In an office environment, good communication is key. Good communication – on a very basic level – means getting your meaning across clearly and concisely. Your office phone system and overall telecommunications are especially important in today’s hybrid working environment.
To help you choose the right phone system for your business needs, you need to learn more about the features and functionality of an office phone system.
Consider an example of a marketing team. If this team were using their own devices for communications when planning a new campaign, the timeline of the campaign is at the mercy of phone signal, connectivity, and potentially mislaid devices. With a shared phone system, colleagues can easily collaborate on social media and email campaigns, as well as analysing campaign data and arranging future campaigns.
Let’s dive into everything you need to know about business phone systems before you decide which one is right for your business.
What Is a Business Phone System?
A business phone system is a way of communicating with other team members using a series of phones or devices specially installed for your team. For example, you might have seen this being used in an educational or medical setting. Each staff member or office will have a different extension number so that phone calls can be easily transferred to the right person within an organisation.
Business owners usually work with external providers to install or manage a new phone system.
Different Types of Business Phone System
One of the key benefits of a business phone system is that there are different types to suit either large or small business needs. There are three major types of office telephone network systems that you might choose to work with.
Multi-line Telephone System
A multi-line telephone system is a system where all calls are controlled centrally by routing them through a core phone system. The core system receives all incoming calls and then transfers them to the right person or department.
You’ll usually work with a local phone provider for this service and they will typically use a public switched telephone network (PSTN), otherwise known as a traditional landline. Using this system relies on quality phone lines.
A key benefit of this type of system is that you can screen calls and track communications easily.
PBX Phone System
A private branch exchange system (PBX system) is a landline-based phone system that connects every desk phone to another using a cable. You may also use IP PBX calling, which connects desk handsets to the internet using an ethernet cable
A key benefit of this type of system is that you don’t need to rely on an internet connection to make and receive calls.
VoIP Telephone System
Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) uses an internet connection to direct internal calls. It’s a type of cloud-based phone system where your calling is hosted by your external provider on their servers. All calls are made over your internet connection and you’ll require a minimal amount of hardware.
With a VoIP system, you simply install an app on your internet-enabled device and you’re ready to start setting up and making calls.
While formerly an expensive option, the market for VoIP systems is now accessible to small businesses. Small business phones are great for streamlining business processes early on in a company’s lifespan.
A key benefit of this type of system is that you don’t need to install expensive hardware – it can be completely cordless.
An example includes softphone technology – software that directs all of its calls through the internet on any compatible device.
Features of an Office Phone System
Learning about the primary features of an office phone system can assist you in choosing the right one for your team. These systems are designed to make office communication more straightforward, so their features are focused on user-friendly integration.
A phone system that can manage hybrid working is essential in the current business environment. You may have colleagues working partially or entirely from home, or from another office.
A phone service that uses mobile phones or a broadband connection makes inter-office communication easy and quick.
You may have already used a system like this, for example, Microsoft Teams. Their video conferencing service allows teams across different locations to communicate in real-time.
Some phone system providers offer their own laptop application. This is a quicker way to access calls than setting it up through a search engine each time.
This allows incoming calls to come to your device directly. Your business will have a personalised business number to streamline calls. Inbound calls to your call centre can be recorded or directed to relevant team members.
Return Call and Voicemail
An office phone system lets you have all of your work-related voicemails in one place where you can manage them and split them between team members. This is especially useful for remote or international office teams.
For example, if your business has both a UK and an Australian office, you’ll need a phone system that can easily manage return calls and voicemail because of the large time difference. Offices in Australia and the UK can track return calls outside of each other’s working hours. This will cut down on time spent making repeat calls and retrieving lost information.
Do Not Disturb
There will be times when your team needs to focus on a task without being disrupted by incoming calls. A dedicated phone system for the office can avoid disturbance with a ‘do not disturb’ feature that silences all incoming calls.
Anonymous Call Block
Business phone systems can block anonymous callers to prevent disruptive cold calls or calls from hackers. This will save your team time and potentially protect you from a data breach.
You may also be able to use a caller ID feature to prevent unknown callers from entering a closed communication channel.
Got a team or colleague that you call daily? Speed dial can save you time when calling repeated numbers. You can save common numbers in-app, or assign them a numerical shortcut on a desk phone.
Hybrid working has made smartphones ever more important in the workplace. This is for the simple reason that most professionals own a smart device, whereas they may not own a desk phone or computer.
You can use a VoIP phone system on a desktop or mobile device using a mobile app. Colleagues can download an app within seconds and use their own device (or a company device) to make calls.
This means that team members can work flexibly and from anywhere.
Call Forwarding and Monitoring
Business phone systems allow you to forward calls to an appropriate team member. Call forwarding is an efficient way of routing calls because the caller and receiver can be instantly connected, no matter which team member initially picked up the call.
A lot of office phone systems come with a hunt group feature. This allows calls to a single number to be distributed between multiple receivers. This can help your team to clear calls more quickly and solve problems as they arise.
Why Do You Need a Business Phone System?
With the rise of powerful personal mobile devices like smartphones, many teams wonder why they should be using a business phone system. Let’s look at some of the reasons why it’s a valuable tool for your business.
Using a dedicated business phone for your team is simply more professional than asking colleagues to use their own devices. This is especially true if you communicate with customers using your phone system.
These are some of the ways in which a business phone is more professional than personal devices:
- Keeps calls and data secure
- Less chance of a technical error
- Unified communications with customers
- Can use a business phone number
It’s also easier to track expenditure for bills when using a single system provider.
With a dedicated business phone network, every call comes through the same system. This makes it easy to keep track of outstanding calls and direct incoming calls. It’s also easier for your team, who may have certain restrictions on their personal devices.
For example, most phone systems for the office offer unlimited calls, which might not be the case for personal devices.
Data security is crucial in a business environment. Not keeping data safe is bad business practice and may constitute a breach of the law.
The good news is that business phone providers are experienced in keeping your data safe. Using a closed system with email invites allows you to share data between team members with a reduced risk of data loss.
Traditional landlines that don’t use an internet connection remove the risk of online hackers.
Work-life balance is vital to happy, productive colleagues. A business phone means that your team can use their personal devices and switch off from work. It also helps to avoid distractions when using a personal device for their role.
Benefits of Using Business Phone Systems
The benefits of using a phone system comes down to improving communication. These are some of the most commonly-cited benefits of a business phone.
Work from everywhere
A phone system creates flexibility. Your team can work from anywhere with access to the internet or a designated desk phone. This means that you can communicate with colleagues working remotely and/or working internationally.
Being able to do this easily can save a lot of money in terms of international calling fees.
Cheaper Long Distance Calls
A hosted phone system is usually charged by monthly or annual subscription as opposed to per-call charge. This means that your team can make unlimited long distance calls (depending on your plan) for a fixed cost.
International calling costs can easily add up so a subscription-based service can be a real money-saver in the long run.
Topnotch Customer Service
There are a number of ways in which a business phone can improve customer service.
Auto attendants are a great way to reduce potential frustration when a customer is waiting to get connected. You can set these messages to guide customers to an agent or appropriate department. You can also customise your call waiting message, strengthening your company brand while also informing of any promotions.
You can even play music on hold to avoid boredom or frustration when customers are waiting online.
Some phone systems come with a call recording feature. These can be used for training purposes for new and existing agents to help them to better manage common situations.
Calling systems allow teams to collaborate in real-time. Not only can you call colleagues and use multi-way calling, but some plans also come with add-ons that allow you to share documents and plans.
Your team can use these to make real-time edits to plans while making phone calls.
Hire employees across the globe
Today, talent is global. For this reason, a business needs to communicate easily with all of its staff, regardless of location. A standardised phone system makes it simple to onboard new employees and overcome challenges presented by regional phone providers.
Wrapping Up: Why Use RingCentral as Your Business Phone System
Office telephony has evolved incredibly over the past few years, so it can be hard to know which provider to use.
RingCentral has a tiered pricing system with packages to suit basic or advanced needs. You can set up a business phone for inbound or outbound calls. Whether you’re looking to optimise your team’s communication or better serve your customers, you can find a cost-effective communications solution for your business with RingCentral.
Originally published 08 Jun, 2022