or copper wires) which carry the signals in the form of light pulses (or electric currents). When a call reaches its destination, the light pulses get converted back to electric signals before turning them back into sound waves which allows the receiving caller to hear your voice on their end. Landlines have been a staple of our society since the 1800’s, and some offices still use them, but they’ve been on a steady decline over the last decade. 

A cloud-based phone system, which is also called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), works much differently. Essentially, a cloud-based phone system is a system that transmits your voice and other data over the internet (like the time, date, notes, etc.) and hosts that data in the cloud where users can share it and access it using a variety of devices. 

What do we mean by a variety of devices? A cloud-based system can connect to smart phones, computers, tablets, and even traditional office landlines. Essentially, any device with an internet connection.

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In a practical sense, this means that it gives you the flexibility to work anywhere at any time, even if you’re not sitting at a desk with a computer and phone. 

How Does a Cloud Based Phone System Work?

Unlike traditional phone systems that send your voice across networks and cables, cloud-based systems break your voice down into tiny digital packets and send them to another person using  internet protocol. 

Then, by utilizing a process known as SIP Trunking and working with carriers — such as Twilio, Voxbone, Plivo, etc. — to connect with the traditional telephone network, calls placed and received on cloud-based phone systems are accessible beyond strictly internet connected devices.

Cloud phone system applications let users make voice calls over the internet. You may already be familiar with popular apps like Skype, Google Voice or Apple FaceTime. Cloud-based phone systems work very much the same way, but are accessible via ‘real’ phone numbers and can connect to the traditional telephone grid as well as other cloud-based phone systems. The technology allows for a more flexible work environment than the traditional appliances business use.

Why Use a Cloud Phone System?

A cloud-based phone system gives you much more in the way of features and productivity than a traditional phone system. When you combine that with remote work capabilities, a cloud-based system can make your work much easier. 

As updates become available, there’s no need to buy new equipment or revamp your entire phone system. Software updates are as easy as a simple download and application refresh.

Cloud-Based Phone System Integrations

A cloud-based phone system consolidates your entire communications process because you can integrate it with:

  • Email inbox
  • Sales automation tools
  • Web apps
  • CRM systems
  • Helpdesk software
  • eCommerce platforms
  • Online surveys
  • Quality assurance tools
  • Chat tools

Plus many other time-saving tools. Basically, any cloud-based tool can be integrated with another. Dozens of the most popular integrations may already exist, but with a little development work using an open API, any integration is possible. 

Features Available in a Cloud Phone System

One important reason businesses choose cloud phone systems over traditional solutions is feature availability. With landline, PBX, or other legacy systems, features were extremely difficult to configure, and in some cases, were additional expenses. Cloud-based systems are extremely flexible in that features can be applied, adjusted, and configured with just a few clicks — no IT expertise necessary.

For instance, you can set up your cloud-based system to ring on multiple devices at the same time, significantly reducing the number of missed calls your business receives. 

Also, if you do business internationally, you’ll save on long-distance calling charges on in-coming and out-going calls because most cloud-based packages include this feature with no additional charges. Additionally, local numbers can be purchased and created in almost every country (and area code) on earth. Establishing a local presence in the communities you do business is a two-minute fix. 

The Pros & Cons of a Cloud Based Phone System

Naturally, before you switch to another phone system, you’ll want to entertain the pros and cons of investing in cloud-based technology for your communication needs. Here’s what you need to consider:

PROs

  • Easy to set up and scale
  • Intuitive-users know what to do just by looking at the dashboard
  • Keeps you connected to all your tools
  • Reaches you wherever you are, not tethered to a desk
  • Proven call quality
  • Teams can instantly collaborate on accounts
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Updates easily in the cloud, saves you money on maintenance and replacing equipment
  • Savings on international calling
  • Beautiful, modern design

CONs

  • Requires a reliable internet connection, which is always dependency of your internet provider as well as if your team is following connectivity best practices
  • Extra expense if your business already owns many traditional phones that need VoIP adapters or to replace them with VoIP phones
  • Susceptible to security issues like hacking and malware (can be reduced with extra security measures)
  • May not guarantee 911 support because they’re not tied to one geographical location

How to Evaluate a Cloud Phone System

The more that you learn about cloud-based systems, the quicker the benefits become apparent. Since making a change to a cloud phone system requires an investment of your time and money, you’ll want to ensure that you’re maximizing your investment. Here are some things to consider as you evaluate cloud-based phone systems.

  1. Applications and features. Does the system include all the features and applications that your users need to increase their productivity? Is the system flexible enough to meet the needs of different users? For example, does it meet the needs of managers, service representatives, and sales teams such as the ability to call whisper 
  2. Integration and connectivity. Does the system connect with all the applications, platforms, and services that you need to implement a holistic communication system?
  3. Innovation for today and tomorrow. Can the system be easily adapted to add-ons as technology continues to advance?
  4. Security. How secure is the system and does it meet or exceed the minimum security requirements? Does the provider have a documented business continuity plan for system outages?
  5. System monitoring and performance. Is there a way to troubleshoot and proactively address problem areas to avoid disruption for users and operations? What is the best way to maintain quality performance? 

A cloud-based phone system is the modern way for businesses to communicate collaboratively and inexpensively online.

Aircall developed a 100% cloud phone system and contact center solution that’s easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to scale. Aircall is so easy to use that your users can set up phone numbers in over 100 countries and onboard to the system in a day. With Aircall, you get the advantage of connecting all your business tools to one, comprehensive system, giving you a total communication ecosystem that meets your every need.

The phone system for modern business