Essential Office Phone System Features

Every business will eventually need to get a phone system to support the needs of their employees and customers.

Why? Productivity losses due to poor communication cost U.S. employers $550 billion every year, according to a report published by Gallup.

Ineffective business communication isn’t just an inconvenience; it could harm your entire company.

However, it’s tough to find the best cloud phone system for your office. Not all phone systems are created equal. Some might include hidden fees, questionable reliability, and can be quite intimidating to manage.

How do you find the best telephone system for your office?

In this guide, we cover everything a small business needs to know when it’s time to upgrade or replace their office phone system.

Types of Office Phone Systems

There are several phone systems you can pick for your office, including:

  • Legacy Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). This term describes the traditional phone system, used since the late 1800s. The PSTN uses underground copper wires to connect phone calls. They’re also known as landlines.
  • Private Branch Exchange (PBX): Some telecom providers have PBX systems. These allow businesses to switch between various landlines. It’s typically cheaper than a PSTN because you don’t need individual lines for each employee.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): A VoIP phone system doesn’t use wires to connect calls. Instead, calls are made by transmitting data through an internet connection. This creates a virtual phone line.

VoIP Office Phone System Advantages

Firstly, VoIP technology has lower calling costs. You’re not using cellular data or copper wires to connect to another caller—which can often be unreliable and costly. You’re using an internet connection (such as Wi-Fi) to make the call.

This has a positive impact on audio quality. Strong internet access and bandwidth make the call quality as good as (if not better) than traditional calls.

Plus, you don’t need as much hardware for VoIP technology. You simply need a device, such as an iPhone, Android, or desktop device, with internet access. You can then use VoIP apps like Nextiva to make calls.

The limited hardware also makes VoIP more customizable for businesses. You don’t need an expensive solution to make calls over the internet. You need an internet-connected device and a compatible app to get started.

Plus, the technology you start using today won’t be suitable in a few years. But VoIP is scalable. You don’t need any major changes as your business (or office team) grows.

Office Phone System Features

1) Announcements (Greetings)

Chances are that people who call your contact center won’t be put directly through to someone on your team. They’ll be placed in a call queue.

A feature you’ll need to look out for is announcements. These are a few sentences that greet your customers and tell them they’re in the queue. They don’t need to listen to the annoying ringing sound as they wait.

The best part? The average length of a phone greeting is 15 seconds. That means your customers are entertained for an extra 15 seconds. We all know how precious those seconds are when you’re on hold.

2) Auto Attendant

You don’t have a human receptionist to answer incoming calls. How can you make sure you’re diverting customers to the right department? The answer: With an auto attendant.

This business phone system feature greets incoming callers. It asks what they need help with, and uses their answer to point them in the right direction. For example, an auto-attendant informs customers which departments to reach by pressing the corresponding key on their phone. Once callers press the number, it diverts the call to the right department.

Automated attendants are a key feature of business phone systems. You can improve satisfaction by sending callers to the people they need to talk to—without hiring a receptionist.

3) Busy Lamp Status

You don’t want to pass a customer through to your coworker if they’re unable to take their call. The busy lamp status is a phone system feature that allows you to notify coworkers if you’re on the phone.

A green light means they aren’t busy, and you can pass their call through. A red light acts as a “do not disturb” sign.

Your staff can pick their busy lamp status, or have it light automatically if they’re on another call. Receptionists won’t need to place a caller on hold while they check availability. They can simply check whether their light is green, then divert them.

4) Call Forwarding

Are you in the process of moving offices? Working remotely? Using your personal phone for business at the weekend?

With VoIP call forwarding, you can automatically divert people calling your old number to your new device. Your caller won’t even know their call is being diverted. (It’s that fast.)

You can also make calls on your new device using the VoIP number your contacts recognize. There’s no fumbling around changing contact details. If you use call forwarding, your old number will display on the caller ID.

5) Call Parking

Don’t fancy putting your customers on hold? With this feature, you can park their call.

You’ll put their call into a number-based virtual parking bay. Then, your co-workers (or yourself) can head back to the parking spot to continue the call. Callers who’ve been parked will hear hold music while they wait.

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