Few things are as critical to your company as a business phone system. Even with the sky-rocketing percentages of people using social media and the steady rise of email correspondence; people still use the phone as a critical business tool. A phone call allows instant communication and response time. With a phone call you can pick up the subtle nuances of speech and timbre that do not translate in electronic communications. All the emoticons in the world can’t clarify the simple things you can pick up on a phone call. There is also something comforting about talking to a live person. You know they understand your need and that they are willing to meet that need.

The problem is that so many businesses are using outdated or home-use phones in a commercial environment. There are many options out there for Business-Class Phone Systems. Remember all phone systems are not created equal!

When selecting a Business-Class Phone System ask the following questions:

1. What is the total purchase price, of a new phone system, including any additional needed equipment and any suggested equipment? Sometimes the phone system itself isn’t the real cost issue; it is all the added things you will need for it to operate properly.

2. What is the total cost of ownership of a new phone system for the next 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Some phone systems look good at first blush. The equipment may be less expensive, but the installation is lengthy and the configuration complicated. Some systems have an easier install, but if you look at the yearly fees you know the TCO is not what you thought. And how much are the updates going to run you?

3. How easy will it be to make changes to the phone system configuration? Employees come and go; some move to a different department, some may get promoted, others may start working from home. Every time you have a personnel change, does it mean a phone change?

4. What features come standard with the system? Most companies offer a basic version and a beefier version. Many times they have a show and tell about all the great features of the beefy version and then quote you the basic. Know what you need and what you would like. Make sure you understand all the options. Sometimes you may even be pleasantly surprised with a feature you didn’t know you wanted until you use it.

5. What is the growth potential? So a salesperson quotes you a phone system. Maybe you have 15 employees. Does the phone system he’s selling you have room for growth? I mean, what happens if in the next year you grow to 20 employees? Will the system grow with you? Will the upgrade cost you almost as much as the original system?

6. Is the company you are purchasing the system from certified? Anyone can make a sale. How many phone systems have they installed and do they have a trained technician on staff that can competently handle the install? Sometimes there is a reason it is cheaper that has nothing to do with the equipment.

7. Are they able to provide continued service on the phone system? IS XYZ Technology Firm going to be able to assist you if you have issues 30 or 120 days down the road or are they just going to refer you to the manufacturer? Do they really care about your company or do they just care about making a sale?

8. Has the company you are dealing with asked you questions about your business? If they only have a cookie cutter style system, chances are it is not going to work effectively for every business. No two companies have the same needs. Keep your ears open and see if they are tailoring the system to meet your needs, not the other way around.

9. Finally, ask for a cost comparison versus their biggest competitor- apples to apples. Make sure the features and complete installation all match up, then see who is giving you the best value for your money while meeting your needs. If they can’t do that, you might want to consider what they aren’t telling you.

If you have questions about your business phone system and what set up is right for you, feel free to contact us at Internet & Telephone. Or call us at 978.683.9100.