Hosted PBX 101
“A Hosted PBX will Save You Money, Increase Your Revenue, and Empower Your Employees to
Work Faster, Smarter, and More Efficiently”
Dear Business Executive,
I’ve talked to a lot of business owners and managers who have a basic understanding of Hosted PBX solutions, but they’re still unclear about the Big Picture, and how Hosted PBX advanced features can be used in their business.
Our surveys indicate that executives spend a significant amount of time researching Hosted PBX systems, and visiting websites in an attempt to gather enough information to make their decision.
If you are like most people who are considering a Hosted PBX solution, then you are probably looking for five basic pieces of information:
- Does Hosted PBX make sense for my business?
- Is it really cost-effective?
- How easy is it to install and manage?
- And finally, which provider should I choose?
To reduce the information noise, I decided to write a single page to provide a plain language answers to those questions, including what the Hosted PBX advanced features are, how the features work to save you money and increase employee productivity, why you save money, and what to expect once you’ve installed the system.
I want to give you a few attributes to consider when you choose your provider.
This page is a lot to read, I know, but I’ll guarantee you won’t find this information consolidated in one spot anywhere else on the internet. Once you finish, I think you’ll agree it was well worth your time and effort. If you do, or even if you don’t, I ‘d appreciate a few comments from you. You’ll find my email address at the bottom of this page.
“Does Hosted PBX Make Sense for My Business?”
From a cost and engineering standpoint, the sweet spot of our technology provides optimum benefits for companies that have between 5 and 250 employees who are located in two or more geographically separate locations.
When I say separate locations, I am also talking about remote workers who may be working out of their home or in shared virtual office space. Support of remote workers is a major benefit of our Hosted PBX service, but I’ll explain more about remote worker support a little later. If your company profile falls within the size range above, then there is a good chance that you will be able to maximize the benefits offered by a Hosted PBX solution, which are:
- Increased productivity
- Reduction of your current telecommunications expense
- Advanced feature to increase employee productivity
- And a Future-proof technology that will economically grow with your business
Here’s some other criteria to consider. If just a few items on this list are important to you, then there is an excellent chance that your system of choice should be a Hosted PBX:
- I can’t afford to pay, or I don’t want to pay, high up-front costs
- Our business will probably change over the next few years and we need to remain flexible
- We are not a major corporation
- Some or all of our employees are remote workers
- Our system should have the capability to handle a large number of incoming calls
- We have toll free numbers for our customers
- We don’t have dedicated telecommunications technicians and we don’t want to hire them or contract workers to maintain the system
- The system must have full ACD functionality to support call center functions now or in the future
If you visited our home page, you probably noticed that we have five major business events listed at the very top of the page. Obviously, these are not random events. We have found these five events to be opportune opportunities for a business to replace their old PBX with a Hosted PBX system, or install a brand new system if they don’t already have one.
The five events are: Starting a new business, moving or opening a new office, upgrading your present PBX, your business is growing, or if you are unhappy with your present provider.
If you fall into one of those categories, you’ve picked a good time for serious consideration of a Hosted PBX.
“Hosted PBX Advanced Features are Keys to Increased Employee Productivity and Efficiency”
It’s no secret that Hosted PBX technology has a robust set of advanced features that literally makes a traditional PBX as obsolete as a rotary telephone. Putting these advanced features to work for you will streamline your business processes, increase customer satisfaction and increase your revenues. Just as importantly, these features can provide you with a major strategic advantage over your competition.
As an added bonus, activation and changes to these features are easily administered by your employees by using an easy-to-use, intuitive web browser. With a tradition PBX, you would have to pay the provider or your own technician to perform these changes for you and probably have to wait several days for the changes to be completed.
Here are just a few of the features available, how you can use them, and why they are important to your business:
Our Simultaneous Ring feature acts as a personal locator to make it easy for people to find you. You can set up to 10 phone numbers to all ring at the same time when someone calls your office phone number – then answer the call on any of the ringing phones. This makes contacting you easier than ever since callers only have to dial one number to reach you.
Bottom line, there is less chance of missing important calls. Supercharge your sales force, both inside and outside, with this powerful feature and generate more revenue and more profit! Remote Office
Through an easy-to-use Web-based portal, you can assign your office phone number to any phone in the world. So if you’re traveling in London, you can set you hotel phone to ring when someone calls your office phone number. And making calls from your hotel phone will look to your callers like you’re calling from your office. This feature can put your sales force, virtual office workers, and traveling executives within easy reach when a special call must be completed.
Present a more professional image to callers and reduce the need for a full-time receptionist with our Auto Attendant. Incoming calls to your main number are answered by our Auto Attendant, which is fully customizable according to your specifications. Dial by name directories and “0”-out to Operator options are standard. The Auto Attendant gives your company that much needed professional Big Business image.
Online Call Manager
Using a web-based portal allows you to dial, manipulate, and transfer calls on your computer, as well as configure and change your personal call handling settings. This feature allows you to adjust to changing business needs on the fly without having to send in a service request and then wait days before the change is made. In today’s business environment, worker and process flexibility enhances your competitive edge.
Listen, forward and archive your voicemails as easily as your email. In addition to receiving voicemails on your telephone, a copy of each voicemail message is forwarded to your Email inbox as an audio file. This feature allows you to visually scan your voicemail box for the most important message.
To obtain the same results with a traditional PBX you would have to call your voice mail and sequentially listen to the header of each and every message, a time-consuming process. You can also forward a message to someone outside your Hosted PBX system using email. That enables you to share valuable first hand information with your suppliers, affiliates, and other important business partners.
Other Basic Features
Each user also has a set of basic features that need no explanation. These are: unlimited local calling, unique phone number (DID), Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, Do Not Disturb, Last Number Redial, and Caller ID.
Depending on your business, here are a few optional features you might want to also consider.
Soft Attendant Console
– This optional computer application replaces the need for a bulky receptionist module. This optional feature provides the receptionist with a visual representation of every employee so they can see instantly who’s on the phone and who’s not. Transferring calls is easy – just click and drag.
Plus, since the application is accessed over the Internet, your receptionist can handle calls from any geographical location. This not only gives you hiring flexibility, it also is a major advantage in the event a natural or man-made disaster occurs at your main business location and preserves the continuity of revenue-producing communications to and from your business.
– The optional Call Center application is a powerful, but inexpensive tool that allows businesses to tie together employees across multiple locations under one unified call center. Incoming calls are held in queue and routed to the next available agent – no matter where they are! Nightly reporting is available on both the agent and overall group level showing average hold time, average time spent per call, number of minutes an agent was check-in/ check-out, plus other critical management features.
With this money-saving feature you have the flexibility to easily assemble a full-featured call center utilizing remotely deployed workers or office based workers. How would you like to have the option of using a virtual staff for all your call center needs or to bring in part-timers on the spur of the moment to handle promotional call volume spikes or for business continuity in the event of a disaster. A Hosted PBX can give you that flexibility.
“How Do I Save Money with Hosted PBX Service?”
Obviously, I can’t cover every cost-saving aspect of a Hosted PBX solution because there are just too many, but I will tell you about a few of them to assist with your research. Cash Flow
-Controlling cash flow is a major factor that determines the ultimate success or failure of any business, regardless if you are a start-up or an established business. Tight control over capital expenditures and operating expense is essential.
On average, a Hosted PBX costs 20-40% less than a premise-based PBX. Also, capital expenditures are minimized since you don’t have to deplete valuable capital dollars to “Buy the “Box”.
Additionally, because of the way premised based PBX systems are designed, you have no choice but to buy more equipment than you actually need to support your current requirements.
Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Why spend precious dollars now on equipment you won’t need until six or 12 months later or longer? A Hosted PBX allows you to pay as you grow. You only buy what you need to support current requirements.
Adding new employees to the system is fast, easy, and cheap. More importantly, you don’t have to pay for something until you actually need it.
If you are ever affected by a downturn in business, a Hosted PBX gives you the flexibility to reduce your expenses accordingly by reducing your telecommunications requirements with no penalty. You only pay for what you need, when you need it. Generally, you cannot do that with a premise-based system without incurring some form of financial penalty.
Moves, Adds, and Changes
You may see this referred to MACs on other sites. Unlike a traditional PBX, in a Hosted PBX environment, Moves, Adds and Changes do not require an on-site technician to make change to your phone system. VoIP Hosted PBXs can be remotely configured by the provider, thus providing you with the flexibility to add, change, delete or move users within hours.
Eliminating costly monthly maintenance contracts will reduce your expenses and the high labor cost required to have a technician onsite for every change you need. In addition, you gain flexibility to respond quickly to changing business or market conditions.
Significantly Reduce Depreciation Losses
Traditional PBX systems depreciate almost 70% the day you install them. With a VoIP Hosted phone service, you won’t have to worry about depreciation since you’re not purchasing equipment.
“Total Cost of Ownership Says it All”
Although there are many other reasons that a Hosted PBX can save you money, such as maintenance, software patches, no requirement to maintain PBX equipment inventories, no vendor finger-pointing, and faster trouble resolution, the overall savings can be summed up by considering the Total Cost of Ownership.
It is long term TCO, after all, that will ultimately shape your decision and impact the financial viability of your company.
In the December 2005 issue of Business Communications Review, Ken Dolsky and Warren Williams of InfoTech published an in-depth analysis comparing the TCO/ROI of a Hosted PBX to that of a premise-based IP PBX for a single location with 50 users. They concluded for most instances, the Hosted PBX environment was the clear financial and performance winner. The costs modeled in their analysis were distributed in four categories:
- Equipment/Service and Installation
- Operations and Administration
- Access and Toll Costs
- Business/financial planning and project management
The results of their 5-year analysis showed the Hosted PBX generated an ROI of 65% and a discounted savings of $88,378!
Even though this shows there is a significant opportunity to reduce your costs, it is important to point out that the analysis did not not take into account savings associated with increasing productivity and revenue using the Hosted PBX’s advanced features that I mentioned above. Implement advanced features and your savings will be even greater.
“What About Installation and Maintenance?”
Compared to a premise-based PBX, the installation of a Hosted PBX System is far less complicated. There are fewer steps, and very little equipment need to be shipped to the your business location, there is no need to burn-in new hardware, there is no need to assemble racks at your location, and best of all, there is no need to install or test onsite software.
In addition, your business’ participate in the installation process is greatly reduced, particularly in activities such as station reviews, directories and detailed network planning.
Also, the Hosted PBX system can be implemented one line at a time and can co-exist with premises equipment that may be needed to support other users. It is no small consideration that the Hosted PBX eliminates the need for a flash cutover, which is a major advantage over a premised based IP PBX system.
Finally, implementation costs for a Hosted PBX system are much less than those for a premise-based PBX.
If critical problems occur that cannot be cleared remotely, premise-based PBX customers must wait for a technician to be dispatched. Most maintenance agreements contain Service Level Agreement clauses that give the repair technician four hours to arrive at your business location. If your business has lost all communications with the outside world, and especially with customers, there may be situations when that will significantly impact your revenue.
With a Hosted PBX solution, the same trouble can probably be resolved almost immediately since technicians are already on site at the provider’s Hosted PBX data center.