It’s a common theme.
A small business signs up for a phone system because it’s relatively cheap. Later on, they realize they need more from the phone system—but the provider doesn’t have the capacity to meet their demands.
So, they settle. They make a few tweaks, and try their hardest to adjust the day-to-day operations to accommodate the limitations of their business phone system, even when it’s becoming clear that they need to get a new phone. After all, as a small business, they really don’t have a lot of options within their price range.
This would be okay—if it didn’t have adverse effects on the business. But a system with too many limitations can lead to missed calls, missed messages, and missed faxes. A small business especially can’t afford to miss these things because it could also mean missed opportunities.
If you’re still trying to stabilize your footing, you can’t afford to waste time on these little routine things every day.
Good news is it’s never too late to recognize that you need an effective phone system.
The first step, of course, is to recognize the problem. To help you figure things out, here are a few big signs that your small business needs a new communications solution.
5 signs you need a new phone system
1. What you’re using is either obsolete or near-obsolete
You might think your phone system will last forever. Oh, it’ll probably need some tweaking over time. But it should hold out for as long as you need it…
Until it doesn’t. Suddenly, the problems become much more difficult to fix, and parts needed for the fix are harder to come by. Soon, you’ll find it much cheaper to just abandon it.
That’s because the system is on its way to becoming obsolete.
There are familiar signs that’ll tell you if your system is going down this route:
- Your provider isn’t offering the same system to new customers anymore
- The parts you need to fix your system aren’t available
- New trends that could replace (or have already replaced) the system being used by your team are emerging
There are more signs that point to your system going obsolete, but these are the most common red flags blaring “Time to get a new phone.”
2. It’s not reliable
A lot of businesses choose their communication tools based on price, thinking it gives them the most value because they don’t need to spend too much. It doesn’t take long before they find out the reason why the price is cheap: the service is cheap, too.
When your team is spending more time trying to get your phone system to work than they do actually making money, it’s a big neon sign saying you need a new communications solution. Ideally, one that will actually help you become more productive instead of getting in the way of your daily tasks.
3. It can’t do what you need anymore
Is your phone system able to provide the features and functionalities you need?
You’d think this is an easy question to answer, but it’s not. Sometimes, businesses don’t know they need a certain functionality because they don’t even know it exists. Or even if they do know about it, they don’t think they can afford it given their limited resources.
For example, if your company’s been using a traditional human receptionist through a multi-line system, would you actually recognize that your business could be better off with an auto-attendant that automatically answers and routes all your incoming calls?
To have a better idea of what you need and what you may be missing out on, you have to make an honest assessment of your phone situation by:
- Reviewing the features and functions you need based on your business goals
- Matching it with the available features and functionalities of different communications solution providers in the market
- Comparing your findings to what your current provider is delivering to you
It should paint a clearer picture of what you’re missing out on. You might be surprised to find what’s available to you at your price point.
4. It has a limited capacity
For a growing business, a phone system that’s not scalable can become a liability instead of an asset. Fast.
Most of the traditional systems require complex cabling and installations just to add one more user. Can you imagine how much harder it’d be if your business needed to expand to another location? Will you have to install a new and separate system for the new office?
That’s something you should consider if you manage a small business, even if you’re not at that point yet. While your current phone service may be working for you (in a limited capacity), you should consider its ability to adjust to the needs of your business as it grows and goes through changes. A lot of the time, what works right now may not work in the (near) future.
5. It doesn’t have good customer service when you need help
When evaluating your current phone system provider, ask yourself these questions:
- How far has your current communications solutions provider gone to provide you with the best service?
- Did they help you with installing and implementing their service for your company?
- Are they readily available to help you when you have questions, concerns, and complaints about the service?
- Do they know the history of your account and have knowledge of how you use their phone service?
Watch out for third-party providers only care about getting new customers and don’t really care about them once they are signed up. If your current communications solutions provider is like this, then maybe it’s time to look for a provider who cares about retaining your business and earning your loyalty.
If your current situation sounds like the ones mentioned above, then looking into other phone—or even better, all-in-one communication—options should definitely be on the table for you.
While you might think there are limited options for a small business, you’ll see that, with a bit more digging, there’s always a communications solution that can meet most, if not all, your needs—without breaking the bank.
Want a handy version of this article? Check out the infographic:
Originally published Dec 22, 2017, updated Aug 28, 2020