Time to Switch Your Office Phone System? Here’s Everything You Need to Know.

Nowadays, a business has many ways to keep in contact with customers, vendors, and different branches of the company. These include email, messaging apps, social media, and individual smartphones.

However, these methods of communication aren’t always quick, reliable, or convenient. Social media sites may get hacked and go down. People can misplace or break phones. Emails may get lost in spam filters. That’s why dedicated business phone systems are still popular. They’re a convenient and user-friendly way to stay connected.

Understanding Business Phone Systems

Before jumping into choosing a business phone system, let’s take a look at your options.

A traditional landline-style phone service is circuit-switched. There’s a dedicated line for each call. Phone quality is excellent, and the system will stay operational even if the local internet goes down.

Internet-based telephone services use Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP. This is a packet-switched system, which means speech is broken up into packets of information, transmitted over the internet, and reassembled at the listener’s end. Slow internet, hardware problems, and packet delays may all affect phone quality.

Next, you have the option of a Private Branch Exchange (PBX). This works like an automated switchboard. A PBX can connect phones inside the company and to those outside via the public switched telephone network. The business itself may be responsible for hardware and equipment operation, or you can hire a third-party service.

Centrex is a similar system to PBX. Here, the phone company owns, operates, and maintains the necessary hardware. The business contracts the services they need. Centrex has lower upfront costs than PBX, making it a good business phone system for smaller companies. However, it has more limited features.

Another option for smaller businesses are key phone systems. These involve having a professional install a key system unit, or KSU in the building. This is a central switching device that manually connects between phone lines. These units offer basic features and are easy to use. However, you won’t be able to access more advanced features, and KSUs are limited to 40 phone lines.

How To Choose a Business Phone System

Your phone system is a vital point of connection within the company and with the outside world. The right system will improve the customer experience, streamline the workday, and offer the features you need while staying within your budget.

This is a big decision. Before setting up a business phone system or upgrading your current tech, ask yourself four key questions:

1. What features and capabilities do I need right now?

These could include auto-attendants, conference calling, voice mail, and more. Split your list into ‘must-haves’ and ‘like-to-haves.’ This way, you’ll have some flexibility as you look at services and systems in your budget bracket.

2. How many employees will need to use the system?

Does your company have several branches? Are they in the same town or geographically distant? You may need several different phone systems or one with a broader reach.
3. What features and capabilities will we need three years from now?

How much do you expect to grow? Will the system you’re looking at be able to accommodate this? If not, can you find a provider that offers multiple kinds of phone systems, letting you upgrade your contract as needed?
4. Will these expenses fit within our budget?

These will include initial installation fees, regular maintenance, security upgrades, etc. Also, check that there’s room in the budget for emergency repairs, IT services, and training employees to use the system.

So, you’ve worked through these questions and have a plan in place. Great! One final piece of advice is to test out your options before making the final commitment. A phone system may look good on paper but perform poorly in your area or turn out to be pretty complicated to use. Testing it first might show you that your second choice is actually the better fit.

How Often Should You Upgrade Your Corporate Phones?

Every year, feature-rich phone systems get more affordable than ever. It can be tempting to jump in and upgrade, but is that necessary? The general rule of thumb is to upgrade phones every two years. Does that apply to your business right now? Your company may want to upgrade if:

• There’s a major security issue with your current system, and you’ve lost confidence in your phone provider. In this case, it’s a high priority to change providers or phone systems.
• Your business has grown dramatically in the last few months. An outgrown old system will restrict you. A new system may unlock continued growth.
• Someone’s come out with an affordable feature that you’ve wanted for a while or a feature that would greatly increase productivity and the customer experience. The investment in an upgrade might pay for itself within a month.
• You keep having to hire out for repairs and IT support. If these professionals can’t find and solve the problem, it could be time to upgrade.

However, there are some compelling reasons to upgrade less frequently. These include:

• Your phone system may be a bit old, but it’s secure and gets the job done. If it’s not broken, you don’t need to fix it.
• You are planning to move offices in the near future. In this case, you may want to wait until the move and upgrade then.
• There’s an exciting new feature or technology on the horizon. It may be better to wait a little longer for that to hit the market.

What’s the best business phone system? That’s a tricky question because each one has unique strengths. The best phone system for your business will be straightforward to operate, have the features you need, and offer a good customer experience. Depending on your company’s size, that could be a PBX, VoIP, or some other service.

Would you like to learn more about phone system solutions for your Bloomington business? If so, contact the team at DTS today.