7 things to consider before choosing a phone system

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Choosing a phone system is difficult, especially with so many on the market. When you start thinking about a new phone system, there are a few things to think about before you purchase. Firstly, you’ll need to choose a type of phone system, there are three; Hosted (VoIP), Hybrid, and IP.

The Hosted (VoIP) Phone system is cloud-based which means you connect to it using an internet connection (IP technology) but effectively you are renting the system rather than purchasing your own dedicated phone system.

A Hybrid Phone System is an on-premise phone system, it has been designed to combine the advantages of all the different types of phone connection technology such as ISDN, Analogue, Digital and IP into a single modern and flexible phone system. The Hybrid Phone System is an ideal phone system for businesses who have existing ISDN, Analogue or Digital infrastructure and want to protect the investment they have made whilst getting the benefits of IP technology.

An IP Phone System uses IP technology like a Hosted Phone System except, you own the phone system which means you have to choose where you host it and any handsets are connected via an Ethernet connection.

These points below will help you determine what is important for your business and what you need to consider before purchasing a phone system.

Phone Connection 

This is important if you have existing infrastructure in place such as analogue, digital or ISDN lines. If you have these lines but want to protect the investment you have made so far but want IP benefits, then you’ll need a Hybrid Phone system to make that work.

If you choose an IP phone system, you’ll likely need SIP lines. If you choose a Hosted phone system, you’ll just need a stable broadband connection.

Hosting Options 

If you choose a hosted phone system, the system will be cloud-based and you don’t have a responsibility to host it; it’s all included in the cost.

An IP Phone system can be hosted on-premise, in a data centre, or on your own private cloud but remember, that is a cost you’ll need to account for.

A Hybrid Phone System is an on-site phone system and isn’t available as a fully cloud hosted system so the responsibility of hosting falls down to you.

Budget 

It’s best to think about your budget going in rather than being surprised. Once you pick the type of phone system you want, it will give you a clearer picture as to what to expect.

Hosted (VoIP) Phone Systems tend to operate on a pay-per-seat model and with no upfront costs (unless you are purchasing hardware like handsets) There are no maintenance or hosting costs. Some very basic systems start around £8 per seat, per month. To get a reliable hosted phone system with all the features you should need would be from £13-£25 per seat, per month.

The main thing to remember when it comes to pay-per-seat model, is that you need to check what that includes. For instance, some phone system’s price per seat includes everything except call recording, or it only includes the most basic and everything else is treated as an add-on, or some have different levels of license.

IP Phone System suits medium and large businesses that don’t want the pay-per-seat model and want control and ownership over their IP phone system. You’ll need to be able to purchase the phone system and account for any hosting or maintenance costs.

Since a hybrid phone system is essentially combining your existing infrastructure with IP, you’ll be able to save some money from not converting fully over to IP straight away, however a hybrid phone system has its own specific PBX which will need to be purchased, alongside any additional hosting or maintenance costs.

Calling Features 

You’ll likely expect calling features such as Hold, Redial, Call Transferring, Speed dial, Voicemail and DDI numbers to be the standard and whilst you can easily get those features, technology has progressed that the new standard comes with a lot more such as the following calling features; Hold music, Voicemail-to-Email, Conference calling, Door Entry, Page, Do Not Disturb, Caller ID with name and Call Queues.

There are some that you may think are more advanced but in fact, they, too are included in standard phone system licenses:

  • Monitoring Barge – this is where you can have another user listen into a call, with or without the person knowing. The is ideal for those who need to train people on the phone; although typically used in call centres or customer service departments, it’s still a great feature for all sized businesses when training staff.
  • Find Me or Follow Me – ideal for salespeople who may be in multiple locations, you can set the phone to ring one number, then if it’s not answered in X amount of seconds, it will then ring another number, perhaps their home line, then perhaps their mobile until the call is sent to voicemail.
  • Ring Hunt Groups – the simplest example of this would be dialling the main line for the business and it ringing on multiple phones either all at once or on one phone first, then another, and another.
  • Busy Lamp Field – you can look at your phone and see who is on a call and who is logged on and available; so you can see if you can put a call through to them.
  • On-Demand Conferencing – you’ll be able to hold a virtual meeting anytime by having a specific dial-in number and passcode.
  • Automated Attendant –is great if you have multiple departments, especially if they are across multiple sites because you could have someone ring one number and choose which department they need to speak to and it will automatically transfer the call.

There are a few features which are usually available as bolt-on’s, such as Call Recording and some more advanced Call monitoring and reporting.

You’ll need to think about what calling features you need. As we mentioned, most of the good phone systems will have the above as standard (bar call recording and advanced call reporting) but it’s always best to know what you want so you can check it does what you need it to.

It also helps you think about how much value this phone system is going to add to your business.

Remote Workers

Since COVID most businesses have opted to keep remote working in place, whether that be fully or a hybrid approach.

Your remote workers need to be able to use your phone system from wherever they may be, some phone systems have a soft phone which can be installed on the PC/laptop or even on app on your phone so you can conduct all calls using your business line.

If you have remote workers, then ensure that you have the ability to use your phone system, remotely.

Connectivity

Have you ever been on the phone to someone and suddenly it cuts out and then cuts back in half way through them speaking? Or their voice sounds tinny and far away? Call quality is determined by the connection which is why you need reliable connectivity as most phone systems are run off of internet lines.

Collaboration 

Unified Communication tools are collaboration tools that bring all forms of communication technology (voice, video, IM etc) into one seamless application. It’s a huge benefit to businesses or all sizes and especially those who have remote workers. It’s one way to extend the use of your phone system whilst adding huge value to your business. Most phone systems have a unified communications tool that it can integrate with but if you have another tool, in mind, it’s likely that it can integrate with that too.

It’s just one more angle to consider when you decide on what phone system you want for your business.

Phone System Recommendations

Most businesses prefer hosted phone systems because of the benefits of IP and no hassle when it comes to hosting and maintenance. Businesses that want more control over their system will choose IP Phone systems, especially if they have worked out a threshold where it makes more financial sense for them to have ownership of it. Hybrid phone systems only benefit those with existing infrastructure.

Once you decide on a type of phone system, we can recommend the best fit for your business and demo them for you.

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We have been installing phone systems for over 25 years across the UK. We have worked across a number of industries providing the best phone system solution suited to their business. We have significant experience working in healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, automotive, and retail.

Regardless of whether you are a small one-man-band to a large corporate with thousands of users, we have the experience to tailor the solution to you and the resource and experience to install the best phone system and support you.

We offer experienced advice every step of the way to recommend a perfect phone system solution for your business.

We can talk you through which type of phone system would be best suited to your business and then demo the phone systems so you can choose the right phone system for you.

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