Business Phone System Options

Your business’s phone system options determines how convenient it is to communicate with clients and colleagues. Find out how to choose the best for business phone system options.Good communication is essential in any business phone system options. From Slack to Base camp to Trello, there are hundreds of apps to help your business break down communication barriers and operate more efficiently. In an age where there’s an app for everything, how necessary is a traditional business  phone system?

Communicating with customers and clients requires businesses to have some type of phone system. Depending on your business’s needs, there are many different options for purchasing and installing a phone system.

Phone system types

Landline

This is a traditional phone system where you plug the phone into the wall and work with a local phone company. Landlines rely on physical wire connections monitored and run by regional phone companies. This means that opting for a landline will guarantee a reliable connection, but there may be fewer features compared internet-based phone systems.

The other aspect about landline phones is that the telecommunications industry is slowly moving away from this technology. While landlines provide a strong connection and reliable service, it is not an aspect of the industry that is expanding. VoIP phone systems also generally offer more feature options compared to landlines.

One more thing to note about landline systems is that they often require private branch exchange, or PBX, hardware at your business’s location to provide features like call transferring. This can make landline plans more expensive than internet alternatives, like virtual phone systems or V o I P s.

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP):

This technology pairs your phone system with your internet connection. Essentially, VoIP systems connect you with other users via your internet service provider. This can be good or bad depending on how reliable your internet connection is for your business.

If you select VoIP, you must decide if you want the system hosted at your business or in the cloud. Hosting it at your business is also known as establishing an on-premises VoIP system. This involves purchasing or renting expensive software outright and then paying a monthly fee as well.

In addition to hosting the equipment, you and your business are responsible for maintaining it. This can add to the overall cost, but it can make sense for some businesses that want to be responsible for their own service should it go down. In cloud-based VoIP systems, any problems with the service are handled directly by the provider.

Cloud-based systems require no maintenance or hardware. Instead, all the technical services are handled directly by the service provider. This service option is often structured on how many users are needed for the system. Overall, it is often significantly cheaper than premise-based VoIP systems because you won’t have to buy additional hardware.

Virtual phone system: Virtual phone systems can be a great option for businesses with a lot of employees working in many different locations. Virtual systems are not a full-fledged phone system. Instead, it helps provide different features for your business while still operating on your mobile or home phone network.

This can also be a great option for small businesses looking to create a professional image without investing in a VoIP or landline system.

Reliability: Regardless of what type of system you get, make sure you choose one that is the most reliable and best fit for your business. Consider up time, the number of data centers and redundancy, how many call carriers the provider works with, and how it ensures you don’t lose service (or, in an emergency, get service back quickly). Reliability is the most important aspect of your phone service provider.

Security: If your business needs maximum security or would like to customize its own security, a premises-based VoIP or landline system are both good options. If you’re establishing a cloud-based network, look for data encryption during transmission as well as at the physical security of the data centers.

Mobility: For virtual systems, the mobility aspect will be inherent. But for VoIPs, ask about mobile options. For example, some providers have mobile apps that let the user make calls on their smartphone through the service. This allows you to use “soft phones.” (More on that later.)

Support: If you don’t have an IT staff, then 24/7 support is a must. Also, look at how many ways there are to contact support and how quickly you can expect a response. User reviews can alert you to the most common complaints.

Features

Features will vary based on the type of phone system you decide on. Some companies vary their features based on what type of plan you purchase. Most phone systems come with a basic feature set, then charge for additional features, either through a high-tier plan or add-on charges. Features include the following:

  • Automated attendant

  • Call monitoring

  • Call queues

  • Conference calling

  • Directory assistance

  • Extension dialing

  • Integrations with programs like Outlook and Sales force

  • Interactive voice response

  • Missed call notifications

  • Ring groups

  • Toll-free or local number

  • Video chat

  • Voice mail

  • Call’s recording

  • Call reports

  • Call routing/forwarding

  • Voicemail transcription

  • Voicemail-to-email

  • Voicemail-to-text

  • Internet faxing

  • Interoffice instant messaging

  • Call transferring

  • Call forwarding