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Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are essential tools to enable companies to expand their markets and diversify the means of communication with their customers.

Despite the proliferation of communication methods, business telephony in North America is experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 10 to 15% per year. Businesses know that “phone to phone” communication is always relevant and most reliable when the customer wants to speak directly to a human to conclude a transaction or to quickly get answers to his questions.

Here are 6 factors to consider when choosing your new phone system

1. Hosted solutions or traditional private / hybrid equipment?
Until recently, telephone systems available to SMB were limited and very expensive. These systems primarily served the role of an automated telephone operator allowing employees to communicate with each other and with customers. The installation and maintenance of a private system was done at great cost and only very large companies with considerable resources could benefit from advanced functions.

Traditional private / hybrid phone systems are still available today. However, with the advent of cloud technologies, the increase in the quality of Internet links and the versatility of new cloud telephony systems, hosted telephone solutions have become an attractive choice for SMB.

2. Image of your business
The telephone system is the gateway to your business. Outdated or poor quality interactive voice service with endless menus, full mailboxes, and the inability of your customers to reach your employees effectively are factors that negatively influence your company’s image.

Conversely, an efficient and intuitive interactive voice service can project the image of a large company while increasing the quality of customer service. Don’t your customers deserve to be answered when they contact your company?

3. The essential functions
Key functions of a good phone system will your productivity and image with your customers.

Message notifications – emptying and keeping your voicemail up to date can take considerable effort. Email notification of pending messages and missed calls saves time. The best systems will also attach voice transcription of messages to notification emails.

Conference system – allows you to organize virtual audio meetings with multiple participants. Video conferencing is also included in the list of advanced telephone system functions.

Interactive voice service – an interactive voice assistant will answer and direct calls to the appropriate person. Some companies will prefer human response during opening hours and use the automated system after closing.

User mobility – calls can be routed to the desk phone and simultaneously to an App on a smartphone (softphone). This allows the user to take messages or place and receive calls from your customers on the road, at the hotel or at home. The mobile app also allows you to avoid revealing your personal cell phone number.

Advanced call routing features – queues, ring groups, call forwarding and forwarding. The majority of cloud telephone systems support these functions.

Call following (“Follow me” functions) – configuration of automatic call tracking allowing to reach your employees wherever they are, instead of playing telephone tag!

4. Self-administration
The with ease of use of today’s cloud-based phone system, small business users can take control of their communications and free themselves of expensive and restrictive service contracts with their incumbent telephone system providers.

5. Cost Savings
Migrating to a cloud-base phones system and consolidation different services like phone numbers, phone lines, long distance plans, and system administration with a single provider can yield considerable savings. In addition, the majority of business telephone service providers offer unlimited calling plans in the provinces, in Canada or sometimes even in Canada and the United States.

However, beware, “unrealistic” savings can hide certain pitfalls:

Overcharging for optional functions.

Overcharging for cascading telephone lines or limitation on the number of simultaneous calls allowed.

Overcharging for long distance calls.

6. Reliability
Cloud technology brings many benefits, however, not all providers offer the same quality of service guarantee. Cloud infrastructure must be built without a single point of failure with geo-redundant data center support. A disaster in a data center should never impact your telephone service.

Contact an S2T specialist today for advice on your next business phone system.