How to Choose the Right Business Phone System
One aspect of the nbn™ rollout in Australia that isn’t mentioned often is the need to switch from using the old copper line network for making and receiving phone calls to using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The reason for the switch is the fact that the old copper line network is being retired, with businesses and residential customers having 18 months from when the nbn™ becomes available at their address to switch before the old network is turned off.
Many newer business phone systems support VoIP, making it possible for businesses and offices to use the nbn™ for all their telephony needs without investing in new equipment. But even if your office phone system is capable of VoIP, moving to the nbn™ still presents an excellent opportunity for business owners to re-evaluate their current phone system.
In this guide, we will look at some of the things you should look at when considering upgrading or just updating your business phone system.
Identify the Most Important Features
Business phone systems include a number of features that are either essential or useful to all businesses. These include:
- Call transferring
- Mobile app - make business calls from your mobile phone as if calling from the business number. Caller ID for the person you are calling will show your business number, not your mobile number.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) - IVR is like a more advanced auto receptionist. But instead of only being able to select the department they want, customers can get answers to their queries without ever talking to anyone. Customers could get an account balance by simply entering their account number on the handset keypad, or even speaking it to the IVR system.
- Automatic receptionists
- Softphone support - a softphone is computer software that allows calls to be made and received on a desktop computer or laptop instead of a handset.
- Calling hunt groups - incoming calls can be directed to a predefined group of phones, with all the phones in a group ringing at the same time, or the call cycling through each phone in the group sequentially until someone answers it.
- Call recording
- Integration with a CRM - making it easier for your employees to find customer details and call them, but also recording crucial information about all calls. Depending on the CRM system, you could have access to details such as when the customer was last contacted or called your business, and even what the call was about.
- Call queues
- Music on hold
- Call forwarding - redirect incoming calls to another number, either immediately or if there is no answer.
- Headset compatibility - some phone systems support a wider range of headsets by default, while others may require adapters or only support a specific model.
- And more….
However, what each business finds essential or useful will differ, but can also change over time as your business grows. Begin your search for a new phone system by considering which features are essential right now, while also thinking about what your business may need in 2 years, 4 years or even 10 years. This will save you time when comparing phone systems and could also save you money by not having to upgrade hardware in the future.
Look at Size and Scalability
You expect your business to grow, so make sure you look at systems that can easily scale up or down as your business needs change. Start with what you need right now and add services and features as you expand.
Beware Hidden Costs
Check that the advertised or quoted price is all-inclusive. It is quite possible that you are being quoted on the basic system, with hidden costs not included. These other costs could include licensing fees, costs for using or including specific features, and even extra costs for each of the lines or extensions you want the system to support.
Also make sure you find out about any upfront or installation costs. Some providers, like Commander, include this with some products. Whereas others will charge extra to install the system. Phone systems can be tricky to set up, so make sure you get the support you need up front.
Technology and Compatibility
The nbn™ and VoIP have unlocked access to technology and phone services that weren’t always available to small businesses. Before you consider any business phone systems, you should also have a firm idea of the phone service you will be using, the technology it supports, and the type of equipment it is compatible with. Business phone services now available to organisations of any size include:
Basic Business Lines
Commander’s nbn™ business line is a basic setup providing your business with a phone line and basic equipment or connecting analogue handsets, faxes, and EFTPOS machines. Included equipment usually only supports connecting two devices or handsets, with optional equipment available for connecting more handsets or devices.
Even though this is a basic service, it should include useful features such as Caller ID, Call Waiting, and the ability to forward calls to a mobile device if you're out of the office. If you have more than one line installed, you could even include a basic line hunt feature so that incoming calls can be routed between your lines, reducing the likelihood that customers will receive a busy tone when trying to contact you.
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)
SIP is a basic phone line used to provide connectivity to SIP-enabled phone systems. The features exist in the system itself, and the SIP just allows the calls to flow.
With SIP, lines are referred to as channels, and you can add or remove channels as needed. Our Commander SIP service requires a minimum of two channels, but the maximum number of channels you add is only limited by the capabilities of your phone system or PBX. Each channel supports one incoming or outgoing call, so if you have a need for five calls at the same time, you will need five channels. Your phone numbers don’t have to have a 1:1 relationship with your number of lines or channels. By way of example, if you have 50 staff but only need capability for five concurrent calls, you can buy a 50 number range to add to your five SIP channels.
Hosted Phone Systems
Hosted phone systems are full featured phone systems that are hosted in the cloud, and don’t require an onsite PBX system. Your business has access to all the features and benefits of a PBX system, without the need for costly hardware.
Commander’s hosted phone system leaves you in control of how your business makes and receives calls. This can be via a computer, using mobile devices, or using smart handsets. But never with a need for a dedicated PBX server taking up space and power in your business.
Everything you can do with a PBX system is possible with Commander Phone, along with useful extras such as:
- Simultaneous Ring, with incoming calls directed to your handset and mobile at the same time, and you can answer whichever is most convenient at the time.
- Voicemail to Email, so you not only have access to voicemails even when out of the office, you can also store them indefinitely.
- Cloud Q, allowing you to queue up to 25 calls at a time if the primary business line is busy.
- Mobile app, so calls to the business number can be directed to your mobile device if you are out.
- Mobility. Add softphone capabilities, so you can make and receive calls on your business number using your mobile phone.
- Basic Call Centre, for two or more users, with a queueing system.
- Receptionist Thin Client, allowing you to have a central receptionist able to direct calls using an app on their computer.
- Auto Receptionist or IVR.
- Line Hunt Groups.
Speak to us to learn more about our products and services and what would work best for your business phone system. Or build your own plan online and get an immediate quote scaled to your exact requirements.