More often than not, a direct call is the most effective way to do business. So naturally, keeping your business connected with the right phone system is essential.
The best phone systems for business in 2021 really depend on your needs and what your office space can accommodate, but here’s a list of important features to consider:
>>> Multiple lines means you can field calls from more than one customer at a time.
>>> Visual voicemail delivers messages to you even when you’re away from the office.
>>> Automated features like an automated attendant that will answer and filter calls to the right extension.
>>> Conference calling lets you connect with multiple people in a single conversation.
>>> On-hold music or messages entertain and educate customers while they wait.
>>> Hunt groups ensure that incoming calls are routed to an available line.
Here are four different phone systems commonly used today. They all vary based on your business needs. Most communication functions carry over from system to system, but cost can vary quite a bit!
Multi-Line Phone Systems
Multi-line phone systems give you the ability to channel several lines through the same unit. It’s a nice, simple way to connect your small business. With a 2-line phone it allows (you guessed it) two people to be on the phone at once. More complex 4-line phone systems allow for even more employees to make calls simultaneously. You can rock a toll-free number on these, too, if you want to.
When shopping for a new multi-line phone system, the biggest thing to look out for is how many phone numbers it supports and the number of users you have on your system. You probably do not want to pay for more than you need, but you also want a business phone service that allows you some room to grow.
The multi-line telephone is your basic small business telephone system. It is the user-friendly, reliable office phone system that you find in every professional office. It is the trusty old steed of phone service.
VoIP Phone Systems
VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. This type of telephone network operates over a broadband internet connection vs. your traditional phone line. Once you’ve got the right business internet service set up, VoIP services are easy to install. Plus, they are scalable and economical. They also offer advanced features like a virtual receptionist to manage calls as well as call forwarding to a cell phone if you're using a mobile app.
VoIP can operate like a traditional multi-line. However, VoIP phones have unique phone numbers that can handle toll free numbers and routing calls to employee-specific extensions. This type of phone system requires less hardware than most other options. All you need is an internet connection and a VoIP phone. Your calling features and voicemails will reside in the network.
PBX Phone Systems
PBX stands for private branch exchange, and it is essentially a private phone network for the office. The customer-premise PBX system routes incoming and outgoing voice calls through the business’s phone lines and offers a variety of advanced features like call holding, routing to extensions, and conference calling — which are critical in certain industries.
A PBX phone system is different from a standard multi-line phone system in that the call switching and routing does not occur directly through the phone unit, but is centralized instead. This makes a PBX more easily scalable and often more cost-effective than a key system. These systems are very flexible.
Cloud Phone System
A cloud phone system takes your infrastructure off-site, handling call routing and signal processing remotely for a low monthly fee — saving you money and time on system upkeep and growth. A cloud phone system can be a hosted PBX system or a VoIP system. There are several advantages to hosting your small business phone system in the cloud:
>>> The system is completely off-site, saving space in your office to house equipment on premise.
>>> It’s often more cost-effective.
>>> It’s more easily scalable, and your virtual office can grow as needed.
>>> It is hosted on a third-party server, so your company won’t have to worry about maintenance — the hosting company typically handles that.
The disadvantage, of course, is that you’re relying on the hosting company to maintain uptime and keep things running smoothly. Whereas with an on-site system, your IT department can handle any issues that crop up, assuming you have an IT department.
When you’re evaluating different service providers, there are a few different factors to take into consideration. Service availability is the first one. The service provider needs to be in your area. Naturally, price is another very important one, and many times there are additional fees to assess. An activation fee often comes with new service. And a third often overlooked factor is the contract length. Is it a one-year contract? A two-year contract? Make sure you know what you’re committing to.
Of course, if you have any questions, our team is always here to help.