The landline is dying. Lack of mobility pushes many service industries, including pool professionals, to rely heavily on mobile devices to communicate with staff and customers. The downside? Everyone has your cell-phone number, and you can’t transfer or forward calls like your office setup. That’s where cloud-based phone services are coming into play, offering businesses a complete business-phone system without the limitations of landline service. Here’s a look at four cloud-based phone services available to pool professionals.
Average Cost for 15 Employees: All plans include unlimited features and no limits on users. Prices are based on the minutes needed for the plan. Plans start at $12 a month, which includes no minutes, just a six-cents-a-minute charge. Two-thousand minutes a month costs $49, and the max plan includes 10,000 minutes a month for $199 Technical Requirements: This service requires a phone number where calls can be forwarded, such as a cell phone, landline, and VoIP solutions like Skype and Google Voice
Features: custom greetings, extensions, departments, voicemail to email, incoming faxes
Grasshopper provides toll-free and local numbers and the management system for all incoming calls without the installation of hardware or software. “The key to remember is we’re not providing dial tone; we’re connecting all the devices at your company under one umbrella,” says Taylor Aldredge, Grasshopper’s “ambassador of buzz.” “When your customers call, they get a seamless experience like they would get at any Fortune 500 company,” he adds.
Average Cost for 15 Employees: $400 to $600 per month
Technical Requirements: Quality Internet connection, ShoreTel desk phones (for desk employees), and a minimum of five lines
Features: Long-distance, customer support, voicemail to email, conference calling, call routing, call logging to CRM [customer-relationship management] systems ShoreTel Sky is a cloud-based VoIP system. “All calls, both inbound and outbound, can automatically be logged in the CRM system, so the company retains a full audit trail of every communication with each client,” says Keith Nealon, president and general manager of ShoreTel cloud division. “Calls made by service employees in the field on a mobile device will also be logged. This is a game-changer for pool service companies where ‘service’ is the lifeblood of business.”
Average Cost for 15 Employees: $100 a month includes 12 free field-tech phone lines, three lines at headquarters ($75), and one central phone line ($25). Unlimited plans start at $25 per month, per line. Phone lines are free, with up to 30 voice minutes and 100 texts per month
Technical Requirements: Internet or mobile data connection; smartphone, tablet or PC/Mac
Features: Auto attendant, call transfer, file sharing, admin controls, transcribed voicemails sent by email, and in-depth analytics “SendHub adds a work-phone line to the device your
technicians are already using, via an app, protecting the user’s privacy while giving administrators full control over the communication [during work hours],” says Ash Rust, cofounder and CEO. “For example, when an employee leaves the team, their SendHub number can be removed from their account and given to their replacement, so there’s no interruption in business.”
Average Cost for 15 Employees: While the price varies depending on customer needs, the average cost is $30 a month per person
Technical Requirements: Reliable high-speed broadband Internet connection
Features: Phones are included. Local and nationwide long-distance, conference calling, instant messaging, contact-center features In most cases, Fonality users maintain their existing mobile numbers, and smartphones utilize full collaboration mobile apps. The system is designed for businesses with more than five employees. “With our Find Me/Follow Me feature and mobility application, business calls can be made to and from your favorite mobile device without revealing personal mobile numbers,” says Jeff Valentine, chief marketing officer. “Your company gains a professional and polished image, and a consistent experience regardless of location.”