BUSINESS PHONE SYSTEMS
Business phone systems are land or internet-based tools used to communicate internally as well as with external customers and prospects. They include not only the telephone hardware necessary to communicate with callers but also any additional equipment like power supplies, headsets, and routers to connect internet phone systems online.
The business phone systems support a network of land or internet-based phone lines for inbound and outbound calling. These systems come in a variety of forms but the most common are VoIP-related phone solutions. The Business phone systems have many features and price points, providing options for organizations of all sizes, from single-member businesses to call centers.
Business Phone System Features
Business phone systems are packed with features to help organizations manage communications with callers, but it’s important to remember that phones with newer technology tend to offer more features. However, while traditional landlines may not offer the same number of options as the best VoIP or softphones offer benefiting small businesses, they still pull their weight with call management tools like call waiting, hold, and call transfer.
Key business phone system features include the following:
Call management tools to allow agents to place callers on hold, forward calls to other phones, extensions, or voicemail boxes, park calls, block inbound calls by phone number, and screen incoming calls and is a critical feature for call center phone systems. Some providers also allow customers to record personalized voicemail greetings for recognized callers and include voicemail-to-email transcription and voicemail search with their service.
Free Local and Toll-free Phone Numbers
Many business phone system providers include one free local phone number with new accounts and some also offer a toll-free phone number. Most providers include free extension numbers with their pricing plans for business owners to assign to individual employees, but additional phone numbers are typically available for purchase if desired.
Free Local and International Calling
Most business phone system providers include unlimited domestic calling with their plans and per-minute international calling rates. Some providers feature unlimited international calling to groups of countries or offer buckets of prepaid minutes customers can purchase in advance for a lower pay-as-you-use calling rate.
Business Tools Integration
Some phone systems integrate with business tools like support ticket systems, chat, and email to keep teams connected and working efficiently. Some systems also support integration with CRM applications commonly used by business organizations like Freshsales, Pipedrive, and Salesforce so that employees can document every interaction will callers.
Auto-attendants automatically greet and route callers to pre-specified extensions, phones, voicemail boxes, or offices. Some auto-attendants can also route calls to multiple locations and can be used on external phone numbers, so mobile or personal phones function the same as the user’s desk phone.
Types of Business Phone Systems
Business phone systems can range from a couple of desktop telephones in a small office to a complex array of phone lines connecting multiple offices across the country. Companies have a variety of options to choose from when selecting a system that includes the business phone system features they need.
Specific types of business phone systems include:
VoIP Business Phone Systems
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology transmits your voice over the internet instead of over traditional copper wire used in landline phone systems. VoIP business phone systems offer companies a wider range of features than landlines, like advanced call management tools, CRM integration, and unlimited calling. This a good choice for sales and support teams wanting phone system tools that support the customer service experience.
Call Center Business Phone Systems
Call center business phone systems improve the customer experience with features like automatic call distributors for routing inbound calls and interactive voice response systems that automate many call center tasks. Some systems also include call monitoring, analytics, and reporting for organizations that want to monitor and improve call center performance.
PBX Business Phone Systems
Private branch exchange (PBX) business phone systems use a piece of hardware installed on location to receive and route incoming calls. They include call management tools and other features that help companies professionally manage their business communication in-house. However, localized PBX systems can be expensive to set up and maintain, so PBX systems hosted by VoIP business phone service providers are often a more affordable option.
Landline Business Phone Systems
Landline business phone systems transmit call data via your local or regional phone company’s expensive standard copper wiring. Though not as feature-rich as VoIP or softphone technology, landline business phone systems have excellent sound quality and almost 100% uptime, making it the best choice for businesses like emergency tech support that must be available by phone 24/7.
Business Phone System Hardware
Unless you’re relying exclusively on softphone apps to communicate with callers, telephone hardware is an essential part of a business phone system. Let’s take a look at some of the equipment you may want to invest in for your office when setting up a business phone system.
Desktop phones cost anywhere from $30 for no-frills handsets to $800 for a feature-rich model. Basic desktop phones have features like call hold and forwarding while advanced desktop phones offer video calling, call recording, and multi-line support. Desktop phones are a good choice for organizations that want to assign phones to desks or offices rather than employees.
Conference phone pricing ranges from $250 for basic models to $800 for higher-end phones. No-frills phones include 360-degree microphones and programmable ringtones while conference phones with a higher price tag offer options like the touchscreen interface and customizable apps. Conference phones are a smart choice for distributed teams and organizations with employees who travel.
Call Center Phones
Call center phone prices start at around $50 for budget phones and climb as high as $600 for phones loaded with all the bells and whistles. Basic phone features include call logs and dedicated hold, speakerphone, and voicemail buttons while more expensive phones offer options like built-in WiFI and Bluetooth, video-conferencing, and HDMI monitor ports. Call center phones are designed to help callers have the best possible customer experience.
Three of favorite low-cost business phone options include:
|Inexpensive VoIP||Best For|
|OnSIP||(Best Overall) Business owners who want a cheap, but feature-rich, VoIP phone service|
|Google Voice||Businesses needing a completely free virtual phone number with only basic forwarding functions|
|Grasshopper||Solopreneurs who want a single phone that switches between a business and personal number|