The past year has been a difficult one for businesses, filled with disruptions and transitions that would be unheard of during a normal year. Still, despite the scope of these challenges, pre-pandemic technology adoption allowed most companies to pivot to fully remote operations more easily than they might have expected. There was just one major exception: businesses with a significant dependence on phone interactions, such as for providing customer service, found themselves in a lurch.
Unlike offices in which individual team members might have business phones, at call centers and service centers legacy phone systems connected to a central hub continue to dominate, and these systems can’t be easily disseminated. Even if team members had business phones, they would still need to link to something of a switchboard, allowing team members to receive calls from the main queue. This certainly made the transition to remote work harder for departments and businesses dependent on such systems, but difficult isn’t the same as impossible.
The Value of Hosted VoIP
Faced with the task of moving large-scale telephone services to a remote platform, the options are limited, but there’s one outstanding choice that many have come to rely on, and that’s hosted VoIP services. In addition to its value in today’s remote work-centered environment, hosted VoIP services support flexible staffing and scaling needs regardless of industry or even sustained remote operations. In fact, that’s the beauty of hosted VoIP – even if call centers and similar businesses choose to shift back to fully in-person work in the coming months, it will continue working seamlessly.
As valuable as VoIP platforms are for remote work, it’s important to know that all options aren’t equal. VoIP platforms come in both hosted and on-premises varieties, but on-premises VoIP only works for on-site work. That’s because on-premises VoIP relies on in-house internet to route calls as appropriate. Hosted VoIP, on the other hand, is located off-site, which means that it can easily route calls to remote workers, whether they’re based in the same location day in and day out or traveling between locations.
Under the current circumstances, it would be enough for VoIP platforms to support remote work, but that’s not the only reason for businesses to choose these systems. At this point, legacy phone systems are both cumbersome and low-tech. They offer limited functionality and are cumbersome and costly to update.
By opting to use a VoIP platform in place of a traditional phone system, however, businesses benefit from easy system upgrades without the costs that come with updating legacy systems. VoIP systems also cut out the downtime, which can be costly to businesses and frustrating for clients, especially for 24-7 call centers.
Phone Connections for the Data Age
One of the main reasons it was relatively easy for businesses to pivot to remote operations during the pandemic is that they already rely heavily on an array of cloud-based services that can easily be accessed remotely. These tools allow customer service representatives to access critical client data, support teams collaborating on projects, organize and protect documents, and so much more. Even when staff were onsite, though, phones existed largely outside this loop. They were low-tech in a way that could be costly, in data, if not in dollars.
Unlike legacy phone systems, VoIP platforms allow for much stronger system integration. Supervisors can manage calls via browser, incoming calls are logged with CRM, and necessary customer data pulled up seamlessly for agents. This may not be a big deal in a small business with closer staff-client relationships, but for businesses with thousands of clients, this kind of technical support is indispensable.
The Phone of the Future
Some doubt whether it’s wise for businesses to plan a full migration to VoIP post-pandemic, leaving PBX systems in the dust, but both financially and technically it’s what comes next. Add to these concerns the projected future of the workplace – split offices with some staff working remotely at all times – and VoIP platforms will remain necessary. While cost is a key concern, it’s likely to be a minor one when businesses add in the benefits of VoIP platforms, such as better data collection and system upgrades.
In a world that’s constantly rushing forward, embracing new technology and approaches to business, phones are old news, and they’re overdue for an update. With VoIP, businesses get the tools they need to thrive and phones take a big technological leap into the future. It’s about time.