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Moving Your Phone System to the Cloud

Business leaders need to find new and innovative ways to streamline communications, lower IT costs, save time and scale efficiently to remain competitive.

Imagine a telephone system that could transform your franchise operation while improving employee productivity, enhancing customer service and lowering costs. This system would allow you to change your entire franchise’s outgoing phone message by simply logging onto a website or easily integrating multiple locations within one phone system. Imagine being able to use text messaging on your business phone system to send messages to employees, or updates and confirmations to customers. All of these capabilities and more are now possible by moving your phone system to the cloud.

A New Era of Work

Now is the time for franchises to re-examine their existing business phone systems.
The way we work and communicate has changed significantly compared to a decade ago and franchise businesses are no exception. Today 86 percent of companies have employees who are mobile and 70 percent use mobile devices to make work calls. At the same time, customers expect companies to be responsive 24/7 and a new generation prefers texting to talking on the phone or sending e-mails. These changes are greatly due to significant increases in broadband speeds and the proliferation of mobile devices.

How are franchise businesses adapting their phone systems to this new world of work? Many are behind the curve. Most still rely on legacy phone systems designed for the 1990s work environment. These on-premise, hardware-based business phone systems are commonly referred to as a public branch exchange or PBX. These systems are designed for an era when employees mainly worked in an office or single location, used desktops not laptops or mobile devices, and work communication stopped after they went home for the day. They are designed to work in one location, not multiple locations, do not integrate with mobile devices, require specialized IT skills to install and maintain and costs tens of thousands of dollars in upfront capital expenditure.

To be competitive, business leaders in all industries need to find new and innovative ways to streamline communications, lower IT costs, save time and scale efficiently. You can accomplish all of these objectives by moving your phone system to the cloud. Here’s how:

Streamline Communications

To keep employees connected to customers and colleagues, a cloud business phone system provides advanced phone, fax and text messaging capabilities, as well as core features such as on-hold message and music, auto-receptionist, employee and department extensions, voicemail with e-mail notification and call auto-recording. The solution integrates with multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, computers and Internet provider-enabled desktop phones. All that’s needed is a broadband connection.

For franchise businesses with multiple locations, a cloud phone solution enables them to keep employees in multiple stores connected to customers and each other within the same phone system. With the traditional PBX, it’s not possible to tie together multiple locations. So if a customer calls a franchise location that’s not in his area, he cannot be connected to the nearest location. Instead the franchise must ask the customer to write down a different number and dial it separately. But with a cloud solution, customers can simply call one number and be seamlessly connected to the location they are trying to reach. For example, one of our franchise business customers has more than 85 locations and was able to tie all of these locations together for the first time. An extra benefit is that the accounts receivable department now receives one phone bill and not 85 separate invoices.

A cloud solution can also integrate with mobile devices. This means that if a franchise owner is out of the office, she doesn’t have to miss potential business as she can still make and receive work calls using her main business number on her mobile device. For franchise businesses with field agents, this means that the agents can call and text customers on their way to a service call using the company’s business number on their personal mobile device without revealing their personal mobile identity. The text messaging feature can also be used by restaurant franchisees to enable customers to text the hostess to reserve a table instead of calling.

With mobile device integration, this also means that, if there’s a natural disaster or other issue with the franchise office or location, the phone system can be easily routed to employees’ mobile devices. This way business leaders and employees can continue to communicate with customers and colleagues from home or a new location.

Lower IT Costs

One of the benefits to any franchise business that chooses to move to a cloud-based phone system is the associated cost savings. For a traditional on-premise PBX, businesses must invest tens of thousands of dollars upfront in the hardware and installation. At the same time, the system is prohibitive to maintain as it often requires calling in a specialized IT technician when employees move desks or to change the system’s outgoing message.
With a cloud phone system, there is no capital expenditure except for purchasing office desk phones if needed. Our franchise business customers tell us that they generally save 50 percent to 60 percent in the first year compared to investing in an on-premise PBX. They also save on ongoing operating expenditures as a cloud solution is affordable at about $25 a month per user. For many franchise businesses, this equates to thousands of dollars of savings every month.

Save Time

The solution is much simpler to install, use and doesn’t require an IT background to manage. Unlike a PBX that takes weeks to install, businesses can be up and running with a cloud phone solution within minutes of activating the account. For example, to set up the phone system, one simply logs in to the system on a computer or mobile device. From here, an individual can easily set up an auto-receptionist, on-hold message or music, a call directory and department extensions, as well as call handling rules.

Your business can also empower employees to make changes to their own phone preferences. And when they change desks, employees can simply pick up their desk phone and plug it in to the Internet connection at their new desk. With an on-premise PBX, these types of changes often require IT involvement.

Scale Efficiently

Another advantage of a cloud solution is that it’s easy to scale quickly when your franchise business needs it and not before. One simply logs in and adds new numbers and employee extensions as needed.

If your organization is expanding to a new market, it simply adds the new location and all of its employees into the existing phone system. Now all of your employees across multiple locations can easily communicate with customers and each other. With an on-premise system, your business would need to invest in a separate PBX for every new location and even then, it would not be able to seamlessly tie all of your locations and employees together within one business phone system.

It’s hard to ignore the benefits of moving your phone system to the cloud. For franchise businesses that make the move, they will gain a competitive edge with improved employee productivity, better customer service, lower IT costs and enhanced scalability.

Bonnie Lam is senior director of the franchise channel at RingCentral, a pioneer and leading provider of cloud business communication solutions. She can be reached at 800-378-8110 or bonniel@ringcentral.com.

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