Leveling the playing field so that you can effectively compete with larger companies is a lot easier today than it was before due to emerging technologies. With cloud technology, you can take advantage of applications and services normally associated with larger organization. With new mobile devices and a headset, you can be available to your customers and prospects anywhere at any time.

A virtual PBX or hosted Internet phone system is an advanced PBX technology that many SMBs also are finding can help them cost effectively project a larger image and enjoy advanced telephony services at the same time. As we mention in Big Trends for Small Business, with a virtual PBX, a third party communications company hosts your phone services, routing all calls to your office through an Internet connection. You don’t have to worry about high installation or maintenance charges or equipment upgrades, since the “soft switch” or software that manages you VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system is resident with your provider.

In addition to routing your calls to other phones, many of the virtual PBX services provide a host of other features, such as text message alerts on your mobile or smart phone or email alerts. Find-me/follow-me enables you to give out one phone number – even a virtual one. When someone dials that number, the IP telephony system routes the calls to other numbers (your desk phone, cell phone, etc.) you have selected.  If, after routing the call to all the selected numbers and there’s no answer; the system can leave the call in your voice mail where you can read it or with speech-to-text capabilities, listen to it.  Some systems even provide Fax over IP (FoIP). Virtual PBX services host video and data conferencing along with voice to boost collaboration with customers and with your team. 

Another advantage of the virtual PBX is the ease of deploying and changing features – call answering, call forwarding, number of rings and so forth – through a web portal.  Also, you can plug a phone into any broadband connection to make and receive calls as if you were in the office.

While there is a lot to be said for the virtual PBX when it comes to features, ease of adding new lines, lower costs and potential for new capabilities, there are some negative considerations. To begin with, loss of the Internet will result in loss of service; although calls can go to voice mail or be routed to a mobile phone. Your provider may have a standard set of features, which will not allow for customization if you need it.  Also there may be cancellation charges or fee increases over time.

On the balance, boosting your business with advanced telephony features that provide more flexibility at an affordable price is a compelling proposition. You might want to consider a virtual PBX  if you haven’t already.