For more information, read our blog “4 Facts You Need to Know about Phone Systems”.

Choosing a phone system even for a small business can be a difficult and time consuming task as a business owner. The number of phone systems offered in the market, not to mention their unique and special features, can make your head spin. It may tempt you to impulsively buy one just to get it over with without even checking if it’s suitable for you! Don’t’ worry! You can relax because we have made it easier for you. Before you decide, it is good to list out all the necessary features for your business to make it easier for you to cross out what you don’t need.

Before we get started identify where your business fits within the phone systems market. Here is how phone systems are categorized:

Micro business = 1-10 users
SMB (small to medium-sized business) = 11-250 users
Mid-Market = 250-1000 users
Enterprise = 1000+ users

Here are the three types of phone systems that are available for your business:

Multi-Line Phone System

This phone system means exactly what it’s called. Unlike a single-line phone system, it allows you to take several calls at a time as well as transfer calls. The most important thing to look for in this phone system is how many lines it can support which will, of course, depend on how many users you have. Other than the ability to wait, hold, and transfer calls, the multi-line phone system can also host conference calls and supports voicemails. These systems havespeaker-phones and a screen display for caller ID.

The multi-line telephone is a traditional, basic small business phone system. It is what you find in most offices but with that in mind, it means that this system relies on a landline phone network which are less flexible and portable.Sometimes, this solution is more costly and challenging when it comes to upgrades.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

The PBX is fundamentally a private phone network for the company. Instead of having the call switching and routing happen directly through a phone unit, the PBX is centralized. It has all the features of the multi-line phone system and more.

The features include:

• auto attendant
• autodialing
• automated call routing
• call monitoring and recording
• customized call menus
• hold music or messaging
• least-cost routing
• location-based routing
• customer service screen popping
• session initiation protocol
• unified communications

It is also very flexible which means it can be hosted in the cloud and can handle VoIP calls when upgraded. However, it is often more expensive and difficult to upgrade in the long run, and can be at risk of power outages.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

What makes VoIP special is that this system runs on an internet connection. It is what most new businesses use these days because of its flexibility, adaptability, and affordable price. With just a few clicks, you will avoid the trouble of installing and maintaining phone lines in your offices and business stores.

VoIP has all the features the traditional PBX system has and more:

• advanced reporting and analytics
• click to call
• instant messaging
• internet fax
• integration with CRM and other software
• log-ins from any device
• presence management
• video conferencing
• virtual phone lines for smartphones
• voice-to-text transcription

The VoIP system has given access to technology that small business owners previously could not enjoy due to prohibitive costs.

However, the VoIP system can be very vulnerable if the internet connection is weak which can result in poor sound quality and therefore, poor customer service. It can also be challenging to self-install. Getting professional help from an authorized dealer is recommended.

Depending on your business’s current infrastructure, technology needs, and comfort, a multi-line phone system, PBX, or VoIP are all solutions that can help your business communicate more efficiently.

Click here to know how to choose the right small business phone system!