Choosing a new phone system for your office can be daunting.
Traditional line rental or VoIP? On-Premise PBX or cloud phone system? Which company to trust? What functionality do I need in my phone system?
High costs, technical jargon, PBX reviews and a broad range of suppliers can leave a business owner feeling confused about what is required of a phone system for their office experience.
Inspired by this issue, Blueface came up with 15 Business Phone Service Features list the companies cannot live without as your buyers guide.
- Dial Tone Reliability
This seems like the most obvious consideration but when you pick up the phone you need the reliability of hearing a dial tone and being able to make or receive a call. Choose a company that has invested heavily in their technical infrastructure, has trusted customers and a good reputation so that you’ll always hear that dial tone. If you do choose a Voice over IP service, you’ll want some sort of protection if your broadband goes down. Look for a provider that offers automatic failover on incoming calls to mobiles or other numbers should your broadband suffer an outage of some sort.
- Music on Hold
Nobody enjoys being put on hold. It often happens when somebody needs to check with their colleagues, look up your records or as they transfer you. In any size of organisation, putting a customer on hold does usually spare time for both parties. Making this experience as nice as possible with music helps create a relaxed mood for your caller. This is particularly helpful if there’s a complaint but it also helps create a professional impression of your business. Avoid using radio stations and chart music that will rack up royalty fees by using a provider that supplies you with royalty free music as standard.
- Call Transfer
Transferring a call to the correct department or the right person can save precious time for both the employee and the caller. It avoids walking from one end of the office to another to pick up a call. Look for the ability to make supervised and blind transfers depending on your business needs.
- Call Forwarding
If you’re ever away from the desk you’ll want the call to route to either your voicemail, mobile or to a number of other colleagues’ phones. Where you don’t want to send callers to your voicemail, being able to forward them with one click will mean you’ll never miss another call. It’s important you have this functionality without needing to involve somebody else to action otherwise it won’t be practical to use.
- Conference Call
Do you ever feel that a quick phone call would prevent those long trails of emails with countless replies? Look for a service that offers a free call conferencing service allowing you to bring in multiple parties with a room and pin for larger meetings or a quick 3 way call from the handset itself. Even better is where your phone service provider can supply international numbers for you to share with international customers/suppliers to join your call.
- Call Block
Being able to put somebody on a blocked list, can sometimes be necessary. Be it an annoying sales person ringing three times a day or anybody else you don’t want to receive calls from. It’s quick and effective. You may also wish to block certain destinations e.g. premium numbers or certain international destinations to avoid employees racking up large bills for your company. Look for this option to control your costs.
- Call Log and Real Time Call History
Being able to access a call log directly from your phone can help find any missed calls, recent dials or last incoming calls. This is important for adding customer’s numbers to your CRM or for doing call backs. When you’re looking to do more analysis on the number of calls you receive, look to a service that offers you a raw CSV of your call history for monitoring how busy your staff have been and the costs you’ve incurred.
- Phone book
If you’ve got important customers who call you regularly, it’s nice to know in advance when they’re calling and greet them by name. You’re used to doing it on your mobile so why not on your desk phone? Look for this feature from your provider.
- Direct Dial
Having a direct dial (DDI) on a phone can make business much easier. You can give this out to people you’d like to reach you directly rather than going through your main line number. With caller ID you should be able to easily identify the origination of the call whether it’s coming in as part of a ring group, internal call or external call to your DDI.
- Call Waiting
During busy times, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with a large number incoming calls. The call waiting feature allows customers to ring while you’re still on call. This allows you to put your initial call on hold, answer the incoming call to take a message and return to your original call. Even companies that aren’t that busy can benefit from this service where customers won’t get a voicemail and will have the chance to speak with someone.
- Voicemail to Email
If you’re out and about, you want an instant notification of your voicemails. Most landline services only inform you that you’ve a voicemail once you’re out back at your phone. Look for a service that sends you a recording of the voicemail by email. This is a really handy feature to avoid dialing 171.
- Virtual Receptionist
Whether you’re a big or small company, a virtual receptionist does help direct callers to the right department in the quickest time possible. While some people may argue it’s a less personal touch, when combined with a well recorded greeting, an IVR or virtual receptionist will give your business a professional impression. For added effectiveness look for time of day routing options that only send calls to you during work hours and go to voicemail out of hours.
- Self-Provisioning Phones
Phones that will work instantly once they’re plugged in mean that you won’t need to wait for any engineer’s installation and they’ll work in minutes with a broadband connection. This gives you the simplicity of a traditional home phone with a 21st century flexibility of being able to work anywhere.
- Ring Groups
Once your business is of a certain size, you’ll need ring groups for your sales team, accounts or customer support. A ring group allows you to send incoming calls to a group of phones that connects the call with whoever picks up the phone first. This is the most efficient way of routing calls and helps calls get picked up quicker increasing the speed of your business.
- Virtual Fax
While faxing is a legacy technology that has been slow to die off, it’s still heavily relied on in law, property and government sectors. A phone service provider that can allow you to send and receive faxes by email will not only give you more efficiency in your organisation but also removes line rental fees. Also if you have sensitive information in faxes, a virtual fax service will mean you won’t leave that confidential piece of paper sitting on the machine as it will be in your protected inbox.
So make sure to tick most, if not all the boxes while choosing a new phone system, and this will help to get a great phone system that no business can live without.