Which phone system for small businesses are experts are recommending?
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In the past, a phone system just didn’t make sense for a small business. Judging by some of the small office phone system reviews online, systems were either cost-prohibitive or didn’t provide the necessary features. But with advancements in technology and the plummeting cost of telecommunications, a phone system for small businesses is now well within reach – and there are many options to choose from.
We combed through user reviews and discussion forums on places like LinkedIn, and took down the phone systems that people were recommending to small businesses. Below is a summary of what we found to be the best options.
- VoIP – Short for voice over Internet protocol, a VoIP phone system capitalizes on the practically costless power of Internet communications to provide phone service that allows you to affordably connect with customers all over the world. But it also has its limits. According to some users, a VoIP phone system for small businesses can be somewhat unreliable, dropping calls, causing system errors and providing a level of sound quality that was far below what would normally be expected of a professional business. As a result, it’s best to check out the service provider beforehand and be wary of extended contracts up front until you’re sure of the service quality.
- PBX – While VoIP phone systems can save on the cost of long distance, a PBX phone system ties everything together. Offering an extensive range of call features including voicemail, call transfer, conferencing, caller ID and an almost limitless number of add-on extensions, PBX has developed greatly from its first inception. It’s not uncommon for a PBX system to make use of the latest IP phone equipment, allowing for integrated web browsing and presentations delivered to customers all over the world through one unified system. PBX is a more traditional phone system for small businesses.
- Phone System with Multiple Extensions – Multiline is usually the way to go when looking for a great phone system for small businesses. The size of your business will determine the number of extensions required. And there’s a fine line to walk here. If you have the traditional physical phone setup, you’ll want to keep unused lines to a minimum because, odds are, you’re paying per line. But if you’re using web-based communications, those lines probably aren’t costing you much (if anything).
- Phone System with Voicemail – As mentioned above, many of the latest phone systems will come with built-in voicemail. In fact, it’s odd not to find that feature included with most packages these days. Voicemail is a standard add-on that can be upgraded depending on the system you select with functionalities that enable the actual voicemail to be transcribed and sent to you in an email or text alert. In doing so, you’re able to keep up with calls even when you’re not able to actually listen to your missed calls (during long meetings or your kid’s third-grade band recital to name just a couple of good examples).
- Auto Attendant Phone System – Replacing the front receptionist, an auto attendant is designed to route all incoming calls to the proper extension. But with modern phone systems, they do a lot more than that. Good systems will incorporate an auto attendant that allows for unique messaging depending on the number dialed. In addition, it will forward caller ID and information to the target extension, providing your employee all the information they’ll need up front to deal with the customer effectively. In this way, one auto attendant can effectively service multiple departments within a single organization or even multiple businesses within one location. It’s pretty easy to find a phone system for small businesses that also includes an auto attendant feature.
- Internet Fax Phone System – The days of paper and toner are gone (thankfully). Phone systems that incorporate Internet fax allow you to send and receive documents via email, transferring the data from the phone number directly to a specific email account. Cutting costs and providing a sustainable edge to your business, Internet fax is now the preferred option when you’re not able to simply email documents