How To: Set Up a Business Phone System
by: Leo Welder | ChooseWhat.com
A quality business phone system will make your business' internal and external communications much more efficient and professional.
A business phone system is made up of multiple interconnected telephones with professional features, such as call forwarding, call holding, call transfer, and much more. A business phone system could be as simple as two cell phones or as complex as 500 interconnected phones across offices in many different locations.
Advantages of a Business Phone System:
Allows your company to promote one main phone number, under which multiple phone lines can be linked. A caller will be able to contact one number and be routed to the appropriate person, no matter where the employee may be.
Provides a professional communications image coupled with sophisticated call routing features, which will make external and internal communication much more efficient.
Can be set up in a matter of minutes for as little as $10 a month (this base, 100 minute plan is offered by Phone.com). Despite what you may think, a business phone system can be inexpensive and easy to set up. You can view our comparison quote building tool for these services here:
Before you set up your business phone system, you should:
Decide how many "users" or extensions you will need.
The price of most business phone systems is determined by the number of "users" and extensions you require. A "user" is defined as someone that can make and receive phone calls from their deskphone, "softphone" or smartphone app and access their voicemail and settings through their web login. For employees that don't need to make many calls, you can save money by assigning them with virtual extensions only. These employees won't have a login or the ability to make outgoing calls through the system, but when people call the main company line and dial their extension, the call will be forwarded to their mobile number (or any phone number for that matter). Many services offer unlimited virtual extensions for no additional cost.
Test your Internet service
Most any modern phone system you might consider today will be VoIP based, which just means that it will work through your Internet connection rather than an old-school analog phone line. If you are currently using your office Internet connection, go to http://www.pingtest.net/ to test the quality of your connection. If you get a B or higher, you are in good shape.
Sign up For a "Cloud Phone" Service (aka: Business VoIP)
Cloud Phones provide you with business phone system features (like an auto-attendant, extensions, call transfering, conferencing, etc) without requiring you to buy or install any hardward other than the phones. They work also work through your existing Internet connection, so you won't need to pay an old-school telecom for phone lines.
Cloud Phone services charge per user per month (usually around $25 to $40), plus the cost of the phones (around $99 each). Phone.com offers a super cheap base plan for $9.99/ month, but it only gives you 100 call minutes per month. With most Cloud Phone services, the price decreases per user as you add more users. When you place your order, the phones arrive through the mail preconfigured, so you can just plug them into the Internet and use them immediately.
Main Advantages of Cloud Phones (Business VoIP):
- No additional hardware, like a PBX, is required (this saves thousands of dollars)
- Cheaper to set up than a traditional landline phone service from AT&T or Verizon
- Preconfigured phones are mailed directly to you
- Setup only requires plugging phones directly into an Internet connection
- Easy to add users / lines
The only disadvantage with any VoIP based phone system (like Cloud Phones) is that you are subject to service outages since VoIP relies on the Internet to function properly. However, these outages are few and far between, and when you setup your service, you can enter mobile numbers where calls will be routed should the service go down.
We also built a tool that you can use to generate quote estimates, including fees, from the top Cloud Phone (Business VoIP) Services. You simply enter the number of phones you need for your employees, the number of phones you want for conference rooms (or other seldom used phones), the number of virutal extensions you want and the state where you will be billed (this is how we estimate the taxes and fees), and you'll see bottom line pricing from Nextiva, RingCentral, Jive and Phone.com.
- Sign up for multiple free trials of virtual PBX services. Many virtual PBX providers offer free trials that take mere minutes to set up. Take advantage of these offers by creating accounts with multiple vendors to discover which interface and service you like the best. After you’ve decided on an option, simply delete the accounts you no longer need.
- Start with the most basic plan. If you are unsure about the number of phone minutes you need per month, start with a basic plan and upgrade to higher level plans as necessary. Almost all providers can seamlessly transition your account from plan to plan.