99.7% of all business in the US are small businesses. Let that number sink in. If you are a small business or you have an idea that can be turned into a small business, you are among a massive population of like-minded people that powers several economies. That said, growing a small business is a Himalayan task, especially when you have to continuously communicate with your vendors and customers.
Communication is at the heart of every business transaction, and a good phone system can be a catalyst to your growth story. Here is everything you need to know about business phone systems and how they dispel the challenges of small businesses.
The big players have their own share of troubles. But, the small and growing ones have even more problems that are unique in nature.
Day or night, Sunday night or Monday morning, customers expect your business to be open for business. There are no holidays for business inquiries and customer service. Also, business hours don’t apply for customer service creating a persistent need for always-on business accessibility.
Most small businesses do not have the luxury of having a dedicated IT department, let alone a dedicated IT administrator. The onus of setting up, managing and maintaining the business telephone system is spread among the team. Add to that the tedious task of buying phone numbers and adding new users. Needless to say, chaos is often the order of the day at any small business.
Running a lean and cost-effective business ranks high on the priorities of any CEO. Operational mobility is key to a lean business model. Unfortunately, on-premise phone systems that keep employees chained to the desk do not facilitate operational mobility. There is a pressing need for a small business phone system to connect employees from all corners of lands.
Small businesses do not stay small for too long. Their growth trajectory keeps climbing up the growth slope. But, old school phone systems do not help the cause. They demand high upfront costs that will keep the capital locked in for a long time. Also, most often the essential features come at a hefty price that can run a small business to bankruptcy. An ideal phone system for small business should be easily scalable without any upfront costs.
Each incoming call that your business gets can be greeted with a custom greeting. From wishing a simple good morning to seasonal greetings, a small business phone system can help you can set any custom greetings that befits your brand’s personality.
Imagine a busy day when the call density is unusually high. All lines are busy adding fire to your caller’s misery. An IVR can pitch in there and help attend bulk volume of calls with canned responses.
Read more about IVR
From time to time there will be calls that your agents cannot resolve on their own. They need the helping hand of an expert. Call transfers will facilitate making the right connection to an expert.
Has this customer called before? What transpired during that call? Was a follow up promised? Customer interaction history can give your agents answers and context to all that questions. It spares customers from the pain of having to repeat their words.
Your customers see your business having only one number. But, internally, you can have any number of shared lines that are distributed across business functions, teams and users. Shared lines is a unique trait native only to business phones.
A small business phone system is an advanced telephony system that has several capabilities that domestic phone systems may not have. Based on the way they work, phone systems for small businesses can be classified into four types.
Multi-line phone systems help a small business office to have dedicated phone lines for each user. They are connected via physical cables each connecting individual phone handsets to a switchboard. The switchboard will orchestrate the task of connecting the call to the right number, like a user extension like the front office, back office, security or forward to a voicemail and so on. While they help business connect with each other, their extreme hardware reliance makes scalability difficult and portability almost impossible.
A PBX system is a hardware-based phone system that helps a business create the telephony infrastructure required for external and internal phone communication. It takes the shape of large box with circuit box with sockets into which individual phone lines are connected. Seperate connections are created for internal extensions while external phone calls are directed through dedicated phone lines or numbers. They work well for a dozen or so employee-strong small business that is physically located within a building. For a modern business that advocates remote working or needs operational mobility, this may not be the right choice.
VoIP phone systems are internet-connected phone lines. They enable telephony operations to be carried out through an active internet connection. So, any internet connected device with a virtual PBX software can be used to make a phone call like — an IP phone, a laptop, mobile phone with relevant VoIP app and so on. A VoIP phone system for small business can help achieve the objective of operational mobility.
If you want the best of the present-day small business phone systems as well as have a toehold on the future, cloud phone systems are the ideal choice. They take the form of a software or a web application and work with the help of an Internet connection. They really don’t have a physical PBX system, instead a virtual PBX hosted on the cloud keeps their engine running. Even the need for phone hardware is dispelled since the application can be accessed from any Internet-connected device.
Benefits for small businesses
Bringing a business idea from scratch to reality is a feat of its own. That entrepreneurial spirit should not be doused for want of a good phone system for small businesses. Your business in any stage of growth deserves to have the best phone infrastructure.
Here are few reasons why a cloud based phone system for small business is the right choice:
In 2004, 80% of the world’s population had landlines. In 2018, landlines are on their way out being replaced by smartphones. Technology is evolving at the speed of thought. There is no stopping it. You need an advanced business phone system, today, to stay relevant in the near future. Otherwise you will be stuck with the obsolete.
On thing that remains common amidst all small businesses is that they do not have a rich bank balance. So, they need a business phone system that is light on budget but heavy on features. On-prem phone systems that demand upfront costs, requires third party vendors to set up and takes months just to have the system in place is just not the right choice.
Making a call using a small business phone system should be as easy as calling from any ordinary phone. It should not require extensive training to understand how to use chunky hardware or other phone infrastructure. A system that keeps things simple is the need of the hour.
As a business that is spreading its wings, you will have to quickly ramp your phone availability across several geographies. Why? Because, your Australian customers may not be comfortable calling a US number. They want to see a local Australian number that they are comfortable calling. That brings up the need for virtual phone numbers, which analog phone systems cannot provide, but cloud-based phone systems can.
The consumer market is an impatient beast. It does not wait for anyone and for anything. It rages on with a pace of its own. Those businesses that can run with that pace succeed, others fall behind. Case in point: your small business phone system should not slow down your time to market. It should be able to go live instantly, which is what next-gen phone systems are good at.
Selecting business phone system calls is a strategic move. It will make or break the future operational efficiency of the business and also impact the bottomline of the business. It will also play a key role in positioning the business as a customer-centric brand or one that is always beyond the reach of customers.
Look for these must-have features to pick the best small business virtual phone system:
The 2018 IDG Cloud Computing Study found that 73% of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure in the cloud. Cloud computing is the new normal. It brings to a small business all the benefits that were until now, reserved only for large enterprises with deep pockets. From easy access to applications to minimizing IT costs while facilitating rapid scalability, it brings every imaginable benefit to a small business. That makes cloud-readiness a must-have feature for a small business phone system.
Have you heard of BYOD? Well, this is the era of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which allows employees to use their personal devices for official tasks. At least 58% of enterprises are allowing their employees to follow the BYOD policy. BYOD can be a game-changer for small businesses. It will help slash down IT infrastructure costs as well as groom a culture of remote working. But, to transact phone calls on the go, your business phone system needs mobile softphones.
There is a limit to the number of phone calls an agent can handle in a given day. And, they can only take calls productively for six to eight hours a day. They cannot take calls round-the-clock, 365 days a year. But, an auto-attendant for small business can. An auto-attendant is a voice menu system that makes it easy for callers to go directly to extension numbers that they want to talk to. It saves the manual intervention of a receptionist or an agent to do the call handling for every call.
Small businesses need teams to collaborate tightly. Information needs to flow from one department to another seamlessly. And, when there is the need for an expert to step in, the business phone system should set stage for that too. That makes call conferencing a vital feature to look out for while picking your business phone system. Call conferencing allows team members located distant from each other to come together over a conference call and discuss matters at length. Modern day VoIP and cloud phone systems help businesses to conduct local or international conference calls without any limitations.
How many external applications or tools does your business use? You might be having separate systems for CRM, helpdesk, and so on. If your phone system cannot integrate and work in collaboration with these tools, processes will become siloed. Data duplication would be rampant adding leading more confusion than clarity. Hence, the need for your phone system to be integrated with all third-party software programs.
Freshcaller business phone system
Freshcaller is a business phone system that runs on the cloud. It is priced affordably for small businesses without sacrificing on the feature set. As a small business-friendly phone system, it allows businesses to set up call center complete with call conferencing, call forwarding, call recording, auto-attendant and many other features. And, it takes less than two minutes to have Freshcaller up and running for your business.
Whether you are already stuck with an existing on-prem phone system or are in the process of setting up one from scratch, Freshcaller can be an ideal choice.
Super-easy setup options to enable your administrators to launch your call center in minutes.
Live call center dashboard to help supervisors manage calls and agents real-time.
All previous call recordings and notes are available to ensure your agents always have the full context.
“We previously handled phone calls by sharing one phone and it wasn’t scalable for a growing team. Now, my team members can answer calls with just a click from their laptops. Each call is linked to a call recording and call notes so that pertinent context is readily available for all support specialists.”
“Freshcaller has made our organization more efficient thanks to features like Call transfer, IVR and call queues. The ability to access the system from anywhere has allowed us to perform better. Tasks that normally get done the next day are now dealt with swiftly, thereby minimising any possible delay. Call recording feature has been excellent for our quality training as we now know clearly in which areas we have to focus”
“It is a simple to configure cloud PBX system. I found it easy to buy numbers from different countries and set up my business call center in minutes. There are call monitoring options for supervisors during call and we make it a point to listen to all the call recordings together to improve our communication. Call center is not technical anymore.”