What is a business phone system?
Business telephone systems can be referred to under many names - perhaps you are familiar with terms such as:
- PABX or PBX System
- Commander or Key System
- VoIP or Converged System
Whilst there are a number of different types of business phone systems, each with different features, options and technologies (these differences can be significant or very slight), they are all designed to offer your business the necessary infrastructure to provide 3 basic services:
- Make calls to customers through the networks of carriers (such as Telstra and Optus)
- Direct and manage calls into and within your organisation as efficiently as possible
- Optimise internal communication
What are the basic features of a Business Phone System?
An understanding of the basic features of a business phone system, as well as what exactly your business needs, will arm you from potentially spending your money on features and options that you don't need.
Whilst business telephone systems can be equipped with literally hundreds of features for purposes such as switching and redirecting calls and traffic, market and dealer research indicates that most companies will actually only use 5 to 10% of their telephone features. It's a good idea to focus on features that will actually improve your business, communication and efficiency. Instead of comparing the various system features on a one-to-one basis, you should examine how your phone system will actually be used in your organisation and make decisions based on this.
All systems have the absolute core features of call hold, transfer, pickup and paging through the phone or external speakers. However, the user boundaries for these features do vary from system to system so when you have narrowed your selection to two or three vendors, make sure you have a live demonstration of the operation of these.
Advanced Phone System Features
For organisations whose nature of business require more extensive or sophisticated use of telecommunications, modern corporate phone systems offer some more advanced options with significant benefits that can really lift your business efficiency in ways you may not have.
Automatic Call Forwarding
Automatic call forwarding is a feature that can greatly assist both employees and callers. By automatically routing incoming calls to wherever your employees are, whether on the road, working at home, or even at a remote location, automatic forwarding increases the likelihood that callers are able to reach the person they need with minimal effort and without having to make a second or third call. In addition, your employees avoid having to return to an overflowing voicemail box and waiting or unhappy customers.
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
Automatic Call Distribution offers any working environment the capability to both optimise their service for incoming callers as well as adjacently maximise staff productivity. ACD distributes calls within a group so that the first available agent takes the call. Additionally, if no agents are available the call can be held in a queue with a comforting message that their call will be attended to shortly. A group supervisor can also access real-time information on how the group is operating including the number of calls in queue, average queuing time and total incoming calls received.
ACD functionality is ideal for business departments that operate as an incoming call centre such as accounts, telephone sales or a technical help desk. Many telephone systems provide this functionality as standard. There are also more sophisticated call centre applications that integrate with the telephone system and are designed for specific needs of larger call centres. These applications include functionality like more sophisticated reporting, remote agent working and call routing to agents based on their skill levels.