Image: Cloudli

Small businesses, freelancers and solo entrepreneurs too often struggle with legacy landline phone systems or manage business communication from a personal smartphone. Relying on a conventional landline often means businesspeople miss out on modern features, such as texting. And with all the spam phone calls these days, unwanted callers can distract you from serving customers.

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Adopting a virtual communication solution such as Cloudli can help you minimize interruptions and maximize customer communications. Plus, if you’re still using a personal smartphone for work, a move to a virtual business phone system may make it easier for you to take a break.

Cloudli Call Screener

Cloudli seeks to stop spam calls with AI-powered call screening. When active, the system requests the caller’s name and reason for calling. The system converts the caller’s speech to text and then presents the information to the Cloudli customer, who may then choose to answer the call or send it to voicemail.

More importantly, you may choose to screen all calls or only calls from people not already in your contact list. Screening all calls may make sense for a business where most customer conversations aren’t urgent: This allows you to talk to callers you choose, while sending others to voicemail. Alternatively, you might set the system to screen calls only from contacts not in your contact list. This ensures that calls from people you know, such as customers, suppliers and colleagues, always ring through, with unknown callers being screened. This configuration can help to significantly reduce time wasted on calls from spammers, scammers and salesbots.

Business Texting

Cloudli supports a Business Texting feature, too. Cloudli’s research shows that many people prefer to text, rather than talk. Cloudli research found that people like to text health and wellness organizations and personal care companies, such as salons, spas and barbershops. Business Texting can be an excellent way to schedule appointments or answer questions.

You may text directly or to customer groups. One-on-one texting works as you might expect: When a customer texts you, you may text back in a conversation thread — or vice versa. Cloudli also offers Message Broadcasting, which allows you to message a group of contacts at once. Then, when a contact replies, their message creates a one-on-one conversation between the contact and your company. Unlike a standard group chat, Message Broadcasting allows you to reach many customers via text at once and then continue individual conversations separately.

Cloudli Business Texting also can be configured with Shared Numbers, which lets various members of your team respond to customers with either phone or text. The app offers a unified view of conversations, so members of the team can identify that a text message, for example, is from the number of a person who had recently called.

Porting, platforms and pricing

If you’re in Canada or the U.S., you can port your current phone number to Cloudli. This makes it possible for your business to benefit from call screening and business texting capabilities without the need to change your phone number. Or you also may choose to get a new U.S. or Canadian number to use with Cloudli. Many small business owners, freelancers and consultants who initially use a personal phone number for work find that it makes sense to transition to a new, work-only number as business expands.

Cloudli lets you talk and text on a variety of platforms, with apps available for iOS, macOS, Android and Windows. Based on information from app stores, the Cloudli apps on macOS, iOS and Android all seem to receive consistent updates, with the apps on Apple platforms generally being rated higher than the Android app. As of mid-2022, people who want to use Cloudli on Windows will also need Java installed.

A small business may get started with the Cloudli TalkNText plan, with access to the AI-powered Call Screener, SMS, Business Texting and Shared Phone Numbers, for $10/month per user.

The company also offers communications solutions for larger companies, too. Notably, in June 2022, Cloudli announced that the company had acquired ConnectMeVoice, a business-focused provider of hosted VoIP, UCaaS and CCaaS offerings. With a team of more than 80 employees and contractors, the combined Cloudi and ConnectMeVoice organization serves more than 8,000 North American customers. The company is owned by CPS Capital, a private equity firm and is headquartered in Montréal.

What’s your experience?

If you own or manage a solo or small business, what phone and texting setup do you use? Do you find it helpful to connect with customers via text? How do you screen or otherwise handle spurious calls during your day? Message or mention me on Twitter (@awolber) to let me know what voice and texting solution you use in your small business.

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