- First things first: why do you need a business phone system?
- Types of business phone systems
- Going digital: why now?
- How do I choose the right phone system for my UK business?
- Is VoIP available everywhere in the UK?
- What VoIP means for your business—and how you can benefit from it
- What features will make a difference to my business?
- Decision time: comparing your options
So you need a new business phone system. Now what? With so many options on the market (including Aircall!), it’s often difficult to cut through the noise – or know where to start when it comes to the decision-making process. That’s why we’ve created this hub, giving you all the information you need to make the right call and to select the best VoIP business phone service.
First things first: why do you need a business phone system?
Many small businesses in the UK have two key areas of focus: saving time and saving money. The important thing is to work out how to do both—and that’s where a VoIP service comes in.
Whether you’re a small team or the head of a growing department, you want to make sure that you’re running as efficiently as possible without investing heavily in expensive software solutions, or increasing headcount in the wrong places. A business phone solution helps you do exactly that: keep costs down and productivity high.
Let’s explore the types of business phone systems you could be using and you can assess which one suits your business needs best.
Types of business phone systems
OK, so here’s where things can get a bit complicated. If you’re not careful, you can be overwhelmed with phone system jargon—and that doesn’t help anyone. Instead, let us give you a rundown of the phone systems that are on the market in the UK (and if you’re after even more detail, you can head over to our blog for more).
A traditional phone system, transmitting voice signals over copper wires.
Also known as Private Branch Exchange. Multiple analogue phone cables combine to give each one the ability to support 23 individual lines.
Almost identical to the PBX, except the voice signals travel via the internet instead of physical cables.
Short for Voice over Internet Protocol, and run through the cloud. Share information between your phone system and other software tools, enable remote work and virtual call centre capabilities, and unlock new competitive advantages.
Going digital: why now?
For UK businesses, there are a lot of things to consider right now. Day-to-day operations are becoming more difficult, with the ‘cost of doing business’ steadily rising, and staff shortages hitting almost every sector.
That’s why businesses need to eliminate issues using simple, high impact solutions. What do we mean by this? In the UK, all phone systems will be digital by December 2025. That’s not a prediction, it’s fact: that’s when the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) is set to shut down, meaning every phone line will need to operate on a fully digital network.
It may sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Digital phone systems are proven to be far more efficient, as well as cost-effective. Best of all, many solutions like Aircall are fast and simple to set up – so why not take the leap now, and get ahead of the game?
How do I choose the right phone system for my UK business?
As you edge closer to choosing a business phone system, you’ll realise a few things. The first will be that there are a lot of options out there. The second is that many of them will offer you incentives to try their products. But what should you be looking out for—and how do you know that you won’t be wasting your time on providers that don’t, or can’t, meet your needs?
We’ve compiled a checklist of sorts; a few things to consider that will help frame the way you make your decision.
Free demos and trial periods
Transparent, flexible pricing
Ensure service costs are clear and you understand what you’re paying for. Ask questions around cost per user per month, billing frequency, minimum number of users, and customisable plans.
Integrations that work for you
Your phone system should complement your current software stack—not in parallel to it. Check that you can integrate your customer service, sales and CRM platforms before taking the plunge.
Support when you need it
Help should be on hand to answer any questions that you may have and to ensure things run smoothly at all times. Check that your potential vendor offers support for when you need it.
Unbiased customer reviews
Most providers will have customer reviews on their site—but do they paint a full picture? Be sure to check third party sites like G2 for a real idea of the service you’re about to invest in.
Is VoIP available everywhere in the UK?
Yes. As long as you have an internet connection, you can use a VoIP business phone system wherever you are in the UK. For example:
What VoIP means for your business—and how you can benefit from it
Now that you’ve looked into the services on offer, it’s time to dive deeper into the real-world benefits. If you implement a business phone system in the UK, what exactly can—or should—you expect?
Every business will have its own priorities that it needs to address, and each provider’s offering will differ slightly. That means it’s down to you to pick out the benefits that mean the most to you, and let that inform your choice. We’ve pulled together five of the most important things you should consider at this stage—and if you need even more detail, head to our blog.
Lower call rates, lower costs
System installation is far cheaper than wired alternatives, as is maintenance. Many providers offer bundles with unlimited local calling and discounted international calling too.
Remote working, simplified
Make and receive calls through multiple devices, anywhere in the world (with a stable internet connection, of course).
Scale your system with your business
If your business needs change, then so will your phone system needs—but that shouldn’t cause you a headache. Increase or downsize as you see fit in just a few clicks.
Multitasking made easy
Transcribed voicemails, message forwarding, viewing the status of a customer or prospect in your CRM, helpdesk or other software: all of this can be done in one place, even while on a call.
Never question call quality
Want to get technical? VoIP systems compress sound and video using lossless algorithms that preserve quality. The benefit? Connection speed and reception stay at optimum levels 99.9% of the time.
What features will make a difference to my business?
Services, check. Benefits, check. Now, it’s the final frontier: the product itself. Deep-diving into features may sound like an arduous task, but it needn’t be.
This is where you get to map your business needs to uncover the phone system for small business that suits you best.
Below, we explain exactly what phone systems providers mean when they refer to the features you’ll want to use every day. From here, you’ll be ready to start comparing the offerings.
International numbers: Claim local and international numbers for your business in 100+ countries—even if your team works a continent away.
Call routing: Direct calls to the correct teammates every time through customised distribution and ring rules.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Set up a smart directory that automatically guides callers to the correct team on their first try.
Warm transfer: Give your team the ability to quickly speak to one another before transferring a live call.
Call queuing: Give inbound callers the option to remain in queue until one of your agents is available to talk.
Call recording: Review call recordings to help confirm details, monitor quality and guide training sessions.
PowerDialer: Sales reps can quickly compile a list of numbers and call them all in just one click—completely integrated with your CRM.
Analytics: Keep track of your call centre metrics—such as waiting time, missed call rate and call volume—all in one place.
Decision time: comparing your options
So what’s the simplest way to work out the best business telephone system for you? Run through your options, side by side.
We’ve saved you the bother of opening up a lot of tabs and have compiled an overview of the best providers of business phone systems in the UK.
One thing to note: we’ve done it alphabetically to make it simple to navigate. So what's the best provider for your business? Naturally, that’s up to you.
Founded in 2014 and now the leading cloud-based business phone systems provider for small- and medium-sized businesses. Headquartered in Paris, with over 700 employees and a growing number of global branches (including one here in the UK), Aircall provides specialist solutions for sales and support teams in over 16,000 companies.
100+ integrations with popular business tools
Phone numbers from over 100 countries worldwide
AI-powered call and voicemail transcription
Comprehensive packages from the bottom up, with its basic tariff including features often only available via premium plans from other providers
Mobile app for iOS and Android
No free plan option (although there is a free, seven-day trial)
Not available to freelancers or micro-enterprises (fewer than three employees)
Founded in 2018, CloudTalk has evolved from a click-to-call widget to a full cloud communication platform. Founded in Bratislava, the business is one of many startup success stories from Eastern Europe, now boasting a headcount of over 200 and a client list of around 2500.
Plans for different business sizes
Limited integration options
San Francisco’s Dialpad has been operating in the artificial intelligence space for more than 10 years. Now, they operate across 11 global offices, have a team of more than1000 and serve more than 7,000.
Built-in AI for transcription and analysis
Remote work specialists
Serving more than 6000 businesses out of its San Francisco office, JustCall has been operating since 2016 with a focus on sales and support team phone systems. Recently, the platform has expanded to include in-built sales workflows and analytics.
High ‘ease of use’ score
Accessible phone numbers in 70+ countries
No free plan option
Not available to freelancers or micro-enterprises (fewer than 3 employees)
A third and final California-based solution, RingCentral is another large operator in the field. As of 2022, the company boasts more than 400,000 customers across 45 countries and an integration suite of more than 300.
Complex set up
Expensive onboarding costs
The change to a cloud-based phone system is undoubtedly a significant advance for many businesses. Finding a provider that best meets your company's needs is difficult, but hopefully, the information we’ve supplied will help you along the way.
What’s next? Well, it’s time to make your choice. But before you go, we'd like to lend you one last helping hand.
Try Aircall for 7 days for free to experience the platform for yourself, and discover exactly what the benefits of VoIP can bring to your team.