In the digital age, it may seem like getting an office phone is a low priority. Truth is, it’s still an important part of establishing and growing your business.
In 2015, 68% of customer queries were made by phone.
So, you need a phone. But what kind? Different technologies behind contemporary phones can make choosing one seem complicated.
Here, we demystify the language of business phones and offer what to look for when weighing options. This is your guide to finding the best office phone for your business.
Overview of Analog Phones
The first thing to consider is whether you want a traditional landline (analog) or a virtual phone line (digital).
You’re probably familiar with how landlines work. The local phone company runs a physical wire into your physical office. They are responsible for its operation and repair.
The monthly cost of landlines is usually based on the number of associated phone numbers. You’d pay the local phone company rates for long distance and extra features. There are also installation costs.
An analog phone can be a straightforward option if you have a dedicated office with pre-existing phone lines into the building. But it might require too many upfront costs for an entrepreneur starting with little or no money.
Having a landline doesn’t prevent you from having extra lines, voice-activated systems, and call branching. Landlines can also facilitate mobility through features such as call forwarding.
Overview of Digital Phones
Virtual (digital) phones, often called VoIP (voice-over IP) need internet access. Installation is most often a DIY task that involves registering with a provider.
Monthly costs for a number, are usually quite low. Plus, it’s easy to get toll-free numbers and numbers outside of your geographic area. Long-distance is free of per-minute charges.
A downside to VoIP is bandwidth use. High call volumes (both incoming and outgoing) can drive up your data usage. If you go this route, make sure to get a good rate on your broadband package.
A strong advantage of having a digital office phone is versatility. You can connect it to a handset or use your computer. With VoIP, you can operate from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Your customers won’t know the difference.
If you have a strong technical team, you might consider self-hosting your VoIP services. But if you’d rather mitigate that risk, there are many cloud-based options available.
When choosing a VoIP system, don’t get more features than you can use now or in the foreseeable future. Complex systems and interfaces can make learning to use the system unnecessarily cumbersome.
You can use private branch exchanges (PBX) with analog or digital lines. With PBX technology, you can allow many users to seamlessly share external lines.
Let’s say you have four people on staff. Each can have their own phone number, yet you only need one incoming line from the provider, whether analog or digital.
PBX technology is housed within your organization, giving you full control. It’s a simple way to make a small business appear larger.
Expand the Value of Your Office Phone
As you get to know your customers and their communication preferences, you might want to add text messages to the mix. More direct and personal communication is among customer service trends in 2017.
The good news is that you can add that functionality to your landline office phone. Using a solution like TextBetter, you can expand the way you interact with individual customers.
Making a Decision
Start with understanding your customers when deciding on the type of phone to get. If they’re likely to want to speak with real people, seek out the most affordable, reliable phone option.
Next, consider your internal workflows. If you’re a few people wearing many hats and continually on the go, look for a system that keeps you efficient.
No matter what decision you make, it will be a good one if it helps you stay in contact with your paying customers.
To get more insights and resources for your business, check out our blog.