What are the best business phone systems that won’t break the bank?
If you’re looking to upgrade your communication tools, we’ve compiled the three best business phone systems recommended by businesses that are using them today. We’ve grouped them into categories: PBX, VoIP and auto attendant phone systems.
“What’s the Difference between ‘Old’ and ‘New’ PBX Systems?”
A standard PBX system includes a set of external phone lines that are all tied into a centralized server, through which all connections are manually configured. In addition, it also includes internal phone lines that allow for interoffice paging and conferencing. There are a couple of different kinds of PBX and it’s easy to think of them in terms of ‘old’ and ‘new’. The old variety is comprised of a central switchboard that houses a large number of telephone cords and cables. The new version makes use of Internet communication, shrinking the old-style switchboard into a user-friendly app that can run on any PC.
A hosted PBX can be located anywhere in the world, connecting employees and customers via the web at a cost that amounts to a fraction of the long distance charges incurred by its predecessor. Plus, many modern PBX systems include advanced functionalities like integrated web browsing, automatic call recording and integration with customer management software that enables employees to deliver the highest level of customer service from a single interface. For example, Vonage Holdings provides a hosted PBX service with a cost per user or cost per line that averages between $20 to $50 per month, a service that can include unlimited long-distance at a fixed rate.
“Why Are VoIP Phone Systems So Popular These Days?”
VoIP is one of the best business phone systems for small businesses, because most VoIP systems offer a complete range of features and can cut communication costs dramatically. Voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP for short, has greatly reduced the cost of single-line phone services and is rapidly becoming the choice for companies both large and small as they look to control costs while still providing a high degree of connectivity and service to their customers. Premiere service providers may even supplement the service by bundling this telephone system for small office with a comprehensive package of add-on services including one-touch dialing, Internet fax, call logs, call recording and voicemail to e-mail. These enhancements allow employees located anywhere in the world to contribute and participate for one set monthly fee.
VoIP also offers an addition benefit: simplicity. Where physical phone systems were comprised of complex equipment that often had to be wired-in for each user, VoIP enables users to add and remove lines with the click of mouse. And since the service is hosted online, there is never a need for software or hardware upgrades. A good example of VoIP service is RingCentral. They provide 24-hour customer support and you don’t have to purchase any special hardware. Costs range from $9.99 to $99.99 per month and they also provide free rollover minutes in some packages.
“Is an Auto Attendant Worth Its Hefty Price Tag?”
Auto attendant is a feature on some of the best business phone systems that has revolutionized the customer service industry. Where once there was a receptionist – forwarding calls with little more than a ‘hello’ to the person calling – now an automated system can answer in a variety of personalized messages and direct the call to the appropriate representative. In addition, an auto attendant phone system includes a wealth of specialized information that gets forwarded with the call, often integrated with customer management software to provide the representative things like customer name and address, billing information, order history and account standing.
Though many higher-end phone systems will come equipped with an auto attendant, these are often out of reach from a cost perspective for small- to medium-sized businesses. Instead, there are a number of services that provide a virtual auto attendant, one of them being RingCentral (as mentioned in regard to VoIP above). Another example would be Onebox. Onebox has no setup fee, no long-term contracts and also offers a free 30-day trial. Plans range from $50 to $100 per month, based on minutes.