In the past, access to feature rich phone systems for businesses was reserved only for the largest of businesses. These systems have historically been very expensive to purchase and maintain so only businesses with the deepest pockets could afford them.
Times have changed, however, and today small and medium sized businesses can easily gain access to many of the most feature rich phone systems at a fraction of the cost. Large, expensive phone systems do still exist, but today even the smallest of systems comes packed with features.
As a business owner, it is important to make the right decision when choosing a phone system. Communication is key in today’s fast paced environment and you want to be sure your business is prepared for the challenge. Maintaining contact with your vendors, clients and employees has never been more important than it is today. Before purchasing a phone system, you must consider several factors and implement a sound strategic plan to ensure the lines of communication remain open.
1. Determine The Communication Needs Of Your Business.
This is often the most difficult part of the process for any businesses. Understanding the new technology available is often hard and knowing what your business needs and/or what your staff will use can be difficult to determine. Survey your employees and learn what they wish the system did or what features they simply do not care to ever use. Take this knowledge with you as you investigate each potential phone system for your business.
2. Examine The Costs Of Purchasing And Managing The System.
All phone systems whether it is a PBX or a VOIP system can cost a fair amount of money. Before you get in over your head or spend way more than you intended, look closely at all the costs for the system. These costs include equipment, phones and even service fees for setup. In addition, you must look at any ongoing costs your business will incur with the system including maintenance agreements and internal costs of operation. Be sure you know exactly how much you are spending before you sign any agreements.
3. Analyze How Easy The System Is To Use And Maintain.
Phone systems range from very simple to very difficult to use and maintain. You want to find a happy balance between ease of use and feature sets that will help you increase your communication capabilities while remaining simple for all your employees to use. If they don’t understand it, they won’t use it, so you will waste your money if you do not ensure the system is easy for your users.
Not only do you have your employees using the system to consider, but also your IT staff, as in many cases they must maintain the system. You don’t want a system that will consume your IT staff’s time and keep them from other projects. In your search, consult your IT team and let them help you find the best system that will be easy for them to maintain.
4. Take The System For A Test Drive
You should always try a phone system before you buy. Phone companies will have demo systems setup for you to test and will almost always provide you with a list of references containing names of people and companies that use the system. Contact them and ask them what they think of the system and even request a meeting so that you may go to their business and see the system in operation first hand.
5. Create A Changeover Plan
Once you have decided on the system that is right for your company, it is time to implement the plan and adopt the system company wide. Depending on the size of your company, this can be a daunting task. Many phone companies will assist you as you plan on making the conversion to the new system and will work with you to create a step by step plan. They will even schedule around your business’ hours of operation to find the perfect time to implement the new system.
In addition to implementation of the system, you must also prepare your employees for the new system and, in most cases, new phones. Schedule a time for each of your employees to attend a training session on the new system and phones so they understand how to use the system before it is ever put in place.
Choosing the right business phone system is one of the most important decisions you will make for your business. It will ensure that you will be able to easily communicate with your employees, vendors and clients and will be one of the main systems used by everyone involved with your business. When choosing the best system, it is important to consider all of the above before you make your purchase. Following these steps will help you ensure your decision is the right one so you can get on with the work of your business.