What you need to know before choosing a phone plan for your business.
How do you choose your business’s lifeline?
A good phone system is hard to find. It’s likely that your business relies heavily on its phone service to keep things running smoothly, so it’s crucial to find one that performs at your own level. But where do you even start?
The way you communicate should not be something that sits on the back shelf of your company’s priorities. It’s a core system your business relies on for functioning day-to-day—your connection to customers, suppliers, clients, and partners. Choosing the right phone plan may seem like a daunting task, but in this guide you will find the most important things small businesses should consider when shopping around for one.
Don’t settle when it comes to features.
In the tech industry, everyone is constantly looking for the next best thing, and thanks to the era of smartphones it’s becoming harder and harder to impress. Qualities that were once standard are now viewed as archaic when considering modern phone models. (Anyone remember direct connect? No? Exactly.) Business phone bells and whistles are getting more advanced and constantly evolving, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed when trying to pinpoint the features you need to make handling phone calls effective and uncomplicated when there are so many to choose from nowadays.
Some business phone features to consider might include:
- High definition audio
- Conference calling
- Long distance calling
- Three-way calling
- Auto attendant
- Team messaging
- Call forwarding/transferring
- Call screening
- Program/app integration
- Customer support
- Visual voicemail
- Video conferencing
65% of consumers prefer to contact a business by phone.
Take your communication on the go.
In a world that refuses to slow down, it’s important to equip your business with tools to prevent it from tripping up and losing the lead to the competition. The age of only being able to make and receive calls on your desk phone is over. Phone systems now provide options for forwarding incoming calls or rerouting a line to another office phone or mobile device, which is essential to fulfilling your daily tasks. You can’t accomplish everything you need to if you’re chained to your desk, so to speak.
A VoIP phone system best takes care of your mobility concerns, particularly with mobile apps and features you can download on your smartphone that forward and transfer calls. It’s as if you’re carrying your desk phone in your pocket wherever you go, so you’ll never miss a beat whether you’re at lunch, running errands, or working from home or a different location.
Find the key to collaborating offsite.
In an ever-evolving business industry, it’s not uncommon for employees to work from different locations and offices, or even from home. Though a virtual phone system allows for remote workers to tap into their company’s line, a VoIP service is the most amenable and dependable option for these employees. Working offsite can be tricky, and an employee’s day can be derailed if they’re not able to connect to the main office or to customers. VoIP has the flexibility and features to support a more well-rounded collaboration for those working from different places.
Good service always has your business’s back.
With something as crucial to business operations as your phone service, guaranteeing that it works as well as possible is essential. Determining the best business phone system for you should depend heavily on what’s there to back it up—no matter how good a service claims to be, technical difficulties do happen. If your line goes down, how long are you willing to wait for help in getting things up and running again? If you don’t have IT support on hand at your office, then selecting a phone system that has access to a 24/7 customer service line should be the goal. Without hands-on experts, your system could be out for much longer than you anticipated, with revenue and productivity suffering as a result.
37% of people in the US engage in part-time telecommuting.
Phone systems tailored for small businesses:
Landline phone service
Starting off with the most traditional and basic of phone services, it’s safe to say that nearly everyone has had some sort of experience with a landline phone. On the lower end of the tech spectrum, it depends on physical hardware to function, operating through a wire that plugs straight into the wall to connect with a line powered by your phone company. This straightforward connection results in a reliability on the higher end of the business phone spectrum, however, there are fewer features to be had, and the phone industry is progressively moving away from landline technology to accommodate for this. It also generally tends to be the most affordable option, but when implementing it at your business location it demands private branch exchange (PBX) hardware, which can hike up the price to be even more than a VoIP system.
Virtual phone service
The virtual phone system is a bit more obscure than its competitors. Users make calls through an internet connection that is not affiliated with an actual phone line. It’s a bit of a middle man among the business phone systems—it’s not quite a fully developed phone service but presents several compelling features and is accessible on a mobile phone or home network. It’s a decently affordable option for small businesses with employees that work remotely or in different locations and provides a professional aspect to clients and customers. The potential drawback? A limited amount of features. There’s plenty of flexibility with this type of system and the investment is often significantly less than a VoIP or landline service, but the tradeoff is ultimately having less to work with.
VoIP phone service
A VoIP phone system routes your phone line through your high- speed internet connection and can be hosted either at your business or through the cloud. It uses advanced technology designed for corporations and creates a tool that strengthens small businesses. This service offers the most features and also tends to cost less than landlines, depending on whether you host it on your business’s premises or through the cloud.
The quality of your calls through a VoIP system typically depends on your internet connection and speed, but with a reliable service VoIP is a formidable opponent to other phone options. Most VoIP services come with professional customer service, can be incorporated with many important computer programs, and are incredibly user-friendly. Small businesses utilizing a VoIP system often run at the pace and efficiency of a much larger company.
Keep the cost of communication in mind.
No matter how successful your business is, it runs on a budget. When considering phone systems, you must take into account the cost involved. A VoIP system hosted on-premises is more expensive due to installation, equipment, and possible user fees. For a hosted system, you’re generally paying $500-$1,250 per user (all upfront). A cloud-based phone system does not require fees upfront, but you do pay monthly fees ranging anywhere from $10-$80 per user. The only physical thing you’d be paying for is the actual IP phone hardware, which can clock in anywhere from $50 to several hundred per phone.
As far as the more basic plans go, a landline system typically runs between $60-$80 a month and a virtual phone line at $10-$50 a month, heavily depending on the features included (which will not match that of VoIP technology).
A business phone plan is often an overlooked yet necessary expense. Finding one that fits into your budget will not only help your business costs remain manageable, it will improve the overall efficiency of your operations.
Businesses can save up to 75% by switching from a landline to VoIP.
When all is said and done, which system rules the day?
No two companies are the same. For every small business that operates with specific communication necessities, there are thousands more that require an endless amount of feature and performance variations to prosper in their competitive markets. The phone systems discussed in this guide can hold their own just fine in the corporate jungle, but one has proven to tip the scale further as far as performance, convenience, and overall quality goes.
A VoIP phone system is the most versatile and feature-rich service you will encounter, relying on that internet connection to help you better curate your calls and provide a better experience for your customers.
Verizon Business Digital Voice is the VoIP phone solution that will meet all of your business needs effortlessly. With over 30 unique calling features and crystal clear HD sound, it provides the support and consistency your employees and customers need to connect to each other and create success within your business. As an affordable and flexible option, Business Digital Voice gives small businesses two legs to stand on in a brutally competitive atmosphere.
In the end, no one knows your business like you do. You know what will serve you best as far as features, reliability, and cost. Now that you have some insight into how each phone system works and the possibilities they present, you are one step closer to establishing that critical lifeline and expanding your business’s reach even further.