Cloud Phone System For Modern Businesses

Small Business Phone System: An Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Small Business Phone System: An Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Today’s small businesses have extensive options for selecting a business phone system, particularly now that small business VoIP systems are so prominent in the marketplace. To help you get started in an easier way and choose the best phone system that fits your organization, we’ve assembled the key information you need in your selection process.

In this guide, you’ll know the basic business phone system knowledge, your available options, things to look for, and get inspiring insights on some common questions that small business will encounter. As you read, you will note a significant of information about small business VoIP, including:

♦ How Business Phone System Works
♦ Your Options – Small Business Phone System Type Explained
♦ Things to look for in a VoIP Systems for Small Business
♦ Business Phone System FAQs – Common Scenarios and Solutions
♦ Free Ebook Download: Small Business Phone System Buyer Guide

How Business Phone System Works?

Before we jump into your available options and must-consider elements, it’s important to understand how business phone systems work in the first place. Without that basic understanding, you’ll find yourself struggling to see the difference between the different small business VoIP phone system options. Armed with this knowledge, you will be in a better position to make the best choice for your business. Just don’t underestimate the value of a quality, small business VoIP. Choosing the best business VoIP will significantly increase your ability to remain competitive while saving your costs.

Small Business Phone Systems And Private Branch Exchange

A business phone system often works with a PBX (private branch exchange), a telephone system within a company that manages call flows and auto-routes calls based on pre-configured rules. This means that with a PBX, when a caller reaches your company, he can be directed to his desired extension automatically without your staff having to intervene, greatly enhancing business efficiency.

The Growth of Small Business Phone Infrastructure

PBX phone system components evolved over time. When it first came out, generally known as analog/legacy PBX phone systems, small businesses had no option but to rely on traditional phone lines to communicate. And only very limited telephony features were available to leverage at that time. Yet the emergence of internet-based phone (VoIP) technology has changed the game. The possibility of using internet phone service has brought about the next generation of VoIP-based phone systems that allow you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection. Such robust VoIP systems for small business has made advanced telephony services like auto-attendant, music on hold, call queue, call recording possible and opened up more opportunities for companies to rocket business communications in regards to reduced call costs and improved efficiency.

Video Understanding What Is VoIP in a One-minute Video

Your Options: Different Types of Small Business Phone System

Small business phone systems generally come in 3 types: traditional landline systems, on-premises VoIP Phone systems, and Hosted PBXs or Cloud Phone Systems. Below is a quick run-down of each type of system. Review the following to explore which business VoIP system is the best choice for your company.

1. Traditional Landline Systems

Typically supported by a local or regional phone company, traditional landline systems are analog-based and use physical PBX hardware boxes. They run over the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) and physically connect phones via the telephone company’s copper wiring. The key to an analog PBX is that it connects to POTS lines that pre-date the Internet. And although such systems have the longest history, they are not capable of many modern-day phone system features, such as voicemail-to-email, and cannot deliver high definition calls. They also don’t allow for ease of upgrades or the intuitive dashboard interfaces that you will find in a small business VoIP phone service.

Best for businesses already purchased landline services and has little requirement for advanced telephony features like mobility extension, unified communications, video calls, etc. This option may be useful for a small business that must rely on a legacy business phone service, and cannot upgrade to VoIP service for the time being.

2. On-premises VoIP Phone Systems

An on-premises VoIP business phone system is one where the PBX hardware is kept on-site in your server closet. Instead of physically connecting to the PBX with copper wiring, phones connect to the PBX over an office’s Local Area Network (LAN), often leveraging the same Internet connectivity that your office computers do. Peripheral devices such as gateways and softphones normally interact directly with the PBX. In addition, besides the VoIP line (SIP Trunk) supports, some on-premises VoIP telephone systems can even incorporate traditional phone lines (ISDN, PSTN, GSM) without relying on other devices, offering greater flexibility and cost-savings.

Top-notch on-premise VoIP systems for small businesses allow you to reap all the benefits of modern VoIP technology: reduced call rates, free internal calls, rich VoIP functionality, increased mobility, scalability, etc. Advanced features like IVR, call queues, call recording, and conferencing are delivered with ease of use.

Best for small businesses wanting the functionality of a sophisticated phone system at a reasonable price and want to take full control over their system and access the equipment at all times.

3. Hosted PBXs or Cloud Phone Systems

If you want the best of the maintenance-free small business VoIP systems as well as have a toehold on the future, cloud phone systems are the ideal choice. They take the form of software or 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 its engine running. The service provider handles all the virtual PBX maintenance and updates, freeing you from many IT concerns.

Cloud phone systems are considered future-proof. They offer features of a complete phone system and allow growing businesses to add phone lines and users with ease. Greater mobility can also be expected as users can access their office phone functionality anywhere with an Internet connection.

Best for growing businesses on a fixed budget that don’t have an IT staff to operate and maintain PBX hardware. Also good for businesses that want quick access to new phone system features or have multiple locations and want their system all on one platform.

Related: “Does VoIP PBX Make Sense for My Business?”

Things to Look for in a VoIP System for Small Business

When you’re thinking about which type of VoIP system to invest in, there are certainly a handful of elements you must consider. Here are a few major categories to think about and choose a business VoIP service:

1. Features

The first and most important aspect of choosing the right solution is understanding what features are offered. Identifying the features available and aligning them with the needs of your business is crucial.

If critical telephony features like call queues, auto-attendant and conferencing are missing or cost extra, then the product may not be the right solution. In general, a VoIP small business phone system that comes with unified communications capacity will be the best for business to grow and shorten communication runaround time.

Below is a list of must-have features to pick the best VoIP system for small business:

Key Business VoIP Features

Checked here for more features a modern VoIP phone system should offer and get a general understanding of how they work with common use cases.

2. Costs and Investment

Best VoIP systems for small businesses must be able to accommodate the business needs while also accommodating the budget. Initial costs, total costs of ownership, and existing infrastructure should all be taken into considerations.

Initial Costs: 

Hosted VoIP solutions usually have a low upfront cost and are typically charged as a monthly fee per user. Using an on-site VoIP phone system has a higher upfront cost, but then no, or only very little, recurring monthly fee. If both systems offer sufficient services you’ll need, consider if your company finances call for one payment model over the other, that will likely decide which type of system you should choose.

Total Costs of Ownership:

It’s hard to decide if a hosted VoIP solution could cost less or higher than an on-site hardware investment, as they’re paid in different models. But your years of system usage may give a basic hint. Make a simple calculation based on the year you tend to use the system, and you’ll get your answer.

Existing infrastructure:

Consider your current technology infrastructure: your existing PBX, phone sets, gateways, cabling or any type of trunks. Make an evaluation or consult with possible service providers to see if they can be preserved and incorporated to the new system seamlessly. Excellent interoperability between your existing infrastructure and the new solutions will not only help you achieve the best cost-efficiency but save you much trouble on the provisioning process as well.

3. Ease of Use and Management

If you do not have dedicated IT resources, think of a phone system that is easy to use, manage, and setup. Quality small business VoIP telephone systems, either cloud-based or on-premises, offer a seamless deployment process and help you configure your services with a web-based intuitive panel. Ideally, with a top-rated phone system, you can make changes (e.g. adding extensions for new users) within point-and-click configuration in minutes and without relying on professional system administrators.

Below are 4 key features an easy-to-use VoIP phone system for your small business should be equipped with:

  1. Web-based Control Panel (Online Portal)
  2. IP Phone Auto Provisioning
  3. Mobile Softphone
  4. Event Notification (Instant Alert)

Tips: Reputable VoIP solution providers like Yeastar would offer Cloud PBX free-trial or on-premises PBX web panel demo for you to experience or even try out the services before purchasing. It’s important to see if a system is easy-to-configure in that process.

4. Future Expansion

Nothing should stifle your company’s growth, especially your phone system. Consider how your business may grow in the coming year. If there is potential for rapid growth you will need to consider how this will impact your purchase. It may help to view any extra per month cost of upgrading now and investment towards upgrading your telephony services in the future. By implementing a modern system, you will be prepared for growth without having to install physical lines each time you need a new phone number.

Typically, hosted VoIP solutions or Cloud PBX are adaptable both in scale and cost to keep pace with your business growth. But most premises-based have limited maximum system capacity. If you decide to go with an on-site PBX system, consider purchasing a larger appliance than is initially needed to accommodate your growth.

In addition, regardless of the option you select, make sure it has the broadest possible integration. This will allow you to add or remove components as the need arises through software that ties together all on-site and cloud-based resources.

5. Redundancy

Foul weather can arise at any time, wreaking havoc on business communications systems that lack robust disaster recovery solutions. This is especially problematic for organizations like emergency response centers, which need to stay up and running at all times.

In your selecting process, make sure that your new system comes with disaster avoidance/recovery capacity for seamless failover during inclement weather. Solutions like Hot Standby4G LTE Failover, or System Auto-backup & Restore should be taken into considerations.

FAQs: Common Scenarios and Solutions

Q: I’ve had a traditional landline system for my business. What are the disadvantages of retaining it?

A: Traditional landline systems are time-tested solutions and boast a high level of reliability. But the problem is that new options are no longer built, which means that new technology is rarely being developed for landline systems. Whilst you can still have plenty of useful features such as call transferring, intercom, and call queuing, these add-ons can quickly escalate in cost – especially if a technician is required to come out and install the necessary lines. Besides, as traditional landline systems increasingly losing support, finding experts to service these types of systems will become more and more difficult. When these experts are available, you may expect to spend a significant amount of money, all to keep a phone service that doesn’t function as well as a modern VoIP phone system for small businesses. Voice over internet protocol is an important part of the infrastructure that allows you to provide the best customer service, and use advanced features that allow you to remain competitive.

Q: Can’t my employees and I use our mobile phones for business purposes?

A: It is definitely possible if you’re investing in a VoIP system for small businesses. Using a VoIP system that offers softphone applications like Yeastar will allow you to turn your mobile devices into a fully-featured office extension. You can reach your office phone functionality anywhere and always present a professional image. For example, customers calling your business number can be forwarded to your smartphone if nobody in the office answers. You may also be able to use a mobile app to handle administrative tasks, set preferences, and access the corporate VoIP phone system.

Further, your small business will have the option to allow workers to bring their own devices. This can enhance productivity as workers are better able to conduct business via their smartphones which are easy to use. Ultimately, VoIP phone systems don’t take away your ability to use your preferred devices. Instead, they empower you to use them while implementing best business practices.

Q: Can remote employees access a business phone system?

A: Cloud-based VoIP systems for small businesses give users the freedom to take and make business calls from anywhere, even without the need for a business-dedicated cell phone. On-premises VoIP systems typically allow for remote extension registration and offer plenty of mobility features for users to remain productive remotely. If your business works with field and remote staff, you may find that they can easily connect to your VoIP phone service, and they will not experience any degradation in call quality.

Video Unify Your Remote Team with S-Series VoIP PBX

Q: If my business has multiple locations, does it matter if I have an on-premises or a cloud-based system? 

A: While both on-premises and cloud-based systems can support organizations with multiple locations, Cloud-hosted systems make it simple by building an online centralized system that can be reached anywhere. It worth noting that some on-premises PBX systems also offer easy multi-site solutions, like Yeastar Multisite Interconnect, to allow seamless inter-branch communications and minimize the provisioning required.

Related: 4 Available Options to Connect Remote and Branch Office

We’re Here To Help

Yeastar take the confusion out of choosing the best VoIP system for small business! Whether you are looking to have a new phone system installed or have your current system updated, we are here to answer your questions, offer advice, and customized solution that’s the perfect fit for your business goals. Contact us now to get free consultancy.

Founded in 2006, Yeastar created the revolution of small business phone system for the past decade. The top-notch Yeastar Cloud PBX and on-premises S-Series VoIP PBX breaks the price-performance matric and brings immense business opportunities with robust unified communication capacity. Explore more about Yeastar Cloud PBX here and learn how our customers boost their business with S-Series VoIP PBX here.

Small Business Phone System Buyer Guide Download

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User Login

Instantaneously receive user login credentials via email once the extension has been deployed by the adminstrator.

Log in conveniently via any web browser for access to the user portal.

Integrations

Integrate various CRM software for better customer service and satisfaction.

Enable transcription of audio messages into text with integration of third-party transcription service.

Enable API for integration with various third-party integrations for advanced performance such as call center and hotel reception services.

System

Provision email SMTP and template settings for event notifications to be sent out.

Manage storage allocation and duration of various types of data being stored on the PBX.

Determine the types of event notifications to be sent out, and the parties receiving them.

IVR

Add various audio voice prompts to be played according to different call scenarios.

Add voice prompts on multiple levels for more effecient and precise inbound call routing.

Voicemail

Customize default voicemail settings for each user extension.

Add various voicemail messages for allocation to different call scenarios and users.

Provision specific rules to how voicemail messages are played over the PBX system for better caller experience.

Reports and CDR

All call log activities are stored, with the option of having audio conversations recorded by default or for specific extensions.

Use intuitive visual call reports, to check various call statistics over extensions, trunks, queues, ring groups, and more.

Call reports can be viewed and downloaded directly from the PBX, or scheduled to be sent via email to respective parties.

Security

Restrict a general group or specific IP addresses to prevent unauthorized access to your PBX.

Limit the number of otbound calls users are allowed to make within a time period to protect against toll fraud.

Restrict certain country codes for outbound calls either company-wide or on certain extensions.

User Login

Determine extension ranges for different functions.

Define use of different voice prompts depending on call scenarios or intended function.

Provision basic and advanced SIP settings to be used on the PBX.

Recordings

Record all calls made on specified trunks, including inbound and outbound calls.

Recordings

Record all calls made on specified extensions, conferences, or call queues.

Paging and Intercom

Create different types of paging and intercom broadcast groups for selected extensions.

Set a time schedule to automatically start your broadcast.

Maintenance

Check for and download firmware upgrades to ensure that your PBX is always up-to-date.

Perform back-ups to prevent data and settings from getting lost.

Perform troubleshooting on your own to debug.

Conference

Pre-set conference settings and dial-in passwords for security, and allow internal users to send conference invites to external parties.

Speed Dial

Create multiple speed dial numbers to respective external numbers frequently used for outgoing calls.

Speed dial is activated when the set prefix (default or customized) is dialed.

Ring Group

Create multiple ring groups and determine custom ring strategies and failover settings for each.

Call Queue

Create different call queues with specific ring strategies and failover settings.

Static agents permanently answer calls in queue, while dynamic agents can log in and out. Allocate different extensions to each group.

Determine what actions are to be allowed for Mangers or Agents to manage on the Queue Panel.

Call Control

Have calls received on specific SIP trunks routed to designated extensions or destinations within the PBX.

Set-up dial patterns so that outbound calls are routed to their intended destinations.

Determine how calls are routed and received at different times of a day.

Contacts

Store, retrieve, and share company contact details easily on your PBX.

Organize company contacts into dedicated phonebooks and determine accessibility rights to extension groups for each.

Bulk import a list of contacts instead of having to key details in individually.

Role and Client Permission

Pre-defined user roles within the PBX are conveniently available for allocation, or create your own set of permissions.

Restrict users from viewing specific extensions, departments, or extension groups with Extension Visibility.

Allow or resrict specific users from managing or viewing certain company contacts

Auto Provision

Pre-defined setting parameters specific to respective IP phone models are conveniently available for easy set-up.

IP Phones can be quickly provisioned to your Yeastar PBX with just the pre-defined template and device MAC address.

Trunks

Register multiple SIP trunks on a single PBX as needed.

Different types of trunks can be created, Caller ID can be customized.

Extensions

View, deploy, add, and remove user extensions within your PBX system.

Configure default call and user settings for individual extensions.

Customize allocation of user extensions to specific ring groups.

Portal Login Page

Receive your administrator log-in credentials and set-up guide via email.

Log-in on any web-browser to get started with PBX set-up.

Installation Wizard will guide you through basic configurations.

User Login

Access all company contacts made available to you by the administrator.

Create your own personal contacts list for easy reference and dialing.

Bulk import contact details for convenient data entry.

User Login

Access and manage user settings for softphone application and voicemail.

Manage call routing and presence status for your individual extension.

Retrieve or download your personal call logs and recordings.

User Login

Receive your log-in credentials and set-up guide via email, sent by your admin.

Log-in on any web-browser to get started with PBX set-up.

Configure contacts and personal settings from the web portal.

Auto Provision

Add, remove, or modify IP phone settings from your web interface.

Upgrade IP phone firmware conveniently from your PBX.

Upload various default setting parameters specific to respective IP phone models for greater convenience during set-up.

Contacts

Store, retrieve, and share company contact details easily on your PBX.

Have detailed contact information for your vendors and clients conveniently stored .

Bulk add a list of contacts instead of having to key details in individually.

PBX Monitor

Monitor the status extensions, whether they aren idle, in use, or unavailable.

Know whether your SIP Trunk running properly, or experiencing problems.

Monitor the number of call conferences currently running on your PBX, and their individual durations.

Maintenance

Check for and download firmware upgrades to ensure that your PBX is always up-to-date.

Perform back-ups to prevent data and settings from getting lost.

Perform troubleshooting on your own to debug.

Call Detailed Report

All call log activities are stored, with the option of having audio conversations recorded by default or for specific extensions.

Filter by date, time, or extension number to retrieve specific call logs or recordings

Playback call recordings directly from the PBX or download to store externally.

Event Center

Determine what events and logs are to be recorded and/or have notifications sent.

Specify particular notifications to be sent to respective authorized personnel.

User Permission

Set up vaious groups of users for allocation to certain sets of access rules.

Determine what features a certain group of extensions can or cannot access.

Determine if users can access, play-back, or download call logs and recordings from the pbx.

Security

Restrict a general group or specific IP addresses to prevent unauthorized access to your PBX.

Determine specific the range of SIP ports for connection between your PBX and endpoints.

Restrict country codes for outbound calls either company-wide or on certain extensions.

Voice Prompt

Upload and designate customised audio recordings at multiple levels of a call journey.

Upload recorded music to fill the silence that would be heard by callers on hold.

Upload customised voice prompts to create a professional call experience.

General

Customize general call preferences either company-wide or for individual extensions.

Set-up feature dial codes for convenient user navigation to specific call features.

Determine how voicemails are retrieved, and also upload custom voicemail recordings.

Call Features

Add multiple automated responses to be played at different phases of a call journey.

Designate specific extensions to ring concurrently based on an external caller's dial pattern.

Customize messages and waiting times to keep external callers engaged when put on hold.

Call Control

Have calls received on specific SIP trunks routed to designated extensions within the PBX.

Set-up dial patterns so that outbound calls are routed to their intended destinations.

Determine how calls are routed and received at different times of a day.

Trunks

Register multiple SIP trunks on a single PBX as needed.

Provision SIP trunk settings and dedicate them to particular extensions.

Bulk add DDIs on each SIP trunk, for allocation to an individual or groups of extensions.

Extensions

View, deploy, add, and remove user extensions within your PBX system.

Allocate and deploy specific extension numbers to respective users via email.

Set-up default ring and presence status settings for individual users.

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