How to Choose a Business Phone System

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing a business phone system provider. First and foremost, you want to ensure the system has all of the functions and features your business needs. Can it support the number of employees who need the service? Does it have all of the features your business relies on or would benefit from?

While some businesses only want standard calling features like caller ID and voicemail, others want added functions like ring groups, automated attendants and on-hold music. Also consider any other communication tools your business needs. Are you strictly looking for a system that allows you to talk over the phone, or are you in the market for more of a unified communications system that adds functions like video conferencing and instant messaging? Your answer to this question will guide you in your search for a new business phone system.

Finally, what type of customer support does the company offer? If you don’t have a full-time IT staff that can handle any issues, you want a business phone system provider that will be available to answer questions when you have them, preferably through multiple channels and online resources.


Types of Business Phone Systems

Businesses in need of a multiline phone system have several options. The choices vary based on where equipment is housed, how connections are made and the cost structure, among other things.


Landline phone systems use traditional phone system connections and wiring provided by local and regional phone companies. These systems require onsite PBX equipment that your in-house IT team maintains and upgrades. These systems require a large upfront capital expenditure for all of the PBX equipment.


Instead of using traditional copper wiring connections like landline systems do, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems rely on internet connections to facilitate calls. This allows you to run your phone system off of the same internet connection your company uses to go online.

Virtual Phone System

Another option businesses have is a virtual phone system. These systems don’t require any equipment, not even phones. A virtual system works as an extensive call-forwarding tree. You set these systems up so that all of the calls to your main business number are automatically routed to your employees’ mobile phones. You have total control over where calls are routed to and in what order. These systems only charge monthly fees.

Key Features of Small Business Phone Systems

Today’s business phone systems offer dozens of valuable features for small businesses. This is one of the true benefits of the cloud-hosted system: Cloud-based phone systems have opened the door for small businesses to access all of these features without spending a ton of money.

Small businesses may benefit from these features, among others:

  • Unlimited calling: Many of today’s cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems include unlimited domestic calling for no additional charge. This gives you a fixed cost for the monthly service that doesn’t fluctuate based on how many calls your business makes and receives.
  • Automated attendants: This answers calls made to your business and routes calls to the proper employees or departments.
  • Ring groups: This feature allows you to group employees together so that, if someone calls needing someone in that group, all of their phones will ring. You can choose for phones to ring in a specific order or all at the same time.
  • Voicemail: In addition to traditional voicemail service, many business phone systems offer voicemail-to-email functionality. This sends either audio recordings or transcriptions of voicemails to the user’s email inbox, so they can read or listen to their messages even if they are away from the office.
  • Call recording: This gives phone systems users the ability to record their calls. Calls are then stored in the cloud or on their computers for playback later.

These systems also offer features that can boost a business’s collaboration abilities, such as video conferencing, instant messaging, presence indicators and online meetings.


What to Expect in 2020

The number of businesses opting for a cloud-hosted business phone system has grown tremendously over the last few years. While many businesses were previously skeptical of moving their communication platforms to the cloud, fears of bad connections and spotty service seem largely forgotten. 

New research from Statista shows that the market for VoIP cloud-hosted systems is projected to outpace on-premises systems for the second-straight year in 2020. The gap between the two is expected to widen over the next five years. By 2024, the study projects the VoIP hosted market to surpass $13 billion, compared with only $9 billion for on-premises solutions.   

Nextiva is one example. Its business communications suite gives all users, regardless of the service level they select, access to CRM features such as call pops, sales pipeline management tools, contact management and account history information. With many businesses looking to consolidate the programs they use, it will be a surprise to us if more providers don’t start adding their own built-in CRM solutions.