VoIP (voice over IP) phone calls. and PBX

Movin’ on up: The Hosted PBX’s Journey from the Closet to the Contact Center

A Hosted PBX (private branch exchange) is a software application that resides in the cloud and routes incoming and outgoing VoIP (voice over IP) phone calls.

Not so long ago, companies were required to have a [usually musty] closet wherein sat a large box called the PBX (post-branch exchange). This cumbersome unit routed calls from their offices to the PSTN (public switched telephone network) using POTS lines (plain old telephone service). But like all office machines, these PBX boxes were prone to failing and causing downtime, required constant maintenance, required in-house IT staff for management and, ultimately, had an End-of-Life (EOD) date.

As VoIP became more popular, PBX manufacturers traded in copper connections for Ethernet and began to design the PBX to route calls through the public Internet. Now calls only needed an Internet connection to be completed, so the PBX didn’t need to reside in the “phone closet” either.

Companies began adopting a “hosted PBX”, also known as virtual PBX, and were able to dump their on-premise hardware by moving the routing functionality to the cloud and letting service providers manage the phone system. The features of the PBX largely remained the same - the ability to forward, transfer, and conference calls, account for a business’s open hours, provide extension dialing, queuing callers and playing hold music – they were all there, but even easier to manage.

The benefits of moving to a hosted PBX became evident quickly:

  • Companies saw cost savings by paying monthly for phone service, rather than large capital expenditures on PBX hardware every 7-10 years.
  • IT staff is freed up to focus on more strategic initiatives becoming a profit center instead of a cost center.
  • The phone system is always up to date.
  • Businesses can add or remove lines and extensions immediately as they grow.

Hosted PBX for Contact Centers

The hosted PBX approach works well for companies that need basic inbound/outbound call functionality, but businesses that support internal contact centers may need a bit more. A hosted PBX can support ACD (automatic call distributor) systems, which add functionality by providing advanced queuing, interactive voice response (IVR), and more control over call flow and what happens as calls come into the company.

ACDs can get very specific to meet business needs – call center agents can be assigned to one or more queues that mapped to what the caller was calling about, like service requests, billing questions, sales inquiries, etc. Agents can also be assigned skills and receive calls related to specific issues where they have expertise in order to give them the best chance at first-call resolution (FCR).

Advantages of a hosted PBX for contact center can even go a step further. With Voice as a Service (VaaS) options, companies operating contact centers can leverage service providers to manage the voice calls coming into the hosted PBX, and subsequently, the ACD. This single provider approach for all things voice, with no hardware, number porting, provisioning, etc. means contact center operators and IT alike can offload the mundane daily tasks they’re used to and focus more on strategic initiatives.

A strong hosted PBX environment needs quality voice services coming in, so if you manage a contact center and are juggling multiple carrier contracts or suffering with poor voice quality, it might be time to make a change.  Learn more about NICE CXone Voice as a Service here. VaaS, combined with a hosted PBX form a foundation that makes companies with contact centers more agile, flexible and scalable.