Best Office Telephone Systems in 2021

November 20, 2021
office telephone systems - Featured Image

Modern office telephone systems are about so much more than simply making voice calls. Businesses also communicate in many other ways, including teleconferences, text messages, emails, and media messages. Many of the major office telephone systems have all, or at least most, of the aforementioned features on one centralized platform. Other services offer inexpensive base plans whose sole focus is on calling while setting aside more advanced features like software integration and collaboration tools, for more expensive packages.

Because of the myriad of options available, it’s no wonder that many business owners are confused about which office telephone system is best for their company.

We’re here to give you a guide about the most important things to consider when selecting an office telephone system for your business. 

Plus get an unbiased review of the best Office Telephone Systems in 2021. Read on to find out more.

How Do Office Telephone Systems Work_

How Do Office Telephone Systems Work?

Before you can fully understand how office telephone systems function, you first need to identify their types. The two most common types are multiline and private branch exchange. The two systems are similar, but they vary in terms of the level of complexity. 

The most common business phone system is the multi-line phone system. With this system, you get a maximum of around 8 to 10 individual phone lines, each of which is attached to a single telephone. Each line displays a single line of extension (e.g., line 1, and line 2). A multi-line telephone system needs a manual operation. 

Alternatively, private branch exchange systems, or PBX, are automated phone systems. They are typically used by larger enterprise companies. With this system, additional lines are made possible while also eliminating the need for a central receptionist.

Read more: Analog Phone System

Multiline Telephone Systems

The way multi-line works is contingent on the available options. Traditionally, each line in a multiline system will have a different phone number, and each number is published and treated as a line of its own. The receiver is notified of an incoming call. If the receiver is busy, the caller will be notified and the call will go straight to voicemail. 

Alternatively, a rollover multiline only publishes a single number and inbound calls will occupy other lines in descending order. Let’s say you have three inbound lines and two clients who happened to call at the same time. One of the calls will be placed on Line 1 while the other will be placed on Line 2. 

The two types of multiline systems are both equipped with the ability to leave a voicemail and route calls, along with speaker features that allow receptionists to notify employees about inbound calls.

PBX Basics

Similar to multiline, PBX accomplishes the same general activities but with the absence of human intervention. Inbound calls enter the system using a buffer which is an electronically-powered primary receiving area. When a client dials the number, either one of two possible actions can occur. They can either call the extension number directly or listen to an automated attendant enumerate various extension numbers where clients can select the extension they need. If the client dials the extension directly, they can skip the process and immediately connect with the respective teller.

PBX Options

PBX options enable individuals within a company to connect with each other without using an external line. This system allows employees to contact other extensions by dialing the last three digits of the number. Alternatively, PBX options require you to input an additional digit before dialing a number for outgoing calls or outside lines.

Further Reading: How Does VoLTE Work?

What should you consider when choosing a phone system

What Should I Look for in a Business Phone System?

The majority of office telephone systems are equipped with advanced features that are most of the time left unused. Understanding how to navigate an office telephone system enables you to utilize the system to its full potential. Take a look at these 8 must-have features for any office telephone system.

  1. Advanced Features
  2. Backup Telephones
  3. Customer Service Process Flow
  4. Emergency and Disaster Management
  5. Maintenance Cost
  6. Mobile Accessibility
  7. Scalability
  8. Teleconference

(1) Advanced Telephone System Features

Advanced features can either come with added fees or be built-in. Tell your point of contact all the ways you plan to use your telephone system. Will you need advanced capabilities such as automatic call distribution, software integration, call recording and the likes? Also, think about what makes an excellent customer service practice. Consider whether call distribution is better than voice-mail-jail, and be sure to ask for those features.

Related: ACD

(2) Backup Telephones

VoIP is popular among businesses for a good reason, but the problem with this system is that you could lose connection when the internet is down. As a result, your phones will not work completely. If you decide to go with VoIP, be sure to include a plan B for this scenario.

(3) Cost of Maintenance

Maintenance takes significant money from the company’s bottom line. Some telephone systems are cumbersome to maintain. Look for providers who offer easy-to-use systems that require little maintenance. If ever maintenance is needed, ask whether the vendor will support the system to keep it running. Don’t be fooled by the cost of low-end office telephone systems. It’s not worth signing up for a system that will cause you many headaches in the future.  

(4) Emergency and Disaster Management

Keeping your phone lines open in times of disaster and emergency is crucial. As a business, you must have an emergency and disaster recovery plan in order to remain afloat during an unexpected event. When selecting an office telephone system, consider how a provider can minimize downtime for your communication lines. Ask if your telephone lines can be redirected to another area. The state of your business is highly contingent on its communication lines. Make sure downtime is not the cause of your business’s downfall.

(5) Flow of Customer Service Process

Customer experience while contacting your business is extremely important. When selecting an office telephone system, consider your customers’ treatment throughout the customer service process. Do you want the initial contact to going to a central receptionist where they can press a certain digit for a specific concern? Will each department have a direct line of its own?

Related: Customer Service Process Flow

(6) Mobile Accessibility

The number of businesses that don’t use desk phones continues to increase. Many employees are smartphone savvy, are always on the go, or both. For this reason, they can’t be stuck behind their desks with a regular telephone. They need a system that goes well with the current demands of the workforce. Mobile accessibility makes workflows more efficient.

Related: VoIP Phones

(7) Scalability

As your company grows, you will most likely employ more members. Hiring additional members to the team implies adding new phones to the system. How easy or hard is it to do? Some telephone systems are cumbersome to set up if you need to add more employees. Other systems may require you to contact the provider. When picking an office telephone system, choose something that is easily integrated and has adequate expandability.

(8) Teleconference

Teleconference remains relevant among businesses despite many technological advancements available today. However, the nature of teleconference poses several challenges for your telephone system. Will you be using different phones simultaneously to join a conference call? Will you include people outside of your network in your call? 

Conference calls with several people from the same network are not an issue. Complications only arise when you hold conference calls with people out of your network. Plan ahead of time to get a well-balanced solution.


What are the Best Types of Phones for Office Telephone Systems?

Nextiva Web Screenshot Nov 2021

(1) Nextiva

Key Features:

    • Not a desk phone. Nextiva is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that can be integrated into mobile devices or computers through an app.
    • Capable of hosting a teleconference on a mobile device
    • Capable of High Definition audio and video calls. Users can make groups using links to connect to through chat, audio, or video

The VoIP Nextiva App can be combined with other Nextiva software. Nextiva has its own call tracking software that consolidates customer reports. Their app can also be integrated with other office applications such as Microsoft, Google, and others. Nextiva also offers unlimited nationwide call, fax, and text.

Image: Nextiva

RingCentral Web Screenshot

(2) RingCentral

Key Features:

    •  VoIP service that combines chat, audio, video, and teleconferencing in one platform
    •  Provides wide-band audio and HD video calling capabilities

RingCentral was one of the first companies to offer VoIP service. RingCentral offers a secure cloud-based communication system that can easily be integrated with other applications. It’s equipped with several features such as a single sign-on and automated call recording. They also offer three plans from which clients can choose.

Image:  RingCentral


Vonage Web screenshot

(3) Vonage

Key Features:

    • Cloud-based VoIP system
    •  Can implement new software and offers great scalability
    • Capable of HD audio and video conference

Vonage has an API platform called Nexmo that offers users omnichannel features for better customer service. They offer different packages with various numbers of lines. Integrating new applications with Vonage is free and requires no additional infrastructure.

Image: Vonage

PolyCom 301 Web Screenshot

(4) Poly VVX 301

Key Features: 

    • Landline and VoIP capability
    • HD audio
    •  Number of phone lines: 6
    •  3 years warranty

The Poly VVX 301 is a good quality desk phone that is perfect for managing low to moderate numbers of calls. It is packed with adequate features such as power over Ethernet (POE), and it also has a seamless user interface.


Cisco 7841_Web screenshot_Cisco

(5) Cisco 7841

Key Features:

    • VoIP Capabilities
    •  HD audio and video
    •  Number of phone lines: 4
    • 15 months warranty

Cisco 7841 ticks off all the boxes for an office phone system. It’s inexpensive and reliable, good enough for businesses with a wide variety of needs. It has an in-built speakerphone and various keys designed for different shortcuts so you can easily move around other functions. All in all, the Cisco 7841 is a good quality office phone system with a friendly price.

Image: Cisco


How Do I Setup my Office Phone System?

Setting up an office phone system can easily be done in no time. Not only do office telephone systems make your business sound more professional, but they also assist you in managing business calls more effectively. Depending on the type of phone system you have, you may be able to personalize and tweak features according to your business needs.

Here’s how to set up your office telephone system.

(1) Select a Business Phone Number

Start by selecting a toll-free number, a local number, or both. Vanity numbers are also available and can be a great asset for your company. Usually, you can connect an existing number, depending on your service provider, if you already have an office phone line.

(2) Use Custom Hold Music

Upload a custom track that your callers can listen to as they wait. You can use custom music or record a hold message. Some providers also offer an array of default hold music from which you can choose.

(3) Utilize Auto Attendant

Adding auto attendants is an easy way to make your business sound more professional. The auto-attendant will direct your callers to press a certain digit depending on the nature of their inquiry.

Read more: Why is Call Flow Important?

(4) Pre-record a Voicemail Greeting

Customize your voicemail by using a recorded greeting. Having a professional voicemail greeting lets your callers know you are not available to attend to their call. Having an effectively recorded voicemail greeting is an important part of a successful business communication technique.

Related: Parts of a Call Flow

(5) Configure the Phone

Lastly, configure your phone system according to your needs. Depending on which system you use, you may be required to download an app that connects to your desk phone. This is also the time to integrate your telephone system with any additional software.

Further Reading: How to Connect Phone to Ethernet


What Will Replace Landline Phones

What Will Replace Landline Phones?

Many business owners are still reluctant to replace their landlines. Their stance comes from the mindset – if it’s not broken, why fix it? Although you might think there is no need to change your landline because it is still serving its purpose, traditional phone lines are likely to go extinct in the near future. It is smarter to make the transition now than when traditional phone lines have ceased to exist.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provides all the features that come in a traditional landline but with better scalability and flexibility. You can easily tweak the features to adjust to your needs as you go. The maintenance cost for VoIP is significantly lower than that of legacy phone lines. Plus, VoIP comes with no installation fees and no hardware required, decreasing the system’s upfront cost.  Since you most likely already have an on-premise internet connection, why not take advantage of the cost by integrating a cloud-based telephone to your existing system? International call rates are significantly cheaper compared to traditional landlines.  

It is essential for small businesses and startup companies to take the leap and welcome new advances in technology. In doing so, they are opening themselves to better productivity and efficiency as well as more opportunities for growth. 

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