Don't compromise on phone features that may help your business.
The needs of any business telephone user are much the same, regardless of office or company size. But many small business phone systems lack the features that make everyday phone usage much easier. By ensuring that the system you choose includes time-saving, efficiency-boosting devices, you can make the most of your telephony. So, what should you look for when choosing a small office system?
One requirement that mirrors large business needs is least-cost routing.
There are systems that provide multiple carrier routing, so the most cost-efficient network can be chosen to route calls, depending on the time of day and destination of call being made. All of this will be transparent to the user, who simply lifts the handset and dials the number - the system does the rest.
As smaller businesses may not have a dedicated receptionist, a call distribution facility can help spread the work of answering calls among a group of people. If the system can be programmed to direct calls to different extensions dependent upon the time of day, or for out-of-hours working, so much the better.
Many small systems don't include direct inward system access (DISA).
This function is particularly important as it allows incoming callers to access the system direct without tying up the operator. This leaves the switchboard free to answer customer calls.
Being able to attach display handsets to the system puts more sophisticated call functions at the disposal of those needing them. Functions such as programmable keys and speed-dialling improve everyday phone use, and lights indicating call holding, trunk busy and so on help to give users a quick overview of the phone system's status.
Trunk-to-trunk conferencing and call-forwarding facilities can also add value to a small system, allowing conference calls and call-forwarding to other locations such as mobile phones.
With the current high installations costs of ISDN, many small businesses cannot justify the expense of digital lines. If the business needs up to six exchange lines, analogue is the most effective route.
David Ridley is product marketing manager of Securicor Telecoms.
0161 654 9990.