If you’re still unsure about your business phone system needs or if VoIP is a fit for you, this guide might help you consider all factors and make a decision. These are the most frequently asked questions about business phones.
Do I need a phone system?
While you might be running on a tight budget, there is no getting around the necessity of a phone system, regardless of the type of system you choose. Businesses have to be reachable and present themselves professionally, both of which are achievable with a dedicated company phone system. Even if you have a virtual system (explained above) to save money, it presents the right image that will give customers and partners a good impression.
Can my team and I use our personal mobile phones for business?
The ability to use mobile phones is one of the key benefits of virtual phone and VoIP systems, as they are integrated with software that lets you access your business phone system from anywhere. However, if you try to use your personal phones without this software, you lose both the professional image discussed above and the cohesiveness of a legitimate business phone system. Furthermore, mobile phones simply don’t have the valuable features and tools of virtual/VoIP like voice transcription, call screening and more.
Will I be at a disadvantage if I keep using my traditional landline system?
Landlines function as they’re supposed to, but they’re slowly being phased out in favor of virtual phone systems and VoIP. This means that if your landline breaks or has some unknown issue, it will be an ordeal to get it fixed or replaced because no new hardware or software is being developed. Customer service and support for landlines, therefore, is also becoming obsolete.
How will I know which phone system and provider are right for my business?
The right phone system and provider for your business will be the ones that match your needs and work within your confines. Small business owners, for example, should consider their budget and available resources that they can dedicate to their phone system. Ask yourself: Is your business growing, do you have the manpower to run an in-house phone system and do you have a high-quality Internet connection? Also determine how much support you’ll need from your provider. All of these are factors that should go into your decision.
If you’re looking into cloud-hosted phone systems, look into the uptime—the amount of time the system is operational—before purchasing a provider’s service. While systems are down, you won’t have access to your phone’s capabilities, so assess how much downtime will affect your operations. The best cloud system providers have data centers all over the world that help maximize uptime, and some providers offer a money back guarantee for downtimes that are longer than projected.
Do cloud systems come with costs besides the monthly fee?
Some cloud systems have upfront costs for IP phones, ranging $50-600 each, and setup and/or training fees. This is a question for the providers you’re considering, as say, 8×8 vs RingCentral may have different answers.
Will I share a server with other business if I choose a cloud-hosted system?
The best VoIP service providers for business offer customers the option to either use a shared server or pay extra for a private server. Some small business owners don’t mind a shared server because they do not have special regulations or customized needs, but large enterprises may opt for the dedicated server to guarantee more devoted service and better privacy.
How does a VoIP connection compare to a landline?
VoIP technology has evolved to the point at which there is no difference between a phone call transmitted over analog copper wires and and a call transmitted digitally. However, just as a phone call can be affected by spotty service, VoIP calls can be affected by a slow internet connection. This is why you must ensure you have enough bandwidth to handle your VoIP call volume and a data network that prioritizes those calls over regular Internet traffic.
What are typical features of a VoIP phone system?
Small business owners may be shocked to learn that they can access an extensive list of features for a price much lower than what they pay for a traditional office phone system. Take a look at these common features users find beneficial:
- Voicemail to email
- Voicemail to text
- Voicemail transcription
- Call forwarding
- Call recording
- Call queues
- The option of both local and toll-free numbers
- Interactive voice response
- Interoffice instant messaging
- Conference calling
- Automated attendants
- Extension dialing
- Ring groups
- Directory assistance
- Call transferring
- Internet faxing
- Call reports
- Call monitoring
- Missed call notifications
- Video conferencing
- Online meetings
- Instant messaging
- Text messaging
- Integrations with popular professional software like Microsoft Outlook, Salesforce and Google Suite
- International calls
Can remote or traveling employees still make calls from my business phone system?
VoIP gives all team members the flexibility of accessing the business phone system any time from any place. There is no need for a dedicated “work phone” or a traditional desk phone, only the need for access to the software. Once employees can enable their softphones, they will have the full functionality of a desk phone on the go.
How does this flexible access help me?
Today’s employment landscape is changing, accommodating remote workers and flexible schedules with increasing ease. If you offer your employees the ability to connect with the rest of the team or with their clients at their convenience, they will be willing to put in the work necessary to keep your operation running. They will also be more reachable for management, (within set boundaries, of course.)
What is a UCaaS vendor and what are the differences between a unified communications system and a phone system?
As you research phone systems, you might come across providers offering different services and wonder What is UCaaS? Unified communications as a service, UCaaS for short, and VoIP are similar with UCaaS being only cloud-based and offered as a streamlined experience regardless of which features you’re using. Additionally, phone systems only offer voice calling and related features, whereas UCaaS vendors offer the extensive features listed above.
Is a self-hosted or a cloud-hosted system better for my multi-location business?
Both options support businesses with multiple locations, but cloud-based systems simplify your operation because you won’t have to install the required PBX equipment at each location, therefore avoiding the upfront costs and intensive maintenance. You would just manage everything from the online platform, which is far easier than the process of making changes to your onsite PBX system.