Starting a business is a challenging task, and one of the essential elements for its success is having a reliable communication infrastructure. A business phone system is a fundamental part of this, allowing your company to manage and route calls, leave and retrieve voicemails, and collaborate with others.
With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which one will best meet the needs of your business. You have to consider factors such as call routing and management, voicemail and messaging, integration with other business software, scalability, and cost. Here, we'll look at what you need to know to find the right system for your business.
Types of Business Phone Systems
When it comes to business phone systems, there are three main types to consider: traditional, VoIP, and virtual.
- Traditional phone systems, also known as PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) systems, use analog or digital signals to transmit calls through a network of copper wires or fiber-optic cables. The two most common types of traditional phone systems are PBX (Private Branch Exchange) and Key systems.
- VoIP phone systems, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, use the internet to transmit calls. They can be either hosted or on-premises. Hosted VoIP systems are managed by a third-party provider, while on-premises VoIP systems are managed by the business itself.
- Virtual phone systems, also known as virtual PBX, are a type of VoIP phone system. They are hosted by a third-party provider, but they do not require any physical infrastructure. Instead, they use cloud-based technology to route calls to the users' devices, such as smartphones, computers, or standard landlines.
In summary, traditional phone systems are an option for businesses that are willing to invest in the necessary hardware and maintenance, VoIP phone systems are ideal for businesses that want more flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, and virtual phone systems are perfect for businesses that don't want to invest in physical infrastructure, want the flexibility of VoIP, and need to route calls to their devices easily.
Features to Consider in Your Phone System
When evaluating business phone systems, there are several key features to consider to ensure that the system will meet the needs of your business.
- Call routing and management: This feature allows you to route calls to the appropriate person or department. Some systems also include call forwarding, call transfer, and call holding capabilities.
- Voicemail and messaging: This feature allows you to leave and retrieve voicemails and send and receive text messages. Some systems also include features such as automatic voicemail transcription, which converts voicemails into text.
- Integration with other business software: This feature allows you to integrate your business phone system with other software, such as CRM systems, to streamline your workflow and improve efficiency.
- Scalability: As your business grows, you'll need a phone system that can grow with you. A scalable phone system will allow you to add lines and extensions as needed.
- Vanity phone numbers: A vanity phone number allows you to choose a phone number with a memorable phrase or sequence of numbers, which can be useful for branding and marketing purposes.
It's important to consider the specific needs of your business when evaluating phone systems. For example, a virtual phone system would be ideal for a business that operates remotely, and a vanity phone number would benefit a company that adds its number to sales messages and advertisements.
Cost and Maintenance
When it comes to business phone systems, cost and maintenance are two important factors to consider when making your decision. Upfront and ongoing costs can vary depending on the type of phone system you choose.
Traditional phone systems have higher upfront costs because they require the purchase of hardware, such as PBX systems, but lower ongoing costs. On the other hand, VoIP phone systems and virtual phone systems tend to have lower upfront costs but higher ongoing costs because of the monthly fees for the service.
When it comes to maintenance, traditional phone systems require regular maintenance and upgrades to ensure they continue to function properly. This can be costly and time-consuming. VoIP phone systems can also require maintenance, but it is usually the responsibility of the third-party provider, which can be more cost-effective. Virtual phone systems typically require little to no maintenance because the provider handles all of it.
Another important factor to consider is support. Traditional phone systems may require on-site support, which can be expensive, while VoIP phone systems and virtual phone systems usually include support as part of the monthly service fees.
It's important to consider the cost and maintenance involved when evaluating business phone systems. A system that has a lower upfront cost may end up being more expensive in the long run if it requires frequent maintenance and upgrades.
A business phone system is a crucial part of a company's communication infrastructure. Choosing the right one can be challenging. But by considering the different types of systems, the features of each, and their cost and maintenance, you should have enough information to get started evaluating different systems.
Combine this new knowledge with your research into providers by comparing prices and services between them, and be sure to check customer reviews. By considering all these factors, you can make an informed decision that will support the growth of your business.