Recently, we posted an article about how to know when you need a new telephone system. Once you’ve made the decision to buy a new phone system, your next step is to determine what you need that system to do for your business. Today’s IP business telephone systems offer features and versatility that were virtually non-existent 10 years ago.
Your first step should be to compile a list of all your staff along with their responsibilities and tasks as they relate to business telephone use. Answering the following questions for each employee will help you determine what your business phone system should accomplish and how it should be configured.
- How many staffers will need dedicated telephones? Depending on your business type, this answer may or may not include every employee. For instance, a car dealership may need for all sales and administrative staff to have dedicated phones, but the staff in the parts and service departments may be able to share 1 or 2 phones.
- Will you be staffing multiple locations? If you have multiple locations, you may want a single public incoming phone number and the ability to answer calls on that number at each location and the ability to transfer calls from that number to anywhere in the company.
- Will you employ a receptionist? If so, is after hours call coverage important? If calls need to be distributed from the main number to individual workers when no one is available to answer the phone, an auto attendant to direct calls could be important. Some users may benefit from call conferencing or voicemail to email capabilities.
- Will you or your staff be telecommuting or working from other remote locations? Telecommuting is becoming more popular every day, and many employers are offering that option when permissible as a perk to draw top-notch staff. If you operate a construction, architecture, or engineering firm, you may have the need for connectivity between your main office and various job site trailers.
- Do you have employees on the road? Outside salespeople, technicians, and construction foreman that are frequently away from a desk and still need to get calls can benefit from features that allow them to be found on either their desk or their mobile phone with just one call.
- Will your employees move from one office to another or one desk to another? If people don’t sit at the same desk every day, features like hoteling can enable a phone number to move from one phone on one desk, to another phone somewhere else.
- Will you have teams with shared responsibility for answering inbound calls? If you have a team of people that shares inbound calls for customer service, billing or sales, you may want to have an auto attendant to manage a call queue. For quality assurance and training purposes, you may want the ability to monitor or record inbound or outbound calls.
- What will your answers to these questions look like 5 years from now? Even though hosted phones offer tremendous versatility and expandability, having a sense of your future needs may help your provider to value engineer your current system to best facilitate any expansion you may need.
Once you know what your new business telephone system needs to accomplish, it’s time to assess your company’s technical, financial and human resources. This information will help you decide HOW to deploy your new phone system. Stay tuned, we’ll tackle that next week.