Choosing the Right Business Phone System: A Comprehensive Guide

No matter the size, industry, or how established a  business is, communication is always of vital importance. Every enterprise owner understands that they have to project professionalism to establish trust with their customers. That means having one or more dedicated business numbers instead of using personal cell phones and having calls answered instead of being unavailable during the work days. In short, it means the right phone system is a must. 

Accomplishing these goals may seem daunting for smaller or newer businesses to compete with companies that have larger budgets. However, asking yourself some critical questions and finding the right provider to give you the system that best fits those needs is the key to finding a cost-effective solution. This guide is designed to help you get the business phone system you need for your current and future communication efforts at a cost that fits your budget.   

Understanding Your Current and Future Business Phone System Needs

No matter if you operate a physical storefront or offer services through a business website, your customers need reliable communication methods to reach you. Employees work more efficiently when they have a dedicated means of collaboration. Before you can solve a problem, you need to define it. Understanding your challenges and identifying your current and future needs is the first step in identifying an ideal solution. 

Challenges

  • Employees are having to use their cellphones
  • You need someone to field calls but only have a one-person office
  • You dread the complexity and expense of implementation
  • Customers aren’t getting the level of service you’d like to provide

Existing Equipment

  • You currently have no business phone system
  • You have an antiquated, inadequate, or barely functioning system that needs replacing
  • You have a phone system that needs expansion or updating to work right for your business

Business Needs

  • A solution with voice, video, text, call management, and collaboration features of an enterprise phone system at an affordable price. 
  • A system that is flexible and scalable to accommodate your current and future business and customer service needs.
  • A provider that can accommodate multiple as-is scenarios that meet your financial and functional goals.

Understanding Your Options

As you begin researching options for business phone systems, you’ll find there are many types of solutions available. Some may seem more appropriate for very large companies but have features that you need. Others may be ideal for small businesses but don’t offer the flexibility or add-ons that you seek. You may find yourself feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to invest in expensive hardware and infrastructure to accommodate some of the different options.

What is important to remember is that knowledge empowers you. Understanding the differences in available solutions helps you narrow down the options that will work best for your enterprise. Start by familiarizing yourself with the terminology, then you can evaluate the pros and cons of each. 

Traditional Landline Phone Systems

You may see this option referenced in several ways, such as plain old telephone systems (POTS) or public switched telephone networks (PSTNs). The installation of copper phone lines, also known as landlines, that were required to transmit the calls and the phone service for these analog systems were provided by a local telephone company.

Related: What Does the End of Phone Landlines Mean for Your Business?

Equipment for many businesses on a POTS system, particularly larger enterprises, was often an in-house private branch exchange (PBX) system. Some of these systems can be modified to connect to the business’s data network to achieve a hybrid Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system.

The Good: They aren’t susceptible to internet outages.

The Bad: They aren’t easily scalable, nor do they adapt well to a remote or hybrid workforce.

The Ugly: Traditional landlines are being phased out in favor of newer technologies.

Virtual Phone Systems

A virtual phone system can help small businesses seem more established and professional to callers. Rather than having phone calls go unanswered or using a personal cell phone to conduct business calls when working remotely, a virtual phone system can seamlessly route calls from a business number to a personal phone. It is essentially call forwarding but with added features. 

The Good: It is a cost-effective option for small businesses with limited resources.

The Bad: The features are limited, and it is still dependent upon personal devices and plans to complete calls.

The Ugly: This option is not adequate long-term for most businesses.

On-Premises VoIP Systems

This type of VoIP system means that all the equipment is owned by you and housed onsite in your offices. You’ll still need to pay monthly for session interface protocol (SIP) trunking or primary rate interface (PRI) circuits to enable virtual data transmission. 

The Good: You have complete control over all the configuration and administration. Updates don’t happen unless your team performs them. 

The Bad: 

  • You have to invest in the hardware.
  • It requires in-house IT staff to manage.
  • Security, maintenance, and repairs are your team’s responsibility.

The Ugly: This solution is expensive and not easily scalable. It can take years to recognize a return on investment (ROI.)

Cloud-Based VoIP Phone Systems

Voice over Internet Protocol phone systems enable calling via an internet connection that is already in place for most companies rather than physical cables. Calls can be answered or placed using internet-connected devices, such as smartphones, computers, laptops, tablets, and IP-enabled phones. 

Related: Streamline Your Communications with an Internet Business Phone System

The Good:

  • Quick to implement.
  • Highly cost-effective.
  • Much more flexible and extensible than the previous options. 
  • Accommodates numerous features that enable a higher level of convenience, productivity, and customer service.
  • Allows remote workers to access the business’s phone system from their devices.
  • Does not require expensive hardware or software to implement.
  • With the right provider, the plans and features can be increased, decreased, or otherwise administered easily from a dashboard.
  • Cloud-based service means you always have the most updated service, features, and security without your team having to worry about it. 
  • Rapid ROI.

The Bad: Service is dependent upon a robust internet connection. Businesses based in extremely remote areas or small towns may not have access to reliable internet service. 

The Ugly: Not applicable. There are no downsides to this flexible, scalable, cost-effective option.

Finding a Flexible and Cost-Effective Business Phone System 

Finding the right system is dependent on finding the right provider. No one should have to pay for services they don’t need, and that is even more critical for small businesses. It’s a good idea to look at the pricing plans and features before making a decision.

Pricing

Look for a provider that offers a variety of monthly plans that offer advantages like generous pooled minutes, a phone number for each account, video conferencing, and multiple voice, mobile, and web features at even the basic level.

Additional Features

Every business has unique needs. When you choose a business phone system, look for flexible plans where you can avoid paying for features you don’t need but also have the option to add the ones you do need. The best system is one that gives you a wide range of options to choose from, such as:

  • Account Management
  • Audio and Video Conferencing
  • Call Analytics
  • Call Forwarding and Call Queues
  • Notifications
  • Caller ID
  • Click-to-Call
  • Application Integration
  • Dial-by-Name Directory
  • Expert Support
  • Fax-from-Phone
  • Greetings and Hold Music
  • HD Voice
  • HIPAA Compliance
  • International Calling Rates
  • Number Porting
  • Text Messaging (SMS)
  • Voice Tagging
  • Voicemail to Email and Transcription

Technical Support

When it comes down to choosing the right phone system for your business, the most reliable providers offer expert support when you need it. Service providers that prioritize their customer service by ensuring that their clients have 24/7 access to the most knowledgeable live agents in the industry should be near the top of your list.

The Right Business Phone System Empowers Small Businesses

As a small business owner, your needs may not be as extensive as those of a large company, but they are just as critical. Your budget is designated for only the services and features that help you accomplish your goals. With business fluctuations, the ability to choose extra features as needed, all without breaking the bank, is invaluable. A limited budget does not mean you have to limit your goals. You can get the business phone system you need at a price you can afford.

Related:Business Phone Numbers: A Comprehensive Guide

 

Phone.com specializes in helping small businesses get all the advantages of an enterprise phone system without paying for one. You get the ability to connect a business phone number to any device with the voice, video, text, call management, and collaboration features you need to take your business to the next level. Even better, you get all that with industry-leading 24/7 live customer service. If you are ready for a phone system that’s designed for small professional businesses like yours and delivers the cost-effective services and features you need, sign up today.

 

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