Set Yourself up for Success with a Small Business Phone System

Top 6 Benefits of a Virtual Small Business Phone System:

  1. Affordable cost
  2. Ease of setup
  3. Flexibility & convenience
  4. Customizable & easy to scale
  5. Easily manage calls across devices
  6. Local & toll-free numbers

Nat Turner once said, “Communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” In business, communication can truly make or break your relationships. If you want to set your business up for success, you have to start with the basics, and your phone is one of the most fundamental aspects of communications. Excellent communication is an essential element to growing your business, and providing consistent, quality interactions begins with the systems you choose for communication. One of the best ways to provide great customer service interactions is to ensure that your small business phone system meets the unique needs of your operation.

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What is a small business phone system?

A small business phone system is a set of interconnected telephone lines that can provide a variety of professional features such as call handling, call forwarding, voicemail boxes, conference calling, ring groups to simultaneously call multiple users, and more. Business phone systems manage the various features of office phone systems using a server, which communicates to the various devices, called clients. These include desk phones, cell phones, computers and tablets.

While small businesses need to provide the same high quality communications as larger businesses do, the specific needs of a small business may differ. What makes sense for a large business may be unnecessary, impractical or unaffordable for a small business. A small business phone system can be tailored to your business, taking into account the particular size, budget and specific requirements that are unique to your situation.

Types of phone systems for small business

There are two primary types of small business phone systems used today: virtual phone systems using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and traditional office landlines using an internal system called a Private Branch Exchange (PBX). The biggest difference between the two is that landline phones for business use regular copper telephone wire and proprietary onsite equipment to transmit data, while virtual phone systems use the internet. However, there are many more differences to consider between the two types of office phone systems.

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Traditional Office Landline

Traditional office phone systems are located and maintained at the site of the business and require the server to be connected by wire to the client. Only a desk phone can act as a client in a traditional landline system, and users must be located at their desk to make and receive calls. Landline systems typically require expert installation by a technician.

A PBX is a system that transfers calls between users on local lines, allowing all users to share a group of external phone lines. PBX systems working on traditional landlines require extensive hardware to be owned, operated and maintained by your business, rather than your business phone service providers.

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Virtual Phone System

VOIP phone systems for business have mostly replaced the traditional office landline in business settings. A virtual phone system is located off-site and maintained by the business phone system provider. The server is accessed via the cloud, and clients may include desk phones, cell phones, tablets and computers. A virtual phone system does not require the same technical expertise as a landline system, and may be managed through a user-friendly, online interface.

The best virtual phone systems for small businesses use VOIP technology to make calls using an existing broadband Internet connection, converting the voice signal into a digital signal that can be sent to various devices. Virtual phone systems allow users to work remotely, accessing their office phone systems from the convenience of wherever they happen to be – working from home, in the office or on the go.

These cloud-based VOIP phone systems for business offer superb call quality and reliability while providing next level features to keep you ahead of the communications game. One of the many advantages of a virtual phone system is the added all-in-one communication features it provides. With a business internet phone, users can do more than just call – they can text, chat, fax and make video calls as well.

Features to look for in a business phone system

Your phone system is an important part of your business plan, and finding the right features to support your business telephone platform will set you up for success in communications from your first contact with a customer, client or collaborator.

The basic features to look for are:

    • Caller ID
    • Personalized voicemail
    • Conference calling
    • Headset compatibility
    • Muting
    • Speed dial/redial

More advanced features to look for include:

    • Call recording
    • Custom hold music
    • Call whispering – trainers/managers may listen to a call and provide advice to a trainee/employee without the customer/client hearing
    • Call accounting – capture, record and tally telephone usages across your organization
    • Auto Attendants – automated answering service that directs calls to the correct person/department
    • Mobile twinning – link a cell phone number to a business telephone number
    • Voicemail to email or text – transcribe voicemail messages into text
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) capabilities – customers can interact with host system through keypad or speech recognition
    • Mobile phone compatible - some service providers provide a business mobile phone app so you can communicate, including text messaging, with customers while you are out of the office.
    • Remote compatible
    • Integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, such as LinkedPhone's Client Notes – a team-based note stream for tracking customer info

Do you need to purchase office phone equipment?

Whether or not you need to purchase office phone equipment depends on a variety of factors. With a landline system, you need lots of hardware including servers, cables and extensive wiring, and software updates may also be periodically required. With a virtual phone system, all of this is taken care of by your business phone service provider. Devices for receiving communication – such as cell phones, desk phones, laptops, computers and tablets that you already own – are the only hardware you need for a virtual office phone system.

Options for business telephone equipment

There are two basic types of VOIP phone equipment: hard phones and softphones. VOIP hard phones are physical phones such as a desk phone. Softphones use an app to connect to the phone system on a device such as a computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone. While a desk phone is not required to make or receive calls on a virtual office phone system, many businesses prefer to have a dedicated desk phone for various reasons. High quality VOIP desk phones use your internet connection and can connect to your virtual phone systems from anywhere with internet access.

Typical VOIP desk phones come with a variety of features, such as:

    • Supporting multiple lines
    • Speakerphone
    • Headset input
    • Handset
    • Distinctive ring
    • Cordless option
    • Speed dialing
    • USB inputs
    • Bluetooth
    • Wifi compatibility
    • HD voice quality

VOIP conference phones are also an option to consider if conference calls are a common occurrence in your business. Conference phones are optimized for sending and receiving the highest quality audio in a group setting, using omni-directional microphones to pick up audio from different areas of a room.

Six key benefits of a virtual business phone system

If you’re thinking of adding a phone system or switching from a traditional landline system, weighing the pros and cons of a virtual small business phone system can help you know you are making the right decision. There are many benefits, including:

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1. Affordable Cost

Overhead costs can be a huge factor that makes or breaks a small business. Getting costs down on the basics can be a key component to a budget that works. A virtual phone system can cost significantly less than a traditional landline phone system in terms of financial investment. Traditional landline phones for businesses require extensive initial investments for servers, hardware, software and IT experts to set up and manage the system.

Virtual phone systems do not require any of these special investments or hardware. Many of the devices that your business already uses can be incorporated into your small business phone system, and virtual phone systems do not require expensive specialized IT personnel. With the right provider, such as LinkedPhone, you get the added peace of mind of 24/7 monitoring bringing security, reliability and expertise at an affordable cost.

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2. Ease of Setup

A virtual phone system will not only save your business money, but will also save you time. Traditional landline systems require extensive setup, with the need to schedule a specialized technician to physically come to your business.

Virtual phone systems, on the other hand, require no technical expertise and can be set up within minutes. Once you choose your phone number, select call options, and add employees and extensions, you are ready to roll! A platform like LinkedPhone can take it from there. Upgrades and changes to your business phone systems are quick and hassle free.

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3. Flexibility and Convenience

Flexibility can be a critical element for success in your small business operations. With a virtual phone system, there is no longer a need to be anchored to your desk at all times in order to be reachable. A virtual phone number goes wherever you choose to take it. You can route business phone calls to your landline at home or work, your computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone – or cover all your bases and route your calls to all your devices at once!

The convenience of a virtual phone system is one of the main benefits of a VOIP phone system for business, ensuring you never miss a call whether you are physically in the office, taking a break, or out in the world making things happen.

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4. Customizable and Easy to Scale

With a virtual phone system, you are in the director’s seat. You can choose which features you need, and you won’t have to pay for extra features that your business doesn’t need. As your business grows, your phone system can scale with it. You are able to easily add more features to your virtual phone system, and when your business adds new team members, adding new users to your virtual phone system is easy, quick and inexpensive, even if your team works in different locations across the country.

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5. Easily Manage Calls

With VOIP phone systems for business, you never have to take a lengthy call that you aren’t ready for. Call screening allows you to choose what you do with the call – answer, send the caller to voicemail, or redirect to another team member. Important conversations can happen right when you need them to, and seamless connections will provide a professional experience for your clients, customers and collaborators.

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6. Local and Toll Free Numbers

The choice between establishing a national presence or cultivating a local presence is entirely up to you. Selecting a virtual office phone system for your small business allows you the choice of a toll-free prefix or local area code for your phone number, giving you the options you need to attract the right customers.

Disadvantages of a virtual phone system

Now that you know the many advantages of a virtual small business phone system, you are going to want to weigh them against the disadvatages. While a VOIP phone system is great for most small businesses, it’s not for everyone. Here are some things to consider:

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Internet Connection Required

A VOIP phone system for business requires a high-quality internet connection. This does not pose a problem for the majority of businesses, but to ensure a VOIP phone system is right for you, this is a detail you don’t want to miss.

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Continuous Power Supply Required

Since landline phones run on copper wire, they can operate even when the power is down. VOIP phone systems require a power supply to operate, so in the event of a power outage, depending on your setup, the VOIP office phones may not work. Other than having a backup power supply, there is another easy fix to this. When the power goes out, you can switch to your VOIP smartphone app and have calls sent to your cell phone. All you need is to ensure that you have backup power for your cell phone.

Make a great impression with a small business phone system

Every interaction you have with a client, customer or collaborator depends on communications. When that happens over the phone, you are going to want to ensure that your communication is reliable and of the highest quality, so you always leave your contacts with a great impression. Choosing a virtual phone system for your small business gives you a big advantage.

Advances in telephone technology mean your phone system can be so much more than just a desk phone. With its convenience, portability, advanced features and affordability, a VOIP phone system for business is the way to go for just about any small business. It is ideal for working remotely, for automation, and for productivity on the move. The incredible variety of professional features available for your business internet phone will set your business up for successful communications with every client, customer or collaborator.

Ready to take your business to the next level with a small business phone system? Sign up for a 7-day free trial of LinkedPhone, choose your free business phone number, and start calling today!

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Small Business Resources

Add a Business Line to Your Cell Phone
Small Business Podcasts
Books for Business Growth
Small Business Mobile Apps
Top Entrepreneur Forums
The 30-Second Elevator Pitch
Perfect Voicemail Greetings
Add Click-to-Dial To Your Website
What is VoIP? How Does it Work?
Guide to Small Business Software
What is a Virtual Phone System?
How to Share a Team Phone Number
Toll-Free vs. Local Business Number
Learn the Parts of a Phone Number
Inspirational Small Business Quotes
Mastering the Art of the Cold Call

A special high five to Faith Dickens for her outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs. Thank you Faith! ❤️

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