The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Phone Systems in 2020

What Are The Best Business Phone Systems For 2020?

More often than not, a direct call is the most effective way to do business. That’s why keeping your enterprise connected with the right small business phone system is essential. 

A business phone system is an advanced calling network designed to improve communications for organizations of any size. Because business phones are designed to handle the complex needs of corporate America, like customer service calls and call routing to make sure the right person is on the line, office telephone systems have capabilities beyond what you would find on a typical residential telephone service.

The best phone systems for business in 2020 really depends on your needs and what your office space can accommodate, but here’s a list of important features to consider:

  • Multiple lines means you can field calls from more than one customer at a time.
  • Visual voicemail delivers messages to you even when you’re away from the office.
  • Automated features like an automated attendant that answers and redirects calls to the right extension. 
  • Conference calling lets you connect with multiple people in a single conversation. 
  • On-hold music or messages entertain and educate customers while they wait.
  • Hunt Groups ensures that incoming calls are routed to an available line. 

To better decide what the best phone is for your business, we’ve created a 4-piece guide that discusses the different types of business phone systems: multi-line, VoIP, PBX, and Cloud-based phone systems. These office phone systems are differentiated primarily by the technology used as well as the cost and the service provider. Most of the communications functions carry over from system to system, but the cost can vary drastically.

Chapter 1: Multi-line Phone Systems

small business phone system

Multi-line phone systems give you the ability to channel several lines through the same unit and is a basic option that’s well-suited to small businesses. Simple 2-line phone systems have separate desk phones, which means more than one person can be on a call—say, a receptionist and a manager—at the same time. More complex 4-line phone systems allow for even more employees to make calls simultaneously. Either of these systems will support a local, vanity or toll-free number

When shopping for a new multi-line phone system, the biggest thing to look out for is how many phone numbers it supports and the number of users you have on your system. You don’t want to pay for more than you need, but you also want a business phone service that allows you some room to grow.

The multi-line telephone is your basic small business telephone system. It is the user-friendly, reliable office phone system that you find in every professional office. It’s a proven choice to unify communication and stay in touch with customers.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about multi-line and small business phone systems, including features to look for, how much you can expect to pay and what brands are best.

Chapter 2: VoIP Phone Systems

Improve communications within your business with VoIP phone systems. VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol and, rather than traditional phone lines, this type of telephone network operates over a broadband internet connection. Once you’ve got the right business internet service set up, VoIP services are easy to install, scalable, and economical. They also offer advanced features like a virtual receptionist to manage calls and call forwarding to a cell phone using a mobile app. 

cheap business phone system

Similar to multi-phone systems, VoIP phones have unique phone numbers that can handle toll free numbers and routing calls to employee-specific extensions. Sometimes called Hosted PBX or IP office, this type of phone system is advantageous because it requires less hardware than other options and all calling features and voicemails reside within the network.

Our guide to VoIP phone systems will cover what features are available, the advantages and disadvantages of the platform, and what types of businesses or offices can benefit from these setups.

Chapter 3: PBX Phone Systems

cables for small business phone system

PBX stands for private branch exchange, and it is essentially a private phone network for the office. The customer-premise PBX system routes incoming and outgoing voice calls through the business’s phone lines and offers a variety of advanced features like call holding, routing to extensions, and conference calling, which are critical in certain industries.

A PBX phone system is different from a standard multi-line phone system in that the call switching and routing does not occur directly through the phone unit, but rather is centralized. This makes a PBX more easily scalable and often more cost-effective than a key system. These systems are very flexible.

Our guide will cover the basics of PBX phone systems and the advantages of traditional PBX compared to IP-PBX.

Chapter 4: Cloud Phone System

phone system for business

A Cloud phone system takes your infrastructure off-site, handling call routing and signal processing remotely for a low monthly fee—saving you money and time on system upkeep and growth. A Cloud phone system can be a hosted PBX system, or it can be a VoIP system. There are several advantages to hosting your small business phone system in the cloud:

  • The system is completely off-site, saving space in your office and costs to house equipment on premise.
  • It’s often more cost-effective.
  • It’s more easily scalable; your virtual office can grow as needed.
  • It is hosted on a third-party server, so your company won’t have to worry about maintenance—the hosting company typically handles that.

The disadvantage, of course, is that you’re relying on the hosting company to maintain uptime and keep things running smoothly, whereas with an on-site system your IT department can handle any issues that crop up.

Our guide to cloud-based phone systems will go over these pros and cons in detail and recommend which types of businesses can benefit from taking their business phone system into the Cloud.

When you’re evaluating different service providers, there are a few different factors to take into consideration. Service availability is the first one. The service provider needs to be in your area. Naturally, price is another very important one, and many times there are additional fees to assess. An activation fee often comes with new service. And a third often overlooked factor is the contract length. Is it a one-year contract? A two-year contract? Make sure you know what you’re committing to.

All of these factors, and many more, will be assessed in the coming chapters.