Business Phone Service Buyer Guide

Learn about business phone features, brand qualities and more...

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: May 12, 2011

Are you in the market to purchase a new phone system for your business? Many small businesses plan to acquire a new system to save money, take advantage of new technology, and be able to communicate better internally and with customers. Below are some items that should help you in making your decision:

Costs – Decide on a budget to spend with your phone system, including equipment and monthly service. Consider costs of any upgrades or of adding new employees or offices. Don’t think too short-term or you’re likely to miss the big picture and to spend more than planned in the long run. Note that technology costs have been decreasing, and you may be able to afford a system now that was out of your range just a few years ago.

Features – Write down phone features that you would like to have, such as easy conferencing or the ability to conduct video phone conversations. Maybe you require special technical features, such as using your current PBX system, caller ID, or maybe you’re concerned about 911 services and you want to make sure that your service provider supports it. Typical business phone features popular with small businesses are voice mail, multiple phone lines, call forwarding, call return, do-not-disturb button, and redial capability.

Easy scalability -- Plan for changes and future growth. Be sure that the phone system you select can be moved around, changed or added to, as required in the case of hiring new employees or opening new offices in different locations. Many small businesses have been selecting “VoIP,” voice over Internet protocol, which offers much easier and more flexible setup than your local phone company. Adding a new phone can be done by technically-minded business owners or the IT professional, bypassing the phone company wiring and delays.

Security – Ask about security of calls, especially if you’re considering VoIP phone service, although tapping phone lines can be done with regular phone services as well.  Hackers can use your phone line to make lots of expensive calls, or they can listen to confidential conversations that may hurt your business. Hackers could also get access to your entire network, if you’re not protected by firewalls and other security measures.

Quality -- Consider the quality of the phone system and its reliability. You don’t want to go through a phone installation and then realize that the phone cannot be used as you planned and quality of calls is not up to par. Test the system before you buy it, and make sure that quality doesn’t decrease if you have two people talking or twenty. Be sure to purchase a well-respected brand equipment, such as Cisco, which will be around for many years.

Overall, the idea is to get the best possible system for your business and you may be surprised to the options you have these days at very affordable cost.

Learn more with our free guides by filling out the form below --fast and free!

Featured Research
  • The New SMB Phone Systems Comparison Guide

    Does your small or medium-size business need a new phone system? Then you're in luck! Our new, updated comparison guide helps you cut through superfluous information and narrow down your list of solution providers. Get the latest data on phone system features, pricing, and performance metrics in an easy-to-use format. more

  • How UC Can Help Your Business Survive the Holidays

    The holiday season is filled with frenzy and excitement for businesses and consumers alike. Consumers prepare gift lists, compare brands and prices, and begin shopping with a vigor that is not present most other times of the year. For many businesses, the holiday season accounts for a large profit bump at the end of each year, and companies strive to exceed their goals and keep customers happy during this rush late in the year. more

  • [Infographic] Switching Phone Systems

    There are a lot of possible reasons you might want to switch to a new phone system. The old one might cost too much or be too troublesome to operate and maintain. It might not be flexible enough. It might not be reliable enough. Or it just might not have the kinds of features and capabilities that you need in today’s competitive business climate. more

  • Business VoIP on a Budget

    Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems represent the next innovation of telephone connection and communication by making it possible to conduct calls over a broadband internet connection, rather than an analog phone line. more

  • [Infographic] The Advantages of Unified Communications

    Did you know that according to 8x8, the tangible ROI of a unified communications solution for a 10,000-person enterprise is approximately $15.5 million? This isn't the only way unified communications can improve your business. more