7 Steps For Rating Business Phone Systems

Choosing your first phone system for your business can be a daunting task. With so many options, it can be hard to feel like you are making the right selection to further the success of your company.  In order to feel confident, you need to make an informed decision. Rather than simply purchasing the new system on the market, you should consider what you need from your office phones.

You must consider all of your options. Because each business’s needs are unique, what works great for one business may not be the best choice for yours. To facilitate your purchase decision, you should make a personalized rating system for comparing business phone systems.  Below are seven simple step-by-step instructions to create your own rating chart.

  1. First, consider your business’s present and future needs.  Ideally, your phone system will stick with you for several years, so account for any expected growth. Create a list with all the features your business will require of a system in order to succeed.  Ask questions like: Do you require voicemail? Do you need call waiting? Will callers need to be placed on hold? Will employees need to make internal calls? Will department extensions be necessary?  Use these criteria as a starting point for your chart.
  2. Next, begin creating the chart, you may find it easiest to use a program like Microsoft Excel. List each phone you inspect as the row headers and your desired features as the columns. Use this while researching available phone systems.  Rate each system according to its features with a number between one and five. This will give you a good idea of which system is the most practical for you. Leave space for additional rating columns.
  3. Inspect each system for adaptability.  If upgrading the system with new extensions would be difficult, it may not be the best choice for an evolving business. Your goal should be to choose a more versatile system, likely to serve your office for years to come despite changing needs.  Create a column to rate each system in terms of its ability to grow and change along with your business.
  4. Check the system’s specifications for call volume. Nothing can drive a business down faster than losing calls from customers during high traffic times. Bigger companies can receive hundreds of calls every day, possibly including international calls. Create a column to rate each system according to calls, traffic, and volume. The ideal system will be reliable even when experiencing heavy call traffic.
  5. Consider the system’s capabilities concerning extensions and department numbers.  Depending on the size and projected growth of your business, you may find one of two options suitable. Small companies generally use separate numbers for each department, but larger companies usually assign individual extensions.  Individual extensions facilitate quicker connections between business colleagues, but might not be necessary if you operate a small business and do not plan on expanding.
  6. On your chart, create a “notes” section recording any features not included on your initial list. Perks you didn’t think of at first could suit your business well. These could include: call display, ability to assign unique ringtones for different callers, and call waiting.  Features like this could be essential for a growing company. If you do project growth, also note which systems and/or features may be more appropriate in the future.

Finally, examine your chart and narrow down your choices using the ratings you assigned to each system. Determine which systems are the best for your business, and make your final selection.   Save your chart for future reference as your business needs change.

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Peter Wayne is a geek who’s interested in anything technology such as communications, electronics and gadgets. He often checks out Small Business Phone Systems for his company at On Target Canada.