5 minute read |

What is the best phone system for distributed small companies

VoIP phone service background

Businesses today rely on communications systems quite a bit more than they used to. Part of the reason is that companies have to respond quickly to market changes. The other reason is that remote working is more popular than ever. Even smaller companies now have a distributed workforce which means you need a phone system that can handle it.

Distributed small companies

For companies that have people working remotely, a traditional phone system won’t really cut it. A distributed workforce means people using multiple devices and mobile devices to get work done. It means you need a flexible and reliable system to keep working through any condition. 

The current pandemic situation is the best example to demonstrate the need for remote working. Companies that already had a distributed workforce or were able to switch to remote working have fared better than others through this crisis. It’s also become obvious that remote working is not just for large enterprises

Even a small or medium business needs the flexibility of telecommuting. Even if you’re not ready to go fully remote, you can benefit from allowing partial remote working to your staff. Not everyone likes to sit in a cubicle and work all day. Many people love the freedom to complete tasks independently and the ability to balance their work and home life better. 

For instance, you may have staff that comes into the office only 2 days a week or for the occasional meeting/training session. Others may opt to come in every day because their job roles require it or they’re more comfortable in the office. Regardless of how many people work remotely, you need a communications system that works for your business.

Types of phone systems

Private Branch eXchange

For a long time, the only option available for businesses was to either manage with a few landlines or opt for a PBX (private branch exchange). The PBX allows companies to handle more calls and phone lines can be shared among employees. It also allows for features like corporate voicemail, IVR (interactive voice response systems), dial by extension, etc. 

However, these systems were expensive to purchase, maintain, and repair. You needed experts to set it up and to make any changes going forward. Small businesses could not afford the initial investment or hire a team to manage the system. Additionally, you could not buy a small system that suited your needs. Each trunk would have a specific number of lines and you had to buy more than what was required.

VoIP systems

Today small businesses have more options including hosted and on-premise phone systems. When VoIP phones first launched, they were plagued by quality and reliability issues. But they have come a long way since then. Modern VoIP systems are so good they are indistinguishable from a traditional landline.

VoIP communication systems have many advantages:

  • Flexible – VoIP systems include support for mobile devices and users can connect multiple devices to the same number for business calls
  • Scalable – you can buy as many lines, numbers, and other resources as you need. You only pay for what you use
  • Inexpensive – you don’t need a huge investment to start using VoIP. You don’t even need any special hardware! 
  • Easy to use – your staff don’t need much training to switch to VoIP. Most of the changes happen behind the scenes and the user experience is actually better on the front end
  • Interoperable – VoIP is IP-based meaning it can integrate with other business tools you might use every day such as your favorite CRM system
  •  Sophisticated feature set – small businesses rarely have access to ‘premium’ features but most are included in basic plans with hosted VoIP systems 

Even a cursory dive into the world of business phone systems should convince you that VoIP is simply the best phone system for any small business.

Hosted vs on-premise VoIP systems

Once you decide on using VoIP for your business, the next question you’ll likely encounter is the difference between hosted and on-premise systems. The difference between these two types of VoIP is substantial. 

On-premise VoIP is quite similar to a traditional PBX, except this one uses VoIP technology to send voice calls through a data network. So you still have to buy and maintain your own equipment as well as staff. It’s great if your business has the resources to support it.

Hosted VoIP, on the other hand, is more like using hosted email. The vendor manages the hardware, software, and technical details. You simply buy and use the services provided over the internet. It’s not very expensive and you can always add capacity when your business grows.

How to choose the right vendor

You know that a VoIP system is the best choice for small business and have decided to use hosted VoIP based on your needs. However, many companies run into problems when it comes to implementation. The issue starts right at the beginning when selecting a vendor. Do you choose the one offering the cheapest plan or the most features? After all, price and features are the only considerations, right?

Wrong! The provider can make or break your phone system. It’s worth paying a little more for better support or a more responsive customer service team. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when shopping for a hosted VoIP system:

  1. Price and features – you need to strike a balance between the two. It’s never a good idea to go for a cheap option or the most expensive plan you can afford. Look at what you need and find a plan that fits within your budget
  2. Customer and technical support – in the world of technology, it’s never a question of if, it’s when. You’re practically guaranteed to have problems but how the vendor handles it is crucial. Do they have experts who know their system inside out? Do they offer multiple ways of getting in touch with them?
  3. Service guarantee – imagine if your phones stopped working for a few hours in the middle of the day. It’s a nightmare scenario for most business owners. That’s why reputed vendors offer service level agreements, guaranteeing a certain level of uptime. If the phone system is offline for longer than the minimum over the year, they may even compensate you for the loss per the terms. 
  4. Software upgrades – your provider is responsible for all updates and upgrades. Always select a provider who launches new features to keep up with industry standards. They should be able to roll out updates without affecting the performance of the system
  5. Security – unlike a traditional landline, VoIP systems are more vulnerable to internet-based security risks. Your vendors should actively work to mitigate such risks and protect your system. While you should take measures to protect your network, much of the heavy lifting is done by the vendor.

What features do you need?

VoIP systems have a plethora of features that are useful in the right circumstances. But if you have a distributed workforce, certain features are crucial and more important than others. So here’s what you should be looking for:

Ability to use multiple devices

Most remote workers will juggle several devices over the course of the workday. They might have a mobile device (or two), a laptop, and a desktop. Any phone system worth its salt should allow employees to easily switch between them. No matter where they are or which device they are using, they should be able to make/receive calls.

Disaster recovery and business continuity

You know backups are important for any system but business continuity takes more than a few backups. The phone system plays a crucial role in your business and needs to keep working through any disaster. If any emergency forces staff to work from a temporary office or their home, your phone system should support it. Look for a service that has failsafe options i.e, you can re-route calls through an alternate number or site in case it is needed.

Unified communication

Why force staff to use several different applications for voice, video, and text when you can do it all within a single service? Hosted VoIP allows you to get rid of competing apps and consolidate communications in one place. It’s easy to switch between them and you don’t miss something from a customer because it was on another device/app.

Advanced call management

How do you handle call queues and manage hold times when your staff is working from multiple locations? Any decent hosted VoIP service should allow you to use features like call forwarding, hold music, auto attendants, IVR, and ring groups. Using each feature streamlines your processes and using them together makes the system even more powerful. If your goal is to make sure you never miss a customer call, a VoIP system is definitely the way to go.

So there you have it. Hosted VoIP is – without a doubt – the perfect phone system for most small and medium businesses. Call VoIPstudio for a demo and experience the difference it can make to your office!

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Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Start a free 30 day trial now, no credit card details are needed!