Saturday, November 6, 2010

How to Buy a Phone System

A business phone system can help you run your office more efficiently, eliminate the cost of a receptionist, improve customer service and enhance your reputation for professionalism. There is a wide variety of phone systems available, some of which are supplied by large telephone service providers such as Avaya, Verizon and NEC, and others that you can purchase from third party suppliers, small businesses and technicians. Most business phone systems are bought outright, so after installation there are no monthly fees to be paid to maintain the system.

1. Evaluate your telecommunications needs. How many employees do you have and how many will be on the phone at any one time? Do you get a high number of in-bound calls, or are your calls mostly outbound? Is someone from your company usually available to answer the phones and take messages? Asking yourself these types of questions will help you decide what you need your phone system to do for you.

2. Decide on the functions you want your phone system to have. When someone calls, do you want them to hear an automated message that provides them with options to reach particular company representatives? This will require voice "extensions" and the function known as "auto attendant." Or would you rather the inbound caller get the first available employee next to a phone? If so, you can order a "multi-line hunting" system that will roll the call over from one line to the next when lines are busy or no one answers. If you choose the first option, you will likely want to order multiple voice mail boxes to provide each extension holder with a voicemail service. If you go with the second option, you may want to stick with one voicebox to be shared among all employees. Other important features to consider include call display, conference calling and call forwarding.

3. Choose between a voice-over Internet protocol system (VOIP) or a traditional land line system. If you already have land lines set up, it will be easier to buy a system that accommodates these lines. Alternatively, you can arrange to have your land line numbers 'ported' to voice-over Internet protocol lines to make them operable with a voice-over Internet protocol phone system. VOIP systems can save you money as they are typically less expensive than land line systems. However, due to differences in technology, you may experience problems with the clarity of your phone conversations when the person on the other end is using a land line.

4. Research phone system providers available in your area. Compare retail phone prices posted on company websites and/or call different companies advertised in your local directory to get a ballpark figure of what their systems would cost you. Make sure to verify if the price listed is before or after tax, so you can compare apples to apples. Read for fine print and inquire about "hidden" costs or service fees as well as installation costs. Look into equipment warranties; how long is the system expected to last and who is responsible for repairing equipment if it is damaged or if it stops working properly?

5. Ask two or three companies for detailed quotes. One of the companies you should request a quote from is your current phone system provider or a large company that provides phone systems, as well as monthly phone service.

6. Compare the detailed quotes for phone systems and installation processes and choose a company based on the price and warranty of the products being purchased, the number of years that the company has been in business, the companies’ reputation amongst business owners in your community, the availability of installation dates and estimated times to complete the job. As installation times can often leave your business without the use of phone lines for a few hours, or even days, timing is important.

7. Pay a deposit on the total amount of the contract to reserve the merchandise and the installation date, and pay the balance of the payment after the installation has successfully taken place.

8. Another option for a small office is to install the system yourself. If you are computer savvy and you can follow basic instructions. You should be able to buy a low cost systems and install on your own. You can save thousands in the process.

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1 comment:

  1. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me breakfast because I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this issue here on your web site. login