Telecommunications Tips For Small Businesses
BY: VESELINA DZHINGAROVA ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017
The humble telephone remains an important tool for small businesses. We may all love email and chat programs, but nothing beats the simplicity of picking up a telephone to have a conversation with a real person. It’s always more difficult to sort out problems or ask questions about a complex order without speaking to a human being. For this reason, you can’t afford to neglect your office communication system.
The Evolution of Telecommunications
It’s easy to become confused when choosing a telephone system for your business. Telephony has evolved over the last twenty years. Older Public Switched Telephone Network services (PSTN) have been overtaken by VoIP systems. Many small businesses rely on digital technology to meet their telephony requirements, but there are significant disadvantages to using VoIP for telephony.
PSTN vs VoIP
VoIP systems rely on the internet, so if the internet goes down, so does your telephone system. This may not be an issue if you are comfortable using mobile phones, but if your business is dependent on clients being able to contact you via a main telephone number it could be problematic. VoIP systems are also vulnerable to power outages.
PSTN telephone systems have dedicated telephone lines and useful features such as call waiting and caller ID. With this type of system, your telephones are hardwired, so if the internet or power dies, you can still take calls.
There are many different options available, but the type of system you need will largely depend on the size of the business. Small offices don’t need multiple telephone lines. If there are only one or two people working in the office, you can probably manage with just one external telephone line. However, if you receive a high volume of calls during an average working day, one external line won’t be enough. What you really need is a PBX system with a number of external lines and an internal call switching service. How this works is simple: if a customer calls the main number, their call can then be transferred to an internal department.
Older PBX enterprise systems would have been hosted on a server within the office, but new virtual PBX telephone systems are hosted by the provider. This means you don’t need to invest in expensive telephony equipment, but you can still enjoy useful features such as voicemail, conference calling, call audits, and direct dial numbers. This type of system can handle several calls at the same time and is perfect for small to medium sized offices, although it is wise to read some virtual PBX reviews before you make an investment.
Questions to Ask
Some questions you should ask before you invest are:
- How reliable is your internet connection? If it’s continually dropping out, a VoIP system won’t work.
- How many calls do you receive and make? The higher the number, the more robust the system needs to be, so if you have a large office or multiple branch offices, you will benefit from a PBX system.
- Are you looking to integrate or upgrade existing telephony equipment? Some newer systems can work with older systems. You may also be able to secure a discount by part exchanging your old telephony equipment.
- What’s Your Budget? Telephone system hardware can be expensive, especially if you elect to buy a self-hosted PBX system. Whilst this type of system is flexible and can be upgraded, it may be too powerful for a small business.
Talk to a number of providers before you make a final decision. Remember, this is potentially a big investment, so consider your options carefully and take advice if you need to.
Image via Shutterstock