Before we look at how to choose the best business phone system, let’s highlight why many businesses are frustrated with their current landline (i.e. on-site PBX) phone system:
- High Up-Front Costs: Landline phone systems are very costly to purchase, install and maintain.
- No Cost Certainty: Costs can fluctuate significantly from month-to-month, making budgeting and forecasting difficult and risky.
- Lack of Scalability: If the maximum number of lines are in use, a replacement can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
- Lack of Business Continuity: A landline system uses a network design with a single point of failure. This means if part of the system fails, then the entire system fails.
- Lack of Support: Landline phone system vendors and phone companies typically do not “work and play well together.” When something goes wrong, assigning accountability and solving the problem can be time-consuming and costly.
- Limited Features: Landline phone systems don’t offer built-in enterprise-grade features such as instant messaging, real-time presence indicators, and more. Adding these features leads to higher costs.
An all-in-one cloud phone system is a superior alternative and considered the best business phone system by a growing number of businesses across the world. Here’s why:
- Significant Up-Front and Ongoing Cost Savings: There is no expensive on-site PBX system to purchase, install and maintain. Domestic and Canadian long-distance calls are free, and international calls are priced below phone company rates.
- Total Mobility: Employees can take advantage of all the in-office features from their smartphones, making it ideal for remote workers.
- Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery: In the event of a local power outage, a cloud system (with a backup power supply) will remain operational, unlike a landline phone system. Calls can also be routed to cell phones.
- Seamless Scalability: A cloud phone system is built for seamless scalability. Adding new users is fast, easy, and affordable.
- Advanced calling features: The whole team can access a full range of enterprise-grade calling features at no additional cost.
Choosing the Best Business Phone System
Now that we have seen the game-changing advantages and benefits of a cloud phone system, we can focus on how to choose the best business phone system in four steps:
Step 1 in Choosing the Best Business Phone System: Discovery
Discovery involves researching potential cloud phone system vendors and creating a shortlist of Dedicated Service Providers.
What is a “Dedicated Service Provider”? There are three types of cloud vendors in the marketplace:
- Mass Market Vendors
- Carrier Service Providers
- Dedicated Solutions Providers
Mass market vendors care ONLY about one thing: selling as much hardware as possible! Quality assurance and customer support are virtually non-existent.
Carrier service providers are traditional phone companies. They allocate the bulk of their resources to sales vs. service and focus on supporting their traditional phone service lines. Carrier service providers have found that many customers will buy their inferior offering based on brand recognition, not value and quality of service.
Dedicated Solutions Providers are legitimate cloud phone service specialists, and have expertise helping businesses choose the optimal system for their current and future needs. They also pride themselves on delivering outstanding post-sales support and service. Only a Dedicated Solutions Provider will be able to provide the best business phone system.
Step 2 in Choosing the Best Business Phone System: Evaluate
After you have created a shortlist of Dedication Solutions Providers, the next step is to evaluate each one. Here are 10 questions that will help you conduct your due diligence and move towards getting the best business phone system:
1. Do you specialize in installing and supporting hosted VoIP phone systems?
While many Dedicated Solutions Providers exclusively offer and support cloud phone systems, some do not. You want to choose a specialist that lives and breathes cloud phone systems 24/7/365.
2. Do you offer comprehensive post-sales support?
When it comes to getting the best business phone system, the importance of post-sales support cannot be underestimated. Focus on vendors who:
- Do not charge you extra for support.
- Offer guaranteed uptime.
- Use multiple data centers and have backup options if there is an internet outage.
- Provide support 24/7/365, through their own trained and experienced telecommunications experts. (i.e. they do not outsource support to a third-party).
- Provide support that is highly responsive and efficient, to minimize time-to-resolution (TTR).
- Have the capacity to dispatch technical teams the same day or the next day (depending on when the inquiry is made).
3. Have you been doing this for several years?
There is no substitute for experience! Look for a vendor with at least 10 years in the business.
4. What do your customers say about you?
When you ask a vendor for customer feedback, they should jump at the chance to point you to customer testimonials on their website, and invite you to personally contact a customer.
5. Will you visit us on-site?
While much information can be shared remotely, at some point you’ll need each vendor to visit you on-site to assess your infrastructure and meet with your executives and IT
staff. If a vendor balks at visiting you on-site, then it is not just a red flag: it is a deal killer!
6. What costs are involved?
To get the best business phone system, you need a clear understanding of all up-front costs and additional fees down the road. A reputable vendor will be transparent and help you understand:
- If there are any pricing or service tiers.
- Which features are associated with each tier.
- If you will receive any third-party billing.
- Are there any activation fees.
- If you will incur any upgrade or maintenance costs after implementation.
Your vendor should also be happy to provide you with a comprehensive estimate with a detailed breakdown.
7. What features are available?
The most important features that should be standard for any system your purchase include:
- Auto Attendant
- Automatic Call Distribution
- Call Analysis & Reporting
- Call Queuing/Transfer
- Caller ID
- Company Directory
- Conference Bridging
- E911 Dialing
- Fax Send/Receive
- Hold Music
- Live Call Forwarding
- Message Notification
- Video Conferencing
- Voice and Fax Email Messages
- Voicemail to Email
8. Do you support total mobility?
Remote working is here to stay. Employees must have an easy-to-use, free-of-charge app on their smartphone (corporate supplied and/or personal device).
It is also essential for the app to be available for both iOS and Android devices, and that outgoing calls display your business’s Caller ID — not your employees’ personal information.
9. What is the post-sales experience like?
Additionally, it is imperative to learn how each vendor will manage the post-sales experience in four areas: schedule, project management, training, number porting, and provisioning. Here are key questions to ask:
- How long will deployment take?
- Will you supply a dedicated project manager to oversee deployment?
- Are training resources like videos and how-to articles available?
- How long does number porting take and are there any fees?
- Do you offer plug-and-play hardware and zero-touch provisioning tools?
10. How do you ensure security?
Choose a vendor that maintains their cloud phone system on a private and secure data network, protected by end-to-end encryption mechanisms including Transport Layer Security/TLS and Secure RTP for transmitting media. There should also be technologies and strategies in place to stop robocalls.
Plus, the vendor’s in-house expert team should regularly install and configure all security patches and updates, have multiple telecommunications fraud prevention systems in place. All access and usage should be tracked for security, compliance, quality assurance, and auditing purposes.
Step 3 in Choosing the Best Business Phone System: Demonstrate
Next, it is time to go for a “test drive” to see how each vendors’ hosted VoIP phone system looks, functions, and performs. You should insist on the following:
- The demo should be completely free with absolutely no strings attached.
- The demo should be offered to you on-site at your location, or over-the-web if you prefer.
- During the demo, you should have ample opportunity to ask questions about anything that you deem relevant.
- Additionally, the demo should be at least 30 minutes long, or longer if necessary. You should also be encouraged to request additional demos if needed.
During the demo, pay attention to the following details:
- Did the vendor try and push you into making a purchase, or were they professional and focused on educating and informing you?
- answer all of your questions clearly and competently?
- Do you feel comfortable asking questions during the demo?
- Did you get a clear sense that if you selected the vendor that they would be eager to provide you with ongoing support and advice?
Step 4 in Choosing the Best Business Phone System: Select
The last phase is where you will select a vendor who will provide you with the best business phone system. This vendor should check ALL of the following boxes:
- They’re a Dedicated Solutions Provider that specializes in installing and supporting hosted VoIP phone systems.
- There is comprehensive post-sales support delivered by a team of in-house experts.
- They have been operational for many years with a proven record of success.
- There is a long list of satisfied customers, additionally, they have provided you with testimonials and references.
- They have provided you with an impressive and educational demo and offered you the opportunity to have the demo delivered on-site at your location or over-the-web.
- They have been transparent with all costs, and have clearly shown you how their system will help your business save money.
- Their system offers a full range of enterprise-grade calling features to help your employees — both in-office and remote — be more productive and efficient and deliver better customer service.
- They support total mobility as well.
- They have comprehensive security strategies and technologies in place.
- The experience has been professional, collaborative and positive — and you have a solid sense that this commitment will continue once an agreement is signed.
Once you are satisfied that ALL of the above are in place, then you’re ready to start a partnership and make a smart, safe and strategic investment that drives your business forward!
At Carolina Digital Phone, we are proud to offer the industry’s best business phone system.Learn more about our all-in-one cloud phone system, and our acclaimed commitment to customer service, satisfaction, and success. We can connect with you over-the-web or in-person at your location. Call us at (336) 544-4000, or click the chat icon at the bottom of your screen.