Business Phone Systems

business phones

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher | Updated: April 6 2020

Why Invest in a Business Phone System?

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. Start-ups through to multinational corporations are now able to benefit from advanced features for a fraction of the cost of legacy systems. Here are the top benefits of using a business phone system:

Work From Anywhere With A Virtual Office

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 cellphone 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. Small businesses can purchase 0800 numbers, which are are great for making small teams seem larger and more professional.

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 centralized inbox.

Real-Time Collaboration

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 makes 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.

Popular Features
Remote OfficeRemote OfficeLaptop AppLaptop AppDo Not DisturbDo Not DisturbAutomated Call ReturnCall Return
Anonymous Call BlockAnonymous Call BlockSmartphone AppSmartphone App”SpeedSpeed DialVoicemailVoicemail
Call ForwardingCall ForwardingBusy Lamp FieldBusy Lamp Field”CallCall MonitoringMultiple Device ExtensionMultiple Extensions

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 organization 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.

Business Phone System Providers

Leading Software Suppliers

Below is a selection of the top cloud phone system providers. Click on any logo to read our in-depth independent supplier review. Note that some of these software providers supply hardware too.

Software Suppliers
Vonage Phone SystemsESI Phone Systems8x8 Phone SystemsAsterisk Phone Systems
Digium Phone SystemsMitel Phone SystemsNet2Phone Phone SystemsRingCentral Phone Systems

Types of Phone System

There are three basic types of business phone systems: KSU, PBX, and VoIP. For each of these systems, there is a hosted (cloud) and a non-hosted (in-house) option. We explain how they differ below.

KSU Systems

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.

PBX 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.

Mobile PBX – A mobile PBX system 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 cell phone.

VoIP Systems

VoIP, which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, is the fastest growing type of phone system in the US. VoIP phone systems use the internet to make and receive calls. Think Whatsapp or Skype, but for business.

VoIP systems are beneficial for businesses that operate in multiple locations. That’s because calls are made over the internet rather than a landline, so it drastically cuts costs.

Be aware that VoIP systems often require special equipment, such as handsets and data cabling.

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.

Final Considerations

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.

Out-of-the-Box Systems

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.

Custom Solutions

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.

Aimee profile image
Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.

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