Australian businesses are ever increasingly dependent on their telecommunications hardware to interact with their clients. With dependence comes risk. If you rely on your phones to make sales, provide support or communicate with your customers then you should be allocating a suitable budget to the hardware that makes that possible.
- Start up business: Do I really need a phone system?
- What is VoIP and do I really need it?
- What are the latest features on modern phone systems
Start up business, do I really need a phone system?
Do you or will you in the near future require more than 1 telephone line? If you believe you will be able to run your business with a single incoming line, then you do not need to purchase a phone system yet. In most cases the requirement for a phone system comes when there are 2 or more incoming phone lines that need to be handled by the same person. Keep in mind that entry level systems are available relatively cheaply. If you believe there is a chance you will require a system in future and your budget allows for it, getting your communications sorted out in the beginning will free you up to concentrate on growing your new business. You may also want to consider purchasing a used system and having it professionally installed.
What is VoIP and do I need it?
There are 3 main applications where VoIP has a role in business communications.
VoIP Gateway: If you have more than one office, you can use what is called a VoIP Gateway to interconnect the phone systems at each branch. Doing so will allow the seamless transferring of calls between sites. Calls can be made from one site to another without cost. In this scenario there will often be a primary office and several smaller satellite branches. Calls can be overflowed from the small branches back to the head office when staff are unavailable.
VoIP Extensions: Using the internet to connect back to the PBX, a VoIP extension is for all intents and purposes exactly the same as a traditional telephone handset connected in your office. Some common scenarios where this type of solution may be implemented are:
- A temporary remote office needs to be setup
- Staff that telecommute or who could benefit from the ability to take calls from home
- Overseas branches that need to appear as if they were in Australia
- Call centres or overseas contractors (common in software development companies)
VoIP phone lines: By using the internet to connect to a phone provider you remove the need to pay line rental to Telstra. Regardless of which service provider you are with, the telecommunications infrastructure in Australia is owned by Telstra which is why line rentals are virtually the same across all providers. By using VoIP you can have up to 30 lines running on a single internet connection (paying just one line rental for 30 lines). Call rates are generally very similar between budget landline providers and VoIP providers.
You can learn more about VoIP here.
Most popular features
The modern PBX is designed to cater to a large audience therefore just like the all the features of your smart phone, you will likely not use most of them. The key features that do provide significant benefit to almost all businesses are:
Every extension in your office will have a personal voice mail. There are no clunky answering machines, the modern voice mail is nothing more than an application running on the phone system. You can set a different message which will be played depending on whether the user is on the phone, not answering or it is after hours. A company message can also be set to answer all calls at night time.
2. Automated Attendant
This feature is something we are all familiar with every time we call the bank. The messages don't have to be as irritating though, a well thought out Auto attendant can prevent loss of calls, especially in small businesses which often rely on one person to answer the calls. If this person is busy, as a fail-over the calls can be answered by a message which will ask the caller to wait while they listen to music or a hold message. In the mean time, the system can be programmed to ring every extension in the office until someone answers.
3. Caller ID
Perhaps you have taken a call from a prospective client and the line quality is not the best or their mobile drops the call. By scrolling through the caller ID history on your desk phone you can identify the last call, potentially saving lost business.
4. Conference calling
Add a touch of professionalism to your organization by being the one who is able to host the virtual meeting. Easily add up to 5 parties in to a conference call with clear and crisp communication.