We explain everything you need to know about business phone systems, including the different types of system, what they can do, how they might benefit your business, and more
Today’s business phone systems are for more than just making and taking calls.
The rise of affordable cloud technology has transformed the telecoms industry. Startups through to multinational corporations are now able to benefit from advanced features for a fraction of the cost of legacy systems.
But why should you invest in a business phone system? Let's explore the features and benefits they can offer.
The benefits of a business phone system
Today's phone systems for businesses can do more than just take and make calls. Many come in the form of all-in-one unified communications (UC) platforms, encompassing communication tools like video conferencing, instant messaging, and app integrations, as well as phone calls.
Let's explore a few of the benefits these systems can offer:
Work from anywhere with a virtual office
If 2020 taught us anything, it's that flexibility and mobility are crucial tenets of the modern workplace – with Australian businesses working from home for much of the year, and many in no big rush to return to the office full-time.
With a modern business phone system, you can work from anywhere and get calls forwarded to your mobile, office or landline. Whether you are at home or on the move, virtual offices that connect your mobile with your office phone and laptop make remote working a breeze.
Make long distance calls cheaply, from anywhere
Since the majority of today’s business phone systems are managed in the cloud, calls can be made quickly and cheaply using via the internet.
Provide top notch customer service
Take your customer service to the next level with a phone system that puts the needs of customers first. Features such as advanced call forwarding and auto-attendant will make sure that your valued callers are never kept waiting.
Customers will get the help that they need from the most appropriate staff member straight away, even if that person is away from their desk. No more downtime or inconvenient callbacks.
Improve your team’s efficiency
Help your team become more efficient with a powerful business phone system. Business phones today integrate with several leading apps and your company’s CRM system to make all aspects of your customer care streamlined. Get texts, voicemails, emails, and faxes delivered to one centralised inbox.
Getting everyone together for ad hoc meetings can be a major pain. The latest business phone systems come with conferencing features that make collaboration from multiple locations simple.
It’s easy to set up meetings too. Cloud based systems integrate with calendar apps to check availability. When collaboration is this easy, it quickly becomes a normal part of the working day.
Hire talent from across the globe
Cloud phone systems are great for developing more flexible working arrangements. Because people can login to their work phone from wherever there’s an internet connection, you can give staff the option of working from home.
Also, businesses can hire part-time workers or contractors who work remotely, but provide your business with valuable skills and resources. You could even forget the traditional office location and create a virtual business with a team located anywhere in the country.
A solution that grows as you grow
Nearly all business phone systems are scalable. That means you’ll have the flexibility to expand or reduce your phone capacity in line with changing business needs. Instead of the delay and disruption of installing new phone lines, you simply ask your service provider to add new ‘virtual lines’ that can be used immediately.
More than a phone system
Business phone systems run on data networks that make exciting developments possible through software integration. Already, these systems are capable of integrating communications services with business apps like SalesForce, Microsoft Outlook and leading CRM systems.
Business phone features
Most suppliers offer a range of business phone solutions so that you can pick the package that best serves your needs. In the table above, we list some of the most popular features for small businesses. If your business operates a call center, however, or you are apart of a multinational organisation then you may want to consider a custom solution.
Other features include:
- Auto Attendant – Automatically process calls round the clock.
- Auto Dialer – Can be used to dial multiple phone numbers simultaneously.
- Call Logging – Records calls for future reference or training purposes.
- Music on Hold – Plays music to the caller if the line is busy.
- Quality of Service – Refers to the overall performance of a company’s phone network.
Looking for a powerful solution for your sales team?
If your phone system will be used by your sales team, there are a number of ‘must have’ features to consider. To help you make sense of your options, we’ve spoken with our in-house Sales Expert Jana about the best business phone system features for sales teams.
The different types of phone system
There are three basic types of business phone systems: KSU, PBX, and VoIP. Each can be supplied on a hosted (the system exists in the cloud, and is maintained by your system provider) or a non-hosted basis (you manage the system in-house, on a set of hardware).
The Key System Unit (better known as the KSU) is the most basic phone system available to businesses. Think a home phone, but for business.
It’s only suitable for businesses with less than 40 employees, as this is the max number of lines that can be incorporated into the system. The KSU is an easy-to-use option but has several drawbacks, including its lack of portability and flexibility. Small teams who are expected to grow in the near future should consider instead PBX or VoIP phone systems.
A PBX, also known as Private Branch Exchange, is a phone system that lets companies manage calls in-house.
It’s a popular choice for large businesses who handle high volumes of calls. That’s because the same lines can be used by multiple staff simultaneously, which is much cheaper than providing each staff member with their own line.
It can be expensive to install a PBX system, but the exact cost will depend on the number of lines you need, ease of access when installing the cabling and the length of cabling required.
You can plump for a mobile PBX system, which operates just like a normal PBX system except for the fact that businesses can use their mobile phones as additional extensions. This provides greater flexibility than simply forwarding calls to your smartphone.
VoIP – which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol – is the fastest growing type of phone system, and with the NBN (national broadband network) now completely rolled out across Australia, there's never been a better time to switch to a VoIP system. Of the three system types we describe here, VoIP is the most modern and forward-thinking.
Why? Because VoIP phone systems use the internet to make and receive calls, instead of traditional phone lines. This not only drastically cuts call costs, but also makes remote working and international calling much easier.
Be aware, though, that a VoIP system is only as strong as the internet connection that powers it – so you'll need to make sure you have a reliable broadband connection. You may need additional hardware, such as data cabling.
If you're interested in learning more, our short video explains the ins and outs of VoIP:
The advantages of a hosted system
PBX and VoIP systems both give you the option of managing your communications externally.
A hosted service means your phone network is managed remotely by a supplier. That means that everything from phone setup to maintenance can be done over the internet. Hosted solutions are a great option for small businesses because there’s no need to have a telephone technician on hand.
Finding exactly the right phone system for your needs can be difficult and time-consuming. For this reason, many businesses will opt for an out-of-the-box system instead of building a custom solution. While this can save time in the short-term, some phone systems can be difficult to adapt once set-up, so you should think carefully about your options.
Smaller businesses often find that an out-of-the-box system works very well. Many companies offer such packages and it’s relatively easy to predict your costs, as you know exactly what’s included in the deal.
Installation costs will vary depending on factors such as the length of cabling required and ease of access.
Larger companies are likely to find that a custom solution suits them best as it’s possible to tailor the installation to meet the exact needs of a business.
Once you have considered what system and features you need, always compare prices between providers to get the best deal.
Don’t forget to check the fine print for the terms and conditions regarding call out times if your system goes down, technical support (both during and after installation) and whether factors such as replacement parts are included.