Business Phone Systems - Things to consider.
A comprehensive business phone system is probably the most basic of requirements for any business, not only are they a means to communicate with your suppliers and customers but business phone systems can enhnace your efficiency, improve your customer service and allow for a more flexible working practice. Business phone systems are important and this guide is basically a documented account of what factors we looked at when deciding on our business phone system and should hopefully provide a liitle bit of direction for those looking to improve their own business phone system.
Four Key Business Phone System Functions.
All phone systems offer the functionality of making and recieving phone calls and there are additional functions that you may want to consider as a way to improve this communication medium:
VoiceMail, very important in rthis age of customer service. It provides the ability for the callers to leave messages when you are away from your desk, are on another call or are simply out of the office. It is also very personalisable and is not like getting the generic tones of a standard answerphone whereby you get a standard response when you ring the number, voicemail allows every individual to leave a message and it is also the users voice the caller hears which also helps on the personal touch aspect. You can leave instructions as to when you are likely to be back, provide furthur contact information or give the opportunity for callers to leave you a message.
Call Redirection, it is not always possible for you to be in the office every time the phone rings and call redirection is something that you should consider if you are dealing with a low volume of calls or you are waiting for an important phone call and you need to be out the office. It may be that you are out visiting a client or you are working from home and redirection means that the customer can always get you. You also never miss a potential business lead.
Itemised Billing, as with most things in business a business phone system is a cost and as such you need to maintain control over it at all times and itemised billing allows you to monitor all calls, their duration, number of calls made, numbers dialled and which extensions are making the most etc. This may seem like a little bit of 'Big brother' but you must keep your costs under control and the system is provided as a work tool not for social development. It also can provide a great means to monitor things like productivity in key areas like sales and customer service which are both heavily reliant on the phone system and are two key areas of your business.
Call Barring, as teh name suggest this prevents certain numbers from being dialled which allows you to restrict numbers such as overseas, premium rate numbers and if needed calls to mobile numbers. This again forms part of your cost reduction policy and is advisable for any business phone system where there are more than a few users.
Additional Business Phone System Features for Consideration.
In todays advancing marketplace standard voice communication is not always 'enough' and as the marketplace for all businesses becomes more global and the distances between customers and suppliers grows there has been an increasing use of 'video conferencing'. Video conferencing allows two or more people to communicate with both sound and vision. Seeing the people that you are communicating with can be important, as a significant proportion of communication in face-to-face meetings is visual rather than auditory - "body language" communication can be more telling than the words spoken. For critical business deals where a face-to-face meeting is not possible, a video conference might offer a useful alternative. The key to a successful video conferencing is the data transfer speed that the images and sound are transferred so that the converstion is in real time without any delays or glitches, most business phone system providers can provide data transfer speeds to meet these needs easily
Mobile Phones, a Key Area in Business Phone Systems.
Mobile phone technology is moving at such a rate now that they have obviously got to be considered as a key part of a Business Phone System, they are simply a mobile version of the business phone and can provide all the features of a fixed business phone system but not be tied to a specific place. Some examples of how they replace the standard fixed business phone system are:
Office phone calls can be easily redirected to a mobile phone, thus there is never a situation where the customer cannot get hold of you.
Itemised billing is pretty much standard and it is far easier to bar numbers from use.
Customers can be kept informed if you are late for a meeting due to traffic or any other issue that arises.
Managers can make decisions and pass them on no matter where they are or the colleague is.
WAP enabled phones allow access to the office system and allow emails to be picked up.
When combined with a laptop computer they allow connection to the internet and can be used to access up to date product information, order details and pricing information for clients. Orders can also be sent back to the office immediately so that deleivery times are expediated and the customer experience is added to.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) - the Next Business Phone System Development
Firstly, what is VOIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol refers to the technology used to transmit voice conversations over a data network using the Internet Protocol. Such data network may be the Internet or a corporate Intranet.
It really is that simple, it is phone calls made using your computer, a software package and either a headset or a phone handset made especially for VOIP architecture. You need a broadband connection as a dial up cannot offer the speeds that you require, obviously this would require an on cost but when you consider that this is the only cost and calls between clienst with VOIP equipment are free (even internationally). There were issues initially with the connection quality but this has been resolved and the technology is far better now. However, bear in mind however that addition costs are incurred when dialling non VOIP numbers
The key to making the most of VOIP is to get all your clients onto the technology, not everyone will be willing to do so however consider potentially offering some financial support to your major clients as an incentive because your reduced costs will cover this and you will start to see benefits in costs terms in the long run.