Small is the new big

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.

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Small business challenges

Communication 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. 

Need for always-on accessibility

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. 

Limited technical resources

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.

Operational mobility

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.

Scalability

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. 

everyday scenarios

Business phone systems and everyday scenarios

Custom greetings

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. 

Interactive Voice Response system

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

Call transfer

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. 

Automatic call recorder

Each conversation that your business has with a customer is a window to learn more. An automatic call recorder helps with archiving such conversations that can be retrieved later for training, quality monitoring or even for compliance purposes. 
Read more about call recorder

Customer interaction history

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. 

Shared lines

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. 

Types of phones

Types of small business phone systems 

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 

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.

PBX phone systems 

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

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. 

Cloud phone systems

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

Why your small business should opt for a cloud phone system

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:

You don’t want to be stuck with the obsolete

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. 

You want to stop burning dollars

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. 

You don’t have to sweat it to use it

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. 

You have to spread physical presence

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. 

There is no time to waste

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. 

Buyer’s guide

Buyer’s guide to the best small business phone system

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:

Cloud-readiness

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. 

Mobile softphones

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. 

Auto-attendant

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. 

Call conferencing

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. 

Software integrations

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: a future-proof small 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. 

Why Freshcaller, of all things?

Why Freshcaller, of all things?

Quick setup for admin

Super-easy setup options to enable your administrators to launch your call center in minutes.

Insights for supervisors

Live call center dashboard to help supervisors manage calls and agents real-time.

Contextual conversations for agents

All previous call recordings and notes are available to ensure your agents always have the full context.

Freshcaller: The preferred business phone system

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