Business phone systems have been around since … well, forever. And most come with the same sets of problems: dropped calls, clunky machines, and — for reasons we’ll never be able to explain — the inability to smoothly and seamlessly transfer a call. 

Circa the 1990s, business phones got a much-needed makeover. Cloud Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, systems began replacing the outdated, traditional phones (and the problems that came with it). Since cloud VoIP phone systems run over the internet, they offer a number of advantages, including decreased costs, expanded teams, and improved customer service. 

Unfortunately, if you zoom forward 30 years (not a typo — yes, it’s been 30 years since the ’90s 😳), many formerly high-tech, cloud-based systems haven’t kept up with changing times. Below, we explain what a cloud VoIP system is, the advantages of a cloud-based phone system, and how to select the best system for your company or startup. 

What is a cloud VoIP phone system?

Cloud VoIP, or cloud Voice over Internet Protocol, is a telephone system hosted by a third-party provider. A cloud VoIP uses an existing internet connection to route telephone calls, thereby decreasing overhead for the company. Cloud VoIP services are sometimes referred to as hosted VoIP, as they store data off-site at their own data centers.  

When using a cloud VoIP system, the data from your call is routed through the internet. Therefore, your company doesn’t need traditional telephone wires to make and receive calls (which often requires hefty setup and maintenance costs). Many cloud VoIP providers offer wide-range functionality, such as long-distance calling and CRM capabilities. 

A cloud VoIP offers a number of advantages, both for the individual and the greater company. First, it allows individuals to connect with the company’s phone system anytime, anywhere — as long as there’s an existing internet connection. This allows remote teams to stay connected (and prevents them from using personal cellphones for business calls). In addition, it cuts down on operational costs for the company, as it’s considerably cheaper than other phone systems. 

What are the advantages of a cloud VoIP phone system? 

There are a number of reasons why you might opt for a cloud-based system over a traditional desk phone. These benefits range from the obvious (no clunky, on-premises hardware) to those you might not think about (the ability to manage an international sales team). 

If you’re thinking of swapping out your traditional landline or private branch exchange (PBX) for a cloud-based system, here are some advantages you should know about. 

1. They’re more affordable 

When it comes to pricing, cloud VoIP systems are a cost-effective alternative to traditional phone services. The setup costs are lower — or non-existent, depending on your provider — and there’s no hardware that needs regular updates. Software updates and bug fixes happen automatically, so you don’t need to worry about ongoing maintenance costs.

2. They come with seamless integrations* 

Take note of the asterisk here, because integrations depend heavily on the cloud VoIP system you choose.

With that disclaimer out of the way, the best cloud phone systems can integrate with CRM, productivity, and business communication tools, like email, Slack, Zapier, and HubSpot. This makes it easier for your team to stay connected — no matter where they’re located.

3. They offer advanced features 

Cloud VoIP services offer a number of features that help startups and small businesses run smoothly. While a small business owner before could only dream of having their own executive assistant, cloud-based systems typically come with call forwarding, caller ID, and auto-attendant to handle incoming communications. In addition, you get access to group messaging, voicemail to text, shared phone numbers, call transfers, snippets, and auto-replies. It’s like having a virtual assistant.

4. Increased connectivity 

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more companies found themselves transitioning to a remote work environment. But handling a remote workforce can be tricky. A situation that should (in theory) promote an improved work-life balance can easily do the opposite without the right tools, technologies, and (say it with us) boundaries in place.

Cloud systems allow teams to work wherever, whenever they want, as long as they have a solid connection. In addition, having a separate business phone number for employees promotes a better work environment (and creates a clear distinction between work and personal calls on your employees’ mobile devices). 

The best cloud VoIP solution for your business should have these features 

Cloud VoIP: Screenshot of the OpenPhone desktop app

There are a number of business VoIP services available — but they won’t all address your business needs. To get the most from your service provider, here a number of features you should look out for: 

  • Desktop, browser, and mobile apps: You shouldn’t have to be connected to an internet router in order to make a phone call. Your team should be able to route calls through whichever device they choose (phones, tablets, or desktop), allowing them to stay connected on business trips or while working remotely.
  • Business hours: Yes, your team wants to stay connected, but do they really want to be connected 24/7? Setting business hours gives your team downtime and a work-life balance.
  • Shared phone numbers: Shared phone numbers allow multiple teammates to text or call from a single line. This allows your team to easily collaborate, delegate tasks, and stay on the same page with a given client.
  • Built-in CRM: Your address book will only take you so far. A built-in CRM system allows you to share contacts, prevent duplicates, leave notes on contacts, and collaborate with other teammates.
  • Messaging: Yes, it’s the 21st century, and yes, people do text clients. Your phone solutions should allow you to text (and group text) videos, files, messages, and auto-replies in real time.
  • Cross-collaboration: One of the main benefits of cloud VoIP systems is that it frees up a team’s bandwidth by enabling in-house communication. Your cloud system should offer a shared voicemail box, call routing, direct messaging, and stored, in-house communications to prevent redundancy (and spare your sanity). 
  • Native integrations: The best cloud VoIP systems offer so much more than a typical phone. They should allow you to seamlessly run business operations, integrating with Slack, email, CRM tools, and other applications.

Why OpenPhone is the cloud VoIP system you’ve been waiting for 

OpenPhone makes it easy for your team to stay connected, no matter where in the world they may be working. With OpenPhone, team members simply download an app to their existing mobile device, then easily start text messaging and calling clients.

OpenPhone is different because it’s so easy to use. Your employees keep using their regular cells, but business phone numbers keep their personal information private. In addition, OpenPhone comes with a built-in lightweight CRM and connects with thousands of apps through Zapier, allowing you to easily run business operations. 

OpenPhone makes it easy for startups, small businesses, and individuals to stay connected. To see how easily OpenPhone can transform your business communications, start a seven-day free trial today.

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Amy is a professional B2B writer who drives results for SaaS and marketing brands. Like a chameleon, she instantly assumes a brand's unique voice and delivers content that never bores readers.

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