Cloud PBX Phone System for Small Business Complete Guide

Cloud PBX Phone System for Small Business: Complete Guide

Cloud Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone systems have become increasingly popular in recent years. Unlike using a traditional PBX system that requires you to heavily invest in purchasing, installing, and maintaining on-premises equipment, implementing and managing a cloud PBX phone system is much less expensive and time-consuming, making it an attractive solution for small businesses.

With a cloud PBX phone system, you receive all of the perks of a business phone system, along with enterprise-level functionality and a full range of call management features, without an enterprise-level price tag.

Keep reading to learn more about cloud PBX phone systems and the basic features and benefits these solutions can bring to the table to have a better understanding of whether opting for a cloud PBX phone system is the right decision for your small business.

What is a Cloud PBX Phone System?  

A cloud PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system is essentially a business phone system that is hosted in the cloud by a third-party provider and delivers telephony features through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

Cloud PBX is also referred to as hosted PBX, IP PBX, or virtual PBX and serves as a more cost-efficient and flexible alternative to PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Cloud PBX systems have been developed to mitigate the costs associated with deploying, managing, and scaling traditional on-premises PBX systems.

14 Common Features of a Cloud PBX Phone System for Small Business  

There are numerous cloud PBX phone system providers in the market, each offering a different set of features and capabilities that can cater to the needs of businesses of any size. Below, we’ve listed both basic and advanced features cloud PBX systems offer.

As a small business, you might not necessarily need all of them, but having a deeper understanding of what’s available might help you simplify your choice if you are currently looking for a small business phone system for your team.

1. ACD and call routing  

ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) and call routing are core features of PBX business phone systems, allowing you to automatically distribute incoming calls among your team members. Whether you’d like to route inbound calls based on business hours, callers’ geographical location, or agent skill set, by being able to set up your preferred call routing rules, you can ensure your inbound calls are distributed efficiently.

2. Auto attendant and IVR  

Along with call routing, auto attendants and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) menus are essential features of business phone systems, allowing you to ensure incoming calls are always routed to the right destination.

An IVR system can interact with callers through pre-recorded messages and menu options, helping you gather additional information about them (like caller intent and the issue they are experiencing) and route calls more efficiently. That can ultimately improve your first call resolution rates and customer experience while making your small business look more professional.

3. Caller location information

Caller ID is handy, and will at least provide you with the name of the caller, but why not take that a step further? Phone Validation APIs can identify the general geographic location of the caller, such as their city, state, and timezone.

Additionally, more advanced business phone solutions can integrate with your CRM and pull other available data about incoming callers from the system. Services like Searchbug can be integrated into your apps, software, programs, or CRM to further enhance this process. These APIs verify phone numbers in real-time, providing information such as line type (landline, mobile, VoIP), current carrier, SMS email address (if mobile), and much more.

4. Call forwarding  

Call forwarding allows you to redirect incoming phone calls to another destination, which can be another number, a virtual phone system, an auto attendant, or a voicemail system. That helps you maintain continuity and ensure no call gets missed even when your reps are out of the office. For example, calls can be forwarded to a mobile phone after hours or a voicemail system during holidays. Call forwarding also provides flexibility, allowing your team to work remotely from any location.

5. Audio and video conferencing  

Audio and video conferencing allows multiple participants to join a single call, enabling group meetings and discussions. This is great for collaboration, allowing your team members to interact with each other for meetings or meet with customers in a conference setting.

And it can also help you prevent multiple call transfers, enabling your agents to add other team members to the ongoing call to collectively resolve a customer’s issue instead of transferring the call back and forth.

6. Call queuing  

Paired with call routing, call queuing allows you to manage your incoming calls in an organized way during times of increased call volumes. As a small business, you might not always have large call volumes, but you may still experience call spikes during busy holiday seasons.

With call queue management features, you’ll be able to handle incoming calls effectively even though you might not have enough agents to answer every call immediately.

7. Queue callback  

Queue callback is an advanced call queue management feature that you can leverage to handle your increased call volumes while maintaining customer satisfaction. According to a study by Software Advice, over 60% of consumers feel that even one minute of hold time is too much.

Queue callback enables callers to request a call from an agent once they become available without having to wait on hold. That can help you reduce the number of abandoned calls and improve customer experience.

8. Auto dialing  

In addition to inbound and outbound call management features, many cloud PBX phone system providers offer auto dialing capabilities, which are particularly beneficial for outbound sales teams. Auto dialers optimize the entire process of making outbound phone calls to customers or prospects, eliminating the need for your team to dial manually and saving a great deal of time and effort.

With an auto dialing solution, your sales reps can make more calls in a shorter time and generate more sales conversions for your business.

9. Call recording  

Call recording allows you to record inbound and outbound calls automatically or on demand and playback call recordings at a later time. You might want to record customer calls to maintain compliance, resolve disputes, or assess the quality of customer interactions. Aside from that, you can use call recordings for agent training purposes by showing your newly hired team members how seasoned agents handle different types of inquiries.

10. Call monitoring  

With real-time call monitoring, you can listen in on ongoing calls right as they are happening and hear first-hand how your team members interact with your customers and whether they adhere to your guidelines, scripts, and call quality standards.

Some systems will also allow you to join in on active conversations (call whispering) and provide on-call guidance to struggling agents without the customer on the other side hearing anything, or join the conversation with both the agent and the customer hearing you (call barging).

11. Call reporting  

A robust cloud PBX solution should come with call reporting capabilities. Reporting features allow you to track your important metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), such as the total number of inbound and outbound calls, the average talk time, first call resolution rate, call transfer rate, the number of escalated calls, missed calls, and much more.

Being able to review both real-time and historical metrics can give you a better understanding of what’s working well and where improvements are needed, empowering you to make better-informed decisions.

12. Call transcription   

Call transcription is an advanced feature that converts spoken language into written text. Reviewing call transcripts can help you better assess your team’s performance without having to listen to every call recording or monitor agent conversations in real time. It can also help you determine the most common reasons for customer complaints, identify agent knowledge gaps, and uncover agent training opportunities.

When paired with advanced speech analytics capabilities, it can provide you with even deeper insights into your voice interactions by helping you track sentiment analysis.

13. SMS text messaging  

SMS text messaging capabilities of cloud PBX systems allow you to interact with your customers or prospects through SMS in addition to calling. Considering that SMS messages achieve a 98% open rate, with 90% of messages being read within 3 minutes – SMS messaging is an excellent way for businesses to expand their communication efforts by reaching out to their audience directly on their mobile phones.

With text messaging capabilities, you can deliver time-sensitive updates and notifications or send trigger-based text messages, helping you improve engagement with your audience.

14. CRM integrations  

Many cloud PBX phone systems can be integrated with third-party tools, such as CRM systems and helpdesk ticketing software. That enables your agents to receive inbound calls and make outbound calls right from your CRM without having to switch between multiple interfaces, while your team’s calling activity and customer data will be automatically logged into your CRM system, giving your reps more context on every interaction and enabling them to provide a deeper level of personalization.

Benefits of Cloud PBX Phone Systems for Small Businesses  

Using a cloud-based or IP PBX system can provide numerous benefits for small businesses. Let’s take a look at the most significant ones:

  • Cost efficiency  

Cost efficiency is one of the key benefits cloud PBX phone software solutions offer small businesses. Compared to traditional on-premises PBX solutions, cloud PBX systems are less expensive to implement and maintain.

First off, there are no up-front investments in hardware and licensing and no ongoing maintenance charges. Typically, cloud or hosted PBX phone systems will charge you monthly fees that are much more budget-friendly for small businesses and organizations with limited budgets. Secondly, your provider will entirely take care of the system maintenance.

  • Increased flexibility  

Unlike on-premises solutions, cloud PBX phone systems offer much greater flexibility for businesses. Your agents will need only laptops, desktop computers, IP phones, or even just a mobile phone along with a reliable internet connection to make and receive calls and handle customer interactions. That means they can handle customer calls from anywhere regardless of their location, whether in the office, at home, or even on the go. 

This flexibility allows you to support a remote working environment and geographically distributed teams.

  • Scalability  

In today’s fast-paced business environment, your small business needs to be able to quickly adapt and meet an increased operational demand to remain competitive. While scaling up your on-prem PBX solution would require purchasing additional hardware – not to mention that it might take weeks or even months – cloud PBX systems offer greater scalability, allowing you to add new lines, numbers, agents, and additional telephony features much quicker and almost effortlessly.

Very often, you’ll be able to do it almost instantly by simply requesting additional capacity from your PBX provider.

  • Integrations with third parties  

Many cloud PBX phone system providers offer extensive integration options, enabling you to seamlessly integrate your PBX phone system with third-party tools such as CRM systems, helpdesk solutions, and team collaboration apps through CTI (Computer Telephony Integration). This can help you automate workflows and increase your team’s efficiency and productivity.

You can integrate real-time Phone Validation API into your workflow to further automate your communication processes. This API retrieves phone number data, which eliminates the need for manual lookups. It can verify phone numbers, identify line type, check Do Not Call registry status, caller ID, and much more. This empowers your team to prioritize calls, personalize interactions, and ensure compliance with consumer protection regulations.

How to Choose a Cloud PBX Provider for Your Small Business  

If you’re looking for a cloud PBX system to enhance your small business communications, you may want to consider the following factors when evaluating different PBX business phone service providers:

1. Available features  

Firstly, think of the features and capabilities that are critical to your small business and see whether your shortlisted providers offer what you’re looking for. If you simply need to handle inbound customer communications, you should go with a solution offering basic telephony features like auto-attendant, call forwarding, voicemail, inbound caller ID, and call recording.

If you’d like to go for a more advanced solution, look for features like call routing, IVR, call queue management, call conferencing, auto dialing, and call reporting.

2. Scalability  

The system’s scalability is another critical aspect you’ll want to pay attention to. Since your small business is likely to grow and expand in the future, you need a PBX solution that can quickly adapt and accommodate your business’s growth and evolving needs.

Look for a PBX provider that offers flexible pricing options and the ability to quickly add (or remove) agents, phone lines, and extra features with no interruption to your operation.

3. Integration options  

The ability of a PBX phone system to seamlessly integrate with third-party tools, such as CRM systems, helpdesk systems, and other business apps, is an important factor to consider as well.

If you are already using a CRM system, integrating it with cloud PBX software will make things much easier for your reps as they’ll be able to make and receive calls within your CRM without having to toggle between the two systems to log calls and customer data manually.

4. Customer support  

Last but not least, evaluate the availability, responsiveness, and overall quality of customer support offered by each provider you are evaluating. In case you have questions or technical issues with your PBX system, you want to be sure you’ll be able to get professional and, most importantly, timely assistance.

Ideally, your provider should deliver 24/7 customer support regardless of the subscription plan you choose, but that is not always the case. Looking through customer reviews might give you a better understanding of the level of support each provider offers.

The Bottomline  

With a cloud PBX phone system, small businesses can handle customer interactions efficiently while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. A rich set of features, greater cost efficiency compared to on-premises solutions, integration capabilities, flexibility, and scalability are some of the major benefits cloud-based PBX phone systems offer to small businesses.

With the right PBX solution that fits your business needs and requirements, you can truly enhance your business communications, improving the experience for both your agents and your customers.