65% of people prefer phoning a business to any other method of contact. By comparison, just 24% preferred online methods. Even in the age of social media, when everything is online, it seems that people like to be able to talk to a real person.
While investing in live chat agents and AI responses is popular, your office phone systems are still the most crucial point of contact. Therefore, they need to be up to date and able to cope with your business’ needs.
As technology keeps advancing, that will likely mean upgrading. But replacing phone systems doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. With the right information and experts on your side, stepping up your system will be a breeze.
First, you’ll need to decide what type of system you’d like. Then, you’ll need to determine which extra features you’d like your system to have. After that, you choose a phone service provider.
To walk you through this process, we created a guide to upgrading your business phone systems. Read on to find out which decisions you need to make, as well as how to choose a provider and get the best prices at the end.
Choose a System Setup
Before you approach a provider for a quote, you need to decide which type of system you’d like installed. The old reliable landline is still a favorite of many companies and works well. But there are other options worth considering, especially as business communication technology advances.
Landline Phone Systems
Landlines have long been the favorite of businesses. Their connections are reliable, and they are easy to use. Their extension system also works well in a business setting.
While landlines are a viable solution, the likelihood is that won’t last for long. The first commercial phone to use this setup was in 1877! It’s no surprise that they won’t be in use for much longer.
Businesses that currently have a landline are probably fine at the moment. But if you’re investing in new hardware, it should be something that won’t be obsolete within the next decade or so.
Landlines don’t offer any modern features besides transferring to number extensions. As they become less common, repairing them also becomes more expensive. If a business wants to install a new system, we suggest they stay away from traditional landlines.
Nowadays, some hybrid systems exist that combine landline and VoIP capabilities. Depending on your needs, this may be a worthwhile compromise. But in general, landlines are not an investment that will pay off down the line.
Virtual Phone Systems
In truth, virtual phone systems aren’t actually phone systems. Similar to a cell phone, calls are managed by a provider, and you pay for a contract with a number of minutes attached. The calls can either be over traditional cell networks or over the internet.
Virtual systems have the same extension abilities as a landline, except they can connect with phones outside of the office. For example, call forwarding can be set up to go to employees’ cell phones. Colleagues and clients can get in touch with hybrid workers or traveling salespeople just as easily as those in-house.
Other features can be added to virtual networks, such as automated receptionists who receive the calls.
All in all, virtual systems work well for small businesses. But for major corporations with multiple locations, it’s not the best investment. When hundreds of employees are involved, virtual systems cost too much per head.
For large companies, the most modern solution is cost-effective and sets them up for the future. These are voice over internet protocol systems or VoIP. Instead of relying on dated landlines, these phone systems run over the internet.
That being said, they can still run on landlines! So businesses can incorporate them with their existing landline infrastructure.
The point is that VoIP doesn’t rely on a landline connection. In fact, because they run on the internet, they don’t even need a phone! Anything with a headset and internet, like your work computer, can make VoIP calls.
That means that connecting to employees’ cell phones is easy. Plus, internet capabilities mean features like call queues are easy to add.
And the system can integrate easily with computers. For example, it can be programmed to send voicemails to your email inbox.
Best of all, VoIP is one of the most affordable options. But the exact cost and features will depend on whether you want to host the system on-site or run it cloud-based.
On-site VoIP still requires you to own all the hardware needed to host the system. That includes PBX infrastructure.
The advantage of this is the control it affords you. With everything on site, you manage and configure the tech. When something goes wrong, your IT team are there and ready to fix it.
However, it comes with a large upfront cost to install the system. Purchasing all that equipment for multiple locations is expensive. And making sure you have a qualified IT team in each location is also a cost consideration.
The most modern, flexible, and affordable solution is a cloud-based VoIP system. All you pay for is the service. Maintenance, repairs, installation, and other equipment-related costs are covered by your service fee.
That means there are no upfront costs and no unexpected maintenance fees. If and when there is a problem with the system, their dedicated repairs team are there to handle it for you.
Best of all, cloud-based systems are completely scalable. However many employees and offices you need to set up, your provider will accommodate you. And whenever you open a new location, they will be there and ready to equip it.
As this is the most modern solution, it’s also the most flexible. Besides its scalability, cloud-based systems are the first to benefit from new features. Cloud-based office phone systems are the smartest solution both now and for the future.
Determine Your System Requirements
Once you’ve chosen a type of system, you need to look at exactly what system requirements you’re interested in. Check with your provider which features are included and which incur additional costs.
Working with Existing Infrastructure
Do you want to install a system from scratch or integrate a new solution with your existing hardware?
If you’re looking to install a landline system or an on-site VoIP, reusing what you have can save on upfront costs. The main issue is whether it’s really worth saving.
If your hardware has had a fair few years of use, might it be better to start fresh with a modern system that will last? Or is your system still relatively new and can handle being updated?
Discuss your current system with your new service provider. They can advise you whether integration is worthwhile cost-wise.
How easy to learn does your phone system need to be? In an office full of fresh-faced Gen-Z, the techiest solution may go down well and without issue. But in most large-scale companies, there’s a wide variety of tech-savviness in the office.
Before you choose a solution, decide how important its ease of use is. This can help you distinguish which system will most benefit the company without needing to send endless IT memos!
Overwiring is the practice of installing more wiring than you need to save on future costs. It is a small investment now that pays off in the future. But this only matters for businesses that manage their own hardware.
Those looking at virtual or cloud-based systems are already preparing for the future. But they can do more by considering what they’ll need in years to come.
Other than installing extra wires, how else can you ensure your phone system will stand the test of time?
First of all, make sure the system you’re installing is modern enough that it can keep up with the next 10 years of phone communication technology. A phone system that just about works today won’t be worth having in 10 years’ time.
But what makes a phone system modern? Here’s a hint – it’s not just whether it has a touch screen feature! It’s all about integration.
How integrated is your new system’s software with other business communication? And what kind of future communication will it need to be integrated with?
To answer that, consider these two phone system features and whether or not you’d like to invest in them.
If you’ve chosen a VoIP system, you’ll have the option to install smartphone connections. But why would you need your office phones to connect to your employees’ smartphones?
First of all, studies have shown employees waste 2 hours a day on their smartphones. That adds up to ten hours a week that they’re not working when they should be. However, knowing that work is also on their phone can help to keep them focused.
At the same time, they will always be able to access work. Whenever a customer, client, or internal connection calls them, they can answer.
Of course, you may not require them to answer the phone outside of work hours. But having the option is certainly helpful for productivity.
Especially in the age of remote work and hybrid working, connecting your phone systems to their personal devices keeps work communication fluid. Even if separated by distance, employees are almost as easy to reach as if they were in the office. This opens up a new avenue of connection that, as long as it’s not exploited, can hugely benefit both employees and businesses as a whole.
Video Call Capabilities
For internet-reliant systems like VoIP, video calls can be integrated with the system. Computers equipped with headsets and webcams now become video call devices. This helps you communicate ‘face-to-face’ while long-distance.
Video calls help users everywhere connect with each other and clients. Even as social distancing policies come to an end, many companies will still depend on the convenience of video calls. So even if everyone is back in the office in your company, you need to be able to offer video calls to clients.
If your video call system is integrated with your phone system, it appears professional and works more smoothly.
Choosing a Phone System Provider
Now you know what you want, how do you go about choosing a service provider? The decision-making process gets longer and longer for every person involved. That includes each provider that you speak to about your phone system needs.
Thankfully, there is a way of comparing phone system costs from many different providers without spending weeks on the phone.
That would be working with an all-in-one agent like us. We have close connections with all the major carriers. We know which company will be best suited to your individual needs.
We also gather the quotes for you, so you don’t have to waste time repeating your requirements for each one.
From there, we help you make the best decision for your business based on everything we know about what you need. This one-stop upgrading solution is the fastest and most cost-effective method.
Talk to the Office Phone Systems Experts
Working with Ron’s Metrodata Systems is a foolproof way to upgrade office phone systems. With decades of experience and all the connections that come with it, working with him is a no-brainer.
Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation. We’ll talk through your requirements with you, as well as any other questions you have. From there, we can start the process of finding the best upgrade for your business.