Entrepreneur

Businesses Spend Thousands On Their Phone Systems—This Alternative Costs Only RM60/Month

  • Digi created Omni as an affordable all-in-one solution for corporate communication needs.
  • The service targets SMEs, startups, freelancers, and others who are looking for a business phone system.
  • The app was officially released on 2 August 2018.

One of the first major obstacles that small businesses encounter during their developmental stage is the cost of starting up, like setting up a company hotline for customers and clients to contact them.

Traditionally, PBX or PABX systems can cost up to thousands in ringgit so many entrepreneurs resort to other options, such as passing out their personal phone numbers.

Dictionary Time: PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is a private telephone network used within a company or organisation. Users can communicate internally (within their company) and externally (with the outside world), using different communication channels like Voice over IP, ISDN or analogue.

Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd addresses this issue with the release of the Omni Hotline—a virtual business phone system that provides an innovative alternative to the traditional PBX/PABX system.

Targeted but not limited to SMEs, startups, and freelancers, the Omni Hotline functions as a full-fledged business phone system, only without the added costs that come along with hardware and installation of physical units in the office.

This is because it’s all mobile phone-based, and comes with an app for managing it too.

Omni Product Lead, Eddy Han mentioned, “The idea for Omni came from the difficulties and challenges that small businesses face with getting a fixed office phone system.”

“With the rise of a lot of startups in the market who’re working in co-working spaces, acquiring a fixed number is actually a challenge,” said Eddy.

How It Works

The obvious downside to entrepreneurs passing out their personal numbers or opting for mobile numbers as their actual business number is a certain lack of credibility.

The business prefixed number that comes with all Omni numbers is a big plus, with SMS capabilities available as well. Sending SMSes is simple enough with the app—recipients of the text messages see the business prefixed number as opposed to your mobile number, with up to 200 free SMSes available depending on the package you’ve chosen.

In a nutshell, picture this: your customer calls a company number with a landline prefix, something like 03-80111234 (you get to choose from the available numbers when signing up), and is greeted by the Virtual Receptionist who lists out the extensions available.

In a real situation, these would probably be departments within your company. From that point, you can select an extension in order to specifically reach someone in the department whereupon you’ll be patched through to that person’s mobile phone.

One of the primary features of Omni is the Virtual Receptionist that works using “Interactive Response”.

This works by keying in custom messages on the app that are (almost) flawlessly repeated by the Virtual Receptionist using text-to-voice technology.

Most of the settings were adjusted on either the online dashboard or the user-friendly app itself.

“The product is very easy to configure, as easy as setting up a Spotify or Netflix account,” added Eddy.

In case you are a little commitment-phobic, Omni Hotline works on a monthly subscription basis, with 0 setting-up cost. This means you can pull out off the package in the same way you would with a personal line.

Image Credit: Digi

However, this is not something that the Digi team usually encounters. Eddy revealed that over 90% of their customers not only stayed with Omni, but upgraded from the basic plan to the plus plan after only a couple of weeks.

While mainly targeted toward smaller-sized companies, Omni is not only limited to SMEs.

Larger companies may choose to use the Omni Hotline as a way to handle customer-care enquiries, or even as a secondary backup option in case the main system goes down.

Eddy added, “We have clients that use Omni in high-turnover departments and Omni as an alternative for customer support in case they are not in the office.”

Given that the entire system works on a network of mobile phones, the ease of use and practicality is what draws most people onto the network.

With the stated aim of improving business communication for SMEs and entrepreneurs, the challenge of adapting Omni for large corporation use is one that would need a certain degree of creativity.

“For larger organisations, basic Omni services might not be able to cater [to] their needs and that’s why it would be best for us to meet them to understand their requirements and customise a plan for them.”

“You can think of it as PABX 2.0.”

Ever had to call a colleague over while covering the office telephone mouthpiece? Chances are, you have—but a traditional PABX solution would normally cost way too much, especially from a SME point of view.

Omni comes with the added benefit of not needing any hardware or installation; the only steps required are the app download and registration on the Omni website.

Personally speaking, I enjoyed the ‘after office-hours’ feature, whereby you are given the option to tweak your preferences to send callers straight to voicemail. Not an auto-option you’d have available to you, if you were using a mobile number.

You’ll still be able to monitor the activity on your app in real-time, so this means that callers won’t slip through the cracks.

Omni also boasts of a voice-to-text technology to produce a transcription of voicemails, which will be immediately emailed to you.

Our team took a while trying this feature out, in order to see if this was consistent enough in a real-world setting, where people in Malaysia speak with a plethora of different accents.

The transcriptions, sent to my email a mere 10 to 20 seconds after the voicemails were recorded, were relatively accurate, especially given that the we spoke naturally and were in a standard (chatty) office environment.

So, Just A PABX System Then?

Not quite. The Digi Omni team explained how startup founders from India even utilised Omni by using the app to pick up calls when overseas, in order to avoid roaming charges.

The business prefix being a 03 number, this provides an affordable alternative to roaming charges, while on the caller’s side, the business number is displayed on the call screen.

“For RM2 a day, for the basic plan, our customers are getting quite a lot of features that they can leverage through Omni. Normal landlines would require RM185, and almost up to RM2,000 for PABX.”

Taking Over The Future

The Virtual Receptionist, already negating the need to actually hire an actual human receptionist, is seemingly one for the future.

Eddy shared his opinion that the concept will indeed supersede the traditional PBX systems, at least for small businesses.

As for larger corporations that have different needs, the Omni concept has a plethora of applications that’d come in handy as well, though there are some adjustments that might have to be made to accommodate them.

  • You can download the app for Android and iOS devices here.
  • For more information or if you’d like to book a consulting session, you can check out the official website here.

This article is written in collaboration with Digi and Omni.

Feature Image Credit: Digi

 

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