It’s not an easy decision to select a new business phone system for your business. Whether you need a new system or plan to upgrade from an older one, the landscape is littered with choices. How do you know which one is best for your organization? What should you look for in a business phone system anyway?
One thing to keep in mind is that today’s phone systems are more sophisticated than the ones you might be used to. Most modern business phone systems are based on VoIP technology. It means they have more features and integrate better with other enterprise systems you might have such as CRM. You can – and should – expect quite a lot from your new business phone system.
What to look for
Traditional phone systems were pretty limited in their capabilities. You could make phone calls and receive voicemails but that was pretty much it. A modern VoIP-based business phone system offers so much more than that. For instance, many services offer built-in conferencing features so you don’t need to buy additional hardware or separate services. Conferencing opens up so many possibilities such as:
The options are pretty endless. Some providers offer unlimited virtual meetings with hundreds of participants while others charge for meetings with more than 2 or 3 participants. Naturally, the former option offers a lot more flexibility than the latter.
Do you have a customer service department? Even if you don’t, someone has to answer calls from clients looking for answers to various problems. Virtual call center software is often a part of the service portfolio in VoIP phone systems. It means you can benefit from advanced capabilities such as call queues, call routing, call whisper, etc. Once again, some providers offer this service as part of all plans while others offer it as a separate service.
Call recording is an incredibly useful feature for any business. You might want to record calls for a number of reasons including the following;
Consider selecting a service that offers built-in call recording capabilities. Many providers also store your recordings and provide access as and when needed.
Virtual numbers are an astounding feature of VoIP business phone systems. To understand this feature, we need to know how phone numbers work. In a traditional system, phone numbers are tied to a location. As phones are connected with wires, numbers are tied to an address. If you move, you need to move the wires and most likely cannot take your numbers with you.
In a VoIP system, phone numbers are not tied to any geographic location. Since phones are connected via data networks, you can take your phone number with you when you move. It makes it easy for businesses to move employees from one office to another without losing their existing phone number.
An additional benefit of location-independent numbers is virtual numbers. Since VoIP numbers don’t need a physical address, you can buy and use numbers from any region. So a business operating in France can easily purchase a number with an American area code. This useful feature allows companies to operate locally even without an office. For instance, you can have customers call your office through a local number so they don’t have to pay long-distance charges.
Another benefit of VoIP business phone systems is that they integrate with other digital tools such as email, CRM, and ERP systems. There are many ways to integrate your phone system with others.
For instance, one popular integration is to connect the phones with the CRM systems used by service or sales departments. Such integration would allow agents to call customers from within the CRM tool, thus not waste time hunting down relevant numbers. The timestamps, call duration, and other details are automatically noted so users don’t have to remember to manually record them.
While it’s a common integration, it’s not the only one. Business phone systems can now integrate with dispatch tools, recording systems, and several other business systems.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of buying a VoIP phone system is reducing costs. It’s why most businesses started adopting the new systems before realizing the additional benefits. VoIP systems allow businesses to reduce or eliminate many costs including:
What to avoid
If you’ve used a business phone system before, you probably know about contracts. Businesses usually purchase phone services for a specified length of time and the contract may also include maintenance. In theory, it benefits the business as they can lock in a price even if costs go up in the future. But in practice, it penalized organizations if they wanted to switch providers or upgrade to a better service.
The best part of modern VoIP-based business phone systems is that the industry generally does not use contracts. Most vendors follow a pay as you go model and perhaps offer a discount for long term commitments. But for the most part, you are free to shop around and move to a new provider if your current one doesn’t fit your requirements anymore. As a general rule of thumb, do not select a service that requires a contract as most good providers don’t require one at all.
Some phone service providers advertise unbelievably low prices. How can they do that? It’s usually because they sneak in hidden fees and charges for various miscellaneous items on your final bill. It allows them to advertise and offer ridiculously low prices. It goes without saying that a good service provider will not use such tactics. Try to look for a business phone system that includes everything you want for an upfront price. This way you’re not shocked when you get your first bill!
Another thing to watch out for is paid upgrades. A vendor might offer a reasonably priced plan for companies. But when you start setting up your business phone system, you notice that many features are locked away. You would need to pay for them separately. It might seem like a reasonable strategy as you may not use every feature the vendor offers. So why pay for them? The problem occurs when you need most of the features that are locked behind ‘upgraded’ plans. When you add up the cost of enabling individual features or upgrading to a better plan it might become very expensive.
The flip side of the above coin is getting stuck with features you don’t need. Many organizations think they need more features than they actually use. So they buy the most expensive or comprehensive plan available with the vendor. After a few months, they realize that their employees don’t use most of the nice features.
It’s useful to remember that most business phone systems allow you to enable or disable features whenever you need them. It’s generally a good idea to start with the basics and add features when your business needs them.
A lot of businesses have security concerns about using VoIP-based phone systems. Since these systems are based on IP technology, hackers can break into them just like email systems. However, businesses also have many tools to secure their phone systems. Unlike traditional phone systems, companies have to secure VoIP systems with several different layers of security.
But what can you do if your service provider delivers phone services through the internet? Well, it’s up to the vendor to secure the system at their end. Always make sure to ask a provider about their security processes before signing on. Never select a service that is inadequately protected as you could lose sensitive data or have to pay for fraudulent calls made by hackers.
Now that you know what to look for, head on over to VoIPstudio and sign up for a free 30-day trial. See how VoIPstudio can help your business today.
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