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Small Business Tips

Small business phone systems: Find the perfect tool

Manasa Reddigari

Having a business phone system means you never have to miss a call or a business opportunity. Not sure which phone systems and services are worth the investment?

Click through to learn about your options for small business phone services.

Do I need a business phone system?

Modern-day smartphones are so powerful that it may seem like you can communicate day-to-day without a business phone system. But business phone systems offer many benefits:

  • Real-time communication with customers: Getting a business phone system allows you to establish a direct link through which customers can reach you without delay.
  • Customer service optimization: Business phone systems let you track your use of business phone lines. This way, you can identify and eliminate customer pain points like long hold times.
  • Employee communication: Business phone systems serve as a centralized internal communication tool for one-on-one phone calls, conference calls and more.
  • Lower international phone bills: If you run a geographically dispersed business, using small business phone services with international plans will usually be cheaper than making these calls over a mobile network.
  • Increased communication channels: Business phone systems give you the ability to add many more phone lines as your business grows and your internal and external communication needs increase.
  • Advanced features: Business phone systems offer many helpful features, such as allowing small business phone services to remain operational during an outage.

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What types of business phone systems and services should I consider?

Landline, VoIP, hybrid and virtual phone systems are your main options. Let's take a look at how each system works and some popular small business phone services on the market for each type.

  • Landline: Traditional analog phone systems route calls over a copper-wired or fiber-optic Public-Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Your landline system can make use of numerous individual lines, or it can use a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system to direct calls placed to a single external phone line to multiple extensions. Landline systems are gradually going out of favor for VoIP phone systems. Service option: Call a local or regional telephone company.
  • VoIP: Voice-over-IP-based phone systems route calls travel over the internet, so a quality internet connection is a must. If you have a good service provider, VoIP typically costs less. In most cases, the price of routing calls over the internet is lower than routing them over a PSTN.
  • Hybrid: Typically viewed as a hybrid of a traditional analog and VoIP phone system, these systems allow you to make both landline and VoIP calls. They often serve as a step before migrating to a VoIP phone system.
  • Virtual: These systems work like call forwarding, transferring calls placed to a central business phone number to other mobile numbers.

What's the difference between VoIP and PBX?

In addition to routing calls to extensions, a landline-based PBX system provides features and functions such as call forwarding and a phone directory. But it requires more costly and complex infrastructure, including a server for call switching, a switchboard, external and internal phone lines and standard phones.

VoIP systems offer similar benefits as a PBX but at a lower cost and with less equipment. Typically, it's an internet connection and either an IP phone or a computer installed with the phone software. Configuring VoIP systems are also more straightforward and requires less of a learning curve than PBX systems. But bandwidth is a limitation of VoIP systems that you don't have to worry about with PBX systems.

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