It is important that you need to be clear about needs and business regulations when you are choosing between cloud telephony systems.
Shivakumar Ganesan, CEO, Exotel
Communication is an important asset for all startups, especially stockbrokers) as most of the business happens over a phone call - taking orders or talking to customers.
Today, there are many channels in play like email, chat, video conferencing, to communicate for businesses.
These channels have improved the speed at which conversations move, but a phone call still remains the most favorite because of the ease of access and use.
A phone system is integral to the operations of a stock-broking company. Yet, many companies are pushing their legacy phone systems beyond their years. The effect of this is felt when the system fails, calls are missed and deals are lost.
If you are actively thinking about upgrading your business phone system to a smart one that can handle calls, scale your business, keep your customers informed and not have you sell your soul to buy it, this is the right article for you.When you are zeroing in on a business phone system, ask your potential partner these five questions.
- How easily can you set up and manage this phone system?
A phone system should be effortless to setup and manage. This is harder to achieve with on-premise solutions or what is commonly known as EPABX systems.
The setup can only be done by a professional, the equipment is expensive, and it takes up a lot of office space. The maintenance costs and the dependence on the professional support are also high.
Cloud-based phone systems, on the other hand, enable you to communicate in a less expensive, and more streamlined manner.
Since the entire system is on the cloud, you save on real estate cost (a big factor with a lot of small offices!), maintenance and paying for a person to manage it. You can sign up, go out for a coffee, come back and see that your phone system is live- it is that simple!
This is extremely favorable where time is of the essence. For instance, the SEBI order which mandates phone call recording for stockbrokers from 1 January can be achieved easily with cloud telephony. This is not the case with an on-premise solution.
The other advantages being, you can pay as you go, add users, add IVR greetings and edit the call flow without the help of a professional.
2. What are the features available with this system?
This is an important question to ask, to check if your needs are in alignment with the features of the system.
An on-premise system has limited features - the activation takes weeks, the brokers have to be restricted to their desks, no call recording option, scaling is tough, the maintenance and update hassles are a story for another day.
With cloud telephony, you can get a simple call flow up and running in less than 30 minutes.
A warm and professional IVR greeting will make your customers feel welcome, and the employees can take calls on the go without having to be chained to their desk. Scaling is very easy, automatic and you get unlimited support as you grow.
The SEBI regulation instructs that the proof of burden will be on the broker to produce voice recordings for a disputed trade. Cloud communication products offer 24/7 call recording without any assistance.
Generating reports and insights with traditional phone systems is tedious. Cloud telephony offers exhaustive everyday reporting with information about call patterns, call productivity, call quality etc.
Here’s a list of features you should ideally look for in any cloud telephony software you choose:1. IVR greeting
2. Multi-level IVR
3. Call Recording
4. Adding unlimited agents
5. Easy call flow builder without having to code
6. Well documented APIs (for automation and integrations)
7. Easy to understand daily reporting
3. How reliable is this telephony system?
Reliability is the one aspect that every business cares about. Cloud telephony has unique challenges because of the two building blocks it is built on- telephony and internet. The phone and internet lines in India are undependable. However, a good service provider innovates continuously to give you the best experience.
Cloud service providers usually have backups for every phone and internet service provider which ensures that even if one is experiencing a downtime, the other is active.
This level of sophistication cannot be promised by an on-premise solution. A downtime with legacy phone systems take many hours and in a lot of cases even days to resolve. This means missed calls and unhappy customers, which is not a favorable position for any business.
4. How secure is the particular cloud telephony system?
Security is a major concern when you have to entrust customer information with a third party. Contrary to the myth that security is a challenge yet to be addressed, cloud telephony is way ahead of the legacy systems in terms of security.
The data is stored in secure data centers that are hosted on servers on a cloud service which offers superior features like encrypted data storage, secure access etc. The data can also be easily retrieved at will.
5. Are there any hidden costs?
The hidden costs of a traditional phone system include installation costs, maintenance and replacement costs, connectivity costs etc.
A cloud-based phone system eliminates these costs as the cloud service provider takes care of installation, maintenance, and updates. There is no extra investment spent on infrastructure. The pricing is transparent and you pay only for the usage.
It is important that you need to be clear about needs and business regulations when you are choosing between phone systems.
You have to compare the best with the best and choose a system that allows you to pick, install and get started without having to worry about its integrity or performance every single day.
With the complexities that exist in the traditional legacy systems, cloud telephony evidently emerges a clear winner.
(The author is co-founder and CEO of Bangalore based Exotel. Views are personal.)