Making the transition to a Hosted system is a step businesses in every sector will need to consider in the near future. While the many benefits of hosted telephony are becoming vastly more understood, any upgrade to your firm’s infrastructure needs to be carefully weighed up. So, what makes hosted telephony such an attractive option for modern businesses, and how well do these advantages translate to the specific needs of your law firm?
The primary difference between traditional systems and hosted telephony is that a hosted system does not require on-premises hardware. Instead of using ISDN, the traditional digital framework, a hosted system is based in the Cloud, and voice traffic is transmitted via the internet. As such, unlike a physical system, no ongoing maintenance is required to keep your phones up and running.
Besides its low upkeep, the lack of on-site hardware also makes the installation process much faster, and scaling up your system to accommodate the growth of your firm can be accomplished almost instantly.
This even applies in the case of mergers and business acquisitions. As a hosted system can be used across multiple sites, including internationally, it is just as easy to add a new branch to your network as it is to expand for any other reason. Hosted telephony operates on a pay-per-license framework, so increasing your network’s capacity is simply a matter of purchasing additional licenses.
Using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) equips your business with a significant amount of flexibility and potential for growth. You can freely add and remove devices from the network, combining voice, video, and other data across multiple platforms according to your needs. As a significant majority of lawyers have been found to use devices such as smartphones and tablets for their day to day work the ability to flexibly manage and control this usage is invaluable.
For a law firm, this means greater business continuity, streamlining communications to deliver the best possible service to your clients. A hosted system allows you to transfer calls and share files throughout your team, but also facilitates collaboration and unification across multiple business premises, even internationally.
This in turn positively enforces the visibility, authority, and reputation of your firm, as it allows you to maintain a uniform customer experience across all branches of your organisation. The more coordinated and unified your firm becomes, the more apparent it will be to clients that you are dedicated professionals in whom they can place their trust.
Of course, one of the primary concerns your clients are likely to have is security. This is an important issue when it comes to the matter of hosted telephony, as an initial mistrust of Cloud-based security is one of the primary reasons Unified Communications and VoIP have been slow to take off in the UK. However, your data is no less secure on a hosted system than it would be on an in-house network. In both cases, you should fully investigate the security packages available to you, and work with your provider to develop a comprehensive plan to protect your data from loss, theft, tampering, and corruption.
The benefit of a hosted system in this respect is that your provider will handle general system updates and maintenance. However, it is important to implement further security measures, just as you would in any other situation. This includes employing sophisticated multi-layer encryption protocols, arranging regular back-ups of your data, and setting out terms for the secure use of mobile devices within your network.
The other side to business security is crisis management. In the event of an on-site disaster, such as a fire or flood, your premises may be inaccessible, and you may be faced with the challenge of overseeing the recovery process, and coordinating the individuals affected.
Fortunately, if your firm is using hosted telephony, your data is protected. In fact, it may be possible to continue normal business operations without a break in service. In addition, you can seamlessly arrange an emergency video conference, or shared discussion, to keep your colleagues up to date as the situation progresses.
Being able to provide an unbroken service is extremely valuable, as it not only enables you to handle cases more efficiently, but also builds trust with your clients. This means clients have the peace of mind that they can call up at any time, and immediately be put in touch with someone who has access to all the relevant details related to their enquiry.
Furthermore, the ability to liaise with clients via video calls affords all the benefits of “face-to-face” communication, even if they are unable to meet with you in person. This creates a vastly more personal experience, and allows you to develop greater rapport and understanding, without inconveniencing your client.
Hosted telephony can also relieve some of the pressure on your team, allowing them to focus on more important things. For a start, meetings no longer require extensive planning to get everyone in the same place, saving on time, travel expenses, and organisational costs.
More importantly, the ability to collaborate flexibly means all participants can be involved without compromising their usual routine. No one will be exhausted from a long journey, or preoccupied because they are away from their family. This allows team members across multiple sites to coordinate more effectively, and build meaningful working relationships, strengthening your organisation as a whole.
Ultimately, BT’s announcement of its plans to phase out the ISDN network by 2025 means the functional benefits of switching to hosted telephony are not the only reasons to embrace this technology sooner rather than later. By considering your options now, you can stay one step ahead of those competitors who have yet to make the transition.
Unification is the keystone of a streamlined organisation, and the implementation of a centrally-managed, hosted telephony solution is a step in the right direction. In Bristol, the long-standing law firm Barcan + Kirby recently made such a switch. Upgrading from a traditional PBX infrastructure to the Cloud-based Avaya Server system, allowed the firm to consolidate a user-base of 180 individuals, across multiple sites.
By standardising equipment and practices throughout your firm, you can promote consistency and accuracy, while simultaneously diminishing your team’s workload. Your clients and partners will be reassured by your use of up-to-date technology and security strategies, while insights gained from the analysis of call-reporting data enable you to continuously re-evaluate your business strategies.
With this system in place, you can continue to provide the highest standard of service, safe in the knowledge that you have implemented a sophisticated infrastructure that will grow and evolve with your firm.
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