May 3, 2018

5 Things to Look for in a Phone System

One of the most important aspects of building your business is being available to customers whenever they need you. That’s why having a good telephone system is essential not only for your existing customers, but potential ones as well.

Unfortunately, until recently, business lines from phone companies were the only option, and they can cost upwards of $75 per month. You also have to sign a contract.

Enter Voice over IP technology. Having your phone system hosted in the cloud is much cheaper, and you get more features than you would by going through your local phone company.

So what should you look for in a phone system? A virtual phone system can have tons of features, but you don’t need to get too complicated. All you need are five basic types of functionality:

  1. Voicemail. This is a must. You have to have some way of getting messages when you miss a call.
  2. Call forwarding. If you’re out of pocket but still want the call to be answered, call forwarding is essential. You can forward the call to another person on your staff, or transfer it to your home number if you’re working from home. One feature of call forwarding is having the call dial multiple phones at once, ensuring that a call gets picked up by someone.
  3. Multiple extensions. Make your business seem bigger than it is by employing extensions on your phone. This is called PBX in the phone industry. You can map extensions to “hot keys” and then customize your greeting so that customers can dial 1 for sales, 2 for billing, etc. Warning: This can get complicated very quickly, and some systems have so many options that you might get lost in setting it up. Try to find a system that gives you the flexibility you need but is simple enough to operate.
  4. Voice-to-text transcription. Some systems will transcribe the message for you, and even send you a text with the transcription. This is ideal for when you’re stuck in a meeting and need to know what a particular caller has said.
  5. Easy billing. You want to find something that will let you go month-to-month with the ability to cancel at any time, without having to sign a contract.

You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to have a good telephone system. The more complicated it is, the longer it will take for you to figure out how it works – and the more chances there are for a problem to develop. Make sure that it’s reliable and performs the above features very well—without getting in the way of you making money.

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