If you're a small business owner, you know how difficult it can be to select the perfect phone system. There are many factors you must consider: will I have to support remote workers using this system? What features do I absolutely need, and which can I live without? Should I install an on-site phone system or go fully virtual?
The decisions you make regarding these questions will help determine how effective your business communication will be. And in this hyper-connected age, you need the most effective system possible.
This is why we're giving you a few helpful guidelines on how to find the right small business phone system. Such as what types of systems to consider, which features are essential, and more. If you're interested in these answers, this post is the one for you!
While many iterations of small business phone systems exist in the market, there are primarily two types: a VoIP-based service (voice over internet protocol) and a PBX service (private branch exchange). A VoIP-based phone system uses an internet connection to make phone calls. VoIP-based services can also go by the name "hosted PBX" so don't let that confuse you.
A VoIP-based phone system can tend to be the most affordable option because it requires no major hardware investments upfront, allowing businesses to pay for the service per user per month. It's also the most flexible option because you don't need specific hardware at all! You can run a VoIP-based small business phone system using a desktop, tablet, or smartphone thanks to their "softphone" apps. Employees can enjoy hybrid or fully remote work without compromising communication quality.
Now, you may run into some systems branded as "unified communications" systems (UC&C, UCaaS, etc.). These are typically VoIP-based phone systems with additional communication channels built-in - like business texting or instant messaging and chat.
If your business is run primarily online – or you have remote or hybrid teams within your business – a VoIP-based small business phone system is the best choice for your business by far.
This option utilizes traditional phone numbers and services to make and receive calls. A PBX small business phone system usually requires a more significant financial investment. Between on-site hardware costs and the need for a dedicated IT person to perform monthly maintenance, add users, update voicemail settings, and the like, PBX systems tend to be more cost-prohibitive if you're first starting out. They also put a damper on hybrid work models, requiring users to be in the office space where the hardware is located.
If you already have a brick-and-mortar location, or having one is crucial to your business success, PBX small business phone systems would work for you. Just be prepared for a larger up-front investment.
When searching for the right small business phone system, it's important to know which features you need and which you might not. And while every business has certain needs that are unique to them, there are a few features that you can benefit from no matter what market you're in.
1. Call Forwarding
For small business owners who are constantly on the go, this feature is a must. It not only allows users to take business calls as they're traveling or working from home, but call forwarding also allows employees to route calls away from faulty devices or forward their calls to a different coworker while they're on vacation or taking sick leave. This means important customer calls won't be missed. And no more missed calls mean no more missed opportunities for you and your business!
Many small businesses use a "Bring Your Own Device" policy when first starting out. Owners and employees use the phones and laptops they already have to make and receive business communications. While this is helpful and keeps costs low for a while, it does make it harder for businesses to keep their information secure. This is why choosing a phone system with next-level communication security measures is crucial to protecting yourself, your employees, and your customers, from potential cyberattacks.
If you're like most small business owners, you often struggle to find time to listen to – let alone answer - your numerous voicemails. Enter visual voicemail. It automatically transcribes your voicemails to text and either logs them in the system or sends them to your email to review later. This way you can read them any time without having to disrupt yourself or others by playing them aloud.
This may seem like an unnecessary feature to some small businesses. But think about how many sensitive conversations are held over the phone. Wouldn't it be excellent to have a record of that discussion just in case? What about how many sales pitches you make over the phone? Wouldn't having a transcription of the call help your sales team accurately review and improve their customer interactions? If the answer is yes, call recording is a feature you should prioritize.
Some small business phone systems aren’t compatible with a wide variety of services – from hardware to internet browsers. Be sure that whatever business phone system you choose can support, or even integrate with, your current hardware and software. This will streamline your communications immensely and save you from multiple headaches and potential pitfalls later on.
At Tierzero, we know your top priority is running your business – not agonizing over what communications system to choose. That's why we've made it easy for you. We've built an all-in-one small business phone system that can scale to fit your needs at a cost you can afford. Not only does our hosted PBX solution have all the features mentioned above, but we also offer features like video conferencing, proactive communication monitoring, simple billing, and so much more. Want to see the simplicity for yourself? Reach out to schedule your free demo today!