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Cloud Phone Systems for Beginners

By Chris Burgy|Tuesday July 16, 2019

Cloud technology has already transformed how you do business. Cloud email systems provide access from anywhere using any device. Cloud-based file storage makes it easier to collaborate. You may even have your own private cloud to host your internal database, or you might use a cloud CRM system to track and maintain all your sales activity and customer information.

While business phone systems were previously viewed as a utility, cloud phone systems demonstrate that treating your voice communications like a transformative technology can provide significant advantages across all areas of operation.

Learn about the basics of cloud-based phone systems, including what it is, how it works, and how it provides the framework for better business communications.


guide to cloud phone systems


What Is a Cloud Phone System?

A business cloud phone solution provides the same functionality of a local PBX, but the system routes calls over your internet connection rather than through traditional copper phone lines.

Also known as Voice over Internet Protocol, “VoIP” solutions or hosted private branch exchange (PBX), services are hosted on servers, allowing a call from your desk phone to be bridged with any other phone number via the internet. Even though the user experience is the same, the behind-the-scenes technology is much different.

The advantages of hosted VoIP service include access to high-tech features, lower cost than traditional phone service, and easier deployment since you won’t be paying for hardwired phone lines.

What Does a Cloud Phone Setup Look Like?

The setup of your cloud phone system will depend upon both your business needs and your provider. With Ooma, users can choose between several types of devices and user clients:

  • Analog phone communicating wirelessly
  • Analog phone plugged into an Ooma Base Station
  • Analog phone communicating wirelessly via an Ooma Linx
  • Ooma mobile app for anywhere access from any mobile device
  • IP desk phone communicating wirelessly
  • IP desk phone connected to Ethernet port
  • IP conference phone
  • Cordless IP phone for roaming access within your business

cloud phone device configuration

How Do Cloud Phone Systems Help You Solve Mobility Access?

Too often, businesses try to piece together voice communications by having a small business office phone system that’s supplemented with cell phone numbers. While this does provide the connectivity coverage, it certainly isn’t convenient to have multiple contact numbers or to make and receive business calls from a personal cell phone number. Having the ability to make and receive business calls through a cloud business phone system on devices inside and outside of the office creates continuity and enhances the professional image by being reachable via the business phone system regardless of where you are.

The Ooma business mobile app lets you add your office phone as a secondary line on a mobile device. Personal calls will ring on the phone’s native calling app, and work calls will ring via the Ooma Office mobile app.


business cloud phone app

The business calling app is full access, letting you make and receive incoming calls as though you were at your desk. Callers won’t even know that you’re not at your desk because you can transfer calls, check voicemail, and have the same level of connectivity.

Mobile business guides frequently explain how cloud technology supports today’s mobile workforce. A cloud phone system streamlines connectivity, reducing the unnecessary confusion of split communications with different numbers for different devices. It helps employees stay on the ball when they’re away from their desk, and it can be a way to network remote workers into your business’ phone system.

What Else Can a Cloud Phone System Do?

The transformational functionality of a cloud phone system provides optimization for many areas of business communications.

These advanced business VoIP features provide a strong communications framework:

  • Virtual Receptionist: Automate your incoming calls with a menu system that allows callers to speak with a specific staff member, a certain department, listen to a pre-recorded status update, or get basic business information such as hours or directions.
  • Ring Groups: Avoid the missed opportunity of when a call goes to voicemail. Ring groups allow a call to a single number to ring on multiple phones.
  • Conference Bridge: Businesses don’t need a separate app when conference calling is built right into the existing phone system.
  • On-call Functionality:Support your callers better with on-call functions. Place a caller on hold, transfer callers to another extension, and use Call Park to queue up multiple callers on hold.

Businesses that have more advanced communications needs can benefit from an
enterprise phone system with features such as:

  • UCaaS: With unified communications as a service in the cloud, you can use business communications across multiple channels, including integrated messaging and video conferencing.
  • Advanced Analytics: Calling analytics can give you the business intelligence to understand caller sentiment, agent performance, keyword activity, customer satisfaction, and more.
  • Call Center: Establish a powerful call center with intelligent call flows, skills-based routing, interactive voice response, intelligent reconnect, and more.
  • CRM Integration: Sync your customer management database directly with your phone system to improve operational efficiency and the quality of your customer service.

What Are Your Cloud Phone Options?

You can select from different cloud phone solutions that provide varying feature sets that support both the size and complexity of your business and communications needs.

Ooma Office cloud phone 

For example, a small start-up with a staff of 10 may want an approach that combines innovative features with ease of use. For these situations, Ooma Office provides small businesses with the advantages of cutting-edge communications technology with an easily deployable solution that’s simple to use on any device. It’s flexible, powerful, reliable, and SMBs can enable contractors to work remotely within their business communications system. Moreover, it’s not so cumbersome that you’ll need to call your IT consultant or department.

As one real estate agency owner explains, Ooma Office saved the company 30 to 40 percent on its phone service while providing great call quality and ease of use. In fact, many customers save more than $6,000 in just three years. Use the Ooma savings calculator to see how much you could save.


Larger businesses that are working at scale may have more complex needs that can be accommodated by Ooma Enterprise VoIP Solution. This system offers unified communications or UCaaS, plus call center capabilities that are easily customizable to provide the perfect fit for your business protocols and processes. Easy drag-and-drop functionality lets you build customized call flows in minutes. With Ooma Enterprise, the cloud platform enables application integration so you can sync your phone system directly with your other cloud software. It also delivers top quality and security through a global network of distributed data centers.

Ooma Enterprise comes with dedicated success heroes who go beyond customer support to guide you through the entire process so that you won’t have to jump through hoops to get a phone system that’s just right for your business. The Ooma success heroes are part of your all-inclusive monthly service fee, so you get amazing value at a very affordable rate.

What Are the Leading Cloud Phone System Providers?

Cloud-based business phone systems are on the rise, and the market recently topped $5B in annual sales. These are the leading cloud phone system providers and their satisfaction ratings:

Overall satisfaction score by PC Magazine’s Business Choice Awards
*2018 figure used because 2019 data not available.

What Distinguishes a Good Cloud Phone Provider?

When choosing a system, two main considerations should influence your decision.

The first is call quality. With the great calling features of Ooma, it’s easy to be sold on the solution because it delivers top-notch voice quality that’s optimized across changing internet conditions and geographic locations.

For the past six years, Ooma Office has been the #1 small business VoIP phone system in PC Magazine’s Business Choice Awards. It was also the top choice in the categories of call quality and reliability.

The second consideration is the ability of the phone service to meet your business’ exact needs. While many providers try to retrofit your communications into the solution they’re offering, Ooma Enterprise is a highly flexible and customizable system that can be tailored to your needs. Especially when you’re working at a scale of hundreds or thousands of employees, there’s no need to establish workarounds. You can easily build, modify, integrate, and standardize your business communications system and process workflows across numerous teams and locations to deliver the perfect fit.

Your business isn’t like other companies, and now you don’t have to use a cookie-cutter solution that falls short of meeting your business’ demands.

Learn more about how Ooma’s Enterprise VoIP Service can help your business stay connected.

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Ooma Business Starter Pack

Ooma Phone Business Starter Pack

Comes with:
– 1 Ooma Office Base Station
– 2 Wireless extensions
*Compatible with existing analog phones

According to McKinsey, a consulting firm, more than two-thirds of Americans are holding back on outdoor activities, which means spending much more time at home. That means fewer visits to your favorite restaurant and perhaps a lot more time using streaming services. Staying at home for days and weeks at a time can get old, and with more time at home, a home phone is one of the best ways to stay in touch. Find out how home phone use during lockdown can keep you connected and productive without adding stress.

Spending more time at home: Why it’s different compared to other routines.

Many people used to have a daily routine defined by their commuting habits. You might get into your car by 8:00 a.m., drive on the freeway, and pick up coffee. Upon arriving at the office, your social habits would kick in, and you’d say hello to a few people. At your desk, you’d enjoy your coffee or tea and check social media. This gradual transition time between home and work has disappeared for many of us.

Your morning “commute” might be minutes or seconds, depending on how far away you are from your mobile devices. The advantage of staying at home is that you can save money on commuting costs and save time. The disadvantage is that you will begin to lose some of your social connections if you don’t make an effort to stay engaged. Fortunately, a phone call strategy is one of the simplest ways to stay connected in the age of social distancing and remote work.

Maintaining happiness and productivity when you are staying at home requires some thinking. You’re no longer going to encounter people on the street or in the hallway accidentally. Without these occasional conversations, you are less likely to hear about new opportunities in the business, and you may not reach your business goals as a result. Therefore, you may need a different way to stay connected. That’s where your home phone comes in to play. Here are three reasons home phone use during lockdown will help you.

Staying connected with phone calls: Three reasons why phone calls are a great choice.

  1. Nearly everybody has access to a phone.

Whether you are staying connected with elderly relatives or those with limited technology, almost everyone has a phone. As of 2017, there were 1.4 phones for every American.

If you want to maximize your chances of being able to stay connected with colleagues and family quickly, phone calls are still the best option.

  1. Phone calls give you better emotional depth than text messages and email.

Some newer communication tools give you new features like video calling. Those features are fun to use! However, they take some time to configure. Think back to your last few video calls. You (or somebody else on the call) probably had a problem with their microphone or sound for a few minutes. And nothing is more annoying than having the person on the other line freeze up during a conversation, bringing your lively chat to a thundering halt.  By contrast, you already know how to make phone calls, dial and then focus on your conversation. It’s also much harder for an audio-only phone call to get derailed by a spotty internet connection or bad Wi-Fi. If you’re having an in-depth discussion, there’s nothing like a home phone. 

What about text messaging? Certainly, texting is helpful for a simple question, like asking if somebody received the package you mailed them. However, text messages do not have the same personal depth and focus as phone calls. When you are focused on a phone call, it is much easier to have a personal discussion. You can hear the other person’s tone of voice, which makes it easier to tell if a person is angry, telling a joke or upset. Based on that understanding, you can have a better conversation. 

New research has discovered that some students are having up to nine simultaneous “conversations” by text message. With that many conversations on the go, it is difficult to truly connect as you can on a phone call.  

  1. Voice calls work smoothly and are compatible with a variety of mobile devices.

Have you ever had to guide somebody through the process of downloading a communications app? It can be a tiresome process, especially if you are not technically inclined or the other person just isn’t interested in signing up for yet another service. You’d much rather focus on staying connected than attempting to guide people through technical issues.

Building a stay-at-home routine with your phone.

Now that we know why voice calls are a great option, it is time to build your staying-at-home communication routine. Since it can take time to build new habits, pick one idea for this week. After using that routine a few times, choose another technique.

Your first staying-connected-at-home routine option is to schedule a coffee chat with a friend by phone. Send an email to a friend you haven’t spoken with recently (e.g., in the past week) and suggest a time for a voice call coffee chat. Make the request simple—catch up for 15 minutes in the morning or the afternoon. Adding this to your routine, even if you only do it once per week, will go a long way toward staying connected.

The next staying-connected routine is to have a professional voice call. Depending on your situation, this could be a one-on-one call with an employee or a business partner. It could also be a follow-up meeting to get to know somebody you met recently. Pick a time on your calendar to set a reminder (e.g., Mondays from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m.) to review your contacts and reach out to somebody for a phone call. Setting aside 15-20 minutes each week to maintain professional relationships matters! Otherwise, you might fall victim to the “out of sight, out of mind” trap. 

In some cases, you’re looking for something to talk about with your friends and family beyond the news. That’s where organizing a virtual streaming service party with your phone is a good option. The fourth option is to combine your home phone with a streaming service. For example, you could use an official feature like the “Netflix Party” to coordinate a viewing party. Or you could ask a few friends to get on the phone and then hit the play button at the same time. After the movie is over, you can chat about your favorite scenes.

Home phone use during lockdown: Tips to choose the right technology.

Staying connected when you are home for long periods means you need a robust home phone service. For example, you might find that your Apple devices or Android devices don’t give you all the features you need. If you need to make a lot of international calls, then use Ooma’s World plan, which includes unlimited international calls. This kind of unlimited calling is extra important during the holidays like New Year’s when many people want to call distant friends and family.  Also, if you get frustrated by many unwanted phone calls, take a look at Ooma’s call blocking feature.