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What do you need from a phone system?

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Choosing a phone system for your business should always involve some consideration, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Taking the time to consider your options for the right phone system can can lead to one that is the perfect fit for your business environment, leading to a greater degree of office efficiency and productivity. Here is a great post by Arthur Miller on some of the features to consider. We'll be following up with more details on features, and how M5 stacks up against the competition.

What do you need from a phone system?

Today we’re going to take a look at what you need from your phone system. More specifically, what features you will need from a phone system.

Phone System Features

Phone system features, whether hosted or premise based, are different than the features of the IP phones themselves. Rather than determining how many line appearances you need on your receptionist phone you will be considering the more global question of how you want your calls routed to your receptionist, what call groups will exist, or even if you would like an auto attendant to handle the routing of your incoming calls.

The basics of what most businesses want in a phone system are voicemail, auto-attendant, extensions, call hold and transfer, conferencing, music on hold and dial by name directory. Nearly all premise based and hosted systems listed will do these types of features, and usually a lot more.

Several products offer upgrades to basic software packages that unlock enhanced features. Some of the enhanced features include presence based tools such as a java or software applet to visually display the users on the system, their extensions, status, and voice mail options. This is available right on the user’s desktop; or special administrative features will allow additional functionality for supervisors or system administrators.

Some of you will choose to integrate third party programs such as CRM, Outlook or Google maps into these applets. Additional enhancements could include recording, monitoring, call queuing, IVR and even hotel modules. These enhancements make running your business easier and allow for a more thorough and efficient interaction with your customers.

Getting Started

One of the easiest ways of examining which features you might need on your phone system is to determine what category of business you might fall into.

Are you a call center? A small business? Home office?

These are loose categories – many systems will fit into more than one type of business. This should help narrow down your choices though.

Next ask yourself some basic feature questions. Do you need call recording or call monitoring? Are there any special features that are a must-have on your phone system?

Answering these questions will allow you to narrow the choice down to either a premise or a hosted solution, and usually cut the choices down to just one or two selections.

Finally, take a look at the available features on today’s most popular VoIP systems. Create a spreadsheet to compare and contrast the phone system solutions that best fit your needs.

originally via What do you need from a phone system?. Posted by Arthur Miller on May 18th, 2010 in VoIP Systems