If you’re a brand that wants to connect with your customers, the question should always be what kind of a phone system and never should you have a phone line? Even 140 years after Alexander Graham Bell wheezed “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you” into a earpiece, the phone channel is still one of the most preferred methods for communication. It’s not as fashionable as social media or email but the phone still handles around 68% of all contact centre communications.
So, the only real question when you’re considering communication media is, do you go on-premise or cloud? Not sure what the difference is? Let us clear up the confusion, young padawan.
On-premise PBX systems and cloud PBX systems
A cloud PBX system, also referred to as a hosted PBX system, is one where a provider is responsible for the technology aspects of the phone system. Typically, these PBX systems have a web-based interface so, all a client would have to do is purchase a number, log in and strap on a headset to start talking. An on-premise PBX system is a system where you, the client, would handle all the technology aspects. You’d be responsible for setting up the…phone closet (closest analogue), routing calls and implementing features like IVR yourself. Calls can go through a traditional phone company as well as VoIP using SIP trunking.
We let the pros and cons duke it out below.
Round 1: How easy is it to get started?
When you have an on-premise PBX system, as we mentioned above, you end up having to deal with the dependencies that come hand in hand with it. This means you’d have to handle buying and installing the hardware yourself, maintain it, manage security, perform upgrades, account for disaster recovery and support it as well. If you’re really tech-savvy, you could finagle that yourself. If you’re not, throw in the cost of an expert to install, configure and maintain the system for you.
Contrast that with a lighter cloud platform where all of these operations are built into the service, freeing up staff to focus on the most important part of the business: customer engagement. With a cloud-based phone system, it’s as easy as pie (eating it, not making it). Of course, the best kind of software is the kind that adapts to your changing needs.
TL;DR: An on-premise system means you’re looking at a hefty bill and weeks of installation. A cloud PBX means you can get started in as little as five minutes.
Round 2: What are the limitations your agents will face?
A virtual PBX system means a web-based interface which means your employees can easily access the communication tools, no matter where they are – in a coffee shop, on a beach – as long as they have access to Internet. An on-premise PBX system on the other hand requires your employees to not just be on deck to use it but if you move offices, you’ll have to account for moving the system as well with you.
TL;DR: A cloud PBX means communication anywhere, anytime. An on-premise system is a good, ol’ fashioned ball and chain for your employees.
Round 3: Will it scale with you?
When you’re using a cloud based PBX system, your provider is the one who has to worry about scaling the system with you as you grow. On-premise expansions can grow quite complicated as you scale so even if you start out managing it yourself, you might have to call in an expert to handle scaling up or down. Not to mention, integrations with other systems, like helpdesks and CRMs, can be quite difficult (and time consuming) to implement. With most cloud-based providers, you’ll probably get a lot of native integrations out-of-the-box so you can hook up your systems in just a matter of minutes.
TL;DR: You can scale up or down at will, with cloud-based providers. With an on-premise system, scaling can be quite expensive.
Round 4: How much will it cost you?
The kind of flexibility and customization that an on-premise software can provide you, more often than not, is quite heavy on the wallet. On-premise systems also require up-front costs for the hardware and the tech, even if they tend to pay off in the long run.
Cloud-based systems combat this by offering large feature sets at pocket-friendly costs. However, providers can increase their fees at any given time, so the ball’s in their court.
TL;DR: Cloud-based systems tend to be lighter on the pockets, up-front, as compared to on-premise systems.
If you’re a growing business, we’d recommend that you look no further than a cloud-based PBX system. We feel strongly that a light, pocket-friendly platform — one that allows businesses to get up and running quickly without having to spend time deploying a complex system — is your best bet.