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Long gone are the days when landline telephones were chunky pieces of equipment with a wheel full of holes you stuck your finger into and turned to indicate a number. The technology we use these days is highly advanced, and there are far more telephone system providers vying for your business and promoting their services.
If you have decided to set up a new business phone service, replace an outdated one or find the best business phone to add to your existing system, where do you start?
On one hand, having such a great choice of phones systems – in terms of functionality, features and aesthetics – is wonderful. You can select the exact telephone system and handsets that suit your business requirements, not an “off the shelf” package that doesn’t fit. On the other hand, the variations and technological complexities can be a little overwhelming.
How To Stay On A Budget When Choosing Phone Systems
The first thing to do is research all the options available – which change regularly as technology advances. This guide will help you with that.
Then you need to make a list of what features you need to run your business efficiently. What sort of things do your customers and other callers expect and need? What would make life easier for your staff? There is more on this later in this guide.
The first question is the size of the business telephone system you need. There is often a receptionist filtering calls, but then how many offices, credit card terminals, meeting rooms and store rooms will need to be connected up? Do you need a line going to your loading bay doors, an outbuilding or waiting room, for example?
How many calls, on average, do you make and receive each week as a business? This will influence how many telephone lines you will need coming into your business number, to avoid customers constantly getting the engaged tone.
The costing structure will be based on the base unit for your telephone system and how many lines run into it; the desk (or hand) equipment to receive and make calls; connectivity between the equipment (and computers if that is part of the package); installation and configuration of the phone system.
Helpful tip – look closely at the terms and conditions of any office phone system you consider buying. They do vary between suppliers. This includes checking that installation and configuration are included in the start-up costs.
Tips On Choosing Business Phone Systems
You could create three different checklists of telephone system features to help you choose the right one for your business needs. These could cover (1) what functions and features you absolutely must have (2) what extras would be desirable if your budget allows and (3) what updates and additional features might you need to add to your telephone system at a later stage, to ensure it keeps pace with business developments.
Armed with these lists, you can pinpoint mandatory office phone systems, their additional features and then mix and match the rest of the functionality according to how much your budget can accommodate.
Adding More Functions To Your Phone System
Even buying a favourably priced telephone system using our website, you are still going to want to be sure it won’t need to be replaced for some time!
When choosing office telephone equipment and service providers, you need to be sure that you can add extra features in the future. For example, will you need more extensions in a few months? Or an additional line into your office as the business grows?
Business Efficiency, Not Bedazzlement With Business Telephone Systems
Focusing on the important and urgent functionality you need ensures that you don’t get tempted by advancements that aren’t appropriate for your business when arranging to buy business telephone systems.
Salespeople will present a dizzying array of options and features and present state-of-the-art office phone systems and equipment that can seem highly attractive. However, it could end result in business telephone systems which are too complex and confusing for your some of your staff to use. Lost calls mean lost money. Sometimes the basics of good communication need to be the biggest inspiration behind your choice.
One of the biggest technological advancements in business phone systems is converging technologies – computers and telephone systems that work together, which is also known as CTI (computer telephony integration).
This means, for example, that when you receive a telephone call your screen will show not just caller ID, but also the contact database for that individual. It also means that when working, you can click on a telephone number on your computer screen to place a direct call. This requires that your telephone system has digital ISDN lines, the connection to help you to use your computer as a direct dial system.
This sort of sophistication integrated within business telephone systems comes at a cost and is not the best business phone system for everyone.
Features To Look For With Business Phone Systems
What other features would you be offered when choosing office telephone system and handsets?
Call logging – which is a way that the numbers dialled from each extension can be recorded.
Call barring – this is designed to stop your callers for dialling certain numbers such as 0800 ones.
Call holding – an extremely common business function of office phones. It means callers can be invited to wait for an individual or department to come free to speak to them. It can be far politer and more efficient that turning callers away.
Conference calling – enables multiple people to join in a conversation, using handsets with good quality microphones.
Contacts directories – these can be added to some phone systems for ease of access internally, as staff can instantly find the right number to use.
Music for hold – creates a pleasant background for callers during times you are transferring the call, or while they wait for an individual person to pick up. It can be the music of your choice or even a local radio station, for example.
Remote location – this is for when staff may be outside your main building. Some advanced telephone systems can put calls through to them in remote offices or outbuildings.
Training and technical support– look carefully at what training is provided with your office phone system. Will your team be able to contact someone, around the clock, if they experience difficulties with the telephone system?
Voicemail – this can be either a corporate answer service for outside office hours, or individual voicemail for staff.
One of the best ways to use a telephone system to improve the efficiency of your business, if you have lots of staff and a high volume of calls, is to add an automated attendant feature. This means that callers receive an automated welcome, followed by instructions on which numbers to press to get an individual or department. This filters and channels telephone calls effectively.
With highly advanced telephone systems, it is possible to integrate them with your building security system. So, you could release door locks using your handset for example, once you have checked who is trying to gain entry.
How To Choose The Right Telephone System Handset
As well as planning the system as a whole and making sure it stays on budget, you also have a decision to make about the sort of handset you want. The best business phone is the one that your staff will feel most comfortable using, to access all the features and functions you have picked. For example, you may want to opt for the best cordless phone.
The best cordless phones provide all the efficiency you need, with clear reception and transmission. The great advantage they offer is the flexibility of being able to walk around using them and carry out more than one task at once. Finding the best cordless phone on the market is now easier than ever, so you can be certain that your business’ needs are provided for at all times.
Finding Unbiased & Competitive Phone Systems Quotes
A lot of the telecoms companies have a vested interest in up-selling their equipment and phone systems. To gather impartial quotes and intel on business phone systems – including the best business phones – use the transparent comparison information we provide. It couldn’t be easier to use, and it puts you through to great deals, so you can make the final call on our choice of office phone systems to best suit your business.