As your business grows, so does the need for multiple telephone lines. While making use of multiple phone numbers is one option, that solution can quickly prove to be impractical. As an efficient and cost-effective alternative, use one main contact number and have the calls routed to the appropriate person. If a second customer calls, the system avoids the busy signal by switching the call to another line. If it’s time to upgrade your system, you have a multitude of choices to help you manage both your incoming and outgoing calls.
Land Line Phone Systems
Landline or legacy phone systems use copper wires to connect the phones. These systems are highly dependable, but maintenance is often expensive. For small businesses without an onsite information technology team, system malfunctions require calling in a repair person, limiting communication for a significant amount of time. In general, a land line is more common in larger businesses and in areas where an internet connection is not completely reliable.
Virtual Phone Systems
Virtual phone systems complement the business with remote workers. These systems use the employee's home or cellular phone. With these systems, you can direct a call coming in to the main office number to an employee working from home, in the field or on a long-distance business trip. This is transparent to the caller. Virtual phone systems are not true multi-line systems, and businesses often pay fees for the call going through the system and for cellular minutes.
Voice Over Internet Protocol: Cloud-Based
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems are very popular many companies of all size. Cloud-based systems eliminate the need to purchase and install additional equipment. There's generally no onsite system maintenance and they're easy to expand. Businesses purchase IP protocol telephones with multiple line capacity to use with these systems and pay a flat-rate monthly fee or a usage-based fee. Since these systems are cloud-based, employees can often access voice messages and other features using their smartphones when they're out of the office.
Self-hosted VoIP systems require that you purchase and maintain a private branch exchange (PBX), but they give you more control over the phone system. They have a larger up-front fee and require an IT specialist to install and maintain the system. Depending on the service provider, you can also use a self-hosted system onsite while allowing employees the option of accessing the VoIP system through the cloud when away from the office. Call quality using either type of VoIP service is comparable to calls using a land line.
When purchasing a new phone system, you must consider the costs. VoIP systems are generally less expensive to operate than land lines. As you add new employees to your business, you’ll likely need a system that allows you to add more extensions, and you may find it necessary to add more phone lines. If you are installing an onsite system, choose one that's larger than what you currently need to ensure you have room for expansion as your business grows. Cloud-based systems provide unlimited growth potential, but a growing business may eventually reach a point when a self-hosted system would be a more economical choice.
If you need to host meetings between employees or clients that are offsite, consider a high-quality conference phone that's compatible with your phone system.
Selecting the right phone system is very important. There are many factors to consider as you choose between a virtual, legacy or VoIP system. Additional considerations include deciding between a cloud-based or self-hosted system. If your business is in a growth stage, be certain that the system you choose will grow with you. Review your options, do your research and ask others for suggestions.
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