Telephone systems have been providing a vital service for businesses of all sizes for decades. Call handling has matured and is now intertwined with the daily process of running a business. Practices vary by country or region depending on office culture and user expectations of how to manage communication between customers, workers and managers.
Industry statistics suggest the average business phone system can last anywhere between six and eight years, after which the system is either out of maintenance or is lagging in features and more often than not hurting the performance of the business. Businesses that need to upgrade their existing phone system will find a huge array of new solutions available compared to seven or eight years ago.
For starters, new software-based communications solutions do not need dedicated hardware in the server room or IT office anymore, because the entire system runs in the cloud. In many instances, ‘hard phone’ such as your desk phone are not even required. New phone solutions often include a ‘soft phone’ or ‘client’ that runs on many different devices, such as your PC, tablet or smartphone.
Modern phone solutions no longer offer just ‘voice’. They have transformed to offer a range of unified communications (UC) capabilities such as instant messaging, presence, video calling, collaboration tools and mobility solutions, all designed to keep your business at maximum productivity.
When you come to buy a new phone system, it is easy to simply go out and buy a like for like replacement but doing so means you are missing a golden opportunity to bring a range of powerful new capabilities to your business. Before you start looking at different phone system options, think carefully about what you need.
Here are a few questions: you should ask yourself:
- Missed calls How many phone calls does your business miss because the call either goes to someone who is out of the office or all the lines are busy?
- Disparate systems Do you have different systems in different offices resulting in features that do not work the same causing confusion or cannot easily transfer calls between sites?
- Infrastructure maintenance Is your phone system a vital organ in your business, and if it goes down, you do too? Have you suffered a network or equipment failure that has stopped inbound and outbound calls? Do you worry about having to find spare parts if the phone system goes wrong?
- Fluctuating & fraudulent Expenses Are you worried about unexpected bills with tiered minutes pricing or high International calling costs? When you bought your last phone system, do you think you got a good deal or did you find hidden costs after you bought the basic system? Do you want to avoid hidden costs with maintenance of the system this time around?
If you have identified with some or all these questions, you are not alone. They are some of the most common issues we see today in the business world when it comes to replacing a phone system. Chances are you will need to prioritise these questions into the ones that are most important for your business.
How will a modern phone system benefit my business?
With so much information available to us it can be frustrating to get lost in the jargon of technology with people espousing acronyms about features that may or may not make sense to you. So, let’s try to narrow down your new phone system into some key areas:
- Cost Will this phone system save me money? Most cloud phone services come with a fixed minutes and user plan. You pay a certain amount for the user and the minutes come with it.
- Flexibility In the cloud, you just buy what you need – no more, no less. If you need more capability in the future, you just add it. You only pay for what you use today and add more users as your business grows.
- Disasters With a cloud-hosted phone system, you can work from anywhere. Everyone can decamp down to the nearest office, home or coffee shop and continue working just as normal. Your customers will never know the difference.
- Consistency Cloud-hosted telephone systems all work the same everywhere. Your offices, mobile workers and remote workers will all have access to the same powerful range of features.
- Usability Integrate with your IT systems so you can simply click to call out of a web page or directory listing. These systems can be integrated with major cloud-based CRMs and customer support applications enabling your business to become more efficient.
- Professionalism Enjoy a large array of features that, until recently, were only available on very expensive systems used by large organisations. Ensure you provide a highly quality customer experience by having auto attendants, hunt groups and a range of other call routing features, so that you always look totally professional to your customers.
- Productivity You can implement a range of productivity features that allow your current staff to communicate and collaborate much more effectively than before, thereby improving the overall productivity of your business.
- Mobility If your business is increasing its mobile workforce, you need to ensure they are always connected to the office. Cloud-hosted phone systems ensure the mobile worker is always connected to the central nervous system of your business.
- Maintenance Most cloud-hosted phone systems are managed through secure easy to use web portals, which negate the need for specialist’s skills. They were designed to make your life easy and just keep running 24/7 so you don’t have to worry about the costs or waiting for the telecoms man to come and find something.
You can find a downloadable version of this article in our whitepaper Moving to a new business phone system or you can read about one of our cloud-hosted solutions deployed for UNIFORM-Agri.