5 Keys to Choosing the Right Business Phone for You
BY: GARY J. WILKINSON ON FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2018
The way business phone systems are advertised and talked about, you might think you need to be a certified technological guru to choose the right one for your business. That could certainly be true if you make the decision all on your own, weighing the technical merits of each system to determine the very best. But that’s not the right strategy for a company interested in using a phone system rather than supporting or supplying one.
Know Yourself Not the Technologies
Always keep in mind this phone system is for you to use to provide communications for your company. So the most important things to know are actually about your own business. Knowing why you need a phone system, how you will use a phone system, and what a phone system can do for you is far more important than knowing the relative merits of a copper wire based system or a VoIP system. Here are some important questions you should know the answers to.
How many people will use the system and how much will they use it?
This is a basic question which carries a lot of weight in your final decision. Does every employee need a phone? Will every employee use the phone to the same extent or in the same way? A quick illustration would be a small company with a call center, a sales staff, engineers, and manufacturing staff. None of these groups will use their phones in the same way.
Your call center will be on the phone all day, every day, handling incoming calls. Your sales people will make many more outgoing calls than any other group. Engineers might make some calls but will spend a small fraction of their time on the phone. And perhaps only supervisors need phones in manufacturing, while a couple of common phones can support the needs of the people working on the line. Breaking down your business by its needs will help you communicate those needs to potential vendors and allow you to ask the right questions about their products.
Where Will the Users Be?
Location is an important question and not nearly as simple as it once was. Will your entire staff be in a single place? Are some more likely to travel or work remotely? Do you have remote offices? Determining the distribution of your workforce can answer questions about the sophistication of your solution. The more widely dispersed, the more likely you need a advanced and flexible system like a voip phone service for business.
How Much Customization Do You Require?
A straight out of the box, easy to implement solution may sound simple and quick, but will it give you the ability to customize it to fit the way you do business? Decide how much you will need to change to make it fit your business model and brand. Do you need callers to be able to navigate an automated system to find who they are looking for? Will that map change frequently? Is the built-in voice with an automated system a good fit for your company? Will you need to supply your own prompts, read by a live person and recorded to use in the system?
When calls come in after hours, do you need the ability to define who is taking calls that night? Create call forwarding trees? Allow employees to define when they can be called? Answering these questions gives you a list of requirements to match with the capabilities of the systems you consider.
How Much Responsibility for Maintenance Can You Support?
The phone systems available vary widely in the amount and type of maintenance they require. Size and complexity can change these requirements even more. You need to know how much you are willing to commit to this effort. A small business with only a dozen employees might not be willing to shoulder the expense of support on a phone system, while a larger company with a few hundred employees might already have a technical staff available which could pick up day to day support with little effort. Vendors are willing to provide options that you can match with your willingness to do the work yourself.
Obviously, in-house support reduces the vendor cost, while contracting to include maintenance in your purchase will increase that cost. Be sure you know what you are willing to do, and then determine the actual bottom line expense you are comfortable with. Hidden costs in either scenario can turn a great deal into a needless expense.
These are only a few of the things to consider when choosing a phone system. Be sure to dig into all your needs before you make your decision. Vendors know their system and you know your needs. When you bring these together, you will be able to see if it’s a good connection, or you need to make another call.
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