Choosing the Right Phone System For Your Business
In today's business, where customer service and information flow are major priorities, having an efficient communication system is of huge importance. Telephones are the main means for interaction with customers and between employees, and the right type of office telephone systems can highly improve any business.
Telephone systems aren’t what they used to be a few years ago when it was enough to have a few connected phone lines. They have developed into intricate networks, using digital- and Internet-based telephony to reduce costs and establish an internal phone network.
Every business can benefit from all the upgraded features, making it convenient for the customer to reach them, and for their employees to work more efficiently. The market offers many different types and providers, so companies need to find the best office telephone systems for their business.
Office telephone system features vary, and it is important to identify the needs of a company in order to find the most relevant ones. Small businesses’ phone system needs will differ from large corporations, so it is important to identify what is required. You can choose between Key System Units, KSU-less systems, Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, or the most modern hybrid telephone systems.
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Different Types of Office Telephone Systems
When selecting between different office telephone system options, it is important to consider what features each type has, and evaluate their respective advantages and disadvantages. Every business can benefit from a professional phone system, so it is important to match your business needs with what is on offer.
- What Is a Key System Unit (KSU)?
- What Is KSU-less?
- What Is a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) System?
- What Is Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)?
- What Are Hybrid Office Telephone Systems?
The Key System Unit (KSU) is a basic office phone system option. It is operated by a central control device, or a general switching device to manually select a phone line. This system is the easiest to use, and is typically sufficient for companies with 5-40 employees.
Key telephone systems are similar to home phone systems in that they include simple features like forwarding calls, voicemail, call blocking, intercom and paging, speakerphone, and hold function. They differ by offering in-house extensions so employees can call each other, as well as preventing other users from accidentally picking up a line that is already occupied.
KSU’s are the easiest to use of the office phone system options, however, they are not very customisable. They also require professional installation, as every phone in the office is connected to a central control device, so they must all be configured. This allows the system to track the needs and status of all the connected phones, but results in a costly installation process.
The cost of KSU systems will vary depending on how many phones need to be connected. Typically a four line system can cost approximately £300. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages below to see if your business needs can be covered by a KSU system.
Pros and Cons of KSU
|Advantages of KSU||Disadvantages of KSU|
|Easy to use||Limited to 40 lines|
|Can monitor status and needs of all connected phones||Limited to basic features|
|Allows for in-office calls via extensions||Professional installation required|
|Prevents others from picking up a line that is in use||Lacks portability and flexibility|
KSU-less systems are the most basic office phone system option, perfect for organisations with 10 users or less. A KSU-less system offers roughly the same features as a KSU network, but without the central control device, making it a wireless solution.
This is a cost-effective alternative for small businesses, as it does not require professional installation. However, KSU-less systems are not sold commercially, but have to be requested by phone system providers. A KSU-less system is flexible, as it is not connected to a general switchboard, so it can be transported to new locations easily, or sold. However, due to the basic nature of this system, it also has limited capabilities and is susceptible to crosstalk, which is when one user is able to hear another’s conversation on a different line.
KSU-less is a great solution for very small businesses that do not foresee rapid personnel growth, as it is limited to 10 lines per system.
Pros and Cons of KSU-less
|Advantages of KSU-less||Disadvantages of KSU-less|
|Flexible, portable solution||Limited to 10 users|
|Easy to use and maintain||Limited capabilities|
|Cost-effective||Susceptible to cross-talk|
The Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system is a more sophisticated and modern office telephone system. A PBX system is a fully digital system with advanced features, which are suitable for any small- to medium-sized business. There are many benefits to PBX office telephone systems, as it is operated by a central control device as a fully-programmable switching device. This allows for the automatic routing of incoming calls, making it a great solution for businesses with more than 40 employees.
PBX office telephone systems contain features such as extension dialing, transferring, customer waiting queues, on hold music, conference calls, business hour settings for rerouting calls, and more. It is a very flexible system that allows businesses to programme it according to their needs. PBX systems support other analogue functions such as fax machines, phone extensions, and modems. In addition, PBX systems feature an interruptible power supply (UPS), which allows the system to continue running during a power outage.
Although PBX office telephone systems are easy to use and programmable, they are a costly solution, and professional installation is required. Moreover, on-premise PBX are a ‘single point of failure,’ meaning that if one part the system fails, the whole system stops working. Fixing this problem can take time, during which the business will not be able to operate.
PBX systems also have an off-premise version - hosted PBX. Hosted PBX systems are controlled by an external provider, enabling the business to save the cost of purchasing equipment, installation, and maintenance, but still benefiting from all the features of the system.
A hosted PBX office phone system is a VoIP-based system, essentially putting the system in a cloud. As this is a cost-saving office phone system option, it is great for small- to medium-sized businesses that cannot afford to have an on-premise PBX system.
Pros and Cons of PBX
|Advantages of PBX||Disadvantages of PBX|
|Allows more than 40 users for scalable business growth||Costly installation process for on-premise PBX|
|High automation for smoother process||Staff training is required for on-premise PBX|
|Supports other analogue devices||Single point-of-failure for on-premise PBX|
|UPS function to remain functional during a power outage||Expansion of hosted-PBX is dependent on provider|
|Extractable information for accounting purposes and calculating cost of calls||Provider could increase fees and/or charge cancellation fees|
|Hosted PBX saves installation, repair, and maintenance fees||Phone connection is dependent on internet connection|
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is an entirely Internet-based phone system. It is the innovation of telephony, allowing calls to be transferred over IP and it is another modern office telephone system, with the highest functionality. It can be a stand-alone option, a hybrid, or can be paired with PBX systems.
The difference between digital and Internet telephony is that calls are not directed through phone lines, but a computer network. When a person places the call, it is sent through the Internet, where when reaching the user it is transformed into a traditional phone format in order to reach the phone line.
Depending on the VoIP provider and equipment purchased, VoIP phone systems offer calls of high quality, even with international calls. As VoIP systems are connected through the internet, multiple offices can be united on a single phone system. This means there are no internal calling charges. In addition, there are no separate cabling installation costs when opening a new branch, as it can be connected to the existing online system.
Some of the sophisticated features of VoIP enable employees to answer calls even if they are not currently in their office and rules out a receptionist since it offers an auto-attendant.
The downside of VoIP is that this system requires high quality bandwidth, and if there is an error with the network, then all calls are affected. This means that the VoIP system will require regular updates and maintenance, which can become costly, as this system can be susceptible to outages.
However, VoIP office telephone systems also have a hosted VoIP version, which can be helpful for businesses to avoid the high initial and maintenance costs.
Pros and Cons of VoIP
|Advantages of VoIP||Disadvantages of VoIP|
|Highly advanced features and high quality calls||Costly to install and maintain|
|A system for any sized business||Requires more equipment to set up (phone, adapter, internet connection, VoIP provider)|
|Cost-saving for long distance phone calls||Requires high quality bandwidth|
|Flexible system, accessible from any location||Provider could increase fees and/or charge cancellation fees|
|Unlimited capacity and supported operators||Susceptible to outages due to reliance on bandwidth|
|Easy to add and remove users iwthouht operational impact||Susceptible to viruses and hacks|
Hybrid telephone systems have emerged recently with the aim to be the most flexible choice for businesses of any size. They merge on- and off-premise solutions, and analogue and digital. A hybrid system enables companies to keep their current infrastructure and to take advantage of VoIP features without making a huge investment. It means businesses can fully customise their office phone systems to their specific business needs.
There are two distinct types of hybrid systems: one is a combination of digital (PBX) and Internet based (VoIP), and the other is a combination of on-premise and off-premise systems. The degree of variation of these elements is entirely up to the respective company, thus making hybrid the most modern and adaptable office phone system option.
What to Consider When Selecting Office Phone Systems
Every type of phone system has its advantages, but the one that will fit a business best has to correspond to its main objectives and needs. Consideration of the business profile is the first step for choosing the right telephone system.
1. Price Range of Telephone Systems According to Business Size
When designing the plan for your business, you should consider the number of employees and price ranges of different available telephone systems. An overview of the price ranges for the various telephone system options can be found here.
2. How Many Operators Can Use the Office Phone System
The size of the business is a big factor when choosing a phone system since they have different allowed capacity. For instance, KSU-less systems are not suitable for rapidly growing businesses because of the limited number of users, while others like VoIP systems have no limit of operators.
The current situation and future expansion objectives are important to consider, so the company can invest in a system that will suit their long-term goals.
3. How Many Branches Can Use the Telephone System?
The company’s places of operation can also determine which telephone system is best for them. Local businesses with only one office may not need a complex PBX or VoIP system, while others with multiple locations and international headquarters can benefit most from an Internet-based system.
4. How Complicated Is the Office Phone System?
Changing the current phone system causes some changes within an organisation, especially with implementing more complex systems. Companies may need to train their staff to work with the new infrastructure, which will incur extra costs. Business owners should evaluate the level of complexity of the system and if their employees will be able to operate it efficiently.
Please fill in the form if you are interested in purchasing an office telephone system or if you want to get more information about it. We will match your needs with our suppliers, and thanks to our free service you will find the most fitting office phone system option for your company.