Technological advancements have brought us more ways of communicating than ever before. Email and instant messaging systems expanded our reach in the office. Then, of course the disruptions of the past year have driven nearly all workforces to videoconferencing platforms. However, despite these additions, businesses still conduct a considerable amount of their operations through a familiar medium: the phone.
Whether it’s to connect with customers or monitor internal operations, businesses still rely on the tried-and-true telephone to conduct their work. That reliance has only become more pronounced during this time of mass remote work, and the rise of the distributed workforce should have small businesses rethinking the way they approach their telephone service.
Achieving business resilience is dependent on communication, both between employees and with customers. If that communication system goes down, organizations lose money. Making sure service-level agreements are being upheld and that they’re aligned with your organization's needs is critical for small businesses looking to build their operations.
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Phone Service Options Expand with Cloud
Small businesses have been flocking to the cloud, particularly during the pandemic. They’ve been able to capitalize on the flexibility and scalability of the cloud to power business operations such as collaboration, logistics and data analytics.
Phone service is no different. Services that use session initiation protocol (SIP) such as Voice over IP (VoIP) can provide the same kind of benefits for smaller organizations, allowing employees to stay connected to each other and to customers without the restrictions of traditional phones. Businesses can add lines without a technician needing to physically come to the office, which is particularly beneficial for small businesses looking to grow.
Some organizations use a hybrid model, using on-premises phones but connecting over the cloud via SIP. This can make the most of the hardware that’s already been purchased, while still tapping into the benefits of a cloud-based system. Eventually, we expect to see more small businesses transitioning to full cloud-native systems as IT teams phase out their hardware. The future is mobile, so thinking of phone service in this way can help small businesses stay ahead of the curve and withstand disruptions.
Microsoft Teams offers an option called direct routing that allows users to connect their phone service features directly into Teams. This way, employees can have access to features like faxing and contact centers while still working within a platform and with an interface that they’re familiar with.
What to Look for When Choosing a Phone Service Provider
Partnering with a service provider is always a balancing act. Small businesses need to make sure that their needs are being met properly and within budget, something that can often take significant research and planning.
When it comes to something as critical as phone service, small businesses should be looking at partners with demonstrated success in the field. Organizations should review recommendations from references, social media feedback and financials before making a selection.
It’s also important to remember that the best provider for your small business may lie beyond the typical category of partners. The increased market for collaboration technology since the beginning of remote work will likely lead to new players rising to the top of the industry. It’s all about finding the right fit for your organization.
This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.