7 Smart Questions To Ask When Choosing A Quality Business Phone System

If you don’t ask the right questions when choosing a business phone system you can quickly enter tricky waters. I learned this the hard way!

Many moons ago, I had a property investment business which took off pretty quickly. Thankfully, I found myself in a position where we had more calls coming in than my staff could handle.

This was a great position to be in, but it also caused a problem because I was unprepared.

I hastily rang round a few local telecom companies to inform them of my situation and ask their advice on how to handle it. Before I knew it, I had a handful of emails quoting me for various types of phone systems – but how could I separate them?

How would I possibly know which one was best or right for my business? Inevitably, I bought on price. Unsurprisingly, it later bit me on the bum, and I’d learned an important lesson.

Buy cheap – buy twice and lose a lot of time and energy in the process!

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Don’t make the same mistake as me – here are the questions you NEED to ask when shopping around for a new phone system.

1. Is my business likely to grow?

I know that nobody has a crystal ball, and it’s difficult to see into the future, BUT asking yourself this question now will stop you from buying a phone system that’s too rigid, or too costly to expand at a later date.

You should always have one eye on the future when making important business investments like this – it’s no good penny pinching if you’re going to haemorrhage money in the long term, and have to unpick the damage caused by short-termism.

As a small business, looking to expand, it’s essential that you choose a truly scalable phone system. That way, you’ll be well prepared for any sudden – or gradual – bursts of business growth. Your phone system should be flexible enough to grow with you.

2. What can I realistically afford?

Having a budget in mind is good, as it will stop you from getting carried away and unnecessarily overspending on features or capacity that you don’t want or need.

Spend some time researching the various different phone systems for small businesses that are available.

It may not be the most interesting activity, but you’ll then have a ballpark figure you can work to, and be in a great position to get the best value out of your package, and the most bang for your buck.

3. What features does the phone system offer out of the box?

This is important – what are you actually getting for your money? It’s no good getting a cheap deal if the price, then bloats because you have to pay for various add-ons and upgrades.

Make sure you choose a system that’ll cause minimal disruption when it’s being installed, which comes contract-free, and which allows you to shave your call costs to an absolute minimum.

This out-of-the-box flexibility will put you in control, and give you the maneuverability you need to make the most of your deal. A hosted VoIP phone system can give you all this and much more.

4. What will maintenance and support cost me on a monthly/annual basis?

There’s some fancy technology powering these cloud-based phone systems, so what happens if things go wrong?

Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert. If you choose our service, for example, you’ll always have our support team on hand to solve any problems, and to help you seamlessly integrate our flexible systems into your specific business infrastructure. All provided within the system’s cost.

What’s more, the technology that powers a cloud based system is constantly being updated and upgraded, so you’ll never fall behind the times.

5. Can it integrate with our in-house CRM systems?

One of my favorite features of VoIP systems is how easily they can be integrated with CRM systems. By doing this, you can dramatically improve how effectively you communicate with your customers.

Staff members can instantly make calls from inside your CRM without needing to use a traditional phone, and they’ll have immediate access to up-to-date customer details and records when they’re answering inbound calls.

This makes consistently delivering an exemplary service that little bit easier – which in turn will help you to build and develop long-lasting customer relationships.

6. What methods of connection does it use e.g. Analogue, ISDN or SIP?

ISDN systems have been in use for decades, and while ISDN has its benefits, it’s yesterday’s technology, and it’s really starting to show its age.

With limited bandwidth available, ISDN is a little too rigid and expensive for many small business owners, who need the extra flexibility and lower costs of VoIP.

A VoIP business phone system uses a SIP line, plugging you directly into the internet, and removing the need to rent a traditional phone line.

This makes calls cheaper, lets you keep existing numbers, and re-route calls to increase efficiency. If you’re not yet ready to commit fully, a SIP line is ideal as a backup to a traditional BT line.

Analogue connections are increasingly old hat, but just because you’re going digital doesn’t mean your old-school fax machines and phones are suddenly redundant. Simple converters let you continue using older pieces of equipment without issue.

7. Do I have to pay any additional license fees to expand its features?

Cloud based VoIP Business Phone Systems are great. With the network hosted off-site, they’re constantly being tweaked and updated by the service provider.

As a result, you benefit from the latest updates and feature additions, without having to lift a finger, or shell out for technical support.

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As with any business investment, you need to think carefully about the options available, in order to reach a sensible, justifiable decision. I know from experience how easy it is to focus on the short term but, in truth, we’re usually only short-changing ourselves when we do this.

The overall expenditure is inevitably much higher if we have to go back and correct mistakes, which often amplify as our business grows and becomes ever more complex.

Have you ever bought cheap and regretted it? Share your answer on Twitter & Linkedin.