Once upon a time, a company phone line would only accept and make calls. Today, the concept of VoIP 2.0 hosted business phone services only having a sole purpose is strange. Unified communications mean that a seat license comes equipped with a host of features, including:
- Combined messaging (Text, email, chat)
- Video conferencing
- Mobility options, such as call and voicemail forwarding
- iPhone IOS, Android, and Desktop Apps
- Advanced call routing with Company or Personal auto-attendants
As a result, the amount of choices is higher than ever, which is a gift and a curse. Although your company stands to benefit from greater flexibility and enhanced user experience, you have to decide which phone system is suitable. Otherwise, it’s a waste of resources and money.
With so many options to choose from, you need a framework that helps you sort out the essentials from the non-essentials and the indulgences. Carry on reading to learn more about the features that you can’t ignore.
The Features of Small Business Phone Services
Your phone connection is always the most critical place to start your journey because your decision will impact everything else. There are two main options: a traditional standard landline or an internet based VoIP connection.
Most people know what a traditional landline is, but what’s a VoIP connection? Essentially, it’s a piece of software that provides all the features you get from a regular phone line, and more, without the need for dedicated lines and physical hardware. A VoIP system uses your company’s network to ensure a reliable connection that’s more affordable and accessible regardless of a person’s location.
However, if you’re not comfortable with new technology, you may prefer to mix technologies to strike the perfect balance.
Virtual Small Business Phone System
Many VoIP phone service providers offer users the opportunity to invest in a virtual system. Now with the rise in remote work a VoIP system is the answer. 70% of global employees work from home or a coffee shop at least once a week, so it’s essential to implement the tools that allow workers to improve their balance between life and work and be more productive.
A virtual phone system does this by diverting calls to your company’s number to employees’ work devices. As a result, there’s no requirement for staff to be on the premises since they can be contacted at home or on the road. Not only does this make the user experience better, but it opens up the business from an ideas perspective.
With fewer borders limiting recruitment, you can hire people from around the world to share information and create industry-leading policies.
The Cost of a Small Business Phone Service
Never be ashamed of considering the expense before signing on the dotted line. After all, part of the reason business phone solutions have become popular in recent years is affordability. Therefore, your cost structure – how much you’re willing to pay – will affect everything from the host to the connection and system you pick.
For example, you may find traditional phone lines too expensive since a typical fee can be more than one-thousand-dollars depending on the amount of lines needed. This is because it involves:
- Phone System (PBX)
- Installation and maintenance
- Each Feature costs more money
- Dedicated cables in the building for the phones to connect to the PBX
- Expensive Long Distance Charges
- Most small PBX systems do not need the new 911 rules so upgrades are required
- Programming changes require a technician to be dispatched to the site to connect a laptop to use proprietary software to make changes
VoIP systems use the cloud, so there’s no reason to spend so much money upfront. Instead, there’s a flat fee for monthly use. Therefore, you have to work out if that will cost you more in the long run than a full installation service. Some benefits of a VoIP service include:
- No expensive PBX is required
- Installation uses your existing network and is programmed remotely or onsite using a simple web interface
- Most features are included in the package price
- Phones are connected to the existing network wiring
- Long Distance is included or very inexpensive depending on the package chosen
- New features that are released or required are included and upgraded in the cloud with no cost to the customer
- Programming and support is generally included in the monthly package
Small Business Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools will dictate whether you stay with a traditional phone system or upgrade to a more modern version. This is because VoIP software allows people to work as a team due to the features it implements.
A prime example is instant messaging. VoIP solutions are equipped with instant messaging services, allowing co-workers to communicate quickly and effectively at the touch of a button. They also use conference calling and web conferencing techniques, as well as notifications that highlight when a person is available, busy, or away from their work station.
If you want to take on the hosting duties, you should opt for a physical PBX system as it is stored on-site and requires you to take care of any glitches and upgrades. On the flip side, cloud-hosting means that the usual PBX tools are off-site.
Not only that, but they aren’t your problem as the VoIP provider takes on the responsibility regarding upgrading the network and system, and ensuring your data is safe and protected. The great thing about VoIP software is that it can be stored in either manner.
However, a traditional PBX has to be on-site and can’t be stored in the cloud.
The key is to write down your needs and wants and to reference them against the features offered. Then, you’ll be able to see what you can afford and how it’ll impact collaboration, teamwork, and communication protocols.
Red Mountain Technology Solutions can provide you a breakdown of the cost and benefits of either system. Contact us at 435-627-2990 or red-mtn.com to see how we can help.