The average American checks their phone 47 times a day, every day. American Millennials check their phones even more frequently, hitting an average of 86 times per day. We’ve always got our phones in our hands (or at least close by), and they play an increasingly prevalent role in our personal and professional lives.
Choosing a small business phone system, therefore, is important. We’re long past the days where businesses had to rely on a local service provider to set up landlines in office, keeping employees stuck at their desks. Now, phone systems have evolved alongside everything else in the technological world, and they can do more for you now than ever before.
There are so many options out there when it comes to small business phone systems that it can be overwhelming trying to make the right decision. In this post, we’ll walk you step-by-step through the decision making process so you can feel confident in the phone system you choose.
1. Consider If You Need a System That Can Go Remote
This is perhaps the most important step in the process: Do you want a conventional at-the-desk phone system, or do you want people to be able to take their calls remotely?
For most businesses today, the answer is easy. It’s why so many large corporations are providing secondary smartphones for their team members. Remote workers are saving businesses money, and it’s quickly becoming more preferred by employees, too. Having a phone system that allows users to accept calls from anywhere is a good call for most businesses.
Your options here include:
- Conventional landlines. Your employees will get phones at their desk. You may be able to reroute calls, but you have to do so from in-office.
- Secondary mobile phones. You give your employees a second mobile phone with a business line through your plan so they can be reached anywhere as long as they remember to bring it with them.
- Virtual phone systems. These are often more cost-efficient and allow users to simply install a mobile app on their phones that give them instant access to a business line. This is what we offer here at Tresta.
- VoIP systems. This option combines virtual phone systems and landlines, but you’re relying on the business’s internet connection or on-site equipment to provide that. This can be pricey since you need to purchase the equipment upfront.
While each small business is different and you need to consider what solution would work best for you, many small business owners are turning more towards virtual phone systems. The costs are more reasonable than other options allowing for remote work, and employees will always have their personal phones nearby, resulting in high accessibility when you need them. Some also offer a host of features that are easy to use even if you’re not in office.
2. Decide What Features You Need
What do you need your phone system to do?
Now, phone systems can do so much more than accept incoming calls and make outgoing calls, and it’s important to consider what features your business would benefit from.
Virtual phone systems like Tresta may offer the following:
- Auto-attendants to help callers get to the right person quickly
- Analytics about overall call data
- Texting capabilities, for both internal and external use
- Easy, smart call routing features to redirect calls as needed
- Intuitive call menus
- Scheduling, including for call routing or menus
- Custom greetings
Some businesses may rely heavily on texting for internal communication. You may want to have rerouting set on a schedule, sending all incoming calls after 6pm to a call answering service. Instead of having an actual receptionist, you can rely on call menus or auto-attendants to get callers where they need to go. These features can save you time and money, streamlining everything along the way.
Consider what features are must-haves now, and what you might need in the future.
3. Calculate Your Budget
When you’re choosing a phone system, you need to look at costs. What can you afford to spend per employee?
Some phone systems cost much more than others. In-house VoIP systems, for example, require the upfront cost of the tools you need to keep the system running, which is expensive. And if you’re buying a second phone for your entire staff, you have to add that on to the cost of the phone lines themselves.
Find a system that has reliable support, great customer service, and all the features you need, and make sure it’s within your budget now and within your projected budget soon.
4. Choose An Option That’s Scalable
Some small businesses are happy where they’re at, but many anticipate or hope to grow, even if it’s not for several years. You never know how quickly things could take off, so having a phone system that can scale alongside your business is a good precaution.
You want an option that’s scalable both in cost and in features. Right now, it may just be you so you don’t need extensions or call navigation, but this can change in a year or so. You don’t want to have to adapt your phone system while rapidly growing your business, so find what suits your needs now and what will likely meet your needs moving forward, too.
5. Read the Fine Print
Some phone systems like to come with fine print. There are set limits for minutes or phone lines, after which you can get hit with expensive fees. Or maybe there are contracts that are difficult or expensive to get out of, even if your business has outgrown the service.
Read the fine print of any system you’re considering using. While we don’t have anything designed to trick or trap our customers here at Tresta, not everyone else lives up to the same standards, so proceed carefully and see if you can get a free trial before committing.
There’s a lot that goes into choosing a phone system, and with so many options out there, it can be difficult to try to find the right one. It’s important to look at all your options and decide what meets your business’s needs now, and which one you expect can scale with you to meet your needs in the future, too. The decision is hard enough the first time, after all; you don’t want to have to go through the process all over again in a year or two.
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