Have you ever really considered how important a phone system is for your business? Unfortunately, most people take their phone system for granted and don’t view it as a vital business component. You may ask why phone systems play such an essential role in the running of any business. The answer is very simple: It enables you to stay in touch with your customers and employees, both internally or externally. By dismissing its importance, business owners fail to see that a phone system can do one of two things—it can become an obstacle to development or increase a company’s efficiency. It is up to you to decide which it will be.
Cloud-based systems offer several interesting features that improve collaboration and productivity. Using the right business phone system will help you conduct business easier. You can even add a sophisticated phone system which will enable you to work from home. Depending on the size of your business, these systems can be customized to fit your needs. With so many competing features and products on the market, it is easy to be confused. Because your business phone system is a critical tool which facilitates multi-line communication, it is important that you select the best system for your business, one with exactly the features you need at a price which meets your budget.
However, before you decide on a new phone system for your company, you first need to clearly assess your needs, both short and long-term. You should first understand your current and future staffing needs. You should also consider how your business phone system requirements might change over time to ensure you get a system that will scale with your needs.
Next, you might want to consider how your location could affect your decision. Is your business in a single location or more than one? Will the mobile phone carrier you choose have a large enough network of cell towers so there is no lapse in service for any of your employees, regardless of location?
Another consideration will be how simple or complex a system are you looking for? Of course, that will depend on the features that you deem essential to the success of your business.
The good news is that technology is constantly advancing which can make a very big difference. For example, if you choose a VoIP system, you can get superior phone quality and powerful features at a fraction of the cost of an old-fashioned phone system. Of course, there is more than just VoIP, so read on to learn about the give most important business phone features on the market today.
Ability to Conference Call
One of the more essential features of a business phone system is the ability to make conference calls. A teleconference is the use of telecommunication devices to hold virtual meetings with two or more participants simultaneously in different locations. This is more sophisticated than a two-way simple phone connection. It is extremely convenient because you are able to discuss important business issues with your employees and customers without meeting in person at a specific location. Also, you don’t need to speak with every employee separately, which makes this feature extremely useful in resolving existing problems or making important decisions. It can also be a great way to brainstorm new ideas.
Some of the inherent benefits of teleconferencing include a cost-effective solution, larger audience, flexibility, enhanced productivity, reduced travel time, and increased productivity. Before you buy a business phone system, ensure that the teleconferencing features offer the following:
- Online control panel. This will allow you see how many participants are on the call.
- Guest speaker access. You and a guest speaker should be able to be on the line while the rest of the participants are muted.
- Ability to record. You should be able to record the calls and retain a history of the recording.
Of course, you will also want to be certain that the sound quality of the speaker on the phone and microphone are audible for you and your participants.
All in all, you shouldn’t need to pay for basic conference call capability, but you can buy premium features which may be worth the added cost. For example, a feature which ensures the security of your conversation (with the use of PIN codes), Q&A facilitation, automatic audio recording, sub-conferencing, or services which provide participants with transcriptions.
Whether you choose a basic or premium version, it’s clear that the ability to make conference call is absolutely a necessary feature.
Forward Calls with “Find Me, Follow Me” System
The “find me, follow me” feature enables all incoming calls to be automatically forwarded to another phone. With this feature, you can forward or re-route your calls according to a special set of rules that you have created. For instance, you can set the sequence so that a call is forwarded to your first designated number (say, your office), then the next (your co-worker) and so on. Interestingly, some sophisticated forwarding features use a “hunt group” approach that forwards all incoming call to a sequence of numbers until the incoming call is answered, or it goes to a final number for the caller to leave a voice mail.
This feature is especially relevant for businesses which are sales-oriented, especially since employees may get a significant number of calls on a daily basis and aren’t always able to answer them. In a situation like this, it is important to satisfy clients, current and potential, thus finding a capable mobile phone system is paramount.
For small businesses, forwarding and routing your phone calls is a great way to create the appearance of a larger company, though in reality you may have only a few on-staff workers or even some who work remotely.
Local and International Connections
Fortunately, the days when the phone companies differentiated between local and long distance (or international) calls are a thing of the past. Statistics show that fewer and fewer businesses utilize a landline, simply because of the availability of VoIP. VoIP is encrypted as Voice over Internet Protocol or IP telephony. Essentially, it is a system which uses the same broadband connection as your business does to access the Internet.
The main advantage of VoIP is that you are able to send and receive SMS (short message service), faxes, voice messaging, and calls, over Wi-Fi or else using mobile data. The installation, as well as monthly service fees, are generally very inexpensive.
While there are special purpose VoIP phones, they are often not necessary as you can use VoIP on any Internet-accessible device, including a smartphone, telephone, laptop, personal computer, etc.
Phone numbers from anywhere in the world
Some businesses may want to offer potential customers who live outside of their immediate selling area a local-based number from their “home” country. The hope is that this will instill a sense of trust in a new customer who may feel that is is too costly for them to call overseas, especially if the duration could be lengthy. With a local number, there is no opportunity lost for the business, as the customer will likely be more willing to call and hold the line until a representative can answer. There are certain telephony solutions which allow you to choose the phone number of the region or even the country you want. Having that option could potentially increase sales while providing you a stronger connection with your international customers.
One problem most salespeople face is manually dialing the phone numbers of a customer each time they want to contact them. The solution to this problem is the “Automatic Dialer.” This is a tool that automatically dials the uploaded numbers and routes the connected calls to the right person or department.
One of the best tools the automatic dialer is used for is to generate business leads. Your company can use it for “cold calling” to generate good leads. It also helps you increase sales because it integrates with the customer relationship management (CRM) system you may already have. With that, your staff will have all of the customer’s information readily at hand to facilitate the execution of the sales process.
Of course, one could argue that manual dialing is not necessarily a major problem. However, in a busy call center, or if there is a quota to be met, manual dialing can and does consume quite a lot of time for your staff, especially when they encounter a busy signal and must continually redial until the call is finally answered. With an automatic dialer, your staff can be more productive as they wait to speak to a potential lead. With the help of such telephony system as an automatic dialer, you can both speed up and simplify the call initiation process.
The mechanism of the work of any automatic dialer is quite simple. After uploading your contacts list, it makes the phone call and only the phone call. If the call isn’t answered, or the line is still busy, the automatic dialer dials the next number from your list and so on.
One of the main advantages of an auto dialer feature is that your data is kept current. Some phone numbers may have been changed or listed incorrectly, and in order not to waste your time dealing with it, you can benefit from using an automatic dialer. You will be able to see which numbers were “good” and which are no longer relevant.
Such a feature of a phone system is especially useful for call centers, affording your business a number of benefits, which include reduced idle time, better operational efficiency, superior lead conversion ratio, and constant monitoring and reporting.
In comparison with a traditional phone system, a cloud-based phone system can give you numerous benefits. Beyond saving money, a good system will improve productivity, provide your workers with the opportunity to work remotely and at multiple locations, and enhance your business image, among others.
To run a modern and efficient business, you certainly need modern technology. In this ever-exciting new era, there are a number of powerful tools being designed specifically with your business needs in mind. In this article, we discussed a number of important business phone features you should be familiar with before buying a business phone system. With a little knowledge, you will be able to make a good decision as to the best phone system for your company.