5 Things to Think About When Buying a New Small Business Phone System

Working with companies helping them with advice on their business phone plans, you soon get to see what is important to business decision makers. One of the toughest decisions to make is purchasing a small business phone system. You know you should get one but there are just so many choices out there. Coupled with this is probably the belief that your current one still works. Well, maybe it does, in that you can answer calls, but it may also be limiting business growth as there are new PBX systems with new features that could improve your business. This article contains 5 things that you need to think about when buying a new small business phone system.

Is the small business phone system future proof- The way that business phone lines are delivered to your premises is rapidly changing as technology improves. We’ve moved from PSTN technology to digital technology. Chances are that the way that your phone lines are delivered now is not the way they will be delivered in two years time. Do you really want to have to by a new system in 2 years time or would you like it to last a bit longer? Make sure you buy one that is easily upgraded and capable of dealing with multiple different technologies.

How are you going to pay for the phone system- Do you have a large amount of cash in the bank to pay for your small business phone system upfront or are you going to pay it off over a certain period of time with finance? A news system is not cheap.

What level of technical support is offered- Unfortunately sometimes things go wrong and you may not be able to fix them. You need to make sure that you buy a phone system that comes with an associated service agreement so things will get fixed in a timely manner should something go wrong.

Can you integrate it with your business phone line bill- Some business telecommunications providers will allow you to purchase a business phone system and pay it off on your phone bill over a mutually agreed to time frame. This can be great for many businesses as it improves cash flow and it also means that you only have to worry about one bill for your telecommunications usage. you don’t have to worry about paying multiple people money.

How can you utilise features to boost staff productivity- New phone systems have great features that your old one won’t. For example, with a new NEC phone system when someone rings your office phone number both the phone on your desk and mobile will ring at the same time. This means that your staff are more productive because they can answer more phone calls. If they are a sales team, this means that they can spend more time on the road in front of potential clients.

Is it time to update your system? If you have been thinking about it even a little then chances are yes. Hopefully some of the points I’ve shared above help stimulate thinking so you can make some intelligent decisions.

Business Long Distance Service Shopping Tips

Whether your operating from a home office or large corporation, more than ever before has there not been a need to save your organization’s bottom line in this current economy. While the telecom end of your business is a necessary part of the machine for a successful operation, it can also be the most costly. By trimming business long distance expenses you can drastically increase profitability margins while maintaining or even increasing the effectiveness of your business call center usage. Today we will look into traditional switched long distance that can give your business the financial savings it deserves.

Switched services are a basic and simple transition for most businesses utilizing traditional POTs (Point of Termination) services. In some instances POTs is also considered an abbreviation for Plain Ole Telephone. In any case, POTs basically is a traditional phone line put in place by a local carrier such as SBC, Bell, AT&T, etc.

Switched long distance services require minimal set-up and maintenance to save on business telecommunications. Usually a few forms and a PICC unfreeze on your account is all it really takes to switch long distance carriers. Finding a carrier that suits your calling needs however can be a little more time consuming and does require some closer attention. You will want to analyze any applicable international rates, intralata (in-state L.D.) rates, as well as monthly fees, per line fees, etc.

Some features you will want to shop for:

Intralata Rates (In-State L.D.)
These rates can exceed the interlata (State-to-State) rates!!! If you make the majority of your calls within your state, then you might want to consider shopping solely by intralata rates. A pricier interlata rate could very easily be offset by a lower intralata pricing for in-state calling businesses.

Interlata Rates (State-to-State L.D.)
Usually the first advertised carrier price is what will be the interlata rate. If your company makes a majority of it’s calls to other states, this pricing option may be best suited for your business. Remember that the advertised rate may not be the same for in-state long distance calls.

International Rates
An advertised per minute rate may grab your attention, but keep in mind that each country may have an additional charge for connecting calls to cell phones as well as hiked up per minute rates. Be sure to research all the rates for any country you feel you may be calling, you might find one or more country to be outside your desired budget.

Per Minute Billing
30 and 60 second billing is a common increment on the market. Remember that anything over 30 seconds will bill to a minute and anything over 60 seconds will bill to another minute. These may not seem like much at first, but with a large calling volume it can add up to thousands of dollars easily. There are some quality carriers offering business long distance with 3 and 6 second billing increments which can save you countless amounts of long distance costs.

Contracts
If at all possible, avoid contracts including short term. Canceling services can pack on some hefty cancellation fees especially if you have more than 5 business lines. A carrier that offers contract free service has a tendency to work harder to retain it’s customers meaning better quality of services for you.

Toll Free Numbers
Almost all long distance carriers offer toll free service as an additional service. If you plan to use toll free numbers with switched business long distance, make sure you are able to get the same rate and billing increments as in your long distance plan. Many carriers have a monthly fee to retain a toll free number so shop for the lowest monthly fee associated with an 800, 888, 877, or 866 number.

Monthly Fees
Carriers advertising “No Monthly Fees” often only are offering no monthly fees for accounts with a certain amount of monthly usage. If your company is not going to be using a lot of long distance services you will want to try to find a carrier with a more reasonable monthly fee for less usage. Do not be frightened though, if your bill typically is over $20.00-$50.00 a month, you should be in the clear for these fees.

Setting Up Your Small Business VoIP

Setting up a small business phone system has become a necessity for companies that wish to enjoy continued success. Instead of investing in traditional telephone systems, companies are moving towards more advanced technology that offers increasing benefits over it’s predecessors.

These technological advances are giving small businesses the benefit of improved customer service and higher levels of productivity. Although the newer systems can work out to be more expensive than their older cousins, the long-term benefits often make up for the higher cost. All crucial factors to bear in mind when deciding where you want your business telecommunications to take you in the future.

VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol, spearheads the advances in this area and is fast becoming one of the most tried and tested technological developments when small businesses look to employ new communication systems. Instead of using circuit switched technology where a dedicated path is used for the entirety of a call, VoIP technology treats voices as data that are sent as tiny parcels of information over data networks. This information, or data, is then converted back to audio when it reaches its destination.

There are several components needed when setting up a VoIP system. A central device is required to manage calls and data in much the same way as a conventional exchange unit works in regular telephone systems. This can be a dedicated piece of hardware that performs the function alone or as software running from a specialised server.

Also needed is a data network and, of course, telephones.

The biggest advantage for the use of VoIP is for business with multiple locations where all offices with LAN or WAN capability share the benefits of using just one telephone system. Most importantly, calls to other locations within the network are free and can offset the cost of the initial set up.

Also, employees on the road can phone into the network using a virtual private network which dramatically reduces the cost of other areas on the company phone bills. These advantages also pass over to the small business, who can keep communication at a completely internet and low-cost level as well.

VoIP can be set up independently and that may be a good solution for someone looking to integrate the system into a home office situation but even a small business should really look towards taking on external help.

There are already many experts in this new dawn in telecommunication technology. These experts not only take care of the complicated installation procedure, but also offer friendly, informal advice as well as ongoing customer support and the provision of training company personnel in how to use the VoIP system.

Using experienced VoIP technicians should ensure a smooth, problem fee transition form your existing system. Although self-installation is an effective cost cutting exercise, losing your phone lines for a week then having to hire a specialist will only cost more in the long run anyway!

The cost effective nature of VoIP is sure to see more and more companies taking this new technology on board as conventional exchange systems become more outdated.