18 questions to consider before you invest in a new phone system

Using phone systemIf you’re considering upgrading your business telephone system and you’ve started looking around for ideas, you’ll quickly find that the range of options available to you is overwhelming. By answering these 18 questions, you should have a much better idea of your needs and your answers will help your chosen supplier to identify the best system for your business.

1. Is it time to switch?

A business telephone system has the capability to revolutionise the way your company functions. It can save time and money, whilst helping your business to grow its income and to boost your team’s productiveness and thus profitability. Up to date, modern telephone systems deliver a large degree of functionality that allows you to work smarter and market your business in the best possible way.

Your current phone system sadly doesn’t come with a signal to tell you when it’s time to make a switch. Nevertheless, there are countless good reasons why businesses have the need for a new telephone system – for instance:

  • You are moving office locations.
  • You have a number of unconnected sites.
  • You are looking for a more cost effective solution.
  • You need increased voice capacity.
  • You choose to start using your telephone system to generate sales or refine your sales strategy.
  • Your in-house team has grown and a more flexible/smarter system is desired.
  • You require increased versatility and overall performance.
  • Your current system has become unreliable.

Letting your supplier know why you want to upgrade can help them better understand what you are looking for in a new system.

2. What’s bugging your staff?

You might be surprised how many companies fail to consult the day-to-day users of their current system before making a buying decision. Your team will give you the best possible insight into what aspects of your current system are getting in the way of delivering a professional service, so make sure you ask for their feedback before you approach any suppliers.

3. Is your phone system crucial to your business?

Bad weather

Ask yourself if your business be able to function without the system, in the event of a power cut or should your staff be unable to reach the office. If the answer is no, you will need a system that can handle such events – for example, by providing full functionality to remote workers and allowing multiple copies of the system to be run so that should one fail, the other is ready to take its place.

4. Is your existing phone system completely redundant?

If you have an existing system (and/or an existing WAN infrastructure), it may be possible to make use of some of your existing equipment and/or cabling to save on the cost of the upgrade.

5. Do you need real flexibility?

Some companies need a lot more flexibility in their telecoms than others. For example, your company might be expanding rapidly, you might have several sites that vary a great deal in their telecoms needs, or your business might fluctuate at different times of year. In such cases, a system that doesn’t need new software, upgrades, multiple line items or any of the other issues association with traditional systems every time you make a change is a must.

6. Do your staff perform multiple functions?

Call centre

Not all businesses can afford to hire a dedicated receptionist, customer service team, tech support and so on. In fact, if your business is a start-up, you’ll find that multitasking has a whole new meaning. Fortunately there are low-cost budget solutions with a huge degree of flexibility built in, allowing your team (or your one-man band!) to deliver a consistently professional service while filling multiple roles and keeping your costs to a minimum.

7. Do you have part time workers?

Your part time workers don’t need a permanent dedicated workstation (or handset) at your office premises. Choosing a system that allows them to hot desk (log into their extension from any desk/room) saves both on office space and reduces the cost of the system. This applies even to hosted systems, where handsets are still required and some wiring may still be needed.

8. Do you have sustainability targets?

Many companies these days take corporate social responsibility very seriously and environmental factors are particularly significant when acquiring new equipment. Sustainable procurement decisions should be made having consideration of initial cost, quality, durability, running costs, management and disposal. Certain telephone systems such as the IP Office offer truly green options – being a solid state system, it is more durable than others, and uses 45% less energy, producing less CO2.

9. Do any of your staff work from home or remotely?

Homeworkers

This might be because of flexible working, the occasional day at home due to family commitments, senior staff taking work home with them, employment of specialist remote workers, or in the event that the weather prevents people from attending the office.

Certain phone systems are particularly adept at serving remote workers, providing them with the same functionality as a member of staff sat in the office. Additionally, they help managers and supervisors to monitor the performance of remote staff – this can be anything from call recording to viewing when the user is working via Presence technology.

10. Do your team members use a number of devices?

Multiple devices

There are many smart systems available that have helped banish the days where staff were tied their desk phone to use the functionality of the phone system. These allow your workforce to make use of any device they choose, whether a laptop, smartphone, iPad, desktop computer or IP phone, and ensures that they are reachable and have the full capabilities of your system at their fingertips, wherever they are.

11. Does your company operate from more than one site?

Multisite

For multisite companies, there are some great phone systems available – they provide seamless integration between sites, allowing sharing of receptionist capacity, administration and management from one location, free calls between sites, a fall back in the event of a power outage and many more powerful features. If you don’t currently have multiple sites, consider whether you might expand in the future.

12. Do you have many staff ‘on the road’?

When you have staff that travel a lot – your sales team for example – it is really useful if you, your customers and other staff members can reach them when they are available, and to know – and have options for – getting in touch when they aren’t.

13. Do your staff numbers fluctuate throughout the year?

Some businesses are highly seasonal and employ temporary workers at certain times of year to cope with demand. These would benefit from a flexible system where adding, removing and reprogramming extensions is simple and cost effective.

14. Do your staff travel to attend a lot of meetings?

Conferencing

Research has shown that 40% of workers that were typically desk based are now away from their desk for at least a fifth of the time. This might be to hold meetings with other branch offices, attend different locations to train staff, travel to customers, partners or suppliers, or attend conferences. If this describes your business, conferencing capabilities are a must and could save you a fortune in travel expenses, in addition to reducing your carbon footprint.

15. Does your phone system need to work with any other software?

Many companies utilise CRM systems such as Dynamics or Salesforce. Some phone systems integrate seamlessly with these software packages and work in tandem with them to provide extra functionality and insights.

16. Are many of your calls international?

International

For businesses that operate internationally, a VOIP telephone system is likely to be a worthy option for your consideration. The cost savings on calls are significant and depending on call volume, the system can typically pay for itself within a few short months.

17. Do you operate a call centre or service centre?

Headsets

If you have a team of customer-care staff, it is worth considering a system that allows you to monitor their performance and listen to their calls with a view to delivering training, improving productivity and raising the standards of service that you deliver. Another feature that can be of great benefit is a wallboard. Wallboards display critical information that helps to increase productivity and communication inside of your business. A wallboard can also make your sales team more competitive!

18. Do your team ever place customers on hold?

Information on hold

If so, have you considered whether your callers are happy with what you present them with – be it music, a tone or even silence? Why don’t you make use of this as an occasion to inform them about your current offers and special deals? If you’ve never tapped into this feature before, consider the following facts about on-hold marketing:

  • 70% of business callers are placed on hold or transferred.
  • 90% will hang up after 40 seconds if presented with silence.
  • 34% of callers who hang up won’t call back.
  • 88% of callers prefer on hold announcements as oppose to other options.

Get in touch:

The NT team are on hand to discuss with you your present and future needs – get in touch on 01623 687750 or drop us an email to sales@nottel.co.uk and let us show you how we can add real value to your business.