How to Choose the Right Phone System for Your Growing Business

As your business grows, having a reliable and efficient phone system becomes increasingly important for keeping your team connected and providing quality customer service. But with so many different options available, it can be challenging to choose the right phone system for your unique needs.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to implement a new phone system for the business I was working for. We were consolidating operations from multiple locations in our busiest city to a single site, and it made sense to use that major office & warehouse move to switch from the three existing phone systems we had at the time to a single, unified system that could serve all of our needs across the business group. The project was a success, and we saw immediate benefits in terms of improved communication, streamlined call routing, and reduced costs.

However, fast forward to the present day, and the software provider we chose for our phone system is moving away from the product we selected, leaving us in need of a new solution. This experience has given me a fresh perspective on the challenges of choosing the right phone system for a growing business. So below, I’ll share some tips and insights that can help you navigate the process of selecting a phone system that can grow with your business and meet your unique needs.

Assess Your Business Needs and Goals

Assessing your business needs and goals is a crucial first step in selecting the right phone system for your growing business. It’s important to identify your current and future communication requirements, as well as any specific goals or objectives you have in mind.

One key consideration is the size and complexity of your organization. If you have a small team with basic communication needs, a simple phone system with basic features may be sufficient. However, if you have multiple locations, remote workers, or complex call routing needs, a more robust phone system may be necessary.

Another factor to consider is the types of calls you handle and the volume of calls your business receives. For example, if you handle a high volume of inbound calls, you may need features such as auto-attendants, call queues, and call forwarding to help manage and distribute calls efficiently. Alternatively, if you make a lot of outbound sales calls, you may need features such as click-to-dial, call recording, and CRM integration to help your team close more deals.

Mapping out your call flow and routing needs is also important. Consider how calls are currently routed within your organization and whether there are any inefficiencies or pain points that could be addressed with a new phone system. For example, are there certain departments or teams that need to be prioritized for incoming calls? Are there times of the business day when the call volume is particularly high or low? A good phone system should be able to help you manage your call flow and routing needs efficiently. Even a great phone system, however, will struggle to deal with badly organised operations (that is, if it can deal with a poorly organised business at all). I was once asked to make the call flow more efficient for a x6-person customer service team who didn’t want to job share. They just wanted to have “their own calls” for “their own work” (as they put it) assigned to them. There aren’t many (if any) systems that can help with efficiency if the team doesn’t want to work together.

Finally, however, determining your budget and cost considerations is an essential part of assessing your business needs and goals. There are a variety of pricing models for phone systems, including per-user pricing, pay-per-minute pricing, and flat-rate pricing. Consider which model makes the most sense for your organization and be sure to factor in any installation, equipment, and ongoing maintenance & support costs as well.

By taking the time to assess your business needs and goals, you can make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing the right phone system for your growing business.

Evaluate Different Phone System Options

Once you’ve assessed your business needs and goals, the next step is to evaluate different phone system options. There are two primary types of phone systems to consider: traditional on-premise PBX systems and cloud-based phone systems.

Traditional PBX systems are physical hardware systems that are installed on-site at your business. They typically require a significant upfront investment in equipment and its installation but may offer more control and customization options than cloud-based systems. With a PBX system, you can have complete control over your call routing, messaging, and other communication features, and you can add or remove users as needed.

Cloud-based phone systems, on the other hand, are hosted in the cloud and accessed via the internet. These systems offer more flexibility and scalability than traditional PBX systems, as they can be easily configured and customized via an online dashboard. Cloud-based phone systems are typically priced on a per-user basis and require little to no upfront investment in hardware or installation. However, you can sometimes have less control over certain aspects of your phone system, such as call routing and messaging.

When evaluating different phone system options, it’s important to consider key features and add-ons that may be relevant to your business needs. Some common features to look for include voicemail, call forwarding, auto-attendants, call recording, call queuing, and conferencing. You may also want to consider security and data privacy features, such as encryption and compliance with relevant regulations (if that may be applicable).

Another important consideration is the user experience and ease of use. Look for a phone system that is intuitive and user-friendly, with features that are easy to access and navigate. You should also consider the level of training and support that is offered by the phone system provider, as well as any additional resources or documentation that may be available to help you get up and running quickly. The amount of administrative resource your business has for your phone system and also where this resource sits, (for example is it in Customer Service or Operations or IT) can factor into decisions here. The previous business I worked for wanted the Customer Service team to administrate the phone system, but because of a combination of the phone system being a little too advanced, and the user capability in the Customer Service team being a little too inept, the responsibility ended up falling to IT, who didn’t really have adequate resource to deal with the required work to look after the phone system in-house.

By evaluating different phone system options and considering key features and add-ons, user experience, and support, you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right phone system for your growing business.

Implement and Optimise Your Phone System

Once you’ve chosen a phone system for your business, the next step is to implement and optimize it. A successful implementation involves setting up your phone system, configuring its settings and features, and training your staff to use it effectively.

To begin, you’ll need to decide on the best time to implement your new phone system. This may involve scheduling downtime for your existing phone system or transitioning to the new system gradually over time. It’s important to communicate any cutover changes or downtime to your staff and customers in advance to avoid any disruptions to your business operations.

Once your phone system is up and running, you’ll need to configure its settings and features to meet your specific business needs. This may involve setting up call routing rules, configuring voicemail greetings, setting up auto-attendants, and configuring call queues. It’s important to test your phone system thoroughly during this phase to ensure that it is working as expected and that all of your settings are configured correctly.

Another key step in implementing your phone system is training your staff to use it effectively. This may involve providing initial training sessions, creating user manuals or online tutorials, and offering ongoing support and assistance as needed. You may also want to appoint a staff member or team to act as the primary point of contact for phone system support and troubleshooting.

Once your phone system is up and running, it’s important to continually optimise it to ensure that it is meeting your business needs effectively. This may involve analysing call data to identify areas for improvement, implementing new features or add-ons as needed, and seeking feedback from your staff and customers to identify any pain points or issues.

By implementing and optimizing your phone system effectively, you can help ensure that your business communications run smoothly and efficiently and that your staff and customers are able to communicate seamlessly and effectively.

Choosing the right phone system for your growing business is a critical decision that can impact your communication and customer experience. By assessing your business needs and goals, evaluating different phone system options, and implementing and optimizing your phone system effectively, you can ensure that your business communication runs smoothly and fully to business requirements.

When assessing your business needs and goals, it’s important to consider factors such as your current and future business size, the number of employees and locations, and the types of communication features and add-ons that are important to your business.

When evaluating different phone system options, consider the two primary types of systems: traditional on-premise PBX systems and cloud-based phone systems. Look for key features and add-ons that may be relevant to your business needs, to your user experience, and for ease of use. Also, ensure you have an adequate level of support and training offered preferably by the provider.

When implementing and optimising your phone system, ensure that it is set up and configured correctly, train your staff to use it effectively, and continually optimise it to meet your business needs. By following these steps and choosing the right phone system for your growing business, you can improve your communication, increase efficiency, and enhance the overall customer experience.

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