Q: What kinds of businesses benefit most from a good phone system?
A: All businesses can benefit from a good phone system. That doesn't mean that all businesses benefit from the same type of system, however. Communicating with your customers and clients in a professional manner is critical for businesses today. That's why relying strictly on mobile devices can cause problems for businesses. You want to give your customers a great impression of your business. A greeting from an automated attendant is a great first step; it shows that your business is a legitimate operation.
That's why businesses that don't need a traditional office phone system should consider investing in a virtual phone system. These systems allow businesses to present that professional image while still relying on their mobile devices as their main communication tools. Virtual systems include automated attendants and a host of other valuable features. In addition, when you make outbound calls, your business number, not your mobile number, is displayed to the person you are calling.
For larger businesses, business phone systems not only allow you to present a professional image to your customers, but also give your employees all of the communication tools they need to do their jobs. Access to mobile apps, which allow them to take their business lines with them wherever they go, and video conferencing services ensure your staff can connect with anyone, regardless of where they are and how they want to communicate.
Q: What is unified communications?
A: Unified communications is the ability to access all of your communication tools from one platform. Many of today's business phone systems are unified communications systems. While these systems still offer traditional phone service, they also include other communication tools that professionals now rely on.
The additional features in unified communications services include audio conferencing, video and web conferencing, instant messaging, and text messaging. Previously, in order to have all of these communication tools, organizations had to use a different service provider for each. Unified communications streamlines the process by allowing you to access all of these tools from the same provider. This not only boosts production among employees, but can also be a significant cost-saver for businesses.
Q: What is the best business phone system?
A: Since every business is different, it is hard to say that one business phone system can fill everyone's needs. That's why our recommendations for the best business phone systems are based on different use cases, like best for small businesses, best for remote employees and best for call centers.
For each use case, we looked at the functions and tools that type of business would need from a phone system. We then compared and contrasted the various phone system providers based on those criteria.
After our research, we recommend 8x8 as the best business phone system for small businesses, Ooma Office as the best business phone system for very small businesses, RingCentral as the best business phone service, and Grasshopper as the best virtual business phone system.
You can read specifics on each selection in our in-depth reviews, and you can see more details on how we selected them below in our Methodology section.
Q: When is the best time to invest in a good phone system for your business?
A: In today's highly competitive market, there isn't a bad time to invest in a business phone system. There are so many providers out there trying to land customers that they are always offering some sort of discount or incentive to sign up. This could be a few months of free service, free phones or discounted rates.
That being said, we have noticed a lot of providers seem to ramp up their incentives near the end of each quarter. As they close their books on the quarter, most providers want the best numbers possible, so they look for anything they can do to add some more clients before the month flips over. You might want to consider that timing before you start talking to providers.
Q: What is the difference between a business phone service and a business phone system?
A: There aren't many differences between a business phone service and a business phone system. Both provide you with all the tools you need to effectively communicate with those inside and outside of your office.
To judge business phone service, you look at how well the system runs. Is the phone service reliable? This is especially important for cloud-hosted PBX systems. Traditionally, business phone services were all based on landlines. Reliability was rock-solid because everything was hardwired, and you weren't dealing with the internet. Today, as cloud-hosted PBX business phone systems become increasingly popular, finding a business phone service that offers the same reliability as a landline system has become crucial.
One of the key factors to determine reliability is uptime statistics. Uptime is how often a cloud-based phone system is up and running. One of the most important elements of a business phone system is that you can pick up the phone and make a call whenever you need to and that whenever someone is calling you, they can get through. The best business phones services and systems have uptimes of 99.999%. This means that service is down for just a handful of minutes each year. Some business phone service providers go as far as to guarantee their uptime – if it ever falls below a certain threshold, they will reimburse you.
Q: What are the main differences between phone systems for small businesses and phone systems for large businesses?
A: What makes today's cloud-hosted unified communication systems so appealing to small businesses is that they provide the same functionality as systems that large businesses use.
Before the advent of VoIP and cloud-hosted solutions, large businesses were typically the only ones that could afford the expensive onsite equipment for a robust phone system with a wide selection of features, like automated attendants, extension dialing and call queues.
VoIP, specifically cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems, have leveled the playing field. There is no longer an expensive point of entry required, so small businesses can easily implement these systems in the same way large businesses can.
One difference might be the service tiers small and large businesses choose. While small businesses might choose a lower-tiered plan that doesn't offer every feature under the sun, larger businesses may be able to afford the more expensive plans that give them access to everything the phone system provider offers.
Q: How much does a phone system cost for small businesses?
A: The cost and the pricing structure of a small business phone system depends on where the system will be hosted. If it is hosted in the cloud, all you have to worry about are ongoing monthly fees for each user. Prices are typically $10 to $60 a month per user, depending on how many features and tools you want.
If you want to host your business phone systems on-premises (inside your physical business location), you need to plan for one-time upfront costs. For all of the equipment and installation, you can expect to pay several thousand dollars. In addition, there will likely be recurring monthly payments for your actual calling services.
Q: How do you set up a small business phone system?
A: A huge benefit of today's business phone systems is how easy they are to set up. VoIP systems are completely managed from an online portal. Administrators can log in to the portal to assign phone numbers and extensions, add new users, delete users, and turn features on or off for individual users. You can access this portal from anywhere with an internet connection.
Q: Who benefits most from VoIP office systems?
A: Employees are the ones who can benefit most from a VoIP business phone system. These systems provide employees with tools to facilitate all of their communication and collaboration needs. Voicemail-to-email, call recording, instant messaging and call forwarding are some of the valuable tools employees can access.
Additionally, VoIP systems allow tons of mobility. Many offer their own mobile apps that give workers the freedom to make and answer calls to and from their business lines via their mobile devices. This helps ensure they never miss an important call.
Small business owners also are huge beneficiaries of VoIP office systems. These systems give small businesses access to tons of features and tools that were previously only affordable for larger organizations. The ability to install these systems for a relatively low price is a huge advantage for small businesses.
Q: Can you use a VoIP phone as a regular phone?
A: Technically, there are IP phones and analog phones. Most of today's VoIP phone systems use IP phones. These phones plug directly into your internet router and are essentially ready to start making and receiving calls at once.
In order to use an analog phone with many of today's VoIP systems, you need a special adapter that allows these phones to connect to your network.