Buying the right business phone system can contribute to the future success of your company. No, really, hear us out. It can mean hiring less staff, winning more contracts and help you save time, money and effort - if you choose the right one. Plus, it’s one big headache put to rest so you can focus on something else. Here are 10 questions to ask before choosing a small business phone system.
The questions you ask can be divided into two: questions to ask the provider and questions to ask yourself about your business.
Questions to Ask the Provider:
1. What’s the contract length and is it flexible?
2. How much will it cost in total?
3. Are there a range of plans and features?
4. What platforms can your phone system run on?
5. How long will it take to get up and running?
6. Will my team be able to adapt to the new system quickly?
7. What support features are available?
Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Business:
8. Will the phone system cater for my business growth?
9. What’s my budget?
10. Can my remote workers use this system?
1. What’s the Contract Length and is it Flexible?
One of the main things you need to think about before choosing a small business phone system is how long the contract is and their flexibility. The ideal provider should offer a range of flexible contracts because the market (like your business) is constantly changing and you never know when you might need to upgrade again.
If you have limited flexibility, something as simple as your business phones could hamper business growth.
2. How Much Will it Cost in Total?
Look out for hidden costs, such as charges for installation and admin fees, long distance calling hikes, early termination fees or even rates for receiving calls.
You need to find out if there will be any extra charges that aren’t included in the advertised price so you don’t unknowingly end up going over budget.
3. Are There a Range of Plans and Features?
When you’re researching different plans and their features, consider which ones would be most useful for your company and how much you actually need them. The best providers will offer options suitable for a small business now and in 12 months time when you’ve doubled in size.
4. What Platforms can Your Phone System Run on?
Business phone systems have evolved beyond the traditional landline. Rather than having desk phones in the office, many businesses use internet-based systems. Internet-based phone solutions allow companies to use a computer program or smartphone app instead.
A modern alternative to the desk phone, internet-based phones can be activated as soon as the app’s set up and also means your staff can make and receive calls anywhere they’re online.
However, before you jump into this type of solution, you need to make sure that the app can run as part of your tech stack. For example, will it hook up with your CRM?
5. How Long Will it Take to Get Up and Running?
Switching phone systems can be a hassle - especially when everything’s set up but you’re waiting for the phone line to switch over. Just getting through to speak to somebody sensible is hard enough.
That’s one of the great things about phones using the internet: you can easily register online. There are no hardware installations involved nor do you have to wait for the phone line to switch over. As soon as the app’s downloaded and set up, it’s good to go.
6. Will My Team be Able to Adapt to the New System Quickly?
We all love shiny things but only if they’re easy to use. If you and your staff are used to desk phones, internet-based phone solutions can be a big change at first.
That’s why, when you’re choosing your phone system, you need to make sure it’s easy to use and everyone buys in. For any, shall we say, more experienced team members, moving away from a desk phone to a computer or mobile based phone will be a bit weird. But a bit of hand holding in the beginning and the majority of the office being comfortable wearing headsets or using mobiles at their desk, and they’ll soon give up the desk phones.
7. What Support Features are Available?
You never know when you might need a hand integrating with your CRM or need a hand with changing some account details. It’s worth investigating what support features your prospective phone provider offers..
Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Business
8. Will the Phone System Cater for My Business Growth?
When you’re looking for a business phone system, look for one that can grow alongside your company. Your business’ growth should be catered for in your phone system. The last thing you need is to have to keep switching providers and plans because you’ve outgrown them - again.
9. What’s My Budget?
Obviously, you need to choose a phone system that aligns with your company’s budget. But that doesn’t mean you need to settle for the cheapest option. Again, it’s about choosing the solution that will help your company grow and allow you to see the best results. Keep this in mind when you’re shopping around.
10. Can my Remote Workers Use This System?
You need to consider whether your new phone system will be suitable for your remote workers (and if you don’t have any at the moment, you will in the future). This is one of the limitations of legacy-landline systems. However, internet-based solutions are suitable for remote workers as they only need a login to be able to make and receive calls.
Technology is Evolving and so are Business Phones
Because of the growth in chatbots, apps and social media communication, it might seem like phone systems are obsolete. But in fact, it’s important not to remove any familiar communication channels - businesses should be offering more ways for clients and customers to make contact, not less. Phone systems, in particular, are still an integral part of a business, whether it’s to connect with customers or support internal comms.
However, because phone systems have evolved, it’s vital you know what to ask when choosing the right solution for your company. For more tips and guidance on this, download our free guide to Choosing a Phone System below.