BUSINESS PHONES | 6 MIN READ
Comparing the features of business phone systems like Intermedia, Mitel, and RingCentral can become time-consuming when all the information isn't in one place. To simplify your search, we have researched the brands listed above to create a list of important features to consider when purchasing a business phone system, as well as an easy-to-understand chart that shows which brands have which features. Keep reading to better map out your search.
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Features to Compare
When shopping around for a business phone system, keep in mind the features listed below.
Call Continuity is a feature that minimizes downtime in the event of phone connectivity loss by automatically re-routing calls to specified backup numbers. Once your power or Internet is restored, normal call routing automatically resumes.
SIP trunking routes your phone calls over the Internet instead of through the phone company's lines. You can use it with most business VoIP phones or even older analog or digital phones.
This feature lowers your phone bills and improves reliability without changing your existing numbers or buying a new phone system.
International Data Centers
If you're a company with international offices, buying a phone system from a company with international data centers could be especially beneficial to you. Phone companies with data centers located worldwide speed up calls for your international offices.
For instance, if you're an American company with an office in England and your phone company has international data centers, when an employee in England makes a call, their call would be routed through a data center close by in England or maybe France instead of traveling to a data center in the US and back. This speeds up calls and makes the connection more reliable since the call isn't traveling as far to connect.
Some phone systems extend beyond audio-only calls to let you hold high-quality video conferences. Screen-sharing is sometimes included in a package, which can power your video conferences to greater heights.
For those who simply want to hold conference calls over the phone, most business phone system carriers give you a feature that makes this possible. Phone conferences allow you to maximize productivity by minimizing necessary business travel.
If your network were to go down, your business would grind to a standstill. Especially in the event of a ransomware attack, when your phone data isn't backed up and your network goes down, you can potentially lose all your saved contacts, phone records, and other vital data.
Business phone solutions that automatically back up your phone data to the cloud can help mitigate this potential risk.
Modern business phone systems can let you hold webinars too. While different carriers may have a limit on the number of presenters or attendees allowed in the webinar, nevertheless this feature can come with additional customization options as well.
Some carriers' webinar features can includes additional options such as real-time audience chat, polling, and Q&A capabilities.
Contact centers improve customer interactions for businesses of all sizes. With customizable call flows and features to ensure more efficient interactions, contact centers combine voice, chat, and email queues into a single experience.
Some contact centers even give you real-time customer insights and historical reporting to help improve future interactions.
As a business, you cannot afford to have calls go unanswered. An auto attendant ensures that your inbound calls are always responded to, even if your staff is too busy to answer the phone or during off hours.
Auto attendants serve as virtual receptionists and can come with a variety of customization tools, such as the ability to offer callers touch-tone options that route to specific people or extensions (through an automated directory), or different messages, including business hours and directions.
Call forwarding enables inbound calls to be automatically forwarded to another phone, such as a mobile phone, home phone, or an assistant’s. This can be useful for when an employee is working on vacation, or is out of office and still wants their callers to be directed to somebody.
Microphone muting can help you maintain privacy in a conference call setting, and can also cut out background noise for the people who are not speaking but are participating in group calls.
While most business phones should be equipped to work with a standard hands-free headset, definitely double check with your potential provider to ensure that this option is available.
Headset-enabled phones are especially useful for salespeople that cold call, as it frees up their hands to type and take notes, and can also reduce the cramping that comes from constantly holding a phone to their ear.
Distinctive Ring/Personalized Ring
Distinctive ring lets you establish additional telephone numbers on the same line as an existing number, allowing each number to have a unique ringing pattern.
This feature is great for companies with one phone number and multiple employees accepting calls from that number. With distinctive ring, employees can quickly know who the call is for without having to ask the caller.
Hunt/ring groups direct calls to a designated group of employees. The phone system will search for the next available line within the group so that an incoming call does not go unanswered.
Many businesses utilize CRM's to optimize the sales process. Some business phone systems allow for integration with certain CRM's to further streamline the sales process. Check with your potential business phone provider to see if your CRM is covered.
Paging via Third Party Device
If you are a business that uses a PA system in the office, you could benefit from a business phone system with the ability to page via a third party device. This feature lets you use a business phone on your network to easily and quickly page your office over the PA system.
Many businesses are subject to compliance through regulations such as HIPAA. A business phone provider that understands the necessary steps to maintain compliance can help you optimize your phone system correctly.
Call recording allows you to play back a call to ensure that no information was missed. This is a useful feature because it saves time spent note-taking during important calls and allows managers to replay calls to for quality assurance and sales rep performance reviews.
On-Premise vs. Hosted Business Phone Systems
When purchasing a new business phone system, an important factor that you must take into consideration is whether your company needs an on-premise or a hosted phone system.
Think of on-premise systems, also know as PBX, as a traditional phone system. With on-premise systems, the end user usually has a server located either on their site. However, upgrades and maintenance to the user's system is left up to them.
If you are a larger company, you might find a better ROI with owning your own on-premise phone system. Additionally, those who want a more hands-on approach to managing their phone system's upgrades and maintenance might consider an on-premise phone system.
Hosted phone systems are cloud-based, meaning that the only hardware present onsite are the physical phones and a network switch, and then the end user's location is connected to the "virtual phone system" via the Internet. Since minimal server infrastructure investments are necessary, hosted systems are scalable with limited up-front costs.
Hosted phone systems are typically managed off-site by another entity. This is great if you don't have an internal network administrator at your company and are overwhelmed at the thought of managing your phone system yourself.
Those who value cost-effectiveness and minimal involvement with maintaining their network might consider a hosted phone system.
Below is a chart comparing Intermedia, Mitel, and RingCentral to one another to see which products have which of the features described above. For ease of reference, all three of the brands compared below employ a hosted business phone system (Mitel sells both on-premise and hosted systems).
Note: Standard Office Systems is not compensated when you click on the above links. This is not a sponsored post.
|International Data Centers||No||Yes||Yes|
|Paging via Third Party Device||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Which One Should I Choose?
Depending on your business' needs and budget, any of these phone systems could be a good fit for you. For instance, if your business doesn't need the distinctive ring feature in your phones then you might not penalize a business that doesn't have this feature.
Your budget also affects the level of service you would be looking for in a business phone system. Depending on your budget, you might look for a no-frills phone system or an all-inclusive one.
No matter which one you choose, make sure you thoroughly conduct research to figure out which features are necessary for your business. The right business phone provider will work with you to streamline your business and propel you to greater heights.
Posted by Chris Gaines
Chris Gaines has been with Standard Office Systems as the Director of Managed Services for the past three years and has over 25 years of experience as a Network Administrator in the office technology industry. He has a passion for helping small businesses discover the best technology solutions for their specific needs.