Despite its invention over a century ago, the switchboard phone system remains an essential element of business communications.
Phone calls are the first point of contact with potential customers for many brands, so choosing the right phone system is key to delivering the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
There are an array of modern switchboard phone systems in the marketplace today. Read on to learn whether a switchboard phone system is right for your business.
What is a switchboard phone system?
Today, the switchboard is a highly automated, sophisticated system fully integrated with the latest Internet-based phone systems. It may not even be called a switchboard, but it delivers all features and benefits of a traditional system, and much more. And, as an added bonus, it can give you significant savings on infrastructure and operating costs.
The latest switchboards are more likely to be called PBXs (Private Branch Exchange) or virtual switchboards. They have the essential functionality to greet callers, provide them with options, route calls to the correct extension and manage call queues, with or without the assistance of an operator.
If you are planning to upgrade your phone system and you currently have an analogue telephone switchboard or PBX, take a look at the new generation of virtual switchboard solutions.
Advantages of Phone SwitchboardsWith the advances connected to phone switchboards the advantages for businesses have grown as a result. Whatever type of switchboard solution you decide to implement it is important you choose the right one that offers the most benefits for your organization's communication process.
Transfer Calls To Any Location
The most important advantage they offer is that they are Internet-based. That means they can transfer calls to any location or any device with an Internet connection. If your business has employees who work from home, freelance contractors or sales representative and service engineers in the field, no problem. A virtual switchboard system can reach them. It doesn’t matter if they use home phones, office desk phones or mobile devices, they remain in contact.
Reduce Your Infrastructure And Maintenance Costs
A second advantage is that you don’t have to house the system on your own premises. You can take a hosted solution, which is managed and maintained by a service provider ‘in the cloud’. You won’t have any upfront costs for infrastructure and you won’t need a technician on site to run the system. Instead, you pay an affordable monthly fee that covers management, maintenance and upgrades.
Benefit From Advanced Functionality
Modern PBXs are generally part of a wider Internet telephony system such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or Unified Communications (UC). These systems add even more functionality to the modern switchboard system.
One of the most useful features is Presence. That tells the system or the operator if an employee is available to take calls, does not wish to be disturbed or is not available. The switchboard can then route calls to another extension if a contact is not available.
VoIP and UC systems also enable employees to set their own call forwarding preferences. If their office phone does not answer, the virtual switchboard can forward the call to mobile numbers, home phones, voicemail or other devices. That helps ensures callers get a response, rather than a phone just ringing.
Modern switchboard systems also support multiple communication channels, so callers can make contact by their preferred method, which could include email, voice, text, chat or Instant Messaging.
Expand Capacity As You Need It
Hosted switchboard solutions offer another important advantage – scalability. If your business grows, or call volumes increase temporarily, you can increase capacity on demand. There is no need to install new lines or keep customers waiting in lengthy queues. Hosted switchboards give you much greater flexibility.
Choose The Right Switchboard Solution
There are many benefits in deploying a modern switchboard system, but it’s important to choose a solution that meets your business, operational and financial needs. At the end of this article, you will find information on some of the best switchboard systems available. But before you contact a supplier, it can help to be aware of the main options when it comes to selecting the type of switchboard solution you need.
There are three main categories:
- Virtual PBX
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
A virtual PBX is ideal for businesses that want an affordable solution that gives them switchboard functionality. This solution is hosted in the cloud, eliminating infrastructure and maintenance costs. The virtual switchboard can route calls to the correct extension in any location, manage queues, put callers on hold and alert employees when calls are waiting.
This is a great solution for small businesses that want the equivalent of an automated answering system that provides a professional response to callers and ensures everyone in the business remains in contact.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
An IVR system takes virtual reception a stage further and automates call response so you don’t need a switchboard operator. Callers receive recorded greeting and a series of options, such as ‘press 1 for sales’ or ‘press 2 for customer service’. The system forwards the calls to the correct department. Inbound IVR is an ideal system for businesses that wants to route calls to specific departments or allow customers to choose from a larger menu of options.Outbound IVR systems are a useful way to automate the distribution of customer communications, such as appointment reminders, sales or service follow-ups. They enable call centres to build engagement with customers through regular communications and to personalise contacts when IVR is integrated with a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
IVR systems are also available that integrate inbound and outbound functionality.
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
This type of system is suitable for call centres or larger businesses with sales or customer service teams. ACD systems, as the name suggests, route incoming calls to agents based on predefined business rules. The rules help to ensure a call is answered by an agent with the right skills or product knowledge. However, in busy periods, calls may be routed to the first available agents.
Set Out Your Requirements
Before contacting a service provider, you need to draw up a specification for your switchboard system. Do you want a hosted solution or a system on your own premises? What features do you need? How many lines do you need initially, and is the system scalable? An Internet search can help you identify a shortlist of potential suppliers, but take time to discuss your needs in detail with each provider.
Phone Switchboard ComparisonBelow, you’ll find a small selection of systems from reputable manufacturers.
MiTel MiVoice Office 400 Series
MiVoice Office 400 Series
The MiTel MiVoice Office 400 Series incorporates the Mitel MiVoice 1560 PC Operator, which combines a PC and a telephone. The PC provides a central point of information to support efficient call handling and call management.
- Customizable screen layout
- Caller ID
- Status information on all employees
- Call transfer by mouse click or key
- Alerts by text or email
- Integration with MiTel MiVoice Office 400 Series
MiTel MiVoice 4224 Digital Phone
MiVoice 4224 Digital Phone
The MiVoice 4224 Digital Phone is designed for operators working with MiTel MX-ONE and BusinessPhone PBXs. Packed with features including the numeric keypad providing single access to all call-handling functions.
- A five-row adjustable graphical display
- 12 function keys with LEDs
- 4 large Clear and Speech keys with LEDs
- 1 large Answer/Extend key
- Headset port
- Programmable ringer loudness and tone character
- Acoustic shock protection
Find out more about the entire Mitel phone system range on our manufacturer profile page.