The Beginner’s Guide to Virtual PBX

Businesses rely heavily on the telephone as a means of communication. Before, it is a serious challenge to set up a communication system since it is way too expensive. You have to buy office tables and chairs, as well as the necessary equipment for your telephone lines.

What is a Virtual Phone System and How does PBX Work | Flickr
How does Virtual PBX work?

As communication technology continues to evolve, it has contributed significant changes in the world of communication. Nowadays, especially the Internet has gained control in communicating, there are many options which you can choose from for your business phone system. And one of the important tools is virtual PBX.

What is Virtual PBX?

This may sound complicated to you, but the truth is, Virtual PBX is simple to understand yet helpful for your communication needs. A virtual PBX is a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) that is provided by a “hosted” service. It means that an outside provider “hosts” or provides the services for your PBX system to make it possible for your communication network.

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PBX Phone System

To help you understand better what a Virtual PBX is, it is good to know first PBX meaning. PBX stands for Private Virtual Exchange which means a private telephone network is being utilized within an organization. This then allows you to freely communicate with individuals inside or outside the company using various channels like VoIP which is known as an on-premise PBX. This means that a piece of hardware is within the company’s building.

Virtual PBX definition is different from an on-premise PBX. Although both PBX features and services are the same, the process of installation is different from each other. A virtual PBX doesn’t require any hardware system to be installed in your office since it resides in the cloud. It means that your virtual PBX provider is the one responsible for the maintenance of the off-site technology. On the other hand, on-premise PBX requires special hardware to be installed in your office.

Are you still confused about what does PBX means? If you are still overwhelmed by the definition of PBX, on-premise, or virtual, just consider this article as PBX for dummies and it would help you get started. Now, let’s proceed with how does PBX system works.

By the way, have you heard someone asking what is HPBX? Or what is IP PBX? Well, don’t confuse yourself since all of these terms are talking about the same thing. HPBX stands for Hosted Private Branch Exchange, while IP PBX is Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange. Both these two and the virtual PBX support VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol.

And in case you forgot what VoIP is all about, here is a friendly reminder:

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a system that provides its users the freedom to make calls using the Internet data instead of a traditional phone line. You must be aware of these so that you won’t get too overwhelmed by the technical terms

How Virtual PBX Works?

Understanding how PBX works should not be that confusing to you. PBX system utilizes the latest telecommunication technology by converting phone calls into data, just the same with other data such as email. From there, it is sent over the Internet or to other local networks.

To make it more precise on how does a PBX works, here is a simple process to make it more understandable. It starts with a virtual phone number.

What is the difference between a Virtual Number and a Virtual PBX?

 It would be more accurate if we first take a look at important details about a virtual PBX. This complex phone system consists of different virtual services such as IVR, call forwarding, voicemails, and the likes. And one of these services is a virtual number. A virtual phone number utilizes the capability of a virtual PBX to make it possible for a user within a specific area code to place a call to another user as if it were just a local call.

By saying this, it only means that when someone residing in that area where a particular virtual number is assigned tried to reach you by dialing the virtual phone number, the call would simply register as if it is just a local call. Where the owner of that number is miles away from the caller’s place or region.

This is made possible by a virtual PBX since it uses the Internet data, unlike with the traditional phone lines that utilize the old school Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

Is Virtual PBX Better than the Traditional PBX or PSTN Phone System?

As mentioned above, the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) phone system is the traditional way of communication technology. Although it is still being used in most companies, the cost of setting up the infrastructure and equipment is quite expensive. On the other hand, this costly set up of hardware and equipment were being eliminated by switching to a virtual PBX. There are numerous significant reasons why virtual PBX is way much better than the traditional phone system such as PSTN, and it is worth noting some of these:

  • Communication over virtual PBX greatly lowers phone call rates, and compared to landline calls, it is far way cheaper. Virtual PBX gives you the freedom to place calls through an Internet connection, thus a cheaper option to traditional phone services when you are placing international and long-distance calls.
  • Without the cost of setup and monthly fees and expensive equipment to provide before you can fully utilize the service, virtual PBX will certainly make your monthly phone bill tremendously lower than with the traditional phone lines.
  • Another significant reason is that a virtual PBX system will allow you to integrate your mobile phones and traditional phone lines. It only means that all calls made to the telephone line can be directed to you and your employees regardless of your location. It significantly boosts your business presence since you can answer calls even if you are not in the office.

What are the Advantages of a Virtual PBX?

Although some of the advantages are already mentioned above, it is for your best to summarize the other significant benefits of a virtual PBX for your business.

  • Cost-savings – This is the number one reason why many businesses have already switched from the traditional phone line system to virtual PBX. Since a virtual PBX is hosted in the cloud and is being taken care of by your service provider, there are no certain expenses with regards to installation, hardware, and maintenance. Aside from that, you can cut the cost of hiring additional staff to attend phone calls, hiring IT staff to maintain the smooth flow of your communication system. Your service provider does all these things for you.
  • Unlimited working space – Since virtual PBX uses the Internet data, you can connect to your contacts whether you are in the office or at home and work, or whether you are just chilling outside. If you are the kind of person who constantly is on the move, then this suits your business.
  • Scale-up – What this exactly means to your business? It means that a virtual or hosted PBX system can systematically adapt to your business development. Whether the number of your staff decreases or increases, you can also remove or add phone lines and extensions.

Automation Tools and Features

One of the significant advantages of virtual PBX is the automation tools and features that you can’t see with a traditional phone line. Below are the lists of these awesome features that you can fully use with a hosted PBX.

Voicemail to Email Features

If you are the kind of businessman that is constantly on the move, then enabling this feature would certainly benefit you. Voicemail to email feature allows you to receive voicemail instantly to your preferred mobile device. This will greatly help you in case you are in the middle of an important meeting and at the same time, waiting for an important call. You can easily check your phone to verify the sender.

Phone Menus

This is one of the great features of having a virtual PBX. You can customize your phone menu according to your preference. Multiple options can be offered to your caller such as speaking to an agent, leaving a voicemail, getting information, and even transferring to a sub-menu.

Auto Attendants

Imagine someone answering phone calls for you in the middle of the night, or let’s say, when you’re out and bonding with your family on a quality weekend. Isn’t that great to know? And what’s greater is that with hosted PBX, your customers or clients do not need to wait around for someone to answer their call, since an automatic attendant will answer promptly their inquiries.

Call queuing, Forwarding, Recording

  • A call queue places incoming calls in a line while the recipient is busy attending other calls. Since the calls are placed in the order they were received, it allows you to serve your clients efficiently.
  • Call forwarding when activated, will simply allow you to redirect incoming calls to another telephone number that you preferred. This is helpful in case you are out of the office but still want to be in touch with your customers.
  • Call recording simply means recording conversations that you can eventually store as digital files for your future reference.

Conference Bridging

A conference bridge call allows multiple participants to join a virtual room by dialing, and then communicate remotely with the rest of the team. This is a very efficient feature of virtual PBX, especially in large scale businesses.

How to Choose a Virtual PBX Provider?

There are a vast number of providers that offer virtual PBX services. However, picking the right one solely depends on you and your business needs. Here are some tips that might help you in picking the right one.

Costs Involved

When it comes to expenses, the virtual PBX system is extremely low compared to the traditional phone line system. Additional add-ons certainly would bring the price up. However, it is still beyond comparison when it comes to hiring an IT team. Try to assess the cost of hiring internal IT experts compared to add-ons that would dramatically upgrade your communication system.

Quality and Network Reliability

As we all know, reliability on your Internet provider is a very important and crucial factor to experience the most out of virtual PBX services. Concerning this matter, you should be able to secure your network reliability.

Features Included

Now that you know that a virtual PBX system comes with a lot of helpful features, it is time for you to assess your business. Before acquiring a PBX service, consider what your business needs at the moment. This will help you reduce costs by getting only the right features dedicated to your business requirements.

If you are already convinced that virtual PBX is what you need, it is time for you to make the decision. Just don’t forget to consider the things discussed in this article so it may serve as a helpful guide in your decision-making.

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