The best small business phone systems should help you increase profitability and provide a great customer experience — all while remaining easy for your call agents to use. With those end-goals in mind, how does your current small business phone system measure up?
Given the phone’s familiarity, it can be difficult to rethink what’s possible. Your phone system may be fulfilling your needs right now, but limiting your growth potential.
The fact is, updates in small business phone systems have evolved significantly in recent years. While you may have a strong comfort level with your current system, it’s worth considering what advantages you may be missing out on by not switching to a modern small business phone system.
How to Choose Your Small Business Phone System
There are several different types of business phone systems available, each with its own set of pros and cons. Where you begin the process of evaluating small business phone systems has a lot to do with whether you have an existing small business phone system that you want to upgrade or whether you’re establishing a new phone system for the first time.
If you have an existing office phone system, you can either continue using it or upgrade it to a modern phone system. By upgrading it to a phone system that offers greater features and flexibility, it could help you to grow your business faster and stay ahead of your competition. Software solutions allow you to streamline your sales and support operations which will increase revenue and enhance the customer experience. If you’re not measuring up to your competition, your customers could shift their loyalty to another brand.
The big question you face is whether it’s the right time to switch to an internet based solution, also known as a VoIP phone system, and whether it will give your sales and support teams the same capabilities as your competitors. Additionally, many cloud-based phone systems have the capability to connect with other software business tools, streamlining your business functions.
Benefits of the Cloud
Cloud-based solutions make it quick and easy to set up a call center for inbound calls, outbound calls, or both. Enabling these core business functions is important, but if now isn’t the right time to do it, having the VoIP infrastructure in place is a forward-thinking move. The right time to start using a call center might be right around the corner.
If your small business is a startup and you don’t have any existing cables, contracts, or equipment to contend with, the clear choice is to implement a cloud-based phone system, which enables the use of VoIP integrations with your other business tools. This will help your team work more efficiently and reduce error.
But the type of solution you choose will depend on a variety of factors, like current infrastructure setup, cost, plans for scaling, and internet connectivity.
What Types of Phone Systems Are Available?
Learning a bit more about the basic differences between small business phone systems will help you make an appropriate purchasing decision.
The main differences revolve around how your voice signals are transmitted: via the internet (data packets) or physical cables (electrical current). Another noticeable difference between traditional phone systems and modern ones is regarding functionality. Cloud-based phone systems are increasingly becoming popular because they allow you to do many things that you can’t do with a plain old telephone system (POTS).
The four types of phone systems and how they work are:
- 1. Analog – Transmits voice signals over copper wires.
- 2. PBX – A term for private branch exchange. An office setup comprising multiple phone cables where each one has the capability of 23 individual lines.
- 3. IP PBX – A variation of the PBX system where voice signals ultimately travel in data packets over the internet rather than through physical cables.
- 4. VoIP – Voice over internet protocol also uses data packets to transmit voice signals over the internet. With a VoIP system, you can also share information between your phone system and other valuable software tools to give you omnichannel communication benefits.
VoIP phones are quickly becoming the preferred small business phone system, not only because they offer more features and functions, but because they enable remote work and virtual call center capabilities. All remote call agents need is a working internet connection, and perhaps, a headset. Flexjobs reports that 82% of workers that have the flexibility to work remotely will remain loyal to their companies, which means decreased turnover rates. Moreover, CBS News reports that companies utilizing remote workers generally have 10% higher revenue.
As your business grows and your needs change, a VoIP phone system gives you competitive advantages.
Does Your Business Phone Work With Other Business Tools?
With pitches for new technology littering your inbox every day, finding a product that actually improves business processes is a breath of fresh air. If you’re like a lot of SMB owners, you gravitate toward a few reputable products that you’re certain have an impact on the bottom line.
However, if all your tools operate in isolation from one another, your employees have to update each system separately. Taking extra steps can cost you time and money. By having a siloed approach to your business processes, employees make mistakes and key information may get lost in the mix. Mistakes and misinformation can be expensive and embarrassing for your company.
These problems are solved when all data is automatically centralized in a single tool. With a cloud-based phone system and the right software integrations, key contact info — like caller history, call recordings, and agent notes — can be instantly aggregated together.
Enhancing the Performance of Your Business
Here are some other ways a cloud-based phone system and software solutions can enhance your existing business software:
- Combines other software solutions with your CRM.
- Allows you to share notes and information internally.
- Enables an omni-channel approach to internal and external communications.
- Increase productivity for inbound calls and outbound calls.
- Offers call whispering so you can coach call agents during calls.
- Frees up time by automating mundane or repetitive tasks.
- Gives you reliable, actionable data in real-time.
Integrated software solutions help your employees work more efficiently and provide unmatched, personal service.
Choosing a Phone System That Can Scale
After you’ve worked hard to establish your business, you want to see it grow. You’ve probably already set some goals for where you hope to be in the next 5 years, 10 years, or even further-out.
But growth doesn’t happen all at once, and you don’t want to be limited by your tech stack when it takes off. It may be time to consider switching to a cloud-based phone system that lets you scale your operations as your company experiences success. By planning ahead with the right small business phone system, it’s one less problem to deal with, and you can focus on growing in a financially healthy way.
Getting a phone system that can scale will make it possible to reduce your expenses, hire fewer employees, and make it possible to scale your operations up (or down) with inherent seasonality. Software integrations work harder, so your employees don’t have to.
By streamlining your operations, you could position your business to offer more products or services. The right phone system might even help you become a dominant brand leader within your industry.
Remote teams and distributed teams might not be a feasibility right now, but the advantages of developing a call center on-site or off-site will be easier to achieve if you already have the right small business phone system in place.
Best Ways to Use Your Phone System to Grow Your Small Business
Your website makes it possible for people to learn about your company whether they’re in close proximity to your business or a continent away. The speed of modern communication makes it possible to expand your market share exponentially. While customers may find your website, they need to be able to order products and services online and speak to a representative when they have questions.
According to Forbes, retail sales are down and eCommerce sales are spiking. Ecommerce sellers have enjoyed a 129% year-over-year growth in the U.S. and Canada as of April 21st. Online retail orders increased by 146%. With the shift to online sales, call centers with cloud-based phone systems and software integrations will position your company to keep up with industry growth.
Cloud Phone System Features to Know
Cloud-based phones with a long list of features offer the most opportunities for growth-hacking. Here’s a list of possibilities on how to take advantage of this tech:
- Set your phone system to open automatically according to business hours.
- Record a customized message for off-hours callers.
- Automatically route calls to the proper teammates and set up an IVR guide.
- Use your cloud-based phone system dashboard to set up a virtual call center.
- Use a shared call inbox and call commenting to follow up on tasks.
- Update all systems in real-time.
- Queue inbound callers until an agent can accept the call or offer a callback.
- Take and place an unlimited number of calls.
- Record calls for quality and training purposes.
- Launch calls using a single click or use the power dialer for calling efficiency.
- Forward calls to a mobile device.
- Tag calls for appropriate follow-up.
- Use the after-call work feature to prepare calls for the next step.
- Use call whispering to monitor and coach call agents in real time.
- Combine your phone system with your CRM.
- Use dashboard analytics to evaluate call metrics.
- Use the live-feed feature to get a real-time perspective of team activity to quickly shift resources.
Which features you find most impactful will vary according to individual circumstances. However, these are all considered valuable features for growing your small business using your phone system.
Maximizing the Benefits from a Small Business Phone System
If we step back and look at the bigger picture, you may be wondering how all these features and software integrations will help you achieve the results you’re looking for. These features provide outstanding benefits when you get the right small business phone system.
- Improve efficiency – Software solutions are designed to streamline the processes for customer support and sales, allowing you to shorten turnaround times and move leads through the sales funnel faster.
- Drive professionalism – Excellent customer experiences enhance your branding and increase sales. A call center can make your business appear established and reputable.
- Can support international numbers and call agents in foreign countries – Broadens your customer base as far geographically as you wish.
- Prevent missed calls – Missed calls mean lost business. A call center can handle large volumes of calls, so you never miss a call.
- Automates workflows – Saves on manual processes like transferring calls, updating multiple systems with the same information, and allows you to call back people in the queue without losing their place in line.
All the features and benefits of a cloud-based phone system work together. With the right phone system, you can enhance the customer experience and drive more brand loyalty.
Best Practices for Building Your Call Center
Aircall understands best practices for building a high caliber call center.
- Hire competent call agents and train them to use the software well and provide excellent customer service.
- Use software solutions to solve customer problems expediently.
- Take advantage of software solutions to provide regular follow up with customers.
- Establish KPIs and clearly define them to measure speed, efficiency, and quality (call volume, lead generation, customer support, etc.)
- Leverage a single source of data for personalized customer service.
- Use positive language even on difficult calls.
- Use surveys to evaluate customer service skills and customer experience.
- Build a cohesive company culture.
The importance of increasing sales and improving customer service hasn’t changed. What’s changed is how companies market, sell, and provide support to their customers. The right small business phone system, along with software integrations will help you maximize your phone system’s built-in features.
With a little thought and planning, a comprehensive communication system can be affordable and accessible. The right small business phone system is key to enhancing the customer experience and increasing your bottom line.