Growth is something that is on the mind of every small and medium business owner. Once you stand on your feet and have an established clientele, you start thinking about taking it further and being more stable and long-lasting.
While you focus on scaling your business up, existing operations may take a bit of a backseat and juggling both responsibilities can be challenging. But what helps is constant communication, with your management and with your customers. This becomes so much easier with a business phone system.
What is a business phone system?
In the simplest sense, a business phone system is a communication system adopted by an organization to ease their operating processes. Over the years, business communication has evolved and with modern technology can also help out with sales, customer experience and brand strategy among other things.
The modern technology in question is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). To put it briefly, this connects calls through the internet as opposed to phone cables like a traditional phone system. It requires no major hardware and all one needs is any standard device and an internet connection.
Types of business phone systems
There are three types of phone systems used by businesses to fulfil their communication needs.
Multi-line telephone system
This type of phone system has multiple phone lines that route different query calls to their respective departments in your organization. As every department can be dedicated to their own phone line, there are no interruptions while routing calls.
The phone system can be customized to ensure every incoming call to the business goes through a single handset. A dedicated agent then answers the call and manually redirects it to the suitable department.
PBX telephone system
A private branch exchange or PBX telephone system is similar to a multi-line phone system. When the customer calls, an automated voice or virtual receptionist answers. They are then provided with a list of extensions of different departments, in the form of options. The customer can select whichever department they see fit to solve their query.
This eliminates the need for an agent to route calls to different departments, and also ensures customers don’t have to repeat their query again and again to different agents.
VoIP phone system or business phone system
This is the most advanced phone system out of the three. As the name indicates, a ‘VoIP’ phone system is completely digital. Here, voice signals are converted into packets and then transmitted through the internet. After reaching their destinations, the packets are converted back to voice messages.
This phone system requires no physical infrastructure and can be accessed remotely as it is hosted on the cloud. This is why it is also referred to as hosted phone system or cloud-based phone system. This is the most basic technology behind today’s business phone systems.
With hardly any installation costs, better voice quality and smarter features, more businesses are shifting to VoIP phone systems from old traditional phone systems. Additionally, including all capabilities associated with PBX, VoIP is loaded with features like Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, CRM integrations and call management software that can collect call data for you and your managers to analyze
This is the type of business phone system that will be discussed in this article. You can read more about the technology here.
Key features of a business phone system
A business phone system has several features, each that can benefit you in a manner that goes above and beyond its basic function. For example, features like call recording and notes help your agents learn more about the clients they speak to. Call whisper and call barge help your managers supervise your agents better and there is a whole host of features for your customers, to listen to them, offer solutions and track their needs so you can give them the best experience possible.
We have put together this FREE infographic, detailing how these features can help your agents, managers and customers.
What are the benefits of a business phone system
A VoIP-based business phone system is so much more than just a communication system. Not only does it perform the necessary task of connecting you with your customers and employees, but its features help you manage your agents, collect sales data, improve loads and limit room for error. Its benefits go above and beyond its basic function in a manner that is cost-effective, efficient and secure. Here are some key features that you should look for in every business communication solution.
Since these systems run over the internet using VoIP, they are a very cost-effective solution for businesses. According to Microsoft, 82% of businesses claim to have saved money by switching to the cloud.
Tech.co reported that a business’s average savings after switching to a business phone system are between 30% and 50% with the average varying, depending on factors like business size and what system they were using before.
It is easy to understand why—a fully digital set-up means all infrastructure is in the form of a free, easy-to-download software. No external set-up is needed besides the device you are already using and an Internet connection. All form of updates and maintenance are completely free.
One doesn’t even need an office or designated place of work for this. The beauty of such a business solution is that your agents can work from anywhere in the world, with your managers being able to track them and gather sales and agent performance data.
You can choose a plan that fits your budget, based on the number of agents you have or the area you plan on making calls to or from. Acefone, for example will customize a plan for you so that you don’t end up having to pay for anything other than what you use.
Business phone systems are designed with high-end security in mind. With cloud-based VoIP telephony, all the information that you exchange with your clients and customers is encrypted and stored in a secured manner.
Cloud systems are also regularly updated in accordance with the latest standards to prevent data theft and malware attacks. Some key safety features that cloud phone systems offer include end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authorization, multi-layer firewalls, etc.
As per Salesforce, 94% businesses have experienced enhanced security after moving their operations to the cloud
The rigidity of traditional landline phone systems resulted in many organizations transitioning to other alternatives. Static phone systems didn’t only restrict employee movement, but also severely limited their scope of communication. They took a further hit with work-from-home becoming the norm during the pandemic.
Cloud-based VoIP phones, on the other hand, allow agents to access their database from anywhere and actively communicate from their homes or even on the go.
VoIP phones can also be used on other devices—mobile devices, tablets, desktops— and from any geographical location. The cloud has made it possible for businesses to have the best of both worlds.
Maintaining a strong brand image is essential for the success of any business. One way to achieve this is by delivering exceptional customer service in addition to your marketing and sales efforts.
VoIP systems such as cloud phone systems can greatly aid in this process. With a cloud phone system, all calls are routed to agents efficiently and backed by data, which helps to establish credibility and sincerity in your business operations.
For example, a clothing company using a cloud phone system is able to route customer calls to the appropriate department, such as sales or customer service, quickly and efficiently. This improves the customer experience and enhances the company’s brand image as a responsive and reliable business.
Great for remote work
A business phone system that works via the Internet can be used to handle customer support calls from anywhere and anytime. With intelligent systems like IVR calling menus, agents don’t have to deal with clueless callers. An IVR, since it is an automated menu that redirects callers to the right department, instantly results in better agent productivity.
In today’s remote work culture, another benefit of a business phone number is that the same number can be used by employees based out of different locations. This means that they do not have to use their private numbers and get the added benefits and features of cloud-based VoIP on the go.
This comes with an added time-saving benefit. Cisco reported that your business can save 32 minutes of calls per day per team member largely due to better availability, more flexibility and features that cut out rote tasks.
Furthermore, these can be integrated with your existing CRMs. To read more about how integrating your business phone solution with customer support suite helps, click here
How do business phone systems grow your business?
With a number of ways to customize and flexible solutions to grow with your business, it’s not hard to see why many businesses are switching to VoIP-based phone systems. Here are a few use cases that show just how much a business phone system can improve your operations.
Custom on-hold music and messages
You can utilize the time your customers spend waiting for an agent to answer their calls, by playing your brand’s music or a promotional message. Customers are often passively listening to on-hold music or the offer and will absorb the message being given to them while they wait.
You could also use the wait time to play messages about new products, promote extra services or deliver important information such as answers to frequently asked questions.
Alternatively, you could also choose relaxing music for customers to enjoy while they wait. Whatever your business needs, or wants to get across to customers, you can do easily with custom on-hold music and messages.
By customising these messages, you are giving your customers a positive impression of your brand. It also encourages customers to stay on the line, taking some of the pressure off your agents and giving them more time to deal with enquiries. You can learn more about on-hold music and how it helps to retain customers better here.
Use different types of numbers for different purposes
You could choose a free phone number or toll-free number for your business, giving you the impression of a national and well-established company. These numbers are also great for customer experience, as you are allowing your customers to contact you free of charge. You can read in depth about free phone numbers here.
But, if you are looking for a more targeted approach, you could add a local number to your VoIP system. You can use this to target specific geographical locations and increase trust in your brand. This is also helpful for businesses looking to secure local listings.
Finally, you can also have a vanity phone number attached to your VoIP system. These special, easy-to-recall numbers can be used to enhance marketing campaigns and increase brand awareness.
Businesses using virtual numbers can also track individual marketing campaigns by monitoring call and agent performance data. This way, you can see exactly which marketing campaigns or channels have worked well and which might need rethinking. You can read more about free phone numbers for marketing campaigns here.
Create custom call groups to reach each of your departments
Every business will have different teams and departments to collaborate and manage. With business phone systems, you can customize your call groups, allowing a single number to call the extensions of all team members at the same time.
Creating separate call groups streamlines your communications. Not only can you connect with an entire department, without calling them individually, but you also allow your customers to reach the department that solves their query the best. When your customers don’t get redirected to different departments, you enhance your customer experience significantly.
The online portal will tell you how many calls have been made to each group and give details on waiting times and more so you can ensure everything is running smoothly. You can read more about how this helped a construction firm here.
Keep track of call costs and change your plan online
Business needs change over time, and so do budgets. With hosted phone systems, you can keep track of all your incoming and outgoing calls, assessing their costs to your company.
An audit of call performance also gives you insights into the efficiency of your service plan. If you are making more calls than your plan allows, you might be incurring extra charges and therefore upgrading your plan could actually save you money.
Similarly, if you aren’t using anywhere near your allowance, you can downgrade your plan to a more suitable number of minutes. Either way, the choice is yours and you have the flexibility to choose your plan with your service provider.
Many service providers will offer flexible contracts to allow you to make changes, so do check with your service provider before signing a contract to ensure you have everything you need from your plan.
Create a custom IVR
An Interactive Voice Response system allows you to create a custom menu of options for customers to interact with using their keypads.
These options can be fully personalized to your business needs and can include whatever departments your customers might need to contact. By using this system, customers can choose who they want to speak to, saving you and your agents time when dealing with enquiries.
This feature is highly professional and can make even the smallest or the newest businesses look much more established. With reliable service providers like Acefone, creating a custom IVR menu for enhancing CX is extremely simple and quick. You can read why customers prefer self-service more and how your business can benefit from it here.
You can also read more about using IVR to improve your brand image here.
Why you should choose a business phone system?
Integrated communication platform
Modern businesses need to maintain an omnichannel presence. Hosted phone systems allow agents to respond to customer inquiries quickly by eliminating the need to switch between different screens. You can read more about omnichannel strategies for business with a hosted phone system here.
Context-driven customer interactions
Context is an essential element for successful interactions. Cloud platforms quickly provide agents with relevant customer information and conversation history. This helps them prepare better for queries and personalize the interaction.
Clear and smart goals
Setting clear goals helps employees work in the right direction. Data-driven goals set using contact center solutions provide agents with a clear understanding of the parameters based on which their performance will be evaluated in the future.
In times of complex customer queries, managers and supervisors can assist team members even during lives calls. This is possible through tools such as call barging and whispering, call center scripts and more
Different agents are experts in different aspects of the product and should cater to specific queries only. The Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) feature examines caller information before deciding which agent is the best suited to attend the call
A feedback-rich culture can drastically alter how a company functions. Data-driven feedback helps agents identify performance gaps. Managers can use statistics and real-time data to resolve issues that impede agent performance
Agents should receive adequate upfront training for the tools and technology used in the contact center. Before choosing any phone system, companies should understand what employees need and how different solutions can meet those needs
Cloud contact center solutions come with features like call recording help track and monitor calls. It helps stakeholders get a hold on the quality of calls. It also helps identify weaker areas that agents may need to be trained on.
A cloud solution that fits your business communication requirements should be introduced.
Remember, a hosted phone system looks after not only inbound and outbound calls but also takes care of employee and customer satisfaction.
Why business phone systems are the future?
Businesses can no longer acquire ISDN or PSTN lines in the United Kingdom, with operations for analogue communications being set up for termination by 2025. This may seem a while away, but businesses need to be prepared for this shift.
It has been announced by the UK’s National Telecom Services provider that all PSTN and ISDN services in the UK will be switched off completely in 2025. The phase-down has begun and businesses will no longer be allowed to obtain these services. Needless to say, this is a big event with a far-reaching impact.
This move essentially brings the curtains down on the use of analogous systems and kicks off a full shift to digital communications in businesses across the world.
According to Cambridge management consulting, “the switch-off will impact an estimated 2 million UK businesses currently operating PSTN or ISDN. There is research showing that 42% of SMEs still use analogue lines for data.”
Thus, it is more important than ever for small businesses to start thinking about their communications now and in the future as well. Moreover, we have all seen how business communication changed after the pandemic; face-to-face meetings have now turned into online video calls.
Switching to a VoIP-based business phone system can help prepare your business for a future with the technology and sail through 2025 and beyond!
Upgrading your phone system can seem daunting, but can make a world of a difference, both in terms of cost-saving and operational efficiency. Cloud communications will ensure that your business is ready for anything the world throws at it.
Need any more reasons? Here are a few more
Do I even need a business phone number for my business?
With providers like Acefone, you can build a tailor-made business phone system based on your needs and assets. Here are three questions to ask yourself before making that decision.
Do my employees work from home?
The primary advantage of business phone systems is connectivity when working from anywhere, be it home or office. If you have moved your employees to a remote working ecosystem or a hybrid environment, you should definitely be considering business phone systems.
Furthermore, if your business demands your employees to stay on the field while remaining connected and updated, hosted phone solution is the thing for you.
How much equipment do I have?
It is best to take stock of the existing equipment you have so that you know exactly what you need. Furthermore, while you may be excited to make the shift to VoIP systems, there may be a few telephone lines, like the fax machine, that you may need to retain.
Identify these communication lines and retrofit them to enable them to send digital data over the Internet. Ensure that this list isn’t too big when considering the change to VoIP systems. You can learn more about the equipment used for VoIP-based technology here.
What features and benefits am I looking for?
One of the biggest advantages of a business phone systems is the number of features and the ways they can improve your business. Take Acefone for example, it offers over 75 features from which you can pick and choose the best suited ones for your business. Additionally, you can always change your plan and add or subtract features as you go. Be sure of which you need so as to choose the best possible plans that take care of all your needs.
With features like IVR and automated dialers, you can reduce the number of missed calls and by extension, missed opportunities for a business. Using a call management software, you can track agent performance and efficiency and devise a sales plan, customer experience plan and operations strategy.
That’s why Acefone has a number of features designed to make sure you never miss out on anything you shouldn’t have to.
How to choose a service provider?
Choosing a service provider can be confusing. There is a lot to keep in mind, especially for someone new to understanding and using a business phone system, which is why we made you a quick checklist of things to keep in mind before choosing a business phone system. Sign up here to download this FREE infographic.
With Acefone’s services, you and your customers don’t have to worry about anything more than dialing the number, answering the phone and attending to their concerns. We’ll take care of the rest. With 99.99% uptime and plans starting as low as $14.99 per user per month, Acefone has your back. You can get in touch with us at [email protected] and one of our experts will cater to all your doubts.
Still not convinced? Click here
VoIP-based business phone systems offer flexibility, allowing businesses to save money without compromising on call quality. They help you gather data and gain insights into agent training and efficiency, sales strategy and customer experience strategy, all while improving your brand image.
Finally, it is a system most suited to today’s post-pandemic remote to hybrid world. It lasts long, with any upgrades only requiring a software update and nothing more.
What are you waiting for?
Shrishti Mathew is Acefone’s assistant content editor. After three degrees and a year in journalism, she moved into tech marketing. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, sleeping or trying out a new recipe.