In today’s digital world, businesses have a variety of ways to communicate with their customers and vice versa–from social media to live chats. However, a robust phone system still counts as a primary communication channel. In fact, a study revealed that over 90% of customers still want to speak to a customer service agent over the phone when they have questions.
For startups or small businesses, you could choose to set up a separate phone number where clients and customers can reach your business. However, as your business grows, setting up a dedicated business phone system becomes more critical, as it can enable you to take calls and accommodate customers more efficiently.
With that, this article explores the basics of a business phone system and its benefits. Also, it shares steps on how to build and set up a business phone system successfully to help you get started. Read on to learn more.
What Is A Business Phone System?
At its core, a business phone system consists of several interconnected phones. Most phone system tools like Power Dialer by Call Cowboy offers numerous convenient features such as call transfer, call holding, call forwarding, auto-dialing, and so much more to help streamline a business’s call center.
A business phone system can be as simple as connecting two phones or as complex as hundred or thousands of interconnected phones in various locations.
The Benefits Of A Business Phone System
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a dedicated business phone system is to improve communication. Primarily, it provides your customers a way to contact your business directly and have a human-to-human conversation. This can greatly improve your customer service and boost customer satisfaction.
In addition, a business phone system can also improve internal communication. A good phone setup can allow your employees to easily connect and communicate with each other, which can help increase teamwork and productivity.
Speaking of productivity, a good phone system also helps streamline employee work processes in several ways. For instance, the advanced features of most systems, such as auto attendant or auto dialing, can eliminate repetitive tasks. This can help employees focus more on answering calls and providing stellar customer service.
Moreover, implementing a business phone system can also be a cost-effective investment. Unlike traditional phone systems, modern business phone systems don’t need an on-premise installation, unless you prefer to give your own server to handle the input data. Also, it eliminates the need to buy new hardware for every employee. Since it uses the internet, you don’t have to pay a per-minute cost, thereby reducing communication costs.
How To Build And Set Up A Business Phone System
Thanks to its significant benefits, there’s no doubt that a business phone system is something almost every business considers implementing at some point. If you’re wondering how, here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide you can follow:
1. Choose The Right System Type
The first step in building a business phone system for your company is to choose the right type that goes with your needs. Different phone systems are better suited for specific businesses. In general, you have two options:
- Private Branch Exchange (PBX)
This is the most common type of phone system for businesses today. PBX powers your business by providing basic communication functionality and tools including extension dialing, ring groups, and automated attendants.
PBX is an automated system and is most suitable for small businesses with over 40 employees. PBX systems provide an uninterruptible power supply, meaning your company can stay functional and receive calls without electricity.
When looking for a PBX system, you also have the option for a modified version known as hosted PBX. With this type, the programmable switching device is hosted by a telephone provider instead of being installed on-premises. Thus, you don’t have to worry about installation and maintenance costs that come with a regular PBX system while still having access to all the necessary features.
- Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
This is the latest innovation in the business phone system industry. As the most advanced type of phone system available, VoIP allows your business to communicate with potential clients even if they’re on the other side of the world.
VoIP works using the Internet, eliminating the need for a physical business phone unit to use it. Although you don’t need a phone unit, you can still route calls directly to any mobile device or telephone you want.
In addition, most systems can also offer advanced capabilities such as the integration of other business software like customer relationship management (CRM) software. And like PBX systems, a VoIP system can be hosted by the provider, who will be responsible for hosting and maintaining the system.
Due to their advanced features, VoIP phone systems are expensive. The cost may depend on the number of employees who will use it. That said, if you have a big customer service department or have remote agents or both, a VoIP system is the best choice.
2. Find The Right Provider
Once you’ve decided on the type of business phone system you want, the next thing you need to do is to find a reputable provider. Here are some factors you need to consider when choosing the right service:
- Check The Features And Functionality
The first thing you need to consider when comparing service providers is the features included in the plan. Does the service provide all the basic, necessary functionalities that your business needs?
To start, every phone system should have common, non-negotiable features for every business. These include:
- Call recording, queueing, forwarding, and blocking
- Caller ID
- Hold options
- Custom greetings
- Speed dialing
- Multiple lines
- Directory assistances
- Call reports and analytics
- Distinctive rings
- Option for both toll-free and local numbers
Take the time to consider the processes within your business communications. From there, map out what features you need and use the most. You could also include other nice-to-have advanced options that can help streamline and simplify processes.
- Compare Prices
Once you have an idea of the features you need, start comparing services by cost. Most providers offer pricing plans that include specific features and functionalities.
One way to compare is to make a table of each provider’s plans and cross-check them with all your requirements. This should give you a comprehensive overview of which systems can provide the functions you need for your business. Also, always double-check for any extra cost. For instance, some features you need may not be included in a specific plan and may require extra fees.
In addition, consider the cost of scaling. If your business grows, what will be the cost of adding new users to the plan? This way, you can have a better idea of the costs of scaling the system as your business expands.
- Avail Trial Periods And Demos
Trial periods and demos are a great way to assess the business phone system. If possible, set a scheduled demo with the provider or avail of their trial periods. Doing so can give you a hands-on review and access to the features of the system, as well as test its user interface. This way, you can determine if they’re the right fit for your business needs.
- Test Customer Service
The purchase of a business phone system is not cheap. Also, it’s not a one-time thing, it will require a continuous partnership between you and the provider.
Thus, it’s also essential to check their customer service and after-sales support. You want to know the level of service they offer in case something goes wrong. Preferably, you want to partner with a service provider that offers 24/7 support and several ways to contact them. This is particularly essential if you do business at night or during the weekends.
3. Sign Up With The Provider And Explore The Admin Dashboard
Once you’ve settled with a specific provider, you can start the signup process. In general, you’ll need to provide the necessary information and pay the necessary fees to start using the service. After signing up, you’ll be able to access their service and start using your admin dashboard.
The admin dashboard is like the brain of your business phone system. This control center allows you to build your team and manage all the phone lines connected to the main system. You can try exploring the system, but make sure to have a dedicated team to manage your admin dashboard.
Regardless of how good the features of the system are, if the team or personnel you assigned to manage your dashboard is not well-versed in the system’s functionality, it may not work as efficiently as it should.
4. Choose A Phone Number And Set Business Hours
Among the most important things you need to set up after logging in is choosing a business phone number and setting up your business hours.
If you’re looking to provide your clients with a free, easy-to-remember phone number, go with a toll-free number. In case you want to receive calls from an audience based in a particular geographical location, you can opt for a local phone number. On the other hand, you can choose a vanity number that’s relevant to your business. You can do this by selecting digits associated with the letters on a phone keypad. Or, if you want to keep an existing number, you can also do that.
After choosing a number, start setting up your business’s working hours. While adding a schedule for your business hours may seem trivial, automated features such as auto attendants and call forwarding run off these schedules. So, implementing them early can help prevent calls made after working hours from being discarded or lost.
5. Set-Up Basic Functionalities
Once you have a number, the next thing you need to do is to start setting up the most important features including:
- Advanced Call Management: This refers to a business phone system’s ability to prioritize, block, hold, or reroute any incoming calls.
- Custom Greeting: Custom greetings are the messages that customers first hear when they call your business phone number. Make sure to get professionally recorded audio tracks for the auto attendant, announcement, or hold music before an agent picks up.
- Extensions: This feature gives unique extensions for specific employees, departments, or executives. This way, when customers call, they can call a specific extension to reach a specific department or employee directly.
- Outgoing Caller ID: Most people ignore phone calls from unknown numbers. So, make sure to set up your caller ID to reach more clients with outgoing calls instead of being sent to voicemail. Your outgoing caller ID can be up to 15 characters long and include letters, periods, numbers, commas, and spaces. Take note that caller IDs are not available for toll-free numbers.
- Simultaneous Ring: This functionality allows you to configure different numbers into one. This way when someone calls that number, all configured phones will ring at the same time. Whichever phone or agent picks up first will get the call.
- Business Text Messaging: This function refers to the system’s texting capabilities, should you prefer to send your customers a text instead of calling them.
- Call Recording: This is a helpful feature that allows you to use your past calls for quality assurance, training, documentation, and more. Setting up the auto-recording feature ensures that the business phone system logs every call.
6. Design A Call Flow
Lastly, consider what the call flow will be like from the moment they dial your business phone number until their concern is addressed. For instance, if a customer’s call isn’t answered, is it forwarded, placed on hold, or put on a queue?
Designing a smooth call flow is critical when you’re building a successful business phone system. By doing so, you can create a more streamlined flow of calls that can bring in repeat customers and happier and more satisfied callers.
Technology has significantly shaped how businesses operate, and the telecommunication industry is no exception. And as you can see, building and setting up a comprehensive business phone system has never been easier or quicker.
Whether you’re building your business phone system from scratch or want to upgrade an existing one, the above guide can help you install and set up your phone system so you can start receiving calls from customers or improve your internal communications right away.