As with any technology, it helps to know what is out there before making a decision as to what to buy. A business telephone system is no exception, and with all the options these days, having a good understanding of what is available will ensure your business gets the right thing.
A Business Telephone System helps you to manage, distribute, make and take business calls – whether you receive thousands each day or just a few. Smaller businesses often question whether they actually need a ‘system’ given call volumes are generally low. But if you ever find yourself unable to answer calls when busy, or want to offer flexible working… or perhaps want to be able to easily change your voicemail message to one with different options for callers (called an auto-attendant), you will probably find that a business phone system is the way forward. In fact, these days it can be less of a system than it is a ‘service’—provided to you without any equipment on site.
Speaking of which, here are the different types of systems out there, knowledge you should arm yourself with before you start calling providers for a quote.
Basic System / Traditional Phone Line
This is a traditional telephone system that uses PSTN (copper wire telephone) lines and ISDN (digital telephone) lines to provide access to the telephone network. This system is installed and maintained at your office by an engineer, and usually requires its own wiring, which can be disruptive when it is installed.
With this option you can expect basic features such as voicemail, the ability to transfer calls to another handset and an on-hold capability. But compared with other systems, it is very much a no-frills telephone system option.
Digital Telephone System
This allows you to make calls over the internet via Voice Over Internet Protocol using hardware installed at your office, and software installed on your server. Calls are made and received using a broadband or Fibre connection. As with the basic system, it requires installation and maintenance by a qualified technician. Unlike the basic system, it offers all the features your business will need.
Hosted Telephone System
This system is delivered as a hosted service by an Internet Telephony Service Provider, which is accessed via the internet. Sometimes called a Virtual PBX, or hosted VoIP, it can allow a business to avoid the expense of installing business telephone system equipment.
This system still allows the business to use features such as voicemail, call transferring, and automated greetings, and depending on the service provider, many more. Hosted telephone systems can function over the PSTN, over the internet via VoIP, or using a combination of the two. A good service provider will connect you to the internet using their own, private network, not just a public internet connection.
Soft Phone Solution
Softphone solutions use an internet connection and a computer or other device (mobile phone or tablet) and are not really considered a business telephone system. Call quality is entirely dependent on the connection, call software and device. The benefit is the price tag—calls are effectively free once the license / subscription has been paid for, assuming you already have a device. Sometimes calls are paid for as you go—like with Skype.
Many hosted telephone providers will offer a softphone solution to complement their service. So if you have a 10-person business, with 7 in the office and 3 always on the road—you could get a mixture of office phones on a hosted system, and soft phones on the same network. Calls could be transferred to the mobiles as if they were desk phones, and calls could be made from the mobiles from a normal office telephone number.
Other considerations to take into account include:
- Do you have more than one site that you would like connected on the same network?
- Would you like predictable billing with calls included?
- Do you want to avoid significant upfront costs for equipment?
- Do you want the ability to manage your system via an online portal?
- Do you want the ability to add and remove extensions, users, and features with the click of a button?
- Do you want scalability without added cost?
- Do you need in-built disaster recovery / business continuity?
If you answered yes to most or all of these questions—a hosted solution will be the best for you. But the bottom line is, there is something for everyone depending on the size of your business and its unique needs.
To speak to an expert about telephony options for your business, call VTSL on 0207 078 3200 today. www.vtsl.net