Calling all small businesses: The advantages of cloud-based voice-over-IP
The combination of cloud computing and ubiquitous internet has become the great equalizer in business. The low cost of using computing, storage and applications hosted by a third-party data center enables the smallest of companies to be competitive.
So it’s no surprise that small- and mid-size businesses are embracing cloud applications. More than 70% of companies with fewer than 100 employees and more than 90% of companies with between 100 and 499 employees already use the cloud, according to International Data Corp. And a recent report by Microsoft predicts that 78% of small businesses will have adopted cloud computing by 2020.
While data processing and storage gets many of the cloud headlines, cloud-based telephony can be a game-changer for small businesses. Voice-over-IP and cloud technology enable startups and small companies to have a virtual call center, which allows them to operate more like a big business.
Zadarma Project, for example, offers a cloud-based VoIP system that anticipates website visitors’ needs and quickly responds to queries, all at a cost that can be 90% lower than a traditional business phone system, according to the company.
Unlike traditional phone systems, which require expensive dedicated hardware such as private branch exchange switches and handsets, a cloud-based system using VoIP entails no capital expenditures. Rather than having to install equipment and wiring, a company simply connects to Zadarma’s cloud-based PBX through the internet, and the phone system resides on Zadarma’s servers. The software-based system is designed to easily configure and update, which means there is no need for hardware upgrades or additions every few years. The system can be expanded at any time — both in number of users and geographically around the world. Employees can connect to each other, and to customers, anywhere, anytime and from any device. Additionally, businesses don’t need full-time tech staff to install and maintain phone systems.
Zadarma’s system features three website widgets designed to help companies respond quickly to inquiries and gauge the effectiveness of various channels:
- Callback Widget: Detects visitor behavior that may indicate confusion or the imminent departure of a visitor, then automatically pops up with an offer to connect the visitor to a sales manager within 20 seconds. The goal is to increase conversion rates and decrease bounce rates.
- Click to Call Widget: Offers an additional way to connect by presenting the visitor with a button that, when clicked, connects them to sales, customer service or wherever the company determines. The widget encourages human contact and increases conversion rates.
- Call Tracking Widget: Analyzes incoming calls and website sessions, presenting data so a company can evaluate the effectiveness of various advertising and thus make the most efficient use of its advertising budget. There are two types of tracking. Dynamic tracking is used for online advertising, tracks each individual visitor, determining where they came from (such as a banner ad) and their movements while on the company website. Static tracking is suitable for offline advertising channels. By using a different, dedicated phone number on each channel, companies can see where each customer saw the information about the business. Call tracking can be linked to other applications such as web analytics and customer relationship management.
The Zadarma system also integrates with various apps, including Salesforce, ZohoCRM, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Slack, which enables the data and conversations to be used to build the customer relationship.
The use of cloud-based VoIP aims to make small companies as virtually efficient as companies that are much larger, at a fraction of the cost.