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5 Things to Consider When Comparing Office Phone Systems

As your small business grows you’ll need to look for office phone systems that can meet all of your needs. These are the things business owners need to consider before making a commitment.

Business phone systems can range in price greatly with prices from $175 to more than $4,000.

With such a variety, how can you make sure you are getting the system that best suits your business?

As your business grows, you may need to consider a different phone system to meet all your needs. The various types of phone systems include Cloud-based, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Private Branch Exchange (PBX), and multi-line.

Here are things to consider when deciding which office phone systems would be best for your business.

1. Virtual Team Members

In a recent survey, 43 percent of Americans said they worked remotely at least part of the time.

Having the right phone system can help your remote employees communicate effectively when out of the office whether they are sales representatives, traveling, or just working from home for a day.

VoIP and cloud-based phone systems can route your phone service directly through computers.

Your employees just need a stable Internet connection. The key word is stable.

Other phone systems can help route calls directly to cell phones for a seamless connection.

If you have more than one office location, you should also decide how to integrate the two locations just as you would with any virtual employee.

2. Hosting On or Off Site

You need to determine if you have the budget and capacity to host equipment and data storage for either cloud-based systems or landline systems.

Landlines (or PBX) typically connect through a local phone company with required hardware on-site. This type of system anchors employees to their desks but are very reliable. This type of system is more feasible for larger corporations or businesses that have a dedicated staff to answer phone calls.

VoIP systems run through the Internet. These systems can be less expensive than the landline systems. You will need a stable Internet connection for this system to work properly at all times.

You will need more than one Internet connection for VoIP systems to ensure you are available and your calls aren’t garbled or dropped because more than one person is using the office phone.

You can choose to host the system on site or use a cloud external host such as Horizon platforms.

Advantages of hosting your small office phone system on the cloud include:

  • Saves space in your office
  • No need to maintain
  • Costs less
  • Easy to grow virtual office

You do rely on the hosting company to keep the system running smoothly, so you need to make sure you choose a reputable company.

3. Needed Customization

You most likely want a customized greeting on your phone system, but you also want to make sure you can change call routing and call groups easily. A VoIP option allows you to update through the virtual receptionist.

Changing options on a landline can be a bit trickier at times. Not all vendor offer the options for caller groups and call routing (such as “press 1 for accounting,” “press 2 for sales.”)

Think about how often you need to change greetings or route calls. If you do not have an IT staff to handle a more challenging system, a large, complex phone system may not be the best option for your small business phones.

4. Multiple Lines

If you need to take multiple calls at once, you need multiple lines. Multi-line systems have several lines that run through the same component. This phone system allows an employee to answer each number or send calls directly to voicemail.

These are popular systems because they are fairly basic. You can choose a 2-line system to have two units allowing multiple people to participate on a call. You can also choose complex systems with 4 or more lines for more employees to answer or make phone calls at the same time.

Before choosing a company for this phone system, you need to know how many lines can be supported and how many users can be on at once. You can choose the size that works best for you.

5. Efficiency

Your office phone system is a tool for your employees to get work done. You want to make sure you choose the most efficient system for your business.

You can find solutions that offer features such as alerts when a person becomes available. You can also look for notifications that tell you the call context and importance, so the receptionist knows who to contact and if he or she needs to interrupt to get the call answered quickly.

Phone calls that are unexpected may be unproductive. This is why it’s important to get the context of the call. If your employees know why someone is calling, they can answer calls easier and more effectively.

Your phone system is about relationships. Millennials can find making phone calls to other teammates awkward. Some phone systems can provide key information such as “John’s phone is on silent.”

An efficient system can integrate all features such as voicemail, web conferencing, instant messaging, and call forwarding in one program.

Choose a phone system that your employees will be comfortable using. You may not be able to provide the support for a complex system.

Do you need to see regular call reports? You can see if there are any bottlenecks in your system.

How easily can your phone system grow with your business? Take a look at your goals. How often would you need to update your office phone to add additional employees or departments?

Now It’s Time to Choose Your Office Phone Systems

Usability is important, so don’t let fancy features blind you if your employees won’t use them. You also want to make sure your system is not pricey to maintain. Ask your employees ahead of time what features they would use and what is important.

After all, your employees use it daily. Determine what your budget is, and then decide on the most important features.

Ask the company to test a system before deciding, so you can determine just how easy it is to use.

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