Most Popular Small Business Phone Systems

Before you sign with a phone service provider, you’ll want to have a strong foundation of understanding about phone systems for small businesses. Go beyond simply knowing what features you want the small business phone system to have. Know the various types of systems out there. From phone systems that rely on traditional phone lines to make calls, to those that use broadband or fiber internet connections.

As far as features go, if you’re putting budget into a serious business phone system, you should be expecting to receive multiple lines, voicemail, conference calling capabilities and an auto attendant at the very least in return.

Among the choices you’ll be facing for your small business phone system is whether to get a multi-line system, a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, or a cloud-based phone system. Let’s take a look at the most popular small business phone systems options and how to determine what will work best for your small business:

Multi-line Phone Systems

These more old-school phone systems are also known as key service units (KSU). These systems use an electro-mechanical switching device that controls the routing and operation of a traditional analog telephone system. These systems are time-tested ways for you to keep the phones ringing for anywhere between five and 40 employees.

When considering how many lines your business needs wired into the office, it’s important to find a balance between not having more lines than you really need while also giving your business room to grow. If you have a business with less than 10 people, it’s also possible to take advantage of a KSU-less system in which the phone contains all the technology. This means the system doesn’t have to be permanently wired into the office space.

small business phone systems

Private Branch Exchange Systems

Private Branch Exchange Systems (PBX) are essentially private phone networks for your office that give you more advanced features and options. At Fastmetrics, the system is actually cloud-based. PBX features can include call holding, routing to extensions, and conference calling.

These phone systems are different from KSU systems in that the call routing does not occur through the phone unit or building’s wiring but is centralized. These systems, designed for companies needing to cater to more than 40 employees, used to be run on monstrous devices that took up an entire closet. Now, they can comfortably fit on a shelf.

Voice Over Internet Protocol Phone Systems

If you go with a VoIP phone system, it will run on your broadband internet connection rather than through your phone lines. When this technology first came out, it was very rough and reliability was an issue, especially as your phone system’s effectiveness was tied to your high-speed internet connection.

Nowadays, a VoIP system offers a vast number of advantages: from the ease of installation and scalability to pricing and advanced features. Among these features is a VoIP system’s ability to integrate with your customer relationship management software (CRM), which can then automatically log interactions.

small business phone systems - what is the best system for working in and outside of the office - lady working remotely with her laptop and smartphone

An IP powered phone system allows seamless communication outside of the office

VoIP systems also boast the ability to host a virtual receptionist or auto attendant to handle calls, as well as all the other bells and whistles that come with a full phone system, such as conference calls, call waiting, and voicemail. These same VoIP features are also offered by Fastmetrics’ cloud PBX solution. VoIP adoption by businesses is growing rapidly. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a projected 50 percent growth due to increased demand by small offices and home offices.

Cloud Phone Systems

The key to a cloud-based phone system is that it removes the telephone infrastructure from your office. This system will be run by a third-party company and can be hosted through either a PBX or by a VoIP system. This setup is perfect for your business if you’re on a tight or fixed budget and don’t have the IT staff necessary to operate and maintain PBX hardware or troubleshoot your VoIP system.

FREE with a new cloud-based phone system plan, Fastmetrics customers receive their choice of new Yealink or Polycom phones with business voice services. Get in touch with Fastmetrics touch to learn more.

Of course, by having a third-party company managing the system, you are dependent on its reliability as a company and you do lose a certain amount of control. At Fastmetrics, users have a much higher level of control over the standard cloud phone system, in terms of setup and customization. Nonetheless, a cloud phone system is often the most cost-effective solution for a small business and the easiest to deal with regarding scalability.

7 Small Business Phone System Feature Considerations

A lot of features that come with small business phone systems are designed to make your life as a business owner easier and help your employees to be more effective and efficient.

Here are a few small business phone systems essentials:

  • Voicemail transcriptions: This feature, which sometimes is called voicemail-to-email or voicemail-to-text, transcribes a message left in the phone system, making it easier to respond to.
  • Voicemail: Though voicemail isn’t used much in social calls anymore, people still expect to be able to leave a message inquiring about a product with a company. Though more cumbersome than other forms of communication, voicemail remains an essential feature for small business phone systems.
  • Call forwarding: This allows your employees to transfer a customer to the right department or person.
  • Call queuing: If your company faces heavy phone traffic and you have limited employees available to answer the phone, this is an essential feature to ensure that you don’t miss clients’ calls.
  • Call recording: This is a particularly important feature for businesses that review customer service employee interactions on a regular basis, as it gives you an opportunity to see how your employees are interfacing with clients.
  • Interactive voice response: This allows you to create a series of menus for your business that a caller can navigate to help them reach the representative best prepared to help them.
  • Conference calling: With more people working on the road or from their home, bringing everyone together in one place can sometimes feel impossible. However, with conference calling, you’re able to pull in everyone around the table (so to speak) and hash out ideas.

These are just a few of the most essential features you’ll want to consider having for your small business’s phone system. Other options include ring groups, directory assistance, internet faxing, call reports, call monitoring, and missed call notifications. Most phone service providers charge extra for extended phone system features but at Fastmetrics, many of these features are included for no additional cost.

Final Thoughts: Choosing Between the Most Popular Small Business Phone Systems

By having a firm grasp on all the options for small business phone systems from those hardwired into your building, to those cloud systems hosted by a third party, you’ll be able to confidently approach a phone service provider and not be overwhelmed by the options, features, and details of what they’re trying to sell you. This is important because you’ll want to settle on a phone system for your small business where you aren’t paying for a lot of lines and features you don’t need, but are still giving your company room to grow.

Have more questions about phone systems for small businesses? Get in touch with the Fastmetrics team.