There are a lot of options available to you when choosing a business phone vendor, from key and PBX systems to voice over internet protocol (VoIP). These systems offer a variety of traditional as well as specialized features for your business to use, and it’s easy to get caught up in the multitude of features to choose from when you are comparing these phone systems.
You might assume that the best business phone vendor for your company is the one with the most features available. However, no matter what kind of features you want or need, your phone system needs to have a solid foundation of the basics; it must be easy to integrate into your business, easy to maintain, and have solid customer support. All the bells and whistles in the world can’t make a poor phone system serviceable.
Ease of Integration
Your business runs on a variety of different systems in order to function every day. These can range from credit card processing and POS systems to customer relationship management software. The degree to which these programs need to integrate with your phone system is an important element in choosing the right vendor.
- The phone system you use should be appropriate for the type of business you run and how you expect to utilize your phones. Check with your vendor to make sure that they have experience working with your type of business; you shouldn’t purchase a system for your manufacturing company from a vendor that deals primarily with call centers.
Ease of Maintenance
All phone systems – from the simplest to the complex – require equipment. The complexity of your business’s phone equipment will depend upon your business’s network needs, including: how many lines your business needs and how much your business expects to grow in the future.
Some business phone vendors will take responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of your systems, while others will leave it in your hands. Expect that the more complex your system is, the more time and money will be spent on maintaining it.
- PBX systems require a phone closet to house the phone system microcontroller and console, as well as other equipment like wiring, switches, and power supplies in addition to the phone handsets.
- Key and hybrid systems require less extensive equipment, but are also more limited than PBX systems in how many lines, or “seats,” they can carry.
- VoIP systems can be as simple as a headset connected to your computer. More complex VoIP systems can seem much more like PBX systems in their equipment requirements.
No matter what kind of system you choose, your phone vendor needs to provide you with good customer support that can troubleshoot network issues, provide swift emergency maintenance, and help you get the most out of the features you’re paying for.
- Your business can lose money and customers fast if your phone system goes down and stays down. Ask your vendors what kind of customer support they provide, and ask for references who will attest to their quality and helpfulness.
- The first few months after installing a new phone system can be stressful. Make sure your phone vendor is quick to resolve bugs. Your employees may need to be trained in how to operate the new system; ask your vendor if they provide initial training as well as continuing support.
No matter what kind of phone system you choose for your business – nor what kind of features you install – it won’t be useful to you if it’s difficult to integrate or maintain. Make sure your system has these qualities, and that your vendor provides valuable customer support for the course of your relationship.
Megan Webb-Morgan writes about small business, on topics including phone service companies for www.ResourceNation.com.