It’s an exciting time to talk about phone systems for small businesses. Features that were once only accessible to large companies are now available to small and midsize businesses, and cost much less each month than a traditional landline system.
Whether you’re researching a new phone system for your small business or wondering how to get the most out of your existing system, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of must-have features, and what they can do for your organization.
VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lets you make phone calls using an internet connection instead of a traditional landline. The fact of the matter is that landlines are already obsolete. So unless your business is in an area without a reliable internet connection, VoIP is probably a much better option. You can save anywhere between 40% – 80% by switching, and boost productivity by 20% thanks to the additional tools and features VoIP systems offer.
If you have concerns about migrating to an internet-based system, you should know that, by and large, concerns about quality and reliability have been addressed in recent years. Call clarity has improved significantly, and most VoIP providers now guarantee at least 99.99% uptime.
AUTOMATED PHONE ATTENDANTS
There’s no question that most people who call a business would prefer that their call be answered by a friendly human being. But even if you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford a full-time receptionist, having an auto attendant can still reduce call volume for simple requests, like confirming an appointment or offering business hours and location information.
Furthermore, even full-time receptionists aren’t available to answer questions 24/7. But an auto attendant can still offer a professional greeting, route calls to cell phones if desired, and offer answers to common customer questions.
PROFESSIONAL TEXT MESSAGING
With VoIP text messaging, you can respond quickly to simple requests without having to give out your personal cell phone number. It allows you to maintain a professional image to your customers while setting healthy boundaries between your business and your personal life.
Mobile twinning lets you link a cell phone number to a business phone extension, so any call to that extension will also ring on the linked cell phone. It’s an extremely handy feature for remote workers, but it’s also a godsend for frequent business travelers and busy small business owners. Mobile twinning offers some significant advantages that are hard to overlook:
- Move freely around your office without missing an important call
- Save money on data
- Get business calls while traveling
- Work from home (or elsewhere) seamlessly
- Use WiFi to save on international calls
- Access Outlook from your cell phone
PHONE TO FAX
You might be able to ditch your fax machine and free up space. With an internet-based phone system, all you have to do is upload a document and easily send it as a fax through your phone.
VOICEMAIL TO EMAIL
The average worker spends over five hours checking their email and responding to messages. Having voicemail automatically forwarded to an email account (or delivered by text message) can significantly improve efficiency, as well as responsiveness. It also makes it easier to access voicemail on the go.
A conference bridge is a way for multiple people to join a single meeting. It’s much easier than setting up a conference call, because you won’t have to add individuals to an existing conversation. Instead, participants call a centralized number to join. Attendees can also join and leave the call as needed without disrupting the meeting.
IMPROVED ON-HOLD EXPERIENCE
Why do big companies insist on playing you music and marketing messages while you’re on hold? They know something important: recent data shows that 70% of US callers hang up within 60 seconds if there’s no music, and callers who hear music tend to hold the line 30 seconds longer. It’s disconcerting to wait on hold and wonder if you’ve been disconnected, so music and messages reassure callers they’re still in the queue. Messages also perform double duty, allowing you to market additional products and services while you have a caller’s attention. As consumers find more ways to avoid watching and hearing ads, on-hold messages provide a future-proof way to communicate with potential and existing customers.
How can you tell if your customers are always greeted in a friendly manner, and provided the best information about your business? Call recording tools allow you to address any communication issues quickly. It also offers busy entrepreneurs peace of mind that while they’re attending to other matters, their staff are competently holding down the fort.
When are your call volumes higher? How long are calls lasting, on average? Call analytics can help you decide when you need to hire more employees, how you should allocate your existing staff, and how you might be able to shorten calls.
Adding new lines for a landline system requires physical installation from a skilled professional, which can get quite expensive if your needs frequently change. Internet-based phones, however, don’t require onsite support. Lines and features can be changed easily and quickly, so you can scale up or down as needed.
ENABLE REMOTE WORKERS OR MULTIPLE OFFICES
No matter where your staff are located, with an internet-based phone system, they’ll be able to access all of your business phone features. Over half of employees now work remotely, and while some executives see this as a negative, remote work reduces absenteeism and increases engagement, while cutting down on worker frustrations like long commute times and scheduling challenges.
DO NOT DISTURB
Ever since the invention of the cell phone, it’s been increasingly hard to set boundaries between work and home life. However, with modern small business phones, you can easily enable “do not disturb” mode, and calls will be directed either to voicemail or to another staff member. That way, you get your precious time back, and your customers can also get a timely response.
THE EASIEST WAY TO GET IT ALL
With Voice as a Service (VaaS), small and midsize businesses alike can get VoIP, along with everything it has to offer, without an initial investment. You can benefit from enterprise-scale capabilities, while a provider like Marco manages your system and provides 24/7 monitoring. VaaS also offers flat-rate pricing to help you manage your budget, and should you wish to add or remove features, you can do this easily through an online portal.
Of course, while many of these features could greatly improve your ability to respond to clients faster and easier, not every business or organization requires every single feature that internet-based phones offer. Marco’s phone experts are always happy to connect with you and pinpoint which features might be the most helpful for your business, and which features you can do without.