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All the Things You Should Know About Office Phone Systems (2019 Update)
Observing the world from the contemporary business perspective, it looks like a ball made of cables and connections. Even though it gives an impression of an infinite and tangled space, everything functions perfectly there.Enhanced and flawless communication is an essential concept of every business nowadays. Many industries have developed international partnerships, and the main reason why they survive is an improved tech environment – telecommunication apps, top-notch Internet connection, and business phone systems. Business phone systems are an inevitable part of modern offices. Both small companies and enterprises use them, and they represent an advanced way of communication between clients and employees. They are different than residential phones in many ways, especially when it comes to technology, price, and capabilities. And there is more. Let’s jump into the most crucial concepts of business phone systems – the components, the types, and the most prominent models on the market.
What are Phone Systems for Business?
They are an improved calling network especially designed to support the complex needs of the business, including customer service calls and call routing.That said, office phones have far more to offer than the standard phones we use at home, and that’s why they suit better in the business environment. To understand them better, let’s go directly to the components that make them stand out from the other communication channels.
What are the Features of Business Phone Systems?
Almost all types of business phones have the same capabilities, and here are some of the essential ones:
Voicemail stores messages and allows the user to check them from anywhere. Besides, each employee has access to their individual voicemail.
This feature allows you to receive emails with messages as an audio attachment. In that way, the communication between employees and clients becomes more secure.
3. Video Conferencing
This is the enhanced feature of business phone systems. It allows users to host online meetings from their computers or rooms equipped with video conferencing materials. With this, you can share your screen so that everyone can see the documents or papers you’re referring to.
4. Included Caller ID
Caller ID instantly shows you the phone number of the person who's trying to reach you. Also, it comes in handy when you miss a call from someone who doesn't leave the message on the voicemail so that you can call them back.
5. Call Reports
With call reports, your company will always be up to date with analytics on phone usage. This feature will provide statistics and usage that can be broken down by user or department.
6. Call Forwarding
You can have your office phone forward calls to another number when you’re busy doing your job, when you’re outside the office, or when you’re not able to receive calls.
7. Call Recording
Most business phone systems include this component that allows you to record your calls whenever you feel it’s necessary.
8. Call Queues
This characteristic is essential for Call centers or Customer support services since it allows you to put your callers in line until there is an operator available to answer.
9. Call Transferring
Call transfer is another way of making faster communication. That said, employees can transfer calls to their peers by pressing a button.
10. Conference Calling
Most of them come with a conference bridge that allows each employee to host their conference call from anywhere, with even several dozen participants. However, if your phone system doesn't include this feature, you can purchase a separate conference call service.
Speakerphone comes in handy when you’re multitasking since it allows you to speak without using a phone’s handset.
12. Speed Dial
Speed dial is a time-saver in the business world – it lets you dial the phone numbers you frequently call by pushing a couple of buttons on your phone. In that way, you won't need to dial the whole number.
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13. Personal Directories
Personal directories help you manage your contacts easily – in that way, you can access your contacts’ numbers at any time.
14. Paging Feature
You can use your office phone for sending a message to everyone. This option might remind you of the traditional intercom system, but, overall, it’s quite helpful.
15. Presence Status
Like on social media, you’ll be able to see whether your peers are available for a chat or they're already on a call.
16. Ring Groups
Businesses or organization can create ring groups for employees who’ll answer calls from the same customers. For instance, customer support teams usually have their own ring group, which helps them organize better.
17. On-hold Music or Messages
You had probably experienced this when you contacted customer support for some reason. Companies usually choose the music callers hear when waiting on hold, and that’s one of the ways to entertain them until the operator is available.
18. Online Management
Most small business phone systems can be managed through an online portal. From there, admins can add users, set phone numbers, create ring groups and review call reports, and have an insight into monthly statements. Besides, the online portal allows users to check their voicemail and set call-forwarding routes.
19. Instant Messaging
Many business phone systems allow users to instant message with each other – it’s an improved option that provides an easier communication between employees, who don’t need to leave their desks.
20. Internet Faxing
Instead of using a traditional faxing machine, you can use your computer to send faxes directly from it.
21. Texting/SMS Messaging
Some office phone systems come with SMS messaging – in that way, you can communicate via text messages from your business number.
22. Directory Assistance
With this feature, callers can access a company directory, find and reach the employee they are looking for.
23. Extension Dialing/Direct Inward Dialing (DID)
Employees can now call each other by dialing four-digit extension numbers, instead of dialing the entire number. This feature is mostly included in VoIP phones.
24. Automated Answers
Many office phones come with automated features that include the attendants that automatically answer the phone – they play a greeting message and direct the caller to the department they’re trying to reach.
25. Do Not Disturb Option
When you’re stuck with important papers and a lot of work, callers are the last thing you want on your to-do list. When 'do not disturb' option is turned on, your phone won’t ring, and all the calls go directly to your voicemail.
As you can see, there are a lot of features offered by business phone systems. Not all of them are present on every phone type, but each one brings its own benefits.
Now that you’re familiar with the advantageous characteristics of this communication channel let's see their types and some models that will help you find the best solution for your office.
What are the Types of Business Phone Systems?
As you may assume, there is not only one kind of business phone systems. Every business has its unique needs, and apropos of that, the essential office equipment needs to be convenient so that you can do your job flawlessly.Their differences are mostly based on the technology used, their price, and service provider. Still, the specs of one phone can be replicated on other systems, but the cost significantly varies due to the model and provider. So, it’s time to get started.
- 2 Line Phone System: This option is suitable for those who run their business from home, and solopreneurs with no employees who want two separate lines – one for home, and one for business use.
The best model: AT&T 2-Line Speakerphone with Caller ID/Call Waiting ($54.95): Suitable for working from home, talking while driving, and conferencing between you and two other parties.
- 4 Line Phone System: For example, an insurance agency with two employees and a team of data entry specialist would go for 4 line phone systems for small business. In that way, they’ll obtain two lines for insurers, one for entry team, and one for a toll-free number.
The best model: RCA ViSys 25424RE1 4-Line Expandable System ($105.60 on Amazon): This is excellent for small offices where everyone has their own work station. It’s corded, which makes it suitable for people who spend most of the day at work.
- 5+ Line Phone System: Let’s say that realtor office with three employees and one owner can choose 5+ line phone system. The owner would get one line, there will be three lines for realtors, and the one for fax.
The best model: X16, Small Office Phone System with 8 Charcoal X16 Telephones ($898.00 on Amazon): This is another “small office-friendly” machine. It can be expanded to six telephone lines, and it comes with the most vital features such as external call forward, auto attendant, voicemail, paging, and caller ID.
2. VoIP Phone Systems for Small Business
The acronym VoIP stands for 'voice over Internet protocol.' Accordingly, it uses an Internet connection for communication, and it is one of the most cost-effective choices when it comes to office phones.VoIP systems stand out from the sea of other choices because of ease of installation, pricing, scalability, and advanced features that include forwarding calls to the user's cell phone using a mobile app.
Let’s have a look at this model of VoIP phone:
- Cisco SPA303-G1 3 Line IP Phone ($58.88): This Cisco VoIP comes with dual switched Ethernet port which provides better Internet connection and high-quality phone calls. It’s easy to install, and it allows you to configure it either via the menu or via the web. With it, you'll be provided with outstanding features without breaking a bank
The only drawback of VoIP can be its dependence on a reliable Internet connection – if it fails for some reason, you won't be able to make a call, and if the speed is not proper, you might experience the low call quality.Still, VoIP phone systems have a lot to offer, and if your office is equipped with a stable broadband Internet connection, you'll experience the crystal-clear sound and flawless communication.
3. PBX Phone Systems
Unlike multi-line and VoIP phone systems, PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is a private phone network within one office. It doesn’t route or switch calls through the phone unit, but these actions are centralized.PBX phone system is advantageous in many ways. First, it doesn’t require each phone to have its dedicated line, since it centralizes the task of selecting a line for a call – that way, you’ll only need enough lines to handle the maximum number of calls at the same time.
Secondly, you may have a single main number for your business – it simplifies the process of calling for customers because they need to remember only one phone number. Also, it can operate over either the Internet or traditional landline.Have a look at the best PBX phone system software:
- Ring-u Hello Hub Small Business Phone System (PBX) and Service (VoIP) ($199.95 on Amazon): This is Hello Hub’s full package. It comes with a customizable Virtual Receptionist that will answer the calls professionally and rout every call to the person or department that the caller is trying to reach. It’s specifically designed for small business and offices, and it’s quite easy to set up.
However, more and more companies opt for a cloud-based phone system (more on that later), since it's easier to set up, and it doesn't take up space. On the other hand, PBX hardware consists of cables, units, and the switchboard that can vary from a small and compact one to a large device suitable for enterprises.
4. Cloud-Based Office Phone Systems
Nowadays, most people prefer cloud-based phone systems. The truth is that they bring a lot of benefits to your working station, but users usually highlight the following four advantages as the main reason for choosing them:
- The system is off-site: Cloud phone systems save a lot of space in your office.
- No worries about maintenance: Cloud-based phones are hosted on a third-party server, so you won’t have to solve problems yourself. The maintenance is usually assigned to the hosting company.
- It’s scalable: Your virtual office can significantly grow.
- It’s budget-friendly: Most business phone service providers offer a low monthly fee that you need to pay for using the system.
Let’s see the five most prominent small business phone service providers and their monthly prices per user:
- Vonage ($14.99) – Excellent services for growing businesses, simple activation, and tech support.
- Ring Central ($15.99) – Generous number of toll-free minutes.
- Jive ($19.95) – Top-notch features.
- Mitel ($20.99) – Number one in providing services for mobile businesses.
- 8x8 ($25) – Best for international calling.