The Best Phone System Features for 2022 – Complete Guide
Phone systems are just as important as the way you answer phone calls for boosting sales and retaining high-quality customer service.
The features of your phone system can help increase productivity, sustain morale, support customer information safety, and increase the mobility of your employees. When your organization is composed of a skilled workforce equipped with the appropriate and latest communication tools, delivering first-rate customer experience will follow suit.
In this article, we’ve picked the best business phone system features for businesses of all sizes based on their expected requirements.
But first, we want to explain what phone systems are, describe the differences in phone systems available on the market and their benefits, and share useful tips to give you a broad understanding of this vital business technology.
What Are Phone Systems?
Phone systems offer your business a means of handling incoming and outgoing calls. They help your company project a professional image and make it prosper because phone lines allow customers and suppliers to contact you with ease.
The first telephone system was installed during the American Industrial Revolution when Alexander Graham Bell developed the first working telephone over 140 years ago. It was set up in the lobby of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within a short period of time, the technology became so popular that it was adopted as standard equipment by the end of the 1900s. Soon after, several cities across the nation and Europe started to use this groundbreaking technology, eventually changing all of the world’s information systems.
Different types of phone systems
Business.com, a website for business news and resource content, explains the three basic types of phone systems. These are KSU (key system units), PBX (private branch exchange), and VoIP (voice over internet protocol). Each system consists of a hosted or cloud and non-hosted or on-premise setting.
The most basic phone system, KSU, is ideal for small businesses with no more than 40 workers serving as phone operators. The number of phone lines the system can integrate is limited and it lacks flexibility and portability. Similar to a residential phone, this system is simple to use and is composed of the most important features your business looks for. It relies on a manual central switching device (the KSU) to identify the phone-line selection.
There is also an uncommon version called the KSU-less system, which has similar functions to a basic system except that it is flexible, portable, and wireless. Although it does not use a central switching unit, this type of KSU can accommodate up to 10 phone operators and can only be accessed by request from a telephone company. This network works best on a home-based or small home office setup that has no plans of expanding the number of employees.
More sophisticated than the KSU, a PBX phone network utilizes programmable switching devices to automatically route calls. This is a recommended communication platform for an organization with over 40 employees. This automated system contains an uninterruptible power supply to keep business operations going during power interruptions.
Its latest version is called the hosted (cloud) PBX. This is different from the original one in that it’s located physically in the office or on your business property (on-premise) and the system is managed or hosted by a phone service provider.
The newest and most popular of the three, VoIP is currently the most advanced system for businesses. VoIP is a very cost-effective and easy way to regularly and economically communicate with existing and prospective clients located in a different countries. It only needs a computer and an internet connection to operate. Like PBX, the VoIP network for businesses can be hosted.
This latest technology sends voice data via the internet. The voice is automatically changed into file data, where it is compressed and turned into data packets. The packets are sent online to a VoIP provider, which converts them to voice and routes them to the other phone line.
VoIP has transformed the telecommunications sector that previously was heavily dependent on physical infrastructures, such as wires and cables. The system significantly reduces the market demand for traditional phone lines and services, which are expected to become outmoded in the foreseeable future.
A regular line or analog phone system is not required to conduct VoIP calls. This communication service allows you room for flexibility. It can let you call others with the same VoIP service or call someone who has a phone number of any type, such as mobile, local, long-distance, and overseas numbers.
How Do Businesses And Startups Use Different Phone Systems?
Online technology publication TechRadar discusses how startups and small businesses use phone systems. Among them:
Phone systems streamline business communications through integration. All of the phone functions (i.e., call logs, call forwarding, call screening, etc.) you need for your small business can be performed in a single system. The network is also easy to incorporate within online tools, such as customer relationship management (CRM) applications, Google Apps, helpdesk software, and Microsoft Outlook.
In the customer service industry, the latest VoIP phone systems are the go-to technology because they deliver features and capabilities that maximize customer service process flow.
Earning high customer satisfaction ratings is among the main goals of most service-oriented companies. Poor ratings can lead to customer loss. This is costly to companies because it is far less expensive to retain customers than to acquire new ones. Call flow is important because it helps your agents more easily manage calls, from the time they answer a call to its end. This call procedure is crucial to appropriately handle different call scenarios while providing an excellent customer experience.
One of VoIP’s call-flow enhancer features is the interactive voice response (IVR), an automated phone system that communicates with callers. It gathers information from a caller and takes an action based on the caller’s response, which can be made either by voice reply or pushing a phone keypad.
IVR is beneficial to a business because it improves the parts of a call flow. Even without live customer service agents, this feature helps route customers to the right department within your organization. When performed properly, an IVR can deal with common calls, such as bill payment, account balance inquiries, and payment planning, to name a few.
Show professional image
Presenting a professional image at all times is important for businesses to succeed. Small and medium-sized enterprises use phone systems to help them look and act in a way that helps them project competency in their industry.
Additionally, having a modern phone system indicates to existing and prospective clients that you possess the qualifications and experience to address their business concerns and needs. With the latest phone network, you can show professionalism by providing high-quality voicemail, closely monitoring a customer’s requirements, smoothly transferring calls to the right team or department, routing a call from an office phone to an employee smartphone, and offering hold music for callers.
Handing out your personal mobile phone number to current and potential clients will make you appear you’re available anytime. But sooner or later, mixing business and personal life will get in the way of your ability to maintain life balance. This scenario can pose a problem that will affect your work productivity and quality of life.
Another issue arises when your employees use their own mobile devices for work calls, company data can be put at risk. Customer contact information and other business data are then stored on their personal devices. When employees almost inevitably leave your company, they take the data with them.
To resolve these issues, organizations rely on phone systems that help employees separate work and personal calls using different phone numbers. Installing automated call forwarding rules that allow you to choose the people who contact you and how they do that is one way to keep your privacy and security as well as manage work-life balance.
Businesses use phone systems to enhance external (customers and suppliers) and internal (employees) communications. When your staff can quickly contact each other by just pressing buttons, productivity and teamwork increase.
The advanced features of a business phone network streamline resources and data sharing within an organization. For instance, integrating a helpdesk software or CRM with your phone system enables your sales or marketing employees to collaborate on all customer data instead of each member having their own list. As such, each of them will know the status of every customer because the information is available for everyone to see.
Traditional phone systems are not only expensive and bulky but also immobile because they use cables wired into a structure. Maintenance, performed by specialized technicians from external providers, adds to the expense. Relying on conventional telephone lines and mobile phones as your means of business communication is often impractical nowadays and cost-intensive over the long run.
Companies are taking advantage of VoIP phone systems due to their affordability for setup and operation. These latest platforms are mostly off-site and hosted by a third-party vendor, minimizing installation and maintenance costs. Not to mention that they have rich features regular systems lack.
Make services more available to customers
Many companies have gone beyond the practice of regular business hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) for customer service. With international market reach, businesses must make it easy for consumers across different time zones to reach a company representative, day and night.
With the latest phone systems businesses, regardless of their size and location, can use the same number of customers do. Busy signals are a thing of the past because incoming calls can be directed to another customer service agent or voicemail. Automated agents can be added to immediately answer some consumers’ questions and concerns. Such a feature contributes to sustaining a first-rate customer experience and increased satisfaction.
What Are the Advantages of VoIP Phone Systems?
Below are the reasons why you should consider switching to VoIP as your standard phone system:
- More affordable
With traditional landline phones, call rates are charged for every minute spent. Longer call time translates into higher charges. Using VoIP, unlimited calls are available at a fixed rate. The technology enables you to call your clients, suppliers, partners, or anyone else without extra charges. VoIP is considered the best multi-line phone system for small businesses by far.
Setting up a VoIP platform is more affordable than other systems available on the market. Common VoIP service costs include basic plans and no setup charges. The reason no setup fees are charged is that the VoIP provider does not install any physical hardware in your office but will instead host the service. You can access the system soon after receiving account information and the phone number or port numbers from your provider.
Basic plans are typically set at about $16 per month for each user. Rates vary based on the number of users and the subscription period. Paying a yearly subscription gives you discounts and is more cost-effective than a monthly payment
- Quick to install and mobile
You don’t need to install complex infrastructure to run a VoIP system. All you need is a reliable internet connection to operate it. Many providers can set up your VoIP-based phone network in a few days, unlike a regular phone system that can take more than a month. They also offer system updates or configurations that are accessible from your office or personal devices. This extra benefit lets you refresh the network’s condition from time to time without the provider’s assistance anymore.
Moreover, a VoIP system provides a variety of options. It does not require dedicated desk phones and permits your staff to use the service on their personal mobile devices, including smartphones or computer softphones. Features on VoIP phones specifically designed for this network are frequently upgraded and more advanced models are often released on the market. You can easily connect these IP phones to regular landline phones with the use of an adapter.
A VoIP phone is connected through the ethernet to the system of cables, switches, and routers, known as a local area network (LAN), which links to your phone service provider via the internet.
- More efficient remote working
Time tracking software provider Time Doctor says VoIP makes sure you can effectively send your instructions to the remote team regardless of their location. When your employees find it easier to work from home, they tend to spend more time at work. This leads to higher productivity and, often, more output in a given time period.
One other benefit of VoIP is that your remote staff is more focused because they are mentally more at ease when working in their own homes. A more relaxed mind means better concentration on the tasks at hand. Some reports reveal that remote working can boost productivity by up to 30 percent.
The VoIP’s video conferencing feature makes it possible for your remote team members to connect with each other when an in-person meeting is not achievable. Conducting meetings without your remote employees leaving home is easily possible. Not only is this setup more comfortable for everyone but it also saves money, time, and effort by avoiding the need to travel to a meeting.
Video conferencing likewise allows your team to stay connected while completing their tasks. It is easier for you to keep track of the workflow and status because you can contact members faster. With VoIP, work collaboration is more efficient and seamless.
- Scalable and flexible
Fancycrave, an online resource for freelancers, says VoIP systems are scalable and flexible. This network can accommodate up to three phone lines on a single number. You have the option to select from the features that you need for now and remove the ones you consider less useful for the time being.
As your business grows, you can contact your provider to request a plan upgrade that expands your phone lines and/or extra features that you believe will be important to help boost business operations. You can achieve all of these things without modifying or upgrading the hardware or equipment systems.
- Keep abreast or stay ahead of the competition
VoIP is a game-changer. It is a communication technology that allows your business to be either on par with competitors or steps ahead of the competition. The system is suitable for most types of businesses and provides capabilities that can bring your company to the next level of customer service and work productivity. Not only does it save a substantial amount of money from installation costs, but the platform also enables your small- or medium-sized enterprise to go global. With VoIP, business transactions are no longer limited by geographic areas.
What Are The Advantages of PBX?
There are two known PBX systems on the market. These are on-premise PBX and cloud-hosted PBX.
An on-premise PBX system is the traditional system and requires a physical location to operate. To install a business phone system with this infrastructure, you need to obtain equipment such as phone lines, networking hardware, desktop phones, and servers. All of the devices should be situated in your office building to run the network.
A cloud-hosted PBX system links all of your phones to a third-party VoIP data center. All that is required is to customize the system and the platform to match your business needs. The VoIP service provider that hosts your system will take care of call service and maintenance.
On-premise PBX: Advantages
One of the primary advantages of having an on-premise PBX system is greater control. The desktop phones or handsets, servers, networking devices, and other hardware parts that make up this platform are placed inside your office and at your fingertips.
You can adjust or configure the network settings on your own or fix any issues right away without the need for a third-party service provider. The hosting company will be unable to acquire the critical or core hardware components of your on-premise PBX, keeping it secured from outside intrusions.
Another benefit is the significant savings you will reap over the long haul. Provided that you have the funds to pay for the high upfront costs of the essential hardware, installing an on-site PBX system is the ideal way to go. Some standard phone lines, such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking, are shielded from future price changes or increases, reducing communication costs in the long run.
Cloud-hosted PBX: Advantages
One benefit of a cloud-based PBX is its minimal investment. There is no need to purchase high-priced equipment since the service provider will shoulder the financial costs of hardware located in its data center. The only charges incurred are the provider’s subscription fees (monthly or yearly) and the phone devices your staff use. The external vendor is also prepared with its own specialized team to handle system maintenance.
The setup cost of the phone system is more affordable than that of an on-site PBX platform. It has no installation, on-site equipment, or maintenance costs. Total expenses will depend on the subscription fee, the number of users and features, and the extra charge if you exceed your allocated minutes. The more users you have, the lower the cost will be per user.
Another advantage of this phone system is the broad spectrum of essential and advanced functions for enhanced business communications and productivity available. Some features are auto attendants, voicemail, time conditions, voice menu, email delivery, call control, and video conferencing to help keep your connections to clients and staff strong.
Customizing features to suit your business needs is not limited when using a cloud-based PBX. Unlike the on-premise PBX, this system provides a unified communication service, integrating all communication channels, including video, content sharing, voice, instant messaging, or text for more efficient employee and customer interaction.
The cloud-powered PBX platform does not need physical space in your office building or property. Since the hardware is offsite or away from your business location, you can transform the freed area in your office for a more useful purpose. Converting to a training room or expanding your workstations are two ideas for the space.
A virtual PBX network is quicker to install than its counterpart. It can be completely installed within several days. When ready, your staff can operate the system using an easy-to-use interface without the need for a system administrator to initially train them.
What gives the cloud-based PBX its edge is the flexible solutions it offers, permitting you to re-configure the network as your business undergoes changes. If your company needs to move to a new office, reduce or increase staff, or switch to remote working, the cloud-hosted PBX system can easily adjust to any scenario. Likewise, its flexibility can make you more accessible to customers or suppliers. You can connect with them from anywhere using a mobile device, such as a smartphone, VoIP phone, or laptop.
What Are The Features of Phone Systems?
Below is the rundown of the 15 latest phone system features that experts consider to be the most useful and essential to businesses of all types and sizes in the next few years. Numbers one to 10 are culled from online media Forbes while 11-15 are sourced from the digital small business resource Fit Small Business (FSB).
1. Call Forwarding
Call forwarding reroutes inbound calls to a selected separate number. This feature generally lets callers contact you through different internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, VoIP phones, tablets, and laptops. The service also makes it quicker to contact a department regardless of the caller’s or business’s location. This is made possible by service providers that use software to redirect calls to various internet-ready gadgets.
A VoIP phone system offers integration features that assist you to maximize the use of sales data while collaborating with the different team members to better serve clients or customers. Various service providers deliver CRM integrations, empowering you to review customer interactions and feedback to boost revenue and enhance customer service. This feature enables any type of organization to have centralized operations even though their businesses are being run from different physical locations.
3. Call Holding
This is a basic but indispensable feature your business should have. It holds a caller briefly so that the call recipient can have enough time to prepare before responding. Holding a call for less than a minute is recommended as recent studies reveal that most customers hang up when waiting longer over the phone. This service allows your staff to complete urgent tasks or conversations with other customers before answering the person on hold. To make this feature more effective, you should pair it with another service called music on hold or on-hold messaging for a better customer experience.
4. Music on Hold
Another basic feature, Music on Hold lets you upload and play audio files to your callers while they wait for an agent to answer their calls. Many service providers offer this option as a default feature. You can either use the selections from their libraries or upload your own music collection. This service can make a significant difference for callers. USA Business Telephone Today performed a study of a group of 10,000 callers holding to a call for 60 seconds without any music. It showed that about 52% of them terminated their calls before the minute was over. The second group of callers listened to music while waiting for a response. Only 13% hung up.
5. Auto Attendant
The auto-attendant, an automated answering service, is among the common business phone system features. This menu system assists businesses to answer and direct calls to the right department or group without the need for a live operator or real receptionist. This feature is a must-have for any organization since it helps customers easily contact the proper office branch. They don’t need to wait for someone to answer their call to be redirected. This service contributes to customer experience and satisfaction because callers spend less time waiting before being connected to the correct destination.
6. Caller ID
One of the most requested features, Caller ID is a default tool that allows you to know who is trying to contact your company. Finding out in advance who wants to reach the business gives you a few seconds to ready yourself verbally and mentally before speaking to the caller. It also offers you enough time to quickly organize any documents or files that are likely to be needed during the phone conversation. In addition, this service enables you to avoid wasting time answering trash, unwanted, or spam calls. For instance, robocalls, which are automated phone calls sending recorded messages from a telemarketing company and the like, can disturb your business.
7. Call Barging
Most service providers include this useful training tool as a default feature. It lets supervisors of call center teams overhear phone conversations between contact agents and customers. If the agent is having a hard time, then the team leader can step in and help resolve the issue. This 3-way conference allows management to monitor agents to find out the status or progress of interactions and properly address customer feedback right away. This service also provides real-time guidance to employees and enables the supervisor to step in and take charge of the call when things are becoming difficult.
8. Video Conferencing
This feature, now considered a necessity, permits you to conduct web-based audio or video group calls if an in-person meeting is not possible or is not your style of conducting business communications. Many third-party vendors provide this as part of their default features because it is becoming more important along with the rising popularity of remote working. Marketing professionals also find this an effective medium to promote their products and services through product demos. It is no longer viewed as a fancy feature because it lets you communicate with co-workers anywhere, making them more accessible. You can also use this as a hybrid function, creating conferences with employees in your office and remote workers.
This functional feature, which is mostly available from service providers for an extra fee, allows you to create call transcriptions. With this tool, you don’t have to recall every word a caller said because the transcriber will give the full conversation in print. The voice is recorded and emailed to your registered inbox, where the audio file is attached for quick download. The transcription is handy because you don’t have to go through each message in your inbox to hear relevant messages. Transcripts are also ideal when recording follow-up notes for conferences or supplying proof of words during a customer-service agent phone conversation.
10. Live Chat
A feature that many businesses regard as vital to providing a good customer experience, live chat lets callers automatically connect with you via a mobile app or a website. When using this feature, a live chat window appears either to ask customers if they need help or that can be activated with a default menu. This option gives great customers satisfaction because they feel their concerns are taken care of right away. It is also a more effective communication tool than voice mail, which most companies depend on. Most customers do not want to leave messages and prefer to call again, so this feature is an important method of contact.
11. Call Recording
This is a VoIP feature that lets you record calls to train customer service representatives or refer back to calls. Many service providers offer this tool with a premium plan. Their service level varies depending on the volume of your call records and where they are stored, or whether it is an automatic or manual recording. Some vendors provide cloud storage to free up space on your own hardware system. You can also choose the different types of this feature, whether the calls are recorded organization-wide or on a per-person basis. Call recording is valuable in customer service or sales settings because it saves important conversations for later reference purposes.
12. SMS Messaging
This useful tool lets you transmit brief text messages on your office or personal phone. The short message service (SMS) feature is another effective channel for communicating with customers, who often find this means quick and sensible. SMS can also be employed by companies that focus their marketing efforts on sending texts. Many service providers give this service for free, others charge about $10 per month for this option. Some providers temporarily disable this function when client subscription payments fall behind.
12. Call Analytics
Businesses use this feature to assist in gathering, reviewing, and reporting inbound and outbound real-time and historical call data. This tool will help you measure and analyze performance and customer experiences. It can also guide your agent with call performance and aid you when making data-backed decisions to enhance call center operations. With this feature, key performance indicators (KPIs) are monitored and visualized for better evaluation. KPIs are metrics to check progress and help improve decision-making. Call analytics are seldom offered as a default feature. They are mostly available from service providers as an add-on paid feature.
13. Call Screening
Caller ID offers the caller’s basic information that will help you decide to answer or ignore the call or direct it to voicemail. Call screening is a somewhat improved version of that. This feature also assists you in deciding about the call relevance according to the phone number. It has the ability to ask inbound callers to name themselves first and relay that detail. Spam or unwanted calls are easily eliminated while critical calls can be attended to by your employees. A standard and common feature from many service providers, call screening is ideal for staff during busy hours when valuable incoming calls should be given priority.
14. Call Flip
If you’re always on the go or your business transactions require traveling, then this feature is best for you. Call flip allows you to easily transfer a call from one device to another trouble-free. All you have to do is press a button, enabling you to answer a caller as quickly as you can without being disconnected or using call park. This is an ideal service that keeps you in professional contact with clients regardless of your location. It is useful when your smartphone or any other mobile device is low on battery and you need to switch to a desk phone or computer to continue the phone conversation. Many service providers offer this as a default feature.
What Is the Function Of Call Management Features On A Telephone?
An article on data analytics solutions provider TechTarget website defines call management as the process where incoming phone calls are directed to customer service representatives or call center agents. Directing calls can be carried out by either making the phone ring at the relevant workstations at the same time or by transferring a call to a particular employee after checking caller information.
To make work effectively, call management software routes incoming calls to the employees who are most qualified to reply to particular calls. This procedure is called skill-based routing that matches the right agent for a specific caller query.
This call management tool is vital for handling calls properly and maintaining a targeted level of customer satisfaction and experience. In a common scenario, a customer contacts a call center and is connected to a service agent. If the agent lacks the general or technical knowledge to address the concern or issue, the caller is transferred to a more competent individual. The process is performed to avoid many customers hanging up, a situation that can adversely affect the company’s image in the short run and its revenue in the medium or long term.
Call management software: Types of routing
Customer effort or integration into the company’s systems are two ways to route calls using call management software. The common form of routing the tool uses is by hunt group, which transfers a phone call to all employees who are free to take the call. It can likewise forward the call to the representative who is the least busy and has the longest time available. Using skill-based routing, a call can be dispatched to the agent best suited to take care of a particular call using one of three commonly used methods.
The first method routes call by DNIS number. A Dialed Number Identification Services (DNIS) number is the phone number a customer dials to call a company. With this method, every business has separate numbers for each product or service. A call management application can identify a DNIS number’s call location, and then either put that call in a queue or send it to an agent specializing in the particular product or service the number supports.
The second way is to route calls via ANI or Automatic Number Identification (ANI) number. Call management software can get into a database to check if it has the ANI number. If it does, then the call management network then sends the call to a specific queue or person to properly address the customer’s concerns. For instance, the software searches the database and finds a customer is behind on bill payments. Through specific routing rules, the application sends the call to an agent trained to remind the customer and follow up on the payment.
Routing calls through customer identification is the third method. Callers contacting your business are first met with a friendly welcome and requested to provide identifying details, typically a phone or an account number. After the caller gives the information, the call can be directed in different ways. It can be routed to a specialist agent tasked to collect payment if the customer’s account is past due, to a foreign language-speaking agent who can communicate with a non-English caller, or to an agent trained to upgrade a product if the customer’s recent purchase is outmoded.
Regular call management functions
The main advantage of the call management system is that it helps achieve the first-contact resolution since customer calls are directed to the agents who are best suited to address their concerns. The system can gather call statistics such as calls handled, calls offered, calls dropped or abandoned, and service levels. The data is essential to evaluate work volume and help design agents’ needs down the line. Below are some call management features.
- Call presentation. This feature enables the call management system to direct a call and forward it to a service representative for a response. The call is delivered to the agent in different ways. Among them: the call simultaneously rings at many workstations until an employee takes it; the call rings at a specific workstation and does so until the agent answers it or reroutes the call to another terminal if no one answers; the call does not ring and is sent directly to the agent’s headset.
- Call recording. This refers to recording the entire or a portion of phone calls so that customer service officers can listen to and review them. The officers offer instructions or feedback to the service agents to enhance performance.
- Reporting. This function allows the call management system to offer real-time and after-the-event reporting aimed at measuring the call center’s and agent’s performance. The live report appears on the dashboard, showing such information as the number of calls in queue, agent status, number of agents on calls, number of calls answered and offered, average handle time, service level, to name some.
What other features have been introduced to office phone systems?
Many VoIP providers and network operators recently introduced new office phone system features or technologies to the market to further meet the growing and complex needs of various customers. Below are some:
Voice over LTE (VoLTE)
VoLTE Evolution provides seamless wireless communications service supplied over IP via LTE Network. This technology needs less bandwidth than other broadband connections and consists of three times the data and voice capacity of the 3G network, giving users a high-definition calling experience.
VoLTE works through the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architectural framework that uses both mobile and fixed-line networks. The IMS platform makes a high-quality calling experience possible.
Many network operators depend on GSM/CDMA or the regular circuit switch to send voice calls and data services. Other calls are transmitted through IP-based networks including 3G, 4G, and LTE. These channels do not function together, which means that you can’t browse the internet and talk over the phone simultaneously.
With VoLTE, voice calls are sent as packet data similar to Skype messages, emails, and other internet-based messaging apps. It also uses certain integrated technologies to conduct calls. These are the device model, the device firmware version, mobile network provider, and VoLTE signal coverage in place, to name some.
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS)
According to TechTarget, UCaaS provides communication and collaboration services through a cloud delivery system.
This cloud platform offers various features, such as video conferencing, telephony, presence technology, enterprise messaging, team collaboration, and online meetings. The service is best suited for organizations that need flexibility and scalability for their core business operations. UCaaS providers likewise deliver contact-center services. Among them are: interactive voice response (IVR), customer relationship management integrations, call routing, and auto-attendant.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) rely on UCaaS to minimize the capital and operational costs involved in implementing their own unified communications (UC) system. SMEs were the first to take advantage of this service due to their limited staff and resources to invest in on-premises UC. BIg companies followed suit when they found this technology supported their different global locations.
UCaaS’s higher scalability and flexibility enable companies to easily add and remove users, such as seasonal employees, without significant infrastructure modifications. Since its capabilities remain the same wherever its users are, this is ideal for helping remote and mobile workers maintain a consistent communication experience.
Artificial intelligence-powered customer service
Technology experts say artificial intelligence (AI) has helped many industries, including business processing outsourcing (BPO) companies, to enhance service delivery. This is achieved by offering self-help options that guide customers to speedy solutions to common issues without the need for them to talk with live call center agents. This technology in turn allows agents to attend to more pressing and complex customer concerns. AI is already being used through bots that can anticipate customer behavior and perform faster than humans on specific tasks.
FSB says more third-party vendors have already offered AI-enabled VoIP features for their communication services. One company recently launched a service that integrates speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP), a type of AI in which computers analyze and understand human language. Another service provider is set to use AI-based VoIP technology to improve customer experience by tapping into knowledge management and business intelligence. This service will give customers a higher self-service capability, thus helping agents resolve their customers’ questions faster and more effectively.
Wi-Fi 6 and 5G
FSB adds that a new Wi-Fi standard called Wi-Fi 6 is poised to dominate the high-speed internet connectivity landscape. This latest option is an improved version of the current one in that it decreases traffic on the wireless internet, making this the most suitable connection for mobile VoIP-based devices. It also prolongs the battery life of mobile devices, a feature that common Wi-Fi standards lack.
Some service providers already deployed this advanced wireless system to help handle their mobile VoIP traffic. Wi-FI 6 provides higher bandwidth over mobile connections, allowing service agents to connect faster and more easily with smartphones and laptops. Employees no longer have to rely heavily on workstations and desk phones to communicate.
Another emerging wireless technology is 5G, which can replace Wi-Fi 6 in the foreseeable future since more companies are adopting the fifth-generation platform and successor of the 4G network. Experts say the network’s first-rate efficiency will bring communication services to a higher level because it delivers higher definition video, fewer or no dropped calls, quicker data transfer, and better connectivity for mobile devices.
What Should I Look For In An Office Phone System?
When looking for an office phone system, business technology experts recommend choosing most or all of the features below to maximize your investment and office productivity.
- Auto-attendant – also called virtual receptionist, this feature automatically routes callers to an extension without the need to talk to a live operator or receptionist.
- Speed Dial – this allows you to place phone numbers into the device’s memory for easy and convenient dialing by pushing a few buttons. This is a practical service for use during peak hours.
- Do Not Disturb – a useful tool to have, especially when you don’t want to be interrupted in the middle of work. You can automate your system to direct calls to voicemail while you’re tied up.
- Conferencing – this feature allows you to do away with in-person meetings. You can set up your conferences over the phone with the phone’s 3-way call feature.
- Voicemail to Email Transcription – converts voicemail messages into texts, which are then transmitted to email or SMS. This service lets you quickly read the message rather than listen to it.
- Telemarketer Block – also known as call blocking, this feature allows you to stop or block inbound phone calls from unwanted telemarketers and robocalls.
- Distinctive Ring – this allows you to select a unique ringtone for a specific number. You can choose from a variety of ringtones for personal, business, and other purposes.
- Call Hunting/Find-Me/Follow-Me – a service that lets you take a phone call from anywhere you find yourself. You can make two or more phones ring simultaneously by using a simple program.
- Virtual Phone Number – a useful feature in which you have a separate phone number that is not associated with a telephone line. Using this number helps decrease charges for your long-distance or international calls.
- Softphone – this application lets you make phone calls through the internet with a computer. These tools are faster and easier to install than VoIP systems.
- Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) – this feature allows callers to connect to the most qualified agent or customer experience personnel who can help them according to their specific needs.
How Do I Set Up A Small Business Phone System?
Setting up an office phone system is something that you will more than likely do at some point for your small business communication needs. We’ll give you some pointers on how to install this essential system to help you save money, energy, and time.
First off, you have to choose which type of phone network to install. There are currently two common types: the two-line phone system and the multi-line phone system.
Take a pick: two-line or multi-line phone system
A two-line phone system pertains to your regular phone having two lines. It lets more than two callers be on a phone simultaneously rather than one caller and one recipient. A telephone jack is needed to install this system in your home office or small business. The jack is where the phone cord is attached. This phone part is connected to the wall jack that links to the telephone service provider’s cable systems found outside your office or house.
A multi-line phone system operates similarly to a regular phone except that it is designed with two or more lines. It permits several callers to be engaged on a phone at the same time using a single phone line. The callers can be anyone, including customers, clients, suppliers, co-workers, or business partners. By contrast, regular phones are built to let only two parties – a caller and a receiver – interact simultaneously.
To determine the ideal multi-line phone system for you, contact different phone service providers and ask about their products, services, and plans. Then compare the information you have gathered from them.
Other types of systems, which are PBX phone system, VoIP phone system, KSU, and cloud-based phone system, are all explained above. But either the two-line phone or the multi-line phone type is probably best suited for your small business.
Choose a service provider, phone number, and features
After learning more about the specific type of phone system you want to acquire, select a phone service provider that can address your business needs. Evaluate each phone company on your shortlist and carefully study each of them to know what they can provide for you.
Next, choose a business phone number. Picking your number will be based on the nature of your business and your preferences. It is recommended that you select office numbers that are customer-convenient and easy to recall.
Last, select the phone features you think boost communication efficiency, staff performance, and office productivity. With the right phone system, business operations will improve and contribute to sales and revenue increases.
How Do I Get A Landline Phone For My Office?
FSB explains the ways to help you set up a landline phone for your office.
The first step is to review your business requirements. You should identify at the onset why you still need a landline phone system instead of having the feature-rich but affordable VoIP phone network.
Ask yourself specific questions to determine the reason for getting traditional desk phones. Is the reason being that landlines will not require additional expenses such as upgrades and the like aside from one-time installation costs and fixed monthly rates? Do you find a few of its features still useful such as a fax machine to send paper documents? Or do you feel secure in the thought that landlines work even during a power outage or when your internet connection is unreliable and slow?
The second step is to make a budget for your landline phones. The monthly cost of this system is between $40 and $75 per line. There are other points to consider when developing a budget. These include extra desk phones so callers will not receive a busy signal, per-minute costs for long-distance or overseas calls, on-hold music or messaging, number and brand of telephone devices, a number of voicemail boxes, call recording features, intercom function, and conferencing capabilities.
The third step is to do your research and contact your local telephone service companies. With more businesses switching to VoIP systems, finding providers in your area offering traditional landline services might be less easy than previously. To help you locate these companies, use your preferred search engine (Google, Bing) and type in the search box “business landline service in my area.” Web browsers can detect your current location and will show relevant results or information. When you find some providers, check their websites for service availability.
The fourth step is to learn the setup requirements and charges. Landline providers offer different processes and fees for their services. Ask them first for details about the hardware or equipment needed, wiring costs, the total number of phones to install, and other devices included such as voicemail boxes.
The last step is the initial testing. The installation crew will work on the wiring and make wall outlets for the phone’s modular plug. When done, you can then easily connect the telephone cable to the phone jack and put the power adapter into an electrical outlet or socket. Afterward, try your new phone by using a phone receiver and punching an office extension. You can also call your latest office number from a smartphone to check if the phones already work. When they ring and light up, that means that you can start making calls.
Do I still need a landline phone?
Yes. Although they are regarded as traditional communication devices and decreasing in number, landline phones still have benefits that you can enjoy.
An article on the Forbes website says landline phones offer convenience. When your office or home is equipped with corded and cordless landline phones, there’s no need to carry your smartphone around all the time. A call can be answered quickly by picking up the nearest desk phone.
Another advantage is comfort. Going through many years of ergonomic research, the landline phone is built with number pads and buttons that offer comfortable and accurate dialing. The bent handset is precisely designed with a receiver that can be snugly placed near the user’s ear and the microphone just close enough to the mouth. The design minimizes background noise and maintains hand support during a long phone conversation, features high-tech smartphones currently lack. Their thin, rectangular-shaped body where the touchscreen rests is ergonomically inferior compared to desk phones. It’s not uncommon to see users talking loudly with their mouths almost touching the base parts of their mobile phones with the top portion pointing upward.
Better call experience is what gives landline phones the edge over other phone devices. They rarely encounter latency issues, which refers to the voice delay of a speaker before the listener hears it. Smartphones also struggle with dropped calls when the phone signal is poor mainly because of the caller or receiver’s current location. Latency issues and dropped calls prevent a courteous and smooth phone conversation.
Last but not least, the reason to get your own landline phone is safety. It can serve as a backup phone when an emergency arises and is a reliable supplementary gadget when mobile phones are unavailable. In addition, this traditional telephone device offers dependable calling solutions in areas where the broadband connection or cell phone signal is low or hardly accessible.
Experts say that when choosing phone system features, you have to more or less align them with your business goals. Do you want a better customer call experience? Or a smoother team collaboration? Or higher overall productivity?. Knowing your priorities is mandatory to get the most out of your investment.
It’s also essential to involve everyone in your organization, from customer service staff and IT employees to the officers, executives, and stakeholders. Each can offer insights that contribute to finding the right business phone features. As much as you can, allow all the departments, especially those that drive sales and revenues, to participate in helping to make your decision.
Choosing the best features for your business will not only depend on internal elements but also on external factors. The market is teeming with phone service providers that offer a wide variety of products and services. It’s therefore important to do your research on these companies and check everything. It’s up to you to review which one will best suit your company.
In sum, here is a quick list of tips when looking for the right service provider for you: scrutinize pricing and plans, call management, customer mobile applications, collaboration tools, third-party integrations, channel support, product scalability, and flexibility.