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Ooma Blog

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 Telo White

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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

Taking care of our homes and the people inside them has never been more important than during this strange new era of Covid-19. We’re all spending more time at home and that’s changing our priorities for do-it-yourself (DIY) smart home security systems.

The original home security systems, installed by professional alarm companies, were only intended to protect homes from intruders and fire when the occupants were not at home or were sleeping. They weren’t of much value when people were home and awake.

DIY smart home security systems, such as Ooma Smart Security, at first replicated the functions of traditional security systems – although at a lower cost for installation and operation.

What gives these systems their intelligence is the ability for users to easily configure and control them, typically through a mobile app on their smartphone. The sensors themselves are inexpensive and wireless, so they can be put anywhere in the home. This also opens up the category to renters, who couldn’t sign up for traditional security systems that required drilling holes in walls, running wires and installing non-removable sensors.

But once customers got their hands on these new systems, something unexpected happened.

Because DIY systems give people the freedom to put sensors anywhere, they came up with new uses that experts couldn’t necessarily predict — many of which have gained new relevance with shelter in place. A door/window sensor, for example, could send an alert to Mom and Dad when a toddler is opening the nursery room door and might be wandering around the house. A water leak sensor could detect when the hose breaks inside an overworked washing machine. A motion sensor could confirm that an elderly parent, living on the other side of town, got out of bed this morning and went into the kitchen to make breakfast.

These are illustrations of how smart home security provides awareness of what’s happening at home, beyond the traditional mission of protecting against fire and break-ins.

Ooma has been working for several years, well before the pandemic, to add awareness features to Ooma Smart Security. Here are a few of the most important ways we keep people connected to their homes:

— Audible alerts. We don’t always carry our smart phones with us, especially at home. That’s why Ooma Smart Security provides audible alerts through the speaker in its base station as well as through Ooma HD3 handsets for customers who also have Ooma Telo phone service. The alerts are specific, such as “Front door is open” or “Motion detected in hallway,” providing instant updates on what’s happening throughout the home.

— Negative alerts. Sometimes it’s just as important to know when an event isn’t happening and when it does. For instance, if the bedroom door in an elderly parent’s home hasn’t opened by 8 am, adult children need to know because it could indicate a health emergency. Or the front door not opening by 11 pm could indicate a teenager who’s ignoring a parental curfew. Ooma Smart Security can be programmed to deliver such negative alerts.

— Phone call notifications. Alerts from a smart home security system are only helpful if you notice them right away. Many systems only provide alerts through their smart phone apps, which can be easy to miss. Ooma gives the option of receiving an automated phone call on multiple lines, increasing the odds that at least one family member will be immediately aware of any emergency.

— Water leak alerts. The biggest financial risk for most homeowners isn’t burglary or fire – it’s water leaks. Washing machines, hot water heaters, dishwashers, sinks, toilets, basement sump pumps and even fish tanks can start leaking, causing many thousands of dollars in damage to floors, carpets, furntiure and foundations. Many water leaks are small enough to not be immediately noticeable. Yet most smart home security systems don’t provide water leak sensors. Ooma offers a water leak sensor for just $29.99, making it affordable to guard against leaks at multiple spots in the home.

— Customizable modes. One of the strengths of smart home security systems is that users are in control of how the system works. But not all systems are created equal. Ooma Smart Security allows users to select individual sensors to include in each mode – such as Home, Night, Away and Vacation – rather than grouping sensors together in zones. For example, users can decide to disable all but one motion sensor in Home mode and turn on all motions sensors in Night mode except the one in the upstairs hallway near bedrooms.

Of course, we haven’t neglected the need for connection when users are away from home. For those times when the house is empty, Ooma offers:

— Remote 911. When there’s a real emergency at home – such as a fire or break-in – every minute counts in reaching first responders. Many smart home security systems give instant notifications of trouble to the user’s phone, but don’t give any assistance in the crucial next step of calling for help. Ooma is the only complete smart home security system to offer remote 911. With the Ooma app, users can place a call to their local 911 operator – from anywhere in the world – that comes through as a call from home, with the home address displayed on the operator’s screen. This can get help on the way significantly faster than having to call the regular phone numbers for the fire or police departments, which typically aren’t set up for emergency response.

— Geofencing. Up to half of the homeowners with traditional home security systems stop using them after a few years, often because of the hassle of turning on the alarm every time they leave home and entering a code every time they return. Ooma eliminates this headache with automatic arming and disarming – the system turns itself off and on based on the position of family member’s mobile phones – also known as geofencing. Many other smart home security systems don’t offer this key feature, which means they could be abandoned over time.

— Professional monitoring. When away from home, there are inevitably times when smart phone alerts won’t work, such as when the phone is muted or the user is asleep. Ooma Smart Security provides the option of professional monitoring with trained agents working 24/7. The agents call the user whenever there’s an emergency at home. If the user doesn’t respond, the agents immediately contact first responders.

You don’t have to take my word for all of this. Our customers frequently tell us how Ooma Smart Security has helped them. A few recent stories:

  • “Using the Ooma water sensor at a floor drain in the basement sent me a warning that our main drain line was backed up. The warning came in as soon as it occurred, which allowed me to address the issue before it became a major mess.” – Karl P.

  • “Added a sensor to the back door because we have a pool and don’t want the kids in the backyard without us knowing.” – Melanie S.

  • “I put one of the door sensors on our refrigerator door set to alert me if open more than a few minutes. A few weeks ago, I was out and got the alert. I called home and told my wife that the fridge door was left open, she closed it and nothing was spoiled!” – Bob W.

  • “Warns me if my pooch goes out the doggie door when the garage is open.” – Thomas T.

  • “Some time ago I was at work and got notified I had a water leak in my house. I quickly went home, to investigate. Ends up my humidifier water supply had sprung a leak. If I waited much longer the water supply hose could have burst and it could have been a much worse situation. It was great that I prevented a lot of water damage by being notified early.” – Douglas T.