One of the best decisions you can make for your business is choosing the right phone system. Easy enough, right? Not necessarily. Despite the incredible advancements the world has seen in digital technologies in the last couple of decades, many businesses are still done over the phone. Your business’ phone line is not only a vital form of communication but helps to create a lasting impression for your customers. For this reason, it is so important to ensure you’re choosing the right phone system. Here are the 6 steps on how you can easily choose the right phone system for your business.
The first thing you should do is consider the importance of its role to your business. If you’re like most, the phone is a central line of communication, which makes it one of the most important tools to your business, your staff, and especially, your customers. Reflect on how dependent your customers are upon having phone access for inquiries, support, sales, and the like. How many lines do you need? Who in your staff needs their own phone line and where will a general line suffice? Your business’ structure directly impacts your business’ telephone requirements. The more staff you have, the more likely you’ll need more lines. However, the nature of the work will also play into this. Whereas a staff of 40 at a restaurant can get by with a line or two, a third-party supply vendor will probably want multiple lines for not only individual departments but individual staff members.
When you think of multi-line phone systems, you may envision a 1990’s secretary rocking a Panasonic headset, switching phone lines, and connecting callers. Thankfully, phone systems have changed a lot since then, with the internet making it much easier to connect with clients and vendors worldwide. As the business owner, choosing the right system can not only save you money, but directly impact your business’ success. Most mid to large sized companies use private branch exchange (PBX) or voice over internet protocol (VoIP). The names make them sound more confusing than they are, but PBX is your landline and VoIP is basically Skype. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. However, VoIP is becoming the leading form of tele-communication in larger businesses. Research into the differences and which suits businesses similar to yours.
While PBX is the best choice for some companies, VoIP is a better alternative for others. Understanding the differences and then how they will meet the needs of your business is important. Ask yourself, how do you want your staff to connect with your customer? In addition, how do your customers want to connect with your staff? While a lot of communication is done via email and other digital/virtual communication channels nowadays, there are certain things that just need to be done over the phone. While our good friend, AI, can step in and take care of some of the monotonous tasks, there are specific tasks that only human staff can do. We live in a society that expects seamless service. Having a phone system that can facilitate this in a smooth, easy, and enjoyable way will leave an impression on your customers so that they continue to support your business.
It’s undeniably frustrating to get stuck on hold, and then jostled around from one department to the next, only to be put on hold again. If customers are frustrated about their phone experience on top of their initial concern or inquiry, your staff will have a higher mountain to climb to create a positive encounter. Additionally, just like your customers, your staff are using the phones daily. It’s no secret that a happy team produces better results. Nowadays many modern phone systems allow you to personalize your program. These include features like call recording, call logging, international calls, transferring, call forwarding, video calls, voicemail, IVR system, and CRM integration. Ensuring that the system meets the needs and the expectations of your clients and your staff is a really simple but effective way to help your business succeed. Having an idea of your customers and staff’s regular requirements and experiences can help you figure out what features may be important for your business.
In most places around the world, there are multiple competing phone companies to choose from, all with different value props and offers. Just as you consider your options for your personal mobile phone, you want to consider the offers from multiple phone system companies. Start by comparing a few, only adding others to the list if you’re not finding what you want. When requesting quotes, ask for a specific number of users, the specific features you want and need, the location, and the equipment required. Ask as well about the requirement of and cost of technicians. The type of system you choose will likely have an impact on this, with VoIP being the cheaper option as they can typically be installed and updated by the user.
Before you commit, test out the system and consider how it will actually work when business commences. How easily can you add new lines, or remove former employees? When new features arrive, do you or a staff member/department can program the system, or does the provider require these be done by one of their own technicians? If you can test the software before you commit, it’s a good opportunity to determine where there may be hidden costs, as well as figure out how well the system will work for your business on the day-to-day level as well as in the longer term. Especially with regard to VoIP systems, technology is changing and rapidly improving continuously. While testing out the system, inquire with the provider to find out if something you’d like to see is possible and if so, when.
Choosing the right phone system is more than just a fluke. It’s as integral a decision to the success of your business as anything else and requires some effort and consideration. Although by following these 6 tips, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and be one step further down the road of success.