Believe it or not, a phone is still vital to a business. Most people do tend to favour email or social media as a form of contact but when they need an instant answer, they will pick up the phone. Now, there is an argument that businesses with mobiles have that covered but there is no getting away from those who see a company with a landline number as more “professional.” Don’t shoot the messenger, it’s just about perception, especially when you are trying to do business with larger companies.
So, we have established you need a phone system but what features do you need?
Best Features of a Phone System for a Small, Medium or Large Business
The first 15 features on the list are what were seen as traditionally, great features for small businesses and that it would cost too much to have additional features (for example, numbers 16 – 30). Nowadays, there are phone systems which will incorporate all of these great features as standard, meaning that you can operate as efficiently as those larger businesses. This means you can have all of the below from one phone system, for a great price.
- Hold – you may need to check something and not want to subject your caller to background noise, so you can pop them on hold.
- Redial – be able to call the last number you dialled at a click of a button.
- Intercom – be able to speak, handsfree so you can perhaps type up your notes.
- Hold Music – with most phone systems, you can choose what hold music you have, perhaps a jingle that reflects your business image? Some even upload their own promotional messages.
- Call Transferring – be able to divert calls to a call handling service, mobile or another employee.
- Speed Dial – have those people that you contact regularly on speed dial so you just need to press a button to call them.
- DDI – ideal if you have more than one person, you can get calls directly to your phone extension rather than customers/prospects having to be repeatedly transferred.
- Voicemail – pretty standard but you need to be able to tailor your voicemail message as often as you wish. Better yet, have some standard responses already set up if you are going to be out of the office on holiday or in meetings.
- Voicemail-to-Email – such as great little feature as you don’t have to log in to your voicemail to get your message; you can get notified via email or text and you can even select for the system to attach the recording.
- Voicemail Transcription – like above, but the voicemail is transcribed for you so you don’t need to listen to the recording file.
- Notification of Missed Calls – again, rather than making a point of looking at your missed calls each day, you could set up notifications for each missed call, so you could prioritise and call them back.
- Call Monitoring and Reporting – essential to know if you need extra resource either by employing someone or outsourcing to a call monitoring service. Read our “How many Phone Calls am I Missing?” blog, it will provide a useful insight into this topic.
- Geographical Numbers – you can choose to have multiple geographical numbers with the right phone system and choose which person they ring into, or if that person was to ring out, choose the number that would appear on the recipient’s phone.
- Work Remotely – you can pick up your desk phone and plug it in anywhere with a broadband connection, or alternatively, some phone systems allow you to utilise your phone system through an app on your phone.
- Conference Calling – ideal if you have a team of freelancers or even if you have a customer who has multiple points of contact from you who are in different offices – you can still have a meeting without visiting multiple sites or having multiple phone calls.
- Door Entry – you can connect your phone system to be able to talk with any visitors to your workplace and be able to let them in with a push of a button.
- Instant Messaging, File Sharing and Internal Video Conferencing – ideal for sending messages and files across an organisation, whether they are on the same site as you or working remotely.
- Page – you can page multiple phones with the same message. This tends to work well with Doctors, Dentists and Veterinarian surgeries.
- 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, still a great feature for small, medium and large businesses could benefit from.
- 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.
- Do Not Disturb – this is a great feature for those who deal with a lot of incoming calls; it means they can suspend calls whilst they type up notes or perhaps speak to a colleague.
- Call Recording – you can record all calls and listen back to them for quality control purposes or to verify what was said.
- Caller ID with a Name – you can look at your phone and know who is calling you before you pick up so you can greet them appropriately.
- On-Demand Conferencing – this means a user can hold a virtual meeting anytime by having a specific dial-in number and passcode.
- Automated Attendant – this 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.
- Transfer Announced / Unannounced – either choose to announce the transfer or have it set to dial an extension and put it down.
- Interactive Voice Response – this works well with automated attendant, so you can allow the person to say the extension number, department name or perhaps part of their password to get through rather than typing it on the phone.
- Call Queues – rather than customers going to voicemail, or hearing a busy tone, you can arrange call queues so they can wait in a queue until someone comes available. You can also set rules on this, for example, you can set it so they only wait for X amount of minutes before being offered to leave a voicemail.