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February 25, 2021

How to Choose a Business Phone System: 6 Important Questions to Ask

Posted by BCS Team
  
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Choosing the right phone system for your business can drive real organizational value. With numerous options on the marketplace, however, selecting a solution can be a daunting challenge. This blog provides a basic overview of business phone systems and the benefits they can offer, followed by a look at some key questions to ask when choosing the right option for your needs.

What is a business phone system?

In short, a business phone system is simply the technology infrastructure used to support an organization’s voice communications via multiple phone lines with independently dialable extensions.

The underlying technology filling this basic function can vary widely. Anything from traditional copper-wire phone lines to cutting-edge VoIP solutions with extensive software integration falls into this category. 

What types of business benefits can the right business phone service offer?

The precise benefits offered by a phone service will depend on how a given organization uses voice communication. In general, phone service has important business implications for both customer-facing and internal communications.

The service needs to be reliable, cost-effective, and secure. Beyond this foundation, additional capabilities can bring representative benefits like:

  • Multi-Device Mobility: remote and mobile work is bigger than ever. Smartphone integration makes it simple to answer and make calls from an office line while at home, traveling, or simply while on the move at a busy workplace.

  • Enhanced Productivity: today’s phone systems offer a variety of productivity-enhancing features, like automatic voice to e-mail translation, click-to-call, and auto-attendant. These functions can directly reduce the time required for essential daily communication workflows.

  • Flexible, Intuitive Administration: an intuitive UI and accessible configuration make it far easier to manage your phone system flexibly as business needs change. The right management tools should make it easy to complete tasks like changing extensions or auto-attendant menus without waiting for vendor support.

  • Seamless Integration for Streamlined Work: today’s phone systems can operate as a virtually seamless extension of an organization’s broader technology environment. Incoming customer calls can be connected directly with associated account information, for example, while the sales team can dial prospects directly from the CRM.

With benefits like these in mind, the questions below provide a practical tool for ensuring you select a phone system capable of driving the greatest possible ROI for your business. 

Six Questions to Help Select an Impactful Business Phone System

Basic considerations like cost will always shape your search for the right phone system. These questions are focused on more specific details to help ensure you can select the most valuable possible features for your budget.

When considering a potential business phone system, we recommend reaching out to its provider for more details. A high-quality phone systems provider should be able to conduct a knowledgeable walkthrough of any of the questions below. Look for a provider who is ready to conduct a candid discussion of the benefits and limitations of the systems they offer.

1. How will the phone system be hosted?

For any potential system, hosting is an important first consideration. On-premises systems may require a larger upfront investment in hardware and services. Cloud-based VoIP services outsource basic infrastructure management and can offer a service via a monthly subscription fee.

In many cases, the hosting approach will depend on specific business needs. For instance, be sure to consider the state of your IT department and its ability to manage an on-premises solution. For other organizations, security regulations may require on-premises equipment.

Quality providers should take the time to understand your business, its resources, and its goals for the phone system. With this knowledge in place, they can walk you through selecting a hosting strategy that can meet all key business requirements.

2. Will your phone system be used for customer-facing communication?

For organizations that frequently use phones to communicate with customers, phone systems take on added importance. Integration with customer service and billing systems can help put relevant customer account information at the fingertips of employees. 

Other features, like auto-attendants, can help customers easily navigate to the information or service they need. Automating routine call switching eases the burden of incoming calls for customer service representatives or other administrators, allowing them to focus on other work (or calls with more complex customer service needs).

If customer-facing phone capabilities are important to your business, be sure to discuss software integration and other functionality with potential providers.

3. Would integrating phones with other business applications like CRM and e-mail offer value to the business?

Consider the daily workflows that involve phone calls throughout the organization. If this work commonly overlaps with CRM software or e-mail communication, integration with these systems can offer valuable efficiencies. A deceptively simple feature like click-to-dial numbers in the CRM can save time and reduce misdials while making voice a seamless part of the interface.

If these built-in capabilities could have a real impact on your business, be sure to discuss your software integration needs with potential phone service providers.

4. Are your phone needs relatively stable or is scalability important?

For businesses with relatively static phone communication needs, scalability may not be an important issue. For fast-growing businesses, however, or organizations that often stand up short-term or mobile field offices, scalability is essential.

Work with phone system providers to understand the ease and cost of adding new lines or functionality to the service. With today’s VOIP solutions, providers should be able to offer a solution that can be scaled almost instantly. 

5. Will your phone system support remote and multi-device use?

Remote work was already a rapidly accelerating trend before the COVID-crisis, which pushed companies to accelerate the implementation of remote solutions for important technology services. Phones are no exception.

Today’s phone systems can readily support flexible remote and multi-device services. For example, employees can make and answer calls from their home laptops or mobile phone as if they were in the office. 

Even for organizations that do not anticipate regular work-from-home, multi-device phone service can keep employees fully connected during travel, offsite work, or when working away from their desk. Easy remote access is also a great contingency plan in case of sudden disruption to normal operations, from pandemic to extreme weather.

When considering a potential phone system, be sure to confirm its multi-device and remote capabilities if these are valuable to your organization. The right solution should not only offer this capability but do so without creating an administrative nightmare for IT.

6. Is implementation and training included with the phone system?

Effective phone systems require more than just the right underlying technology. First, careful implementation and integration work are essential for ensuring that your phones are ready-for-business. Second, effective training is a must for encouraging immediate uptake of the new system, including preparing users to take full advantage of any new features.

Reach out to potential phone providers to clarify what sort of training and implementation support they provide. Is this support included? If not, be sure to factor in this cost (in addition to any additional burden on internal IT staff).

Learning More About Business Phone Systems from BCS

BCS has deep experience delivering communication solutions that help organizations work better. Our successful delivery of solutions like business phone systems is founded on not only powerful technology, but a dedication to understanding the nuances of how each client communicates as an organization. 

In our experience, this granular business knowledge is the best way to match a client with a solution capable of driving the most possible value for their organization.

If you are interested in learning more about selecting a phone system ready to generate tangible ROI for your business, use the button below to reach out to our team.

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