Whether you run a small local business or a multinational organization, an efficient business phone system is essential. Whatever your individual requirements, this section of our website will help you understand the available options as well as the most common features and typical costs of a business telephone system.
Unlike a domestic phone user, most businesses need a greater range of features including the option to manage more than one phone line. Below, we've highlighted the main types of business phone system available today.
However, if one of these options alone doesn’t offer the right solution, it's also possible to install a hybrid system which combines technologies to provide a greater range of features.
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What type of phone system do you require?
A PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is the central control hub of a business phone system for routing all inbound and outbound calls to the appropriate number or extension.
PBX systems effectively operate as a private hub which routes calls automatically. This setup is similar to a traditional public phone exchange. A PBX system allows calls to be dialed directly, rather than requiring manual routing.
It can be expensive to install a PBX system, but the precise figure depends on variables such as the number of lines you need, ease of access when installing cabling and the length of cabling required.
The cost of installation for a smaller company is likely to be more pro rata than for a larger organization due to economies of scale. However, a central hub can cost between $1,000 and $10,000, before taking peripherals and installation into account.
A mobile PBX system allows a cell phone to be run as an extension to an existing PBX system, with the full range of functionality. This provides greater flexibility than simply forwarding calls to the cell phone.
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone systems use Internet networks to send and receive call data – drastically reducing call costs and providing access to advanced call management and collaboration features.
VoIP systems offers an even greater financial advantage if you operate internationally, as calls made to the same system are free. However, they do require specialized equipment, such as VoIP handsets and data cabling. Companies looking for high quality calls should also consider SIP Trunking.
An increasingly popular option for small and medium sized businesses is the VoIP softphone app. Softphones enable businesses to get rid of conventional phones altogether and instead use an app to make calls via the internet.
As a rough guide, costs are likely to range between $100 and $250 per employee. However, if this is your first installation you will also need to purchase a VoIP router, which can cost between $100 and $1,500. These types of systems can be perfect for smaller businesses.
If you do select a PBX or VoIP system, you then have the option of installing an internal system (in-house) or arranging an externally hosted solution.
A hosted service means the technology is managed remotely by the supplier, leaving the full range of features at your fingertips without the cost and inconvenience of installing your own equipment. Many companies offer full hosting packages. To find out more, read our hosted VoIP or cloud phone systems articles.
PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network. This is the traditional network of copper telephone wires that stretches across the continent.
While VoIP is taking an increasingly large share of both the home and business telephone market, PSTN is still responsible for approximately 33% of all home telephone communications in the United States.
IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. These systems put callers through to a computer and pre-recorded options are read out for the user to select from.
IVR has many uses and can be invaluable to a business with a large number of incoming customer service calls.
Unified messaging and unified communications allow users to gather messages from numerous sources (voicemail, email, text, social media interactions etc.) and access them in one place.
This is a great way of enabling staff members to see all interactions with the same individual all in one place. This system is highly beneficial for both sales staff and customer service representatives for example. To find out about call center software, read our dedicated article for more information.
A key system allows users to see and control calls manually, often through a switchboard and this system is managed in-house.
Despite being very basic, key systems are suited to companies with between 10 and 50 employees as they have a limited range of features. As a result, manually handling calls to more than 50 employees becomes inefficient. A Key system typically costs between $350 and $1,000 per employee.
These systems need no base hub to manage calls, as all the routing software is housed within the phone itself. They are only suitable for businesses with fewer than 10 employees and are not compatible with other phone systems, making future upgrades very expensive.
You will also need to install a KSU-less system yourself as they are not supported by installation companies. Installation is likely to cost $100-$250, excluding the cost of wiring.
To find out about phone system installers in your area visit our dedicated page now. For information on other types of phone line setups, select an article from the options below: