Where Do You Need Business Phone Systems?
Small businesses may not require as many high tech advancements in their phone systems as some larger companies, but that doesn't mean that some of the more modern technologies couldn't be beneficial to your company. When selecting a phone system that will work for your needs, you've got to consider a few factors before choosing a design and brand to work with.
The average business will need to make changes to their phone system approximately once every seven years, which means that it's not likely there's a phone system expert working with your company already, so researching necessary information is crucial. Before you start you should take a look at your current setup and which characteristics of the system in use need to be changed for some reason. Some of the more common reasons for businesses search for a new phone system include dropped calls, service outages, high maintenance costs, or poor voice quality.
In order to find out how your current business phone system is working, all you need to do is speak to a few members of your staff, both those who use the phones, and those who maintain them. Also feel free to ask customers and clients for feedback on their personal experience with the phone system and whether or not it's allowing their needs as consumers to be met. If there are things that are frustrating them, they're sure to let you know, and these are all things that can be discussed with your service provider to rectify in the future.
Choosing the infrastructure of your phone system is the next most important step in making an appropriate selection for your office setup. Traditional landline telephones are one way to go, and while they include a multitude of modern options, they are based on analog and digital technology. Benefits of these systems allow for employee voicemail for each staff member, and they offer a dependability that newer systems might not be able to provide such as being able to work during power outages and other technological problems. The downside for these phone systems include higher costs for long distance and international calling, as well as for investing in an entirely new legacy system.
The alternative to the traditional methods of contact through phone systems is called VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol, which is a form of utilizing the phone to make calls through the internet. This makes long distance, international, and local calls all approximately the same rate as no additional connections must be made outside of the standard online one. This also allows companies to share their system with more than one work site and to add additional applications to your package as services become necessary and the number of employees grow with the business. This method of calling also gets rid of much of the middle man that companies face with traditional phones, and updates and upgrades can be sought through a single system update from a central hub by an IT professional, rather than having each individual handset reprogrammed by a mechanical team.
Although it might seem like VoIP is the obvious choice, and all businesses should be taking a chance on it based on the above information, there are some definite downsides to be considered as well. In order to have a fully functional VoIP system you must have a strong internet service that will guarantee you strong signal and consistency in call quality.
Prices for new business phone systems vary depending on the type of system chosen, how many new units are needed, and other additional factors. When it comes to VoIP systems for example, you will find yourself paying more for higher quality products and top tier features.
Top brands to consider for traditional and VoIP phone systems offer a variety of products and services, and are recognized for their customer service, product quality, and additional features. Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, and Shoretel are some of the most recognized VoIP services, while Nortel and Panasonic offer other services more suited to digital and analog needs.
Each brand offers different pricing, products, and packages for small, medium, and some large business options, and has customer service and sales representatives available to answer questions and concerns that you might have regarding the phone systems. If you've done your research and want more information regarding individual brands then going right to the source is the best way to get the knowledge that you need.
Some companies provide a trial period of 30 to 90 days where your business can try a service and pay only for installation charges, or get the entire setup refunded if you aren't satisfied with the service and products received. Not every phone company works for every business, and while each of these larger more well-known providers and manufacturers offer similar business phone systems, there are small differences that might make one a better fit over another for you.
VoIP services have quite a few benefits such as being more accessible on a mobile level. Being an online method of communication you can plug in and connect from nearly anywhere as long as the central hub has been outfitted properly. This type of phone system also gives much lower rates on international and long distance calling, as the calls are being made over the internet rather than through a phone line.
Traditional analog and digital phone systems are beneficial because they have clear voice quality, run when power sources are down, and provide a standard handset and method of calling throughout the entire company in a uniform method.
VoIP disadvantages lie in their inability to provide consistent quality unless your internet connection is functioning at a high level. It also means that storms and outages could stop contact within the business and that your communication through not only e-mail and video conferencing but also the telephone could be impaired.
Disadvantages to the more traditional services are a little bit more recognized as more people begin moving over to internet based services. Prices of VoIP systems are difficult to compare with, particularly when it comes to long distance and international calls as normal phone rates tend to apply for the most part. Other disadvantages to these older models of communication lie in their inability to be used from anywhere or any system with a key or password.
As mentioned above, one of the things that you should consider doing when choosing a phone service provider and phone system is speak with the manufacturers and providers and see what they think would be the best setup for your business. You might get a few biased opinions, but you'll also see which companies offer better pricing on each model, how many staff members each brand can service through individual packages, and other important details that might be important later in your decision making process.
Additionally, it can be helpful to speak to other businesses and companies in your community or even in your industry, and see what the standard seems to be for phone systems as far as newer models and systems go. You can get a lot of feedback online by reading reviews that have been written by users of certain services and models, and view specifics listed on websites to gain insight into all the features you might need in the future.
Making a list of what your current phone system is giving you, what's missing, and what you'd like to include in the future is a good way to get started. This will help you communicate your needs better when speaking to company leaders and customer services representatives regarding the possibility of your company buying their products and services.
There are a number of things that you can ask your system provider before you make a purchase that can give you more information on whether or not the set-up will work for you. What the up-front costs are and whether or not there will be additional pricing for the infrastructure set-up. Will you have problems if your company grows and you need more lines and larger rates of access to communication tools? Are there hidden costs for extensions and warranty upgrades that aren't listed in the large print? Will the staff need training on how to use the system or is it fairly straightforward? Is customer service available for problems that may arise if the company needs help after installation? These are just a few of the important questions to ask if you want a system that will work for a number of years, rather than something you'll have to replace soon after changes are made.
If you take the time to research the products, services, and systems available on the market, as well as your own current products and future needs, then finding a suitable phone system shouldn't be a problem. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box and contact companies that aren't listed among the top, but speak to a representative, find customer reviews, and get referrals from other small businesses who have already made this type of change so that you know you're getting good quality services that will last.