Thinking about updating your business phone system? The options can be truly dizzying, especially considering businesses frequently wait up to ten years between system upgrades. Business phone systems are a long-term investment, and it’s important to find a solution that will last. But the entire communications landscape is changing–what do those changes mean for your business? This guide is here not only to help you find a phone system to meet your communications hardware needs, but also to find a system that will improve your customer experience and boost employee productivity.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY WHO’S USING YOUR SYSTEM
To get to know what your business needs, first you need to find out exactly who will be using the system. In most cases, your user base will fall into two camps: internal users, or external users (customers, contractors, etc.).
Solicit feedback from the people who interact with your phone system most frequently. Get input from staff—both technical and nontechnical, light and heavy phone users. Ask them what’s working about the current system and what’s not working. What frustrates them? Watch some of them interacting with the phone. Is it easy to use, easy to program and comfortable ergonomically? What about remote workers? Some specific user types to consider:
Remote Workers: How many (if any) do you have? Do they prefer to use business desk phones or their mobile devices? Are they geographically dispersed or consolidated into a few regional or global offices? Are your remote workers easy to locate and connect with? Are secure communications a concern? What other communications needs will remote workers have?
Power Users: These are your heavy phone users, likely among administrative staff, who will need specific functions to keep your company going.
Rare Users: How many need a more simplified setup?
Don’t forget about the users on the other side of the handset either. Ask your customers, partners and vendors about their experience contacting your business. Are they able to reach your staff easily? Are dropped calls an issue? Are your customers looking for other ways to contact you beyond voice? Assess what your competitors are doing well or not so well in the area of communications, too, so you have a benchmark to compare to.
SIZE AND FLEXIBILITY
The size of your business is a big factor in the selection of a phone system. Consider not only how many employees you currently have but also how many you expect to have in the coming year and beyond. What are your staffing projections for the next three and five years? Business needs are constantly evolving. Gaining an accurate picture of your company’s user scope is important so the system you choose has the proper usage capacity. You don’t want to invest in a system that you’ll outgrow too quickly. On the other hand, you also don’t want to pay for a bunch of users that you won’t have for another year or two. The key is finding balance with a system that can grow in lock step with you. You’ll want to understand how each potential supplier accommodates upsizing requirements. Every manufacturer has a different definition of small and mid-sized business, so be prepared to clarify your terms.