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Useful information on Phone Systems
Business Phone Systems
Every business needs a good phone system. While we all have mobiles, they are only associated with individuals. A business will not be seen a truly credible unless it has a main landline number which is used as the central point of contact for customers, suppliers, partners, and anyone else that needs or wants to get in touch with the company.
When someone wants to contact a specific department – Sales, Customer Services or Accounts, for example, but don’t have anyone’s name to reference, they will expect to be able to make that initial contact through the main ‘switchboard’ number.
By the same token, it’s important for staff to be able to make calls that come from a recognisable number. It gives the business credibility – and a number that can be called back.
In addition, business phones systems need to have features that enable the organisation to function efficiently and effectively. The ability to transfer, forward and redirect calls; voicemail; conference calling; and auto-attendant are just a few examples of feature you would expect to have on a business phone system.
Of course, if you run a fairly large or distributed business, or a call centre, you may need more advanced features and the ability to integrate your business phone system with customer relationship management, or other applications.Back to top
Business Phone System Comparison
There are many business phone systems available and it’s important to choose one that meets your needs and your budget. Whatever option you take, you can be certain that digital phone systems are the future. Many organisations have already made the switch to using Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions and with the UK’s PSTN network being switched off in 2025, this is most definitely the way ahead.
Key factors to consider when choosing a voice system for your business are: the range of features you will require; the guaranteed service level the provider offers; the reliability and track record of the supplier; management and reporting options; and finally, your budget.Back to top
BT’s Cloud Voice is hosted in the cloud and comes with a wide selection of call management features. Built-in flexibility allows you to select different packs for each user, depending on their needs. Various service options are available, and BT is of course, is a well-known and trusted name.Back to top
Gamma’s Horizon is one of the most popular hosted IP voice services for businesses in the UK. IT offers a complete service that incorporates fixed-location and mobile capabilities, all of which can be managed through an online portal. Gamma is well-established and has a reputation for reliability and quality. It can be fully managed on-site or remotely.Back to top
The Vonage Business Cloud provides a number of options that give businesses of all sizes the right balance of flexibility and control, with a fixed monthly cost per user. Vonage Business Phone Lines options provide simple, plug-in-and-go fixed cost connections at affordable prices.Back to top
How Business Telephone Systems Work
All of the business telephone solutions mentioned above are provided as web-hosted services. This means that all calls are digital and routed across the world across the Internet and the whole system is run within remote data centres and managed within through a web portal. To ordinary users, however it will still function in the same way as a normal phone system.
Hosted voice services like this were around for some time before everyone started talking about ‘the cloud’ but in effect, hosted VoIP is cloud-based service. It runs from the service provider’s own servers, so it is in effect, a in the cloud-based service. To make use of it, you simply access a web portal and log-in. From that point on, you will be able to make and receive calls and access all the features offered by the service to which you have subscribed.
You can have a central ‘switchboard’ number, which will go through to an operator who can redirect calls, and / or direct dial numbers for individual users. You can have ‘03’ numbers, which is a non-geographic UK code, or pick an area code number to reflect where you are based. Or you can use the number you already use for your business across to the VoIP system.Back to top
Choosing Office Phone Systems
It is worth thinking in some detail about your specific needs in advance. It may also be worth taking third party advice from a recognised expert in business voice and communications systems.
Different packages options will give you various benefits, such as unlimited calls to UK numbers and mobiles, and possible to a limited or unlimited number of international numbers. Obviously, the more features and benefits offers, the higher the fixed monthly cost. But if you are going to use the capabilities offered, more advanced services will save you money. Small business phone systems are quite different to larger corporations.
While you won’t need a physical PBX in the office to make use of VoIP services, you will need IP handsets. These may come as part of the package, or you can purchase or rent them separately.
Most services are offered on a one-year or two-year contract and some are offered with incentives such as the first three months free.Back to top
What to Consider with Office Phone Systems
You will need to think about the specific features that you will want from your business voice system. Aside from the basics –of being able to make and receive calls and to forward and redirect them, there are any number of options that you might want to consider.
Do you want voicemail, for example? Do you need the capability to use hunt groups? Do you need a conferencing function – and if so, is three-way conferencing enough, or do you need to accommodate more users. Do you need to record phone calls? Would you like to have an auto-attendant feature? Will you want to connect the VoIP service to your own contact management or CRM application?
The calls you are going to make is also important. Many services offer unlimited calls to UK numbers and some extend that to mobiles; for others there is a smaller charge for UK mobiles. There are also services that bundle international calls – some offer calls to a limited number of countries or specific numbers, others are unlimited .
The number of users you will want to have on the service could also be important, especially if this is likely to go up and down from time to time. One of the big advantages of VoIP services is that they are easy to scale up and down – but your service needs to allow for that possibility. It is worth checking the terms and conditions in this respect, if it is something you are likely to need.
If monitoring and tracking and call times, volumes and patterns is important, you will also want to look carefully at the management and reporting capabilities of the service. Some services offer only basic management, others are much more sophisticated.
You should want to consider the service level and support that your provider offers. While business VoIP is extremely reliable, you may want assurances with respect to quality and availability. You may also want to have a clear understanding of how your supplier will respond in the event of the services becoming unavailable for any reason.
Finally, you’ll want to consider your budget, balancing this with your needs. It would be a false economy to go with the lowest-cost option available if you needed features that are bundled with other packages. You should try to find the service that best-matches your needs today and for the duration of the contract period.Back to top
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