Find the Best Telephone Systems for Small Businesses
Communication within a company and between employees and customers is an important step in creating an effective business. Choosing the right telephone system for small business is as essential as in the case of big companies. It can influence the costs associated with your business communication and optimise the daily operations.
Telephone systems for small businesses in the UK vary on a number of factors such as the number of employees, the features needed and the number of lines required.
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Small businesses are defined as employing less than 50 people. Therefore, choosing the right office phone system can help you from investing in a more expanded business telephone systems than your small business needs.
The key difference between the office phone systems is that some are analogue whereas the others rely on the Internet to connect receivers.
Telephone systems for small businesses can be divided into two types: Key telephone systems (KSU) and VoIP systems.
The two types of office phone systems are available as both on premise and cloud versions in the UK. Depending on your requirements, some telephone systems might be more suitable than others. Costs related to installation and maintenance of the phone system vary and also depend on the type of system chosen.
It is not enough to say that a business is of small size since this cannot be the sole factor on which a phone system decision is based on. Here are the steps that every business owner should follow to help them identify their needs.
Vision for the future
The business may be currently small with only a few employees, but it is crucial to think about the ambitions for growth. Some phone systems (such as KSU-less) can be perfect for the momentary situation but are limiting expansion possibilities. Therefore, the first thing that companies should think about is where they see themselves in the future and estimate capacity, in order to choose a system that will provide a long-term solution.
Small local businesses with no plans to pursue national or international coverage, may settle with a key or a simple PBX system, which allows larger employee capacity, but no advanced functions or internal networking. However, if penetration in further locations is a priority for the company, PBX and VoIP systems are the more suitable option for them to reduce long distance and international call costs. Companies with multiple locations can also implement an internal phone system, which will allow cheaper and easier communication between employees.
Different phone systems come with their price levels, so the company should be aware of how much they can actually afford to spend. Usually more advanced and expensive phone systems lower bill costs in the long-run, with Internet based international calls and other features. VoIP systems, for instance, have an unlimited user capacity but are priced based on the number of users, which can be quite costly for a business with many employees. In those cases, choosing a hybrid system is a suitable option to save money on installation and still benefit from VoIP functions.
Complexity of the system
Integrating a complex phone system causes some changes in business processes and it is important that the staff is able to operate with them. Owners should have in mind that new systems may take some employee training for an efficient result, so they should decide on the complexity of the system beforehand.
The key telephone system is the most basic phone system available. It allows the manual selection of phone lines through a switching device called the Key System Unit (KSU). It is easy to use and very similar to a home phone system. The key telephone system includes all basic features you would expect.
This type of telephone system for small businesses has a limited number of phone lines and it allows for a maximum of 40 users to connect. This is one of the factors that make key telephone systems a suitable solution for small businesses. Key telephone systems can be classified into Key System Unit (KSU) and KSU-less systems.
These two type of key telephone systems differ in terms of costs associated, the number of users, and features.
The KSU systems are office telephone systems that are easy to install and maintain. This is the reason why they are a very suitable solution for small businesses and start-ups. They are connected to the key system unit that keeps the information and allows to switch between the phone lines.
Although they make a good choice small companies, their disadvantage comes with regard to flexibility and mobility as they need to be connected to the key system unit. This type of system is basic and therefore does not provide any of the advanced features that VoIP systems do.
In the UK, prices for the KSU systems range between £100 and £200 without the installation costs.
KSU-less systems follow the same principle with KSU systems, except that phone lines are no longer operated by the key system unit. Phones are wireless and this makes it a more flexible and user-friendly business phone system. The lack of the key system unit makes it a cost- effective choice. There is no infrastructure to install and the mobility is increased as the KSU-less systems can be easily transferred to new office locations.
The disadvantage of KSU-less is the scalability restriction. This telephone system only supports a maximum of 10 users. It is a phone system more suitable for small businesses that do not forecast immediate growth and do not receive or make a large volume of calls on a daily basis.
In the UK, prices for KSU-less systems start below £100 before installation costs.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol or Voice over IP. VoIP systems are one of the most recent innovations when it comes to business telecommunication. This type of telephone system for small businesses uses an Internet connection to make phone calls. This way of communicating makes it easier and cheaper to make long-distance calls. It is a great choice for an office phone system in terms of flexibility, functionality and features. VoIP systems provide absolute freedom in terms of the number of users that can be added to the system.
For a good operation of a VoIP system, businesses need a computer, reliable Internet connection, a phone and a VoIP provider. When a call is made using this business phone system, it is sent over the Internet to the receiver where it is transformed into a phone-line friendly format. In this way, the call can be received by any type of telephone system.
VoIP systems are a more expensive option compared to the KSU systems. It fits businesses of all sizes. It is a great option for small businesses that plan to expand over time and have the necessary resources to invest into a performant telephone system.
In the UK, prices for VoIP systems range from £2000 to £15000. If you choose the hosted version of VoIP, costs are per end user and can be around £12-30 monthly. In addition, the price for a single phone set is £60.
Before choosing between KSU systems and VoIP systems, you need to consider not only the costs involved but also the features each system brings. It is also important to consider the possibility of business expansion. As mentioned before, KSU systems start at under £100 up to £200 whereas VoIP can go up to £15000.
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KSU systems are a suitable solution to start with but not when it comes to flexibility and additional costs for international calls. If you are also considering the possibility of expanding your company, you need to understand the limitation regarding the number of users. Even though this telephone system for small businesses may save you money in the beginning, it may affect your business telecommunication once your company starts growing.
VoIP systems are an expensive investment. The biggest advantage is that they offer you the chance to pay depending on the number of users. There is also the possibility to increase the number of users at any time without a complicated process. In the long run, it may prove to be a good choice when it comes to telephone systems for small businesses.
Business communication has evolved over the years becoming easier, faster and cheaper. Depending on the provider chosen and the model of the telephone system, you can incorporate some advanced and features and upgrades. Normally, business telephone systems have the following features:
On- hold music
Call redirecting or forwarding to mobile phone
Private voice mail
These are few of the reasons and features of the telephone systems for small businesses. In order to make the best choice, it is important to have a clear plan for communication within your office and be aware of the features and advantages of each type of business telephone systems. No matter if you choose KSU Systems or VoIP systems, you will have a stable business telecommunication and features tailored for your needs!
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