Business owners have several options for phone systems.
It's worth the time to research options for your business's phone system. — Chainarong Prasertthai/Getty Images

Like any equipment investment, purchasing a phone system for your business is no simple task. With new tech constantly surfacing, business owners have many options to choose from.

When deciding on the right one for your company, you’ll want to understand your business’s needs and, of course, your budget. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing a business phone system.

Do you need a business phone system?

Not every business needs a phone system, but it certainly helps to invest in one if you have room in your budget. Small businesses and startups can often get away with making and receiving calls from their personal phones at first, but larger corporations with more employees should consider choosing a phone system that makes sense for their line of work. For instance, a restaurant will have different needs than a fintech company.

Ask yourself what you’re looking for from a phone system before deciding on the right one for your business.

[Read: Need Customer Service Help? Time to Consider a Call Center Service]

Types of phone systems

Before you choose a business phone system, you’ll want to consider all your options. There are four main types:

Virtual phone systems

Virtual phone systems forward incoming calls through the business’s number to your workers’ personal phones. These are perfect for companies with remote workers who handle client management and customer service calls on a regular basis. Not only is it a convenient option, but it will express professionalism when working or coordinating with clients and customers. Additionally, according to Talkroute, virtual phone systems work like traditional phones, but without the pricey equipment.

Landlines

Landlines are traditional phone systems that are supported by local telephone companies. Some landlines work with VoIP by connecting to a business’s network, allowing calls to be forwarded to individual phone lines. However, for a landline to support multiple extensions and other features, you must have on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) hardware, so this could be limiting for your business.

VoIP

VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems run through a business’s existing internet connection and boast various features, from automated attendants and call queues to computer integration and call forwarding for remote calls. As stated, they can be seamlessly integrated with landlines. According to Nextiva, they also offer mobility, interoperability and connectivity.

Cloud and on-premises systems

Cloud and on-premises systems require you to purchase equipment by paying monthly fees for tools that help you make and receive calls (like SIP trunking). For on-premises systems, you’ll also likely have to hire IT staff for maintenance, repairs and upgrades.

With new tech constantly surfacing, business owners have many options to choose from.

[Read: Choosing the Best Business Phone System for Your Business]

Factors to consider when choosing a system

There are many factors to keep in mind when deciding on a business phone system. Here are a few of the most important:

  • Call types/volume. Will you host frequent conference calls? What is your current and potential call volume? Take note of how many employees, offices, customers, vendors and partners you have to help predict the type of system that might accommodate your means of communications.
  • Cost. What type of system does your budget support? Ideally, you’ll want one that covers all the bases; but if it doesn’t make financial sense to invest in an extensive system, you can settle for less by giving up some of the more unnecessary features.
  • Reliability. This is the No. 1 factor you shouldn’t compromise on. You want to make sure your system is reliable and, of course, secure, and that you have substantial support at your disposal. That way, you’ll always come across to your clients and customers as trustworthy professionals.
  • Flexibility. Can your employees connect to your system remotely? Will the system integrate seamlessly in the occurrence of a downsize or expansion? Above all else, make sure it supports your business’s strategy and goals.

Every business can benefit from having a phone system. No matter how large or small your company might be, and regardless of its industry or client base, investing in the right equipment and resources to support your communication needs is essential to your success. Consider your needs as a business before carefully selecting the right system for your company.

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best phone system, visit our friends at business.com.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published January 21, 2020