When choosing a business phone system, these are the main considerations you should have.

What to Look For in a Business Phone System

Nicholas PriceLast updated on January 2, 2024
8 min

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Which business phone system is the best fit for your company? Whether your business is established or just starting up, this article will help you decide which business phone setup to go for.

COVID-19 is changing the global business landscape as we’ve known it. Now more than ever it’s essential that every company decision, such as which business phone system to implement, is as future proof as possible. Below we’ll outline what types of business phone options are out there, and what our expert recommendations are for now and for the future, as we step into the ‘new normal’ of work.

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Types of Business Phone Systems

To get a lay of the land when it comes to business phones, let’s take a look at the three main setups in action today.

First up, the old timer: the humble office landline.  Its hardware runs the PRI interface on the ISDN network. If that terminology sounds bewildering, we dove into the nitty gritty of telephony systems in our last blog post right here. The server that this type of phone technology is hosted on is called the Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system. We’ve written about PBX in detail before on the blog too, you can get up to speed here. In short, the PBX setup equates to traditional phone cables with a PBX server based in your office.

Next up, phones that use the internet. Hello, VoIP! Here businesses have a few variations to choose from. The first VoIP system of interest is IP PBX. In this setup, phone calls can be routed between VoIP networks and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and vice versa. IP PBX servers can be hosted onsite or accessed via a telecom or internet service provider. This arrangement works with SIP ‘hard phones (normal landline hardware desk phones that use the internet to place calls rather than the physical PSTN cable grid).

Then there is fully virtual VoIP. This business phone system uses software and the internet only, replacing desk phones, cables and other hardware. Phone calls are placed and received through a dedicated app or your browser on existing mobile devices like laptops and smartphones. This is also known as a ‘softphone’ setup.

Finally, there is a hybrid solution where a physical ‘legacy’ PRI phone system is used in conjunction with IP phones, but it’s uncommon due to several drawbacks.

Choosing a Business Phone System

The right phone setup depends somewhat on the size, scope and organization of your company. In the vast majority of cases, a small business phone system will run on VoIP.

A fixed landline PBX business phone system requires IT technicians for installation and frequent maintenance as well as cumbersome hardware. It also comes with hefty upfront costs, and is much less versatile than VoIP. The only real overarching benefit of such an analog setup over a fully virtual VoIP system is the reliability of the connection, something to consider when operating in an area with unstable internet when call volume is consistently high, or to guarantee protection from power outages and internet failures. However, in this case a stable analog connection with a digital backup incase of infrastructure issues may also be the best solution.

IP PBX setups are well established globally for larger enterprises, but are still much less resourceful and intuitive than fully virtual phone systems. IP PBX can’t integrate with digital services like CRMs, analytics software or advanced call center features such as a power dialer. IP PBX is also still tied to pricey hardware installations such as office desk phones, prohibiting remote work.

Fully virtual, cloud-based VoIP business phone systems are where it’s at for most companies, especially startups and fast growing businesses.

A VoIP setup performs well within offices of all sizes, and is the only business phone option for remote working; an important consideration in our current times.  If you can have access to a decent internet connection, we recommend this option wholeheartedly for your business. That’s why our cloud-based VoIP business phone solution at Aircall is so popular!

Top 5 VoIP Provider Features to Look Out For

If your company is a startup or expanding, you’re able to get set up with high speed internet, and you’re now more than satisfied that a virtual VoIP as a business phone system is the way forward…what’s next?

Choosing a VoIP provider.

Since your options of providers are plentiful, here are the top 5 features to look out for when making a decision about a VoIP business phone provider.

  1. 1. Technical flexibility & capacity

  2. 2. Value for money

  3. 3. Added services and call center features

  4. 4. Integrations and teamwork tools

  5. 5. Reliability & Security

1. Widespread Reach and Agile Operations

How does your provider provide multiple ‘local’ lines to different countries without requiring a physical presence? At Aircall, we work together with the best SIP trunking carriers (Twilio, Voxbone and Colt) to ensure quality coverage all across the world. We offer local numbers for your business in 100+ countries, as well as toll free numbers in any country in which your company operates. All accessible via your browser or our dedicated app on your smartphone or laptop! The best part; there is no need for your staff to juggle multiple contracts with SIP trunking providers – it’s all handled by us at Aircall.

Through advanced SIP trunking technology we can also add (or remove) extra phone lines at the click of a button, something that is impossible with a PBX system, so that you only ever pay for the exact number of phone lines you need at any given moment.

2. Bang for Your Buck

Cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems don’t carry the high upfront costs of hardware installation like PBX and IP PBX, nor significant maintenance costs. They do require regular monthly subscription fees, so it’s worth shopping around to make sure you get your money’s worth. What services does your provider offer beyond digital phone lines? Keep an eye out for features that streamline operations, save time, and, ultimately, money.

There are VoIP service providers that offer much, much more than virtual phone lines. With Aircall, you can access every feature previously available only to call center corporations.

3. Useful Call Center Services

Call queuing, call recording and call routing are essential for efficient handling of dialogues within a sales or support team. Aircall offers all of these elements and more. Aircall’s advanced call center services are unparalleled and intuitive, including time-and skill-based call routing, warm transfers (based on individual teammate schedules and unique skills such as language abilities), group dialing, parallel calls, queued callback, custom voicemail and real time dashboard management.

Aircall provides advanced privacy protected call recording, as well as the possibility for teammates to monitor live calls and ‘whisper’ crucial information to each other during these calls.

If you’re looking to amp up your outgoing call volume then you’ll want your provider to offer a decent sales dialer, such as Aircall’s Power Dialer. Other useful features to look out include things like an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu for when a customer calls in.

4. Diverse CRM Integrations and Team Collaboration Tools

Look out for a VoIP service that is not just another tool to manage alongside your other programs and databases. Aircall talks to all of your critical tools and workflows, saving precious time to focus on what matters.

A good business phone system increases productivity and eases the workload for your team. Let your team concentrate on better conversations with your customers while Aircall simplifies their after call work and teamwork by providing collaboration features like a shared contact list, shared inbox, advanced call assignment and in-call note-taking.

Maximize efficiency by choosing a provider that provides access to your valuable call data. Aircall offers a user friendly dashboard so you can enjoy detailed and real time insights into your call analytics.

5. Security and reliability

Although security is arguably more solid in a physical PBX phone system that doesn’t rely on an internet connection, a virtual phone system is not unsafe. It makes sense to store data in the cloud rather than a physical location that may at times be inaccessible or vulnerable. Data breaches due to human error or intentional malice are surprisingly common with an onsite infrastructure.

Due to the cloud’s intangible nature, it might seem  a risky place to store data, but providers invest heavily into fortifying their cloud security protocols and it’s very rare to experience a violation.

How does your virtual VoIP provider handle security? Is their hosting cloud encrypted and air-tight when it comes to data leaks? These are vital questions to research when vetting your provider candidates.

Future Proofing Your Phone Set Up

As the way the world does business pivots to deal with the changing times, every company is prioritizing one thing: future proofing their business.

A business phone system is an aspect of your organization that shouldn’t hold your company back under any circumstances. By choosing a virtual cloud-based VoIP setup you ensure the possibility for remote work of your call team as well guaranteed access to your company data in the cloud at any time.

Business Phone System Wrap Up…

TLDR; if you’re already set up with the infrastructure and wish to have a system independent of the internet, stick with the hardwired PBX phone system.

If you have a large-scale physical office setup and want a reliable system, choose IP PBX. Bear in mind that this won’t allow for advanced features such as CRM integrations or the possibility of remote work.

If your priorities are mobility, scalability, security, remote working or rapid international expansion, a fully virtual VoIP business phone system is for you.

Aircall is a budget friendly and intuitive business phone solution that offers a plethora of pro call center services to startups and small businesses as well as larger enterprises, to make life that little bit easier for your team. Get in touch with us if you want to get on board!

Published on July 15, 2020.

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