Most businesses have a number of their staff working from home right now. So, ClubIT met up to do a podcast all about your at-home options for business phone systems. Whether you missed the episode or just want to recap, we’ve compiled all the relevant information here for your benefit.
Phone Systems: Traditional vs. Modern
Voice transfer used to be entirely analog; it physically moved through the copper to get to you. Now, your voice is transmitted digitally as data. This is called SIP or VoIP technology, and it’s the reason traditional phone lines are becoming defunct. Today, we’ll teach you how to make the switch so that you can continue to work from home.
The first thing you’ll want to know is how to tell whether you have a newer or an older phone system:
- The size. Older business phone systems can be massive, and even the smallest ones tend to be roughly the size of a computer tower.
- The amount of cables in use. More cables plugged into it is a pretty sure sign of an older system. However, if you’ve had changes like MBN recently, it could be newer.
- Installation age. Even with MBN, if your system was installed more than five years ago, chances are it’s older.
- Your telephone bill will give you a clear indication whether you’re running a SIP trunk (a VoIP system) or a traditional line. If it says “SIP” somewhere, then it’s probably newer technology.
Cloud-Based Business Phone Systems
Especially if you’re on SIP trunks, the best thing to do is talk to your cloud telephone provider and tell them you want to be able to run it from home; then, find out your options—one of which may be a SIP client. Generally speaking, SIP clients are phone programs you’ll find that will allow you to connect to a trunk or extension. Once you have one, it’s just a matter of asking your provider what you need to do to configure it.
3CX – Business Phone Systems During COVID
3CX is a software-based PBX we wanted to highlight for a number of reasons. First, they’re currently offering free licenses of their product in the wake of COVID-19. Now might be the best time to try out cloud-based phone technology if you haven’t yet—especially if you’re a school or business eligible to register for the Standard license (for three years) or the Pro version (for one year).
Before you make your decision, let’s take a comprehensive look at what the platform entails.
Whether you’re using VoIP technology or you’re running on an older system and want to look at something a bit more innovative, 3CX is an example of a service that carries a balance between traditional functionality and the cloud, run on what’s called the SIP standard. It enables phones and their extensions to make calls via standard systems and VoIP alike.
3CX can be run on a cloud server, but it can also run locally—inside an office, or even at someone’s home. It’s extremely flexible and has a ton of features that are useful for running businesses from basically anywhere. Furthermore, you can quite literally run it on any device (it’s compatible with iPhone, Android, tablet technology and even Windows).
When it comes to directing inbound calls, 3CX allows users to configure routes based on a number of options, including but not limited to:
- Time of day
- Day of the week (concerning weekends and public holidays, etc.)
- Keypad responses to questions from an intelligent personal/virtual assistant (“Press 2 for X department.”)
Essentially, you can set rules to route your calls however you want with this software. It’s extremely powerful, but when you log into the web interface, you’ll find it’s quite easy to control. This is similar to using Facebook Messenger or Skype Mobile, but with more business-oriented functionality. And, as long as you have the application on your cell phone, you can both place and receive calls via your extension rather than your regular number. Why does this matter? Because, let’s face it, most people don’t answer private numbers anymore. Additionally, for the sake of privacy and security, it’s imperative that your caller ID reflect your place of business rather than your personal number.
More Uses for 3CX
- Once you’ve established your extensions, you’ll access a number of automation options. That could be anything from taking payment information to validating a membership status.
- If you have a receptionist, they can still forward your calls straight to you on your mobile, and it’ll show up through the app. Enabling your receptionist to work remotely, with no other changes, is pretty cool—clients will have no idea it’s even happening.
- If you’re currently using a paid plan from a platform like Zoom, you might be ready to consider 3CX instead. Through the latest version of the app, your business phone system will have web meeting and video calling capabilities.
- If you’re considering taking advantage of their COVID-19 relief offer, you’ll find a number of additional features. These include polling, screen sharing, a digital whiteboard, recording and remote control capabilities.
Look up SIP clients, talk to your phone provider, and find out what your SIP settings are to enable you to take calls from home. You have nothing to lose and a plethora of useful features to gain. VoIP and SIP can save you money as well. If you can implement a new technology that helps you work remotely, do it. It’s arguably the best and most current solution available for businesses performing remote operations. If you’re still confused, don’t stress out. It’s easy to get in touch with ClubIT today.