Top 16 Cloud Phone System Features + Who’s Got Them
Businesses these days are moving from traditional landlines and PBX systems to modern cloud phone systems.
These systems are connected to the internet and use VoIP technology to make calls.
All you need is an internet connection, a subscription, and a device, unlike traditional phones that require high maintenance and are much more expensive too.
If your business hasn’t made the shift yet, you could be losing out on a lot of attractive features that have helped businesses improve their productivity and effectiveness.
We have put together a guide explaining all the features that make cloud phone systems so desirable. We have also listed down the different service providers that offer these features so that you can make an informed choice.
1. Find Me, Follow Me
Find Me, Follow Me are two advanced call forwarding features that are absolutely necessary for businesses these days as employees often have to work remotely.
Both these features make it possible to attend to calls even when you are not in the office near your telephone or computer.
While both these features operate on the same principles, the way they function is slightly different.
With the Find Me feature, incoming calls can be forwarded or routed to a particular number after business hours or on holidays and other situations. This feature helps attend calls from home, on a mobile while traveling or on a vacation.
You choose the number the call gets forwarded to depending on where you’ll be.
Whereas with Follow Me, the incoming call is routed to multiple numbers that ring simultaneously or in a sequence. So you can receive the call on the system which is easily accessible to you. In case you are unable to lift the call, it gets directed to voicemail.
Both these features enable users to receive calls remotely.
This ensures no call is missed, customers are satisfied, your important clients can reach you at any time, and makes it possible to work remotely.
While you can choose the numbers that your calls get forwarded to, you can also be assured that only your business numbers are visible to the caller and not the number the call is being forwarded to.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that have the Find Me, Follow Me feature:
2. Unified Communications
This feature as the name suggests provides a “unified” solution for business communication to businesses. It brings together several communication tools, calling features and also integrates with third-party applications to provide a unified communications solution.
With unified communications, businesses can not only speak to their customers and clients but also to their vendors and employees.
It reduces the number of individual tools that a business owner has to rely on to complete their business communication.
Some of the best cloud phone systems also let you integrate with tools like Salesforce, Google Drive, Dropbox, and others so that multiple facets of your business come in one place.
When you have a unified communications solution, all your important communications tools are in one place and you do not have to toggle between tabs to find different features.
Unlike a traditional landline phone system, where you have your phone for calling, a computer for video calls, require a landline and internet connection, need to manage social media accounts separately, an integrated communications system is just the opposite.
Right from audio calls to video conferences, social media platforms to CRM applications, online faxes to voicemail, everything is integrated into the cloud phone system.
It also ensures high mobility as it is hosted in the cloud and does not need you to sign up with a separate cloud service provider. You can log in to your cloud phone system from anywhere using any device. All you need is an internet connection.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that have the Unified Communications feature:
3. Artificial Intelligence
While artificial intelligence in cloud phone systems is still in its early stages, some applications are certainly taking business communications a step ahead.
However, not all business phone systems have been able to deploy AI in their modules. Only the best business VoIP providers offer artificial intelligence features like sentiment analysis, speech to text, chatbots, and natural language processing.
With the help of AI, businesses no longer always wait for customers to reach out to them when they get stuck somewhere.
When a customer is online on a page, businesses can now see their actions live and guide them with the help of a chatbot. Chatbots on websites also help customers get immediate answers instead of waiting to get connected to a customer care executive.
A very impressive feature is the sentiment analysis feature, where the system can detect the overall sentiment of the call and use the collected data to derive insights through call analytics.
Another noteworthy feature is skill-based routing. RingCentral deploys AI to streamline workflows based on the skills of agents. This way if a caller is calling for a technical issue, the call will get connected to only the agent with the technical skills needed.
Nextiva on the other hand uses AI to automate repetitive tasks, make predictions and provide solutions in real-time.
Similarly, Dialpad eliminates the need for agents to take notes on calls. They deploy voice intelligence technology where the system listens to the calls between the agent and the caller, takes notes, and attaches them to the number.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offer Artificial Intelligence:
4. Team Collaboration
Instead of having a separate application for your teams to communicate on, cloud phone systems allow team collaboration. This feature is also one of the sub-features of unified communications.
Not only can team members communicate with each other using this feature, but they can also collaborate on calls, conduct team meetings, and more.
While almost every cloud phone system offers a channel for employees to communicate within the organization, cloud phone systems like 8×8 let team members host HD video conferences with up to 200 members.
Managers can page their employees and summon them for meetings or training sessions and use the collaboration feature to share files, share screens, make video calls, and more.
Some cloud phone systems also let team members collaborate on calls.
When a team member adds a tag or a note to a particular number, the same can be accessed by the member who attends to the caller later. This way every team member has access to the caller’s history.
Cloud phone systems like Vonage also offer a paging feature using which managers can send broadcast messages to specific team members or the entire team.
The call transferring feature by most cloud systems could also be included under the broader umbrella of team collaboration. When an agent is busy attending to a caller, the call transfer feature lets them forward the call to another agent who is available.
This way, teams can collaborate on calls together and handle customer queries and grievances better. When an issue is difficult for a particular agent, the team collaboration feature helps them collaborate with team members, which in turn results in higher customer satisfaction.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offer team collaboration:
5. Toll-Free Numbers
A toll-free number is a number that you can dial from anywhere in the country and you, the caller, will not be charged for calling the toll-free number. These numbers are generally numbers that start with 1800.
While you have to select a number before you start using any cloud system, the best cloud phone systems also offer a toll-free number for your business.
The best cloud phone systems give you the option to choose between a toll-free number, a vanity number, and a local or international number.
If you already have a number, most cloud phone systems also let you port your existing numbers, so that you do not have to change your business’s number completely. With very little or no downtime, you will be able to use your old number with a new service provider.
Your business can have one number that represents the entire business or have 3-4 numbers depending on what is supported by your service provider.
Each number can have unlimited extensions that connect to all your departments and employees. Each employee and department gets their own extension and when someone calls in, they can dial in the extension to connect to the desired department.
The best part about having a toll-free number for your business is that it encourages your customers to call you for their feedback and grievances because they will not be charged.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that provide toll-free numbers:
6. Drag and Drop Configuration
The drag and drop feature that cloud phone systems offer is one of the features that makes it so desirable as it makes business owners so much more independent and self-reliant.
Unlike PBX solutions that had complex configuration procedures, the drag and drop feature in cloud phones makes it very easy for business owners to configure and start using their phone systems.
Instead of waiting for the PBX service provider or the IT department to come and set up your system, you can use the drag and drop feature to set up your business phone system in a few minutes.
You can simply drag and drop agents and create new call flows and call routes. Suppose you want your calls to roll over to a particular group of agents if another set of agents are busy, with this feature, you can customize your business phone system just the way you want.
While configuring the auto-attendant, the drag and drop feature lets you customize menu options and customize how the incoming calls flow to different departments or get transferred between busy lines.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offer Drag-and-Drop configuration:
7. Voice to Email Transcription
Another feature that makes cloud telephone systems so convenient is the voice to email transcription feature where the system automatically transcribes your voicemails and sends them to your email inbox.
While some good business phone systems directly send the voicemails as audio clips to your inbox where you can listen to them directly through your email, it is quite cumbersome to listen to voicemails and also easy to miss listening to them.
Also, you might not always be able to immediately listen to a voicemail because of where you might be at the moment.
However, when your voicemail comes directly to your inbox as text, you can quickly scan through the email and get the message. This way you do not miss any urgent message that you might have missed if your voicemail sat in your inbox.
The way this works is that when a caller calls your business number and dials an extension, the system listens to the message, transcribes it, converts it into a text file, and sends it to your inbox as mail or even to your mobile application.
Some of the best cloud phone systems also let you set up notifications that inform you whenever a new message comes in so you can quickly “read” your voicemail and take necessary action.
This feature can help businesses improve their effectiveness because while a voicemail may easily get missed, an employee is more likely to check their inbox daily and scan through the messages rather than take the time to listen to a voicemail.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offer Voicemail:
8. Advanced Call Screening
The number of spam calls and robocalls that businesses receive regularly has increased manifold. This happens because businesses make their numbers public so that their customers can reach them.
However, this can take up a lot of an agent’s productive time, disrupt the flow of incoming calls and also block the line during times of heavy traffic.
So, there are several ways in which cloud phone systems try to address this issue.
The simplest solution they offer is a Caller ID which displays the number of the caller and often also the business name. This way they can simply check the number and receive it only if they know it's an actual caller.
Ooma offers an enhanced call blocking feature where it automatically checks incoming calls with a database of over 2 million robocall numbers and blocks any number that it identifies.
Similarly, some of the best cloud phone systems also deploy an advanced call management feature where an incoming call gets routed through an auto-attendant where the caller is asked to identify themselves.
Once they identify themselves, the agents can determine if the call is from a genuine customer, a spammer, another business, or a robocall and choose what their course of action will be.
This feature gives agents and businesses the control to lift only the calls that are relevant to their business and ignore or block numbers that may be spam or robocalls.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that have Call Screening:
9. Auto Attendant
Often also known as a virtual receptionist, the auto-attendant is a business’ replacement of a human receptionist.
When compared with a human receptionist, a virtual receptionist not only saves businesses the salary of the human attendant but is also available round the clock, unlike a human.
You can completely replace your human receptionist with an auto-attendant or use it along with your human receptionist to manage larger call traffics.
The auto-attendant feature is basically an audio menu that plays when a caller calls your business which guides your caller to the respective department or extension.
The audio menu that plays is a custom menu that can be set up when you configure your phone system.
You can set up your auto attendant in different ways. You can configure it to greet your customers. It can be used to announce business-related information like business hours, important announcements, advertisements, and promotions.
Most commonly, the auto attendant is used to provide directory assistance to callers so that they can connect themselves to the department or the employee they want to speak to.
While an auto attendant is often confused with Interactive Voice Response in VoIP, it is important to note that both are significantly different.
IVR is more advanced than the auto attendant.
One basic differentiation is that, for an auto attendant, the number entries are the only way callers can provide input. Whereas, in IVR, callers can provide voice responses like their address, account number, and others before they get connected to a human agent.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that have Auto-attendant:
10. Call Forwarding
Call forwarding is a feature that lets you forward incoming calls to another number. With modern-day cloud systems, you can also forward your calls to another device that has an internet connection.
This feature makes it possible to work remotely and attend to calls even when you are away from your desk or phone system.
All you have to do is, choose the number that your calls get forwarded to when you configure your phone system.
A plus about this feature is that while you know that you are receiving forwarded calls, your caller does not know the other number that the calls are being forwarded to.
This call forwarding feature is especially useful when you are supposed to receive an important call after business hours. You no longer have to wait in the office till the call arrives.
You can simply have your call forwarded to your personal cell and attend to every call remotely.
The call forwarding feature ensures that very few calls get missed as you can always forward them to a device that you have access to. If an agent is on leave on a certain day, with this feature, you can also forward his calls to another extension so that all calls are attended.
The best cloud phone systems like Nextiva also let you set up custom call forwarding where they let you forward calls automatically after business hours, on holidays, or based on the caller ID.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that include Call Forwarding:
11. Click to Call
Instead of making customers scour over the internet to find a business’ number, the Click to Call feature makes it possible to call businesses directly from the website or application with the click of a button.
To deploy this feature, businesses need to embed a call option on their page. Customers simply have to click on the call icon and the number gets dialed on their dial-pad. The customers can then directly speak to the agents on the other end.
This makes it very easy for customers to get in touch with businesses.
In case a business wishes to keep their number private or does not want to have a customer contact center, they can also collect the customer’s information instead.
If the customer wants to call such a business, they will be asked for their contact details, and an executive from the business will get in touch with the customer shortly.
This feature is generally available on the contact us page where the customers are asked to fill a form if they want to get in touch with the team.
The click-to-call is aimed at making this process easier so that customers do not have to provide any information or look around but can contact the business with just a click.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that include Click to Call:
12. Integrations and APIs
APIs let you bring two independent applications together automatically. Instead of having to move between applications and find manual ways in which you can integrate two systems, APIs make it happen automatically.
Cloud phone systems let businesses integrate their phone systems with different third-party applications like their CRM software, collaboration tools, sales tools, and others.
In other words, it helps in connecting two platforms together so that there is a central dashboard where all the data is available.
While choosing a cloud phone system for a business, business owners would any day prefer a solution that offers API integration because it improves the way in which businesses function. Such integrations also automate some tasks that would need to be done manually.
In case the cloud phone system you choose misses some features that you need like a video calling feature, API integrations make it possible to integrate with a video calling tool and make calls from your cloud phone system.
You will not have to download a separate app, import all your contacts to the separate tool, invite your team there and make calls. All you have to do is integrate the two applications and start using them as one.
Vonage helps businesses build a complete well-rounded communications solution by using the communications, management, and authentication APIs that it offers.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offer integrations and APIs:
13. Screen Sharing
As the name suggests, the screen sharing feature lets employees share their screens with team members during video calls. This is another team collaboration feature that helps employees work together as a team even when not working from the same space.
While most cloud phone systems will have the provision to make video calls, the best cloud phone system will take it a notch higher with the screen sharing feature.
Using this feature, users can share their screen partially or the whole screen if the call requires it.
The screen sharing feature comes especially handy while making a presentation. Instead of referring to a document on personal devices, the presenter can share their screen and specify what they are referring to.
It can help improve the quality of business meetings and also facilitate effective training if a business intends to utilize their cloud phone system for training sessions, which is quite possible.
The screen sharing feature is also a very strong collaborative feature when it comes to unified communications. Instead of looking around for apps that support video calling and screen sharing, a business would any day prefer a unified system that includes both.
During the pandemic when most businesses are operating from home, having a screen sharing feature in your set of tools can ensure that meetings and presentations are held the same way they would have been held in the office.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that include Screen Sharing:
14. Video Conferencing and Meeting Management
While most businesses have been surviving on the power of video conferencing tools over the past year, some businesses have even used it to get on fun activities to engage employees.
Generally, businesses rely on third-party applications for their video conferencing needs. The best video conferencing software also supports screen sharing. But, what if you had a unified communications system that had everything included?
Cloud phone systems for businesses are just that. They are not just the regular analog phone that you use to make audio calls. The best cloud phone systems let users make video calls using the video conferencing feature within the same application.
You do not have to download a separate application for the same. All you need is a device connected to the internet, a video camera, and a speaker.
Cloud phone systems let you host video calls or even join existing calls that you are invited to. Some of them even let you add up to 200 participants in one call.
This way, you can use your business phone system for meetings, training sessions, and webinars within the organization as well. Paired with screen sharing, it becomes the ideal solution for your team meetings.
Depending on the cloud system that a business chooses, they may even get many meeting management features that give them greater control over meetings.
Admins can invite members, remove them, mute and unmute them, grant permissions, and much more. This lets them customize each meeting depending on the purpose.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offer Video Conferencing and Meetings Management:
15. Call Analytics
Businesses need to have data about their performance so that they can identify what is working for them and what isn’t. Collecting this data manually isn’t possible. This is where call analytics come in.
Call analytics provide business owners with data-driven insights about their business communications. It collects data, processes, and measures them to provide you with insights and reports that you can interpret.
In this feature, the software collects information about each call, measures calls against certain parameters, and often even asks the caller as well as the agent about their experience with the call, to get accurate answers.
Using call analytics, businesses combine phone calls with the power of analytics and can identify trends if they exist.
While most cloud phone systems offer some form of call analytics in different plans, advanced service providers may also include acquisition reports which help businesses identify their ROI through different marketing sources.
Suppose a business includes ten new extension lines to handle their call traffic, call reports will help them identify if customer experience has gone up from the previous corresponding period by comparing different time periods.
Using call analytics, you can also identify where the majority of your callers come from, thereby getting an idea of which geography most of your business comes from.
Combined with AI features like call sentiment analysis, businesses can train their agents and take customer experience to another level.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offers Call Analytics:
16. Call Recording
As a customer, often when you call another business, you are greeted with an automated message which says that your calls are being recorded for quality and training purposes. This is the call recording feature in play in their phone system.
Businesses can choose to record particular calls or all of their calls but the disclaimer is that they must inform the party being recorded.
If businesses do not want to record all the incoming calls, they can choose to record all the calls on a particular extension and listen to them for quality and training purposes. This is most commonly done when new agents are onboarded.
Using the call recording feature, employees can also record a particular call themselves, if they need it for future reference. The call then gets stored locally on their device.
Call recording can be especially useful during important business calls where there may be a lot of information exchanged. Having a record of the conversation ensures that all the details are captured and no important information gets missed.
Top Cloud Phone Systems that offer Call Recording:
Choosing the best phone service for your business could be a tough job especially because of the many different service providers all offering something different.
However, every internet-based phone system is created with a particular type of business in mind or to address a particular business need. While comparing the many options available in the market, it is important to identify if your business need is being met.
You could also choose an option that is well-rounded and includes all the important features that a business looks for in a cloud phone system.
According to us, the best cloud phone system available in the market is RingCentral as it is a well-rounded, all-in-one phone system that includes all basic as well as many advanced features.
It also lets you integrate with other applications, meaning if you are looking for something extra you could just integrate the APIs. RingCentral also includes artificial intelligence and call analytics which has helped several businesses improve the effectiveness of their business communication and quantify their efforts.
Whichever service you choose, make sure you read some reviews by companies in the same industry as your business.