You might be old enough to remember when a business phone system could largely consist of just one or two phones and one or two lines along with notepads on which to write messages to pass on. However, corporate phone systems have changed beyond recognition since those days.
This situation could throw up a lot of confusion for you, whether you have only recently set up your current business or you have been in the game for quite a while but are now considering upgrading your company’s telephony solution. What should you do? Here’s how to get started…
Get your head around some of the jargon
As phone systems have become more varied and technologically sophisticated, it’s no wonder that keeping track of all of the options can easily confuse. For example, as it’s now possible to integrate your phone system with your data network, you could consider a “VoIP” or other “IP-based” solution.
Either option would be an upgrade on – sorry to throw yet another acronym on you here – a “PBX” (private branch exchange) system, which your business might currently have. However, as this system would be limited in the number of phone lines it could give your business to the public phone network, you might prefer a cloud-based solution like the Horizon phone system by Gamma.
What are your company’s communication needs?
In carefully assessing those, you can better position yourself to select a telephony solution well-suited to those needs. You should be particularly careful to consider the extent to which your staff rely on “real-time” communication or the alternative of “asynchronous” communication.
There was once a time when the only real-time measure at an office-based company’s disposal was calling someone over the phone. However, phone systems have since been upgraded to let workers make use of instant messaging and web and video conferencing, too.
All of those would count as “real-time” methods, while asynchronous communication would cover channels like email, voicemail, fax and text messaging, as CMSWire explains. Therefore, real-time methods enable an immediacy not so easily afforded by other methods.
While inside sales workers need the ability to instantly connect with colleagues, knowledge workers might work with a higher number of internal colleagues and so be happier to use the likes of email. You can put together your own “menu” of communication methods that seem right for your firm.
How many phone lines do you need?
If you only need a couple, then a free or inexpensive VoIP service like Skype could suffice, an Entrepreneur article implies. However, resist the temptation to think that a more sophisticated service would not represent good value.
You might need such a service if you have significant ambitions for your business, as it would be ideal for your VoIP system to be capable of growing in tandem with the business itself. It could also be beneficial if that system lets you do work from various devices, reveals Small Business Trends, meaning that you don’t need to stay in your office.
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