For business owners looking to cut the cost of their telephone bills, there are two primary concerns that require your most attention during the research stage, prior to implementing a switchover.
Those two elements are:
You need a telephone supplier with the most cost effective package, but yet never compromising customer support if things go wrong, so that’s an aspect that takes considerable research on your part, prior to signing any contract agreements.
The next concern with a supplier in place is deciding on the best telephone system to utilise the service being delivered by the supplier. Unfortunately, the two components are not always considered simultaneously. Choosing the supplier first, and then the phone system to use with the service is the common way things are done and mistakes made.
To get the best value with minimum fuss, the two should be considered before any switch takes place; either supplier or system.
Those two components mark the most crucial elements to the quality of service and how you can get the most out of both.
Here’s the problem…
At the supplier end, the representative you’re in discussion with should only be interested in your business. That’s what the initial discussions are all about; getting to know your business, the pain aspect that you’re having difficulty with, and walking you through the solutions on offer to you to make communications a breeze.
Throughout the discussion, the solutions offered by the supplier need to be clear and concise, so you know you’re making the right decision to improve communications throughout your business, regardless what size it is.
Sales representatives for telephone systems and suppliers work on commission, targets or something that takes the importance of your solution being the primary purpose of their talks.
Customers are only interested in what’s best for them. Not what makes the most commission, or contributes to the supplier’s end success. To a small business owner, that’s irrelevant to the solution they need, but it’s not to be overlooked when researching options.
You need a supplier you can openly communicate with, who is upfront, ethical, and most importantly – a “Subject Matter Expert” (SME) in the telecoms industry.
This is why using an independent telephone advisory service is so important. They meet you in the middle, bringing together different systems, suppliers, and technological expertise, saving you the research time, and fundamentally assisting in the prevention of things going wrong.
Rushing through the process often results in regretted decisions, which is not a good place to be.
That’s your first tip. Separate yourself from the sellers with their own goals, and align yourself with a knowledge consultant who can “lead and pace” you through the solutions on offer.
Lead and Pace does not mean to lead you to a sales decision. It’s to take the lead when dealing with suppliers as they cut through the jargon and get the best offers that they know are available but not hyped through the marketing channels of big name suppliers.
Pacing is when you and the consultant discuss your business needs and the time-frame you have to get the solutions implemented. The last thing you want to experience is a communications outage during an upgrade.
Consultants carry the burden of both those aspects, minimizing stress for business owners, letting them get back to the duties of every SME; taking care of your business needs.
The Types of Telephony Systems Explained
Most telephone systems nowadays are extremely similar but not entirely the same. There are different types, features, and cabling aspects that need to be considered for each.
1) Basic Analogue System
As you may have guessed with the basic element, this type of phone system is the no frills option.
For the technical aspect of this, the most you can expect to get is a voicemail feature, hold and transfer calls, auto attendant and music on hold in some cases.
These phone systems connect to the PSTN lines and can be okay for a small office with less than a half dozen staff with no additional features required, other than the basics.
2) The Digital Telephone System
As technology progressed into the digital era of ISDN2e and ISDN30, which digital telephones connect through, more features could be integrated into the digital phone systems.
Some of those features include:
- Caller ID
- Push-button direct dial to office extension numbers
- Group calls
- Call diversion
- Call transfer (from landline to a mobile or any other number)
3) Then came the Hybrid Telephone System
This is the most used now because of its simplicity, and cost-effectiveness within a business.
With a hybrid phone system, you can connect into any existing network, whether it’s PSTN, ISDN, VoIP, and SIP, but you cannot connect through PSTN, or ISDN.
SIP and VoIP are IP technologies working off business broadband connections. Ideal for businesses with multiple sites, employing remote workers, moving location with minimum hassle, and within locations that fall short of voice cabling, but have plenty data cabling (cat 5e and cat 6) to hook into a high-speed broadband connection.
4) The IP Telephone System
Essentially, with IP phone systems, every communication over it is carried through the computer network.
IP phone systems operating onsite can be expensive as there will be hardware to install, such as servers, in the event that it’s connecting through a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
That’s why the latest technology advancement brings the IP phone system benefits to an affordable level for all sizes of businesses. That’s the next type of…
5) The Hosted IP Telephone System
Working exclusively with IP and VoIP technology, all your calls are made and received over your broadband connection.
There’s no need to have expensive hardware installed onsite, as the broadband gives point to point access connecting the phone system to a hosting providers servers.
The best aspect with hosted solutions is that everything can be managed from anywhere, as all you need is your host IP to log into your administration area securely, and manage nearly every aspect of your business over the internet.
As the calls are made over the IP network, the call charges are cheaper and that alone will lower your phone bill with VoIP integration.
Cabling requirements for optimum speed
When you’re considering any system upgrades, you should take note of the cabling installed on your premises.
The best quality for high-speed broadband uses category 5e cabling, which is the most affordable, therefore more popular in business locations.
Above category 5e cabling, there’s also category 6 (Cat 6 cabling), which brings potential for faster and higher quality broadband from fibre optic speeds.
Most domestic premises use category 3, which is really all you need for occasional browsing, but for business purposes, the faster speeds come through the more advanced cabling options. Many business premises, especially newly built offices will use the more superior cabling options, but if you find that regardless the business broadband package you choose, that the speeds are slower than expected, it might be the cabling and not the supplier.
When you’re experiencing technical problems from a broadband provider, it is prudent to book an engineer to check the cabling, and for any interference, which may be disrupting the service.
As you can see, there’s a wide array of things that need to be considered when choosing not just a broadband provider, but the telephone systems you use with that service too. It’s because of technical aspects and industry expertise that advisory services exist to help you get the best in technology, at prices that won’t hike your overheads, but work to improve your revenue through efficient communications, keeping everyone involved connected with each other.