When you think of ways to maximize productivity in your business, you probably don’t consider the phone systems for businesses.
Most business owners think of more efficient ways to use space or time, how to streamline systems, or even purchasing newer and faster equipment. However, the business phone system you use can affect productivity also.
Phone Systems for Businesses and Productivity
If you use a phone system that only accommodates one or a few employees, you may outgrow it quickly. Changing phone systems for businesses can slow things down significantly.
If your phone system is too large and offers more features than what you would ever need, you could end up paying for features that you never use. That money could be put back into the business.
A fancy phone system does you no good if it is too complicated to operate as a smaller business. It will just turn into a money drain. On the flip side, a basic phone system may not grow with your business. Or, you may find that you do not have access to the features you need to operate in the most effective and efficient manner.
For example, a hair salon may benefit greatly from a system that allows for texting. If a customer cannot talk to someone immediately, they can just text in an appointment request. They save time and you don’t lose out on a customer.
The need for this is stronger than ever with so many more people telecommuting. A business needs to be able to support communication in a number of ways. Video conferencing, multiple phone calls at once, screen sharing are being used by more and more businesses to stay in touch with both customers and employees.
Phone systems for businesses can vary in terms of price and features. Choosing the right one for your business will take some research.You have to find the balance between what you need now and what you may need in the future, while always keeping your budget in mind.
The size of your business, type of business, number of employees, and growth potential will all have a bearing on which phone system will work best for you. It helps to understand what options you have. Gone are the days of simply having the phone company come out and install lines.
Why Do You Need a Business Phone System?
There are a lot of reasons, but I bet you did not realize Fundability™ is one of them. It’s true. One important aspect of a Fundable™ Foundation is having a separate small business number for phone calls. Many business credit providers require this.
That means the phone number you use for your business can actually affect your ability to get funding. Your phone number is affected by the phone system you use. Few business owners realize this.
When lenders see a business owner use their personal number as their business number, they start to wonder about the stage of life the business is in. If it is a new business, the business owner may appear to not take things as seriously as they should. Using a personal number is unprofessional.
If it’s an established business that has the owner’s personal number as the business number, they may wonder if the business can even afford a separate number. It does not create the impression that a business needs to make on a lender.
It’s also more professional to receive phone calls with a separate business number. You can still use your cell phone, you just have to have your business number forwarded to it.
Unified Communications (UC) Platform
This is what all small businesses need frankly. A unified communications platform allows for all communications to take place for all users across multiple devices, as needed. Similar to Google Workspace, but for communications.
So instead of having a phone system, and then using a separate option for text and another for video calls, everything would be housed under the same system.
It should be cloud based, so there is no need for excessive backing up and no worries about access when needed. A good UC platform will have all of the features that a business will need for communication both internally and externally.
VoIp Business Phone Services
A VoIP business phone system can work well. VoIP means voice over internet protocol. It’s a way to use a pre-existing phone system with a different phone number or numbers.
That way, you can have a separate business number but take incoming calls on your cell phone or landline.
VoIP tends to work better as a small business phone system for a one-person small business. However, VoIP phone service can also work well if you have a widely distributed team.
When you start looking for a system, you’ll see PBX as an option as well. It’s really a better option for larger businesses than small businesses. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. This is an option that allows larger companies to overcome the physical limitations of a traditional telephone system.
It’s worth exploring. However, most of what small businesses need will be available on an internet/ cloud based system.
Getting a Toll Free Number for Your Business Phone System
Another vital part of a Fundable™ Foundation is using a toll free phone number. Using a small business phone system with a toll free number, even if it is a VoIP phone system, can make a business appear to be more established and larger than it actually is. It’s also important to list this number in the 411 directory. There are actually some credit issuers that look for that.
Typical Features of Phone Systems for Businesses
What features should a small business look for in a phone system? It will vary depending on the needs of the individual business. However, if a phone system provider cannot provide one or more of these features below, you may want to look elsewhere.
Call Holding and Forwarding
Call holding is the ability to put several lines on hold at once. If you do not want to miss calls due to already being on another call, this is something you definitely need. Forwarding is the ability to have calls to one number automatically ring to another. This can be especially useful if you need to be able to forward calls to mobile devices.
Another feature a business might need is the ability to send and receive texts. It’s common these days, especially for service providers that take appointments, to be able to do this.
Their phone system allows customers to text in appointment requests or even ask questions, and it shows up on the computer screen at the business. The employee can then respond via text right from the computer, or with a phone call if needed.
If your system offers the ability to do this via mobile apps as well, that’s even better! This is a great way to stay in touch with customers from anywhere. Furthermore, it allows you to be able to reduce the number of customers that are not able to get through. They can express their needs and you can address their concerns in turn.
Ability to Keep Your Existing Phone Number
If you are an existing business that is changing your phone system, it would be the opposite of productive to have to change phone numbers as well. Trying to alert existing customers to the change, then getting them used to actually using the new number could slow things down significantly.
One option, if you do not already have a toll free number, is to keep the same number and add a toll free number also. We’ve all seen businesses with a local number and a toll free number listed.
There is really no time when you should have to change your business number. That is, unless you are currently using your personal number.
If you’re changing business phone service providers, you’ll want to be back online receiving calls as soon as possible. The best business phone systems will allow you to do this.
Even if your small business is just you, these things can be very important. You may not need these features now. However, try to find the best small business phone system you can afford that still offers any features you could see your business needing as it grows.
This will avoid the need to change systems any sooner than necessary. As a result, there will be fewer opportunities for mistakes, and less time spent learning and training on new phone systems for businesses rather than serving customers.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say this is a feature that virtually every business owner, regardless of size, needs. Of course, you have to let people know they are being recorded.
Still, having records of each phone call can be a lifesaver should the need for it arise. Since you never know when that will be, recording each call is a fail safe.
One of the best small business phone options a small business can have is conference calling. The ability to get more than one person on a call at one time may seem like something you do not need in the beginning. Especially if you are a one man show. However, this is one of those things that can grow into a need quickly, and it is much better to have the ability to do it before you actually need it.
Imagine realizing you need to conference with a large client and your representative to work on a deal, and not having that ability. There are ways around it, but it would be much more productive to just have the option available right within your current system.
Call Transfer/ Call Routing
This can be handy if you don’t want to have a separate phone number per user. In fact, even if the only user currently is you, this feature is a prime example of one that will be available in a phone system that will grow with you.
Typically, there will be an extension for each user rather than a separate number per user. This can be especially helpful if you have employees out working offsite and need to be able to forward calls to their cell phones.
Can You Get Call Forwarding to a Mobile Phone or to Desk Phones with a Virtual Phone System?
Yes, and there are reasons other than having employees offsite to get it. For example, what if you’re away from the office? Maybe you need to be available after hours? A business phone service that offers call forwarding to mobile devices will help you save time.
Being able to answer or make business calls with your personal cell phone means you can attend to service calls or put in bids before others who don’t get such capabilities from a traditional phone system.
Is it Compatible With Your Mobile Device? And is it Cloud Hosted?
By having a phone service in the cloud, it’s not tied to any one location or small business office. Often, these come with mobile and desktop apps. To update the mobile phone app and other software, all you need is an internet connection.
This is one of the major benefits of using a unified communications service. It can be accessible from pretty much anywhere, by anyone who has been given access.
Internet Connection Woes
If you intend to use a VoIP business phone service, you will learn quickly that a strong, reliable internet connection is a must.
A good connection to the internet is important for most video conferencing capabilities these days as well.
As a result, starting out with good internet is important even if you do not use VoIP phone services.
A bad connection can also cause issues if your system utilizes a mobile and desktop app. If the app doesn’t work, you may very well lose a lot of your phone system features while the internet is down.
As desktop and mobile apps are common with phone systems for businesses these days, especially when it comes to video calling, this is important.
Is Team Messaging an Important Feature When it Comes to Phone Systems for Business?
In this day of remote work, even if you are only a one person business right now, you will want to find a business phone system provider that allows for team messaging. This goes right up there with unlimited calling and video conferencing.
Deciding on the Best Business Phone System for Your Business
The best business phone provider for your needs will depend on budget, how many employees you have, and any other features you want and need now, as well as may want or need in the future.
Do you need analog phones, or are VoIP phone systems for businesses acceptable for your needs?
Do you need unlimited domestic calling? Then VoIP business phone systems are what you should be considering. A VoIP phone system is going to offer the most budget friendly options for this, per user, along with video conferencing.
No matter what, small businesses will always need to know what business phone system providers are charging for their entire system. They also need to know what small business phone systems charge for individual features.
Is there an add on cost for features like call recording, call forwarding, and unlimited calling. Are these features included in a flat rate, or is it all separate? Are you being charged per user? What’s that cost? Phone systems for businesses tend to have varying price levels and structures. Make sure you are aware from the beginning.
Cost vs. Benefit
Small business owners should also consider which features they can do without. Keep in mind future needs and the cost of changing, if necessary. If you need to save money on the front end, try to pick a phone service that can grow with you. Having the ability to add features as needed, rather than leave, is great for small businesses.
5 of the Best Business Phone Services to Kickstart Your Research
Once you have a solid idea of what features you need currently and what you may need in the future, you can start researching phone systems for businesses to find the best one for you. Here’s a list of some of the most popular to get you started.
One major benefit of Dialpad is that it truly is a unified communication platform. All of the communication channels, service maintenance, support, and upgrades are taken care of within the same company.
Everything is built in house, from the contract center to AI. For customers, that means no waiting for external companies to make changes or get technical support.
Phone.com uses VoIP phones or adapted analog phones. However, it does not offer access controls, permissions, or online voice transmission.
CallHippo can be up and running as your phone system in less than 3 minutes from anywhere in the world. It offers integrations with many common tools including Slack, Zendesk, Zapier, Salesforce, Shopify, Hubspot and more.
Ooma allows teams to stay in touch, work, and collaborate. However, it’s important to note that when you integrate contacts on the mobile app, your caller ID changes. As you can imagine, this may cause an issue when trying to reach out to customers. It might cause someone to ignore that call because they don’t recognize your caller ID.
Vonage offers basic VoIP services as a replacement for landline phone systems for businesses. It offers basic features like call recording and visual voicemail, as well as video calls, conference or group calls, and text messaging.
Yet, these features are offered as paid add-ons. This makes it a good deal if you want to start with the basics, but have the ability to add on as you grow and need more.
RingCentral is a unified communications platform. It offers a broad selection of tools and features. In addition, the basic plans do not offer integrations, meaning it may be a good option for starting out small but having the ability to grow, similar to Vonage.
This is a cloud-based phone service. It directs its marketing toward small businesses. It is not a unified communications option, so it does not combine phone services with video calling and other features.
That said, if you don’t need to have video meetings or need SMS or instant messaging, or you prefer to access these features in a different way, it may work for you.
Nextiva is a unified communications platform, but its integrations are limited. They don’t have SMS/MMS in their basic plan, while plenty of others do.
The Connection Between Phone Systems for Businesses and Fundability
There are many things that affect Fundability ™, or the ability of a business to get funding. It may surprise you to find that your phone system is one of them.
Of course, phone systems for businesses aren’t thinking about your ability to get funding. They just want to make money, and to do that they need to fulfill a need. Now, you know more about what those needs are.
A lender is not likely to even ask which phone system you use. However, they may very well give you a call. If your system fails or is glitchy in any way, it will not look good.
Your phone number can also make a difference between approval and denial. First, it has to be a business number, separate from your personal one. Then, as already noted, a toll-free number is best, and it needs to be listed in the 411-directory.
What Else Could Be Affecting the Fundability™ of Your Business?
You probably never thought your choice of phone systems for businesses could affect your ability to get funding. Maybe you are wondering what else could be affecting your Fundability™? You would likely be surprised. Some seemingly tiny details can actually cause big problems.
In addition to your business phone number and your choice of phone systems for businesses, here is a list of things you may not realize are causing you problems.
- Business name
- Business address
- Organization type (sole proprietor vs. corporation)
- Not having a separate business bank account
- Inconsistency in business information (i.e. different spellings or not making changes with information changes)
- Business website and email address
These are just a few of the details that can cause you to have trouble getting funding for your business.
The truth is, there are at least 125 factors that affect Fundability. Want to know more and find out where you stand? Contact Credit Suite now to get started.