If you’re among the 45 percent of Americans with a smartphone, chances are that you use it for everything from checking work emails to looking up movie times. And with smartphones adding functionality to them all the time, many are replacing other devices (e.g. iPods) with their smartphones. But could you run an entire company directly from your smartphone? The answer: It depends.
In any case, there’s a lot to consider before you consolidate your business phone systems into a smartphone. For instance, what if you want more than one employee to be responsible for responding to your company number? Or, how exactly do you handle call recording, phone routing and other services traditionally associated with a landline?
A recent article by Kelly Lindner, a contributor to the Software Advice website, breaks down a few of the key considerations for those contemplating using smartphones to run their company. Here are a few takeaways.
Decide if You Should Run on a PBX
If you’re a startup in the early stages (say, one to three employees) your smartphone network is likely sufficient to run operations. However, if you’re bigger than three employees, you can quickly max out the capacity of your network. In this case, it’s better to get a virtual private branch exchange (PBX)–a call routing and management service that can direct calls straight to employee smartphones. If you go with this approach, one employee’s number is would be the mainline, and other employees would provide their numbers to customers as needed.
Or, companies can use a service like Slingshot or Google Voice to provide a mainline, that routes callers to individual smartphones using employee extensions. As an added bonus, when an employee calls from their mobile phone, these PBX systems will show the mainline on the recipient’s caller ID. Some Cloud-based services also offer call recording, voice transcription and other business-focused services.
The Benefits of Running on a Smartphone
One of the primary benefits of using your smartphone for business is customer access. If employees can respond to customers regardless of their location, customers are less likely to wait on hold or wait for a message to be returned.
“Having a landline tied us to a specific location and was presenting a barrier to connecting with clients. … Now we don’t have to run back to the office to check messages,” said Stuart Randell, a virtual PBX user and head of business strategy at Code & Company Inc.
Of course, there are also benefits to employees. They get to use what they’re most familiar with and comfortable with. Beyond that, there are often cost savings compared with traditional VoIP systems.
The Costs of Running on a Smartphone
But these benefits carry some costs as well. One of the biggest downsides of a mobile workforce that relies on smartphones is the limited battery life they carry. We’ve all forgotten to charge our phones before a big trip and found ourselves out of the loop. Employees are no different and it’s possible that a simple slip of the mind could result in their phone being dead when an important call comes in.
Beyond that, cell networks are not always reliable and voice quality (in any condition) can be fickle. This connectivity issue can turn into an even bigger obstacle in the unlikely event of a natural disaster. While these issues are unlikely to surface and difficult to plan for, they’re important to consider if you have a business that relies heavily on phone communications.
What advantages and disadvantages do you see with using PBX-enabled smartphones? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.