A Small Business Guide to Telephone Systems

By | July 29, 2011

Choosing a telephone system is one of the most important decisions a business owner can make. No longer is it simply a case of how big the buttons are or whether there’s an option for loud speaker, technological advances now present more options than ever before which can have a dramatic impact upon the way your business works.

What your telephone system says about your business

Your phone response is often the first level of interaction a customer will have with your business. If potential clients are passed from pillar to post, transferred, redirected to a voicemail without warning or left on hold, your chance to make a good impression is lost. The person on the other end of the line will label you as inefficient and likely feel rather annoyed at the amount of their time which has been wasted. Communicate properly – quickly, professionally and clearly, and you’ll show that service is important to you. This is the most important consideration in the success of your business, and a competent and direct system will reassure new customers that they are in safe hands.

Options and considerations

We’ve established that phone systems are important: the way they work, how effectively they connect employees and clients, the features they offer and their overall manageability. Your phone system should last 5-7 years, so it’s vital you consider the development and future needs of your business. Choosing a system which will adapt to your company’s changing requirements as it grows is important, but a number of other considerations must also be made:

  • How many people will be using the phones?
  • What number of ports do you require?
  • How many phones do you need?
  • Do you require cordless or hands-free headsets?
  • Do you have staff working from home?
  • Would you like your IT/data and phone systems linked?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you have a need for international/conference calls?
  • What level of maintenance/support do you require?
  • Do you need extension lines?
  • What extras would you like? For example, the ability to schedule a conference call in a meeting room, ease of transfer, answer phone and the option to divert calls.
  • Do you have any branch or regional offices with which you communicate regularly?
  • Does your company have a centralised call centre?

Choose a system which can be easily upgraded and includes consultancy, installation and support within the package.

Advancing technology

Recent years have seen major changes in telecommunications, with the move from analogue to digital systems, the incorporation of wireless technology and computer telephony integration (CTI).

CTI allows your phone system to be linked up with your data, allowing instant access to the information which is relevant to your caller.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) is a ‘dial up’ digital public network which allows for Direct Dial Inwards (DDI), Calling Line Identity (CLI), virtual private networking, external call conferencing and call transfer. Replacing the traditional dialogue systems, ISDN options allow the optimisation of exchange line usage, bringing all lines through one system and making it the favoured choice for business users.

In addition, the internet has provided new options for video conference and international calling, affecting two major considerations of successful business – cost and efficient communications.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows you to make and receive calls using the internet. With options of video and multiple calls internationally, this allows for simplicity and ample cost savings.

There are now many ways to achieve a highly effective telephone communication system, without the hefty price tag which could hinder the development of your business.

About the guest post writer: Boris Gajic is a Director at Orbex Solutions in London, specialising in providing VoIP and PBX telephone systems to small and medium sized businesses. Orbex provide tailored business communication systems from installation through to maintenance.