As a business owner, finding the perfect small business phone system can be a game-changer. In this article, we'll walk you through the essential steps and considerations to help you make an informed decision. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let's get started!
Evaluate Your Current Phone System
If you already have a phone system in place, take a moment to jot down what you like and don’t like about it. Consider factors such as cost, suitability for your business premises, and scalability. Understanding your current pain points will guide you in finding the right solution.
The commonest gripe we hear about is “people sounding like daleks” which means the system itself, or your broadband connection, needs improvement. Talk to us if you want help diagnosing the root of the problem.
Consider the features you require, such as call forwarding, voicemail, conference calling, and auto-attendant. Make a list of must-have features and prioritise them according to their importance for your business operations. While modern cloud-based VoIP systems offer a plethora of features, focus on the functionalities that truly benefit your workflow and productivity. When you’re running a small business and have to do so much yourself, a strong phone system with truly helpful features can turn into a bit of a magic time-saver.
Next generation VoIP phone systems are using artificial intelligence to give you all kinds of time-saving assistance that used to be for the privileged few who could afford their own PA. It’s up to you whether you think it’s creepy or wonderful to have your telephone remind you that you promised to email someone during your last phone call, book a meeting in your diary whilst you’re talking about it, and give you prompts like an autocue by looking things up in your CRM or other database so your clients think you know everything about everything.
At Flywheel we’re playing with a lot of these next gen systems and frankly we’re in love with our magic phone secretaries. Talk to us if you want to find out more or have a live demo.
Consult Your Employees
Before diving into conversations with vendors, involve your employees in the decision-making process. Talk to them about their preferences and requirements for a new phone system. Consider different phone options, including desk phones, cordless phones for specific work environments, and even “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies. Ensuring employee buy-in from the start will lead to smoother adoption.
What’s the Ideal Type of Phone System for Your Small Business?
Explore the different types of phone systems available, such as traditional landlines, VoIP, and virtual systems. Each option has its pros and cons, so it’s crucial to choose the one that aligns with your specific business needs. For instance, if your business operates within fixed working hours from a central office, a traditional landline may suit you. On the other hand, a cloud-based VoIP system might be more beneficial for flexible businesses with remote or distributed teams.
Assess Your Internet Connection
For IP-PBX and cloud-based VoIP systems to function optimally, a reliable and fast internet connection is essential. Test your internet speed and stability at different times of the day to gauge its performance. If necessary, consult your internet service provider or landlord to ensure you have adequate connectivity for your chosen phone system.
By the way, we don’t want to patronise anyone, but remember you have to repeat your speed test several times at different times of day and on different days of the week. Note down the speed, because you will notice it varies and you need to know the maximum and minimum. Whatever your internet provider promised you will probably turn out to be inspiringly optimistic!
Analyse Your Phone System Usage Patterns
Take a closer look at how your company uses its phone system. Are incoming calls frequent or rare? Do you frequently make international calls? Do employees prefer calling each other or utilise alternative communication methods like instant messaging? Understanding usage patterns will help you select a phone system that best accommodates your company’s communication requirements and works out cheapest.
If this recommendation is making your brain hurt, we can do this for you. Ask us for a Total Cost of Ownership or TCO of your current system and another one for whichever new system you’re interested in. We’ll crunch the numbers and just tell you the all-in price you would pay for any new system if you kept up the same phone usage patterns.
Consider Integration Possibilities
Check if your phone system can integrate with other tools your business relies on, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software or email platforms. Seamless integration can streamline processes and enhance productivity, especially for repetitive tasks.
Plan for Growth – you may not be a small business for long!
Consider the size of your business and its potential for growth. If you have a large staff or anticipate expansion, ensure the phone system you choose can scale effortlessly. Look for a service provider that offers flexible options to accommodate future user and feature additions.
Set a Budget
Establish a budget for your phone system and service provider. Knowing your financial limits will help narrow down your options and ensure you find a solution that meets your needs without breaking the bank.
Want to try a small business phone system before you buy?
We have business phone specialists who can organise live demos for you and explain how next-generation VoIP functionality could work in your business.