How to Pick a New Business Phone System
When you sent your employees home to work because of COVID-19, you probably found out just how flexible or inflexible your phone system could be. The experience either helped you to keep communications going or caused frustration for employees and customers alike.
Having a reliable, stable phone system can provide a competitive advantage and can be critical to your business’ operations. Because modern phone systems can be integrated into so many other technology tools that your people are using, phones aren’t just what you use to talk to somebody. If fact, they can actually enable the kind of communications that help people work together.
Evaluate Your Phone System Choices by Answering These Five Questions
If it’s time to update your phone system, evaluating all of your choices can be overwhelming. Here are some steps you can take in your decision-making process to help you make the best decision.
1. What Do You Need Your Phone System to Do?
Determine a few things that you need it to do, such as the ability to provide detailed call metrics, the ability for your employees to work remotely, the ability to queue callers, etc. Making a list of the top 3-5 things that are important will help you stay focused and not get distracted by all of the bells and whistles that are available. The number of features that phone systems can come with today will make your head spin, so narrowing down what you actually need will make the decision process clearer.
Here are some features that might be on your wish list:
- Mobile app for desk phone to cell phone flexibility.
- Voice mail to email transcription.
- Direct phone lines for everyone.
- Integrate with existing software tools.
- User-friendly interface for administrative changes.
2. What Does Success Look Like to You?
What will be your criteria for deeming the project a success? This will help figure out what your expectations are for the phone system. A lot of times, the answer will be similar to the aforementioned top 3-5 priorities, but occasionally, asking the question this way uncovers something that you didn’t originally think of as a priority, or something that you may have assumed was available with all systems.Are any of these considerations on your list of success factors?
- Keep existing phone numbers.
- Meet security requirements for regulatory compliance.
- Reduce costs for voice communications.
- Provide a better experience for employees and customers.
- Meets communication needs for Business Continuity Plan.
3. Cloud-hosted VoIP …and Will You Have Enough Bandwidth?
Nearly every business phone system these days is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or has a VoIP component and gone is the total dependency of having a server at your office location.
Whether you go with a fully cloud-hosted model or a hybrid of both cloud and on-premise, you may need more Internet bandwidth to make sure that calls come through clearly and that your IT systems continue to perform efficiently. To ensure that you’ll have enough bandwidth, have a trusted IT or telecommunications expert do an analysis to determine your requirements.
When you’re evaluating your cloud-hosted systems and your internet bandwidth, keep in mind:
- You may want to segment your network to separate voice traffic from other internet traffic.
Having a cloud-hosted service will mean that your communications will be less likely to be impacted by local power or internet outages.
- Costs for purchasing more internet bandwidth may be offset by a reduction in phone service costs.
4. How Will Your Phone System Align with Business Plan Goals?
Look at your business plan and make sure the system you’re considering is in alignment with your goals. If your plans include significant growth, remote workers, opening branch offices, and initiatives of that nature, you’ll want a phone system that can scale with you, instead of growing out of it after only a couple of years.
Some business goals that could affect your choice of a business phone system include:
- Optimization of remote workforce.
- Improve Business Continuity communications plan.
- Minimize costs for seasonal workforce.
- Improve customer satisfaction and retention.
- Improve employee experience and retention.
5. Which Manufacturers Have a Reputation for Good Support?
Consider options from reputable manufacturers of business phone systems. I do not suggest buying a name brand for the sake of buying a name brand — I suggest it for the support that the industry leaders provide. You want to make sure that your IT team can get support from the manufacturer if there is an issue.
Regardless of which system you choose, having the right IT and telecommunications team guide you through the decision process, implementation, and ongoing support will be critical to getting the results that you expect.
IT Guidance and Support for Voice Communications
Accent supports clients’ needs for voice communications through IT managed services. By acting either as your whole IT department, or assisting your internal team, we help you make sure that there are no gaps in your IT capability.
Get in touch to schedule a meeting to explore how we can work together to help you improve the way you use technology to meet your goals.
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.