A virtual PBX can transform your small business, offering increased flexibility, mobility, and efficiency while helping you improve customer service. For these reasons, the virtual PBX market is exploding. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out which one is best for your business needs.
A virtual PBX phone system uses the internet instead of traditional phone lines to make, route, and receive calls. Since this type of system doesn’t require any special hardware, you can use it anywhere, on any type of device: mobile phones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers. This type of phone system also offers business phone features and typically costs a fraction of the price of a landline.
Industry experts estimate that just 6% of U.S. phone users are still using landline systems. In turn, the VoIP market is expected to to grow by more than 10% per year through 2021, driven by the need for greater enterprise mobility and expanding cloud adoption. More and more people even run a business from their phones, which only makes it more vital to pick the right virtual PBX system for your business.
Here’s a checklist of what to look for when shopping for a virtual PBX solution.
Virtual PBX Phone System Considerations
If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you already have a phone number your business customers are used to calling. Changing your phone number could mean losing business. You’ll want to look for a virtual PBX provider that lets you quickly port your current number. This will ensure your transition to virtual PBX is seamless with no interruption to your business or risk of losing valuable customers.
Toll-free or local numbers, or both
When you’re a local business, it’s important to have a local phone number so potential customers will call you. Even if your business is in a different city or state, a virtual PBX typically offers the option of setting up multiple local numbers for the communities you want to target and to be more competitive.
A toll-free number, on the other hand, can convey a stronger national image and reinforce your brand by making your business look larger. Allowing your customers to call you for free, no matter where they’re located, makes it easy for them to get in touch and provides a better customer experience. And a good customer experience generates new business
Remote capabilities for multiple users at different locations
Whether your business is at one location or spread throughout offices around the country, your business phone system needs to keep everyone connected in the office, in the field, or on the road.
One of the biggest advantages of a virtual PBX system is the freedom to do business from anywhere. Features such as call forwarding, call routing, virtual voicemail, and extensions for individual users and departments unify communications across locations and employees. Remote capabilities also help everyone be more productive, improve resource allocation, and create a consistent experience for customers, all of which impact your bottom line.
Number of employees
Virtual PBX systems are excellent for businesses of any size. Some providers have different packages for small, mid-sized and large companies. If you outgrow your plan, you need to upgrade to a new one designed to accommodate your larger workforce. A good virtual PBX system lets you add employees as you expand your business, so there’s no need to upgrade your entire system just because you’re bigger.
When looking for a virtual PBX system, be sure it’s easy to add new employees to the system.
As your business expands, you’ll need more than just a primary business number. Your virtual PBX should enable you to set up extensions to send callers to the department or employee they need. Look for a virtual PBX system that doesn’t have a low cap on the number of extensions—the last thing you want while growing your business is to have employees without direct lines while you are upgrading your phone system.
If your business is small, virtual phone extensions can help you sound more professional. In large businesses, extensions help callers get to the right person or department more quickly, resulting in a better customer experience. Extensions also let your employees contact each other more easily.
Business phone features
A virtual PBX system should help you to run your business efficiently and seamlessly right from the start. The features offered for virtual PBX systems are where more differences come into play among providers.
Some cloud-based PBX phone systems include auto attendant, mobile apps to manage calling preferences, or integrate with popular customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Others may offer call recording, call analytics, virtual voicemail, and other features.
Make a list of the specific features you need to easily compare options.
Pricing of virtual PBX systems is where you’ll clearly begin to see how much bang you’ll get for your buck. Costs vary based on the provider, how many users your business has, and how many features you want access to. Since the hosted PBX equipment is stored in the cloud, there usually aren’t any large installation or set up costs.
Some providers offer different pricing plans designed for small, medium, and enterprise-level companies. Others include all business phone features for a flat per-user rate: call recording, call analytics, call routing, auto attendants, call schedules, extensions, custom groups, voicemail, and more.
The best PBX systems should offer the most features for your money and make it easy and inexpensive to add users, numbers, extensions, or other features that your business may need in the future.
Charges for use overages are unnecessary headaches, and usage limits can grind your business to a halt. All so-called unlimited plans are not created equal—some virtual PBX providers have caps on usage and overage fees. There are providers who don’t impose caps or fees, which is one less thing you need to worry about while running a business. Be sure to read the fine print before signing up for any plan.
Before settling on any system, you’ll want to find out if you need to purchase and install any hardware. If you have an on-premises PBX-based system, you already know that it’s expensive and resource-intensive to maintain. As technology evolves, you have to continually upgrade your equipment to keep up.
The big advantage of most cloud-hosted PBX systems is they eliminate the need to purchase and upgrade hardware. With a cloud-based system, software updates are automatic. You’ll gain new features or capabilities as soon as they’re released, so you never have to worry about your system becoming obsolete.
Cloud-based systems eliminate many of the problems users experience with traditional systems or landlines. Most providers offer web and mobile apps to manage your system online, but occasionally you may encounter a problem you can’t resolve on your own.
You’ll want a virtual PBX solution that also offers 24/7/365 customer support, for the occasions when you encounter a problem that you can’t resolve on your own. Customer support should be available anytime you need it—even after hours or on holidays.
Get Started With a Virtual PBX System
Choosing the right virtual PBX phone system for your business may seem overwhelming, but this list should make it easier to decide. If you’re still unsure, Tresta offers a free 30-day trial so you can see how it works with your business.