When your business is small, you can easily get by with one telephone line into your office—whether that office is in your home, car, or another location. But, as your business grows and you need to add more phones for staff who may be located centrally, or spread virtually around the country, things can get complicated.
With more telephone lines, and more telephone numbers, both complexity and expense can grow. Fortunately, there’s a piece of equipment that can manage this situation—PBX, or “private branch exchange.” It’s a fancy term for a way to link all the phones in a company, or across multiple locations, together.
If you’re ready to move up and get more telephones in your offices, you will need to learn more about PBXs. Modern systems are computerized, and some even operate over the Internet. While this may sound complicated, the truth is that this cutting-edge technology actually makes PBX systems easier to manage. Not only that, but the latest PBX systems are also more affordable than you might think.
You can improve your company’s customer service and cut your costs while making your working practices more flexible by using a PBX system. Read on to discover the top benefits of PBX phone systems.
1. Internal Communications
You may not know that even when you’re calling another number in your office, that call is actually being routed through the local phone company’s exchange. So, if you want to call your assistant, the call will go out to the local phone company’s exchange and then back to your business to ring the other phone, which may incur a charge. With a PBX system the call would be routed internally with no need to go outside the building.
Add on a few more phones and the complexity of separate phone lines soon becomes unmanageable—and expensive—with a traditional system of direct lines. It’s important to note that, while you may worry that a private telephone exchange would be costly, there are PBX phone systems for small businesses. You don’t have to pay for a high-end, big business phone system to realize these benefits.
2. Centralized Control
A PBX phone system can provide a receptionist feature that allows all the calls coming into your company’s many phones to be accessed by one number. That means that instead of including a long list of individual phone numbers in directories or advertisements, you could just list one number. You could do this without a PBX, but you would only be able to have one person on a call at a time. With a PBX phone system incoming calls don’t block other calls. Your staff can dial out and make calls even when other callers are still connected.
One of the advantages of a PBX phone system is that you don’t have to employ a receptionist to answer calls. You have probably called a company and heard the “auto attendant” instructions directing you to dial a particular number for a specific service – that was a PBX system. These menus can create frustration for caller, especially when they become very long. PBX auto attendants usually also let callers enter an extension number to cut through what might otherwise be a time-consuming menu process.
4. Flexible Call Routing
PBX phone systems have a lot of features that you won’t get on a standard phone. For example, you might be waiting for an important call, but then be invited to an urgent meeting in another office in the building. You can program your phone so the PBX system will forward your calls to another phone if you don’t answer it within a given number of rings. This “follow me” feature can be amplified to forward your calls to other phones, or to forward calls to voicemail.
The ability to forward calls means you can set up a series of backup routing in case a key person, such as a sales manager, leaves his or her desk. The call will then automatically be forwarded to another member of the sales team. These options allow you to ensure that vital customer calls don’t go unanswered or into voicemail. You can also choose to send calls to a group of phones, or to play specific messages while callers wait for their calls to be answered.
5. Variable Access
PBX systems usually come with software that allow you to set up each line in your company. The PBX control panels let you give different levels of access to different extensions; you can limit some phones so they can only call other internal extensions. Others can be set up to call out of the building, but not call long distance. And, you can also restrict access to international dialing on specified extension numbers.
6. Cost Monitoring
PBX phone systems keep logs of all incoming and outgoing calls. Being able to see how many incoming calls your business received is a feature that is not available with conventional phones – until the bill arrives. This reporting function lets you see which departments are fielding more calls and which extensions are doing the most work on the telephone. You may discover that some extensions hardly ever receive calls, while others are not only constantly busy, but have queues of calls waiting to be answered.
Usage reports help you adjust telephone allocation to gain optimum return for your investment in handsets. You can also see whether employees are making personal calls and how long each call lasts to see who is being most efficient and who may be wasting time—and money.
7. Image Enhancement
All the features of a PBX system are familiar to consumers, who often encounter such features as auto attendants when calling in to big businesses, like utility companies. Installing a PBX gives you the same presentation as big companies.
Customers will get the impression they’re dealing with a large organization even if you’re just a small business with only one or two partners. This boosts your business credibility and inspires confidence in customers who might otherwise worry about the risks of dealing with a small operation.
8. Internet Integration
The latest advancement of PBX systems is the ability to connect to the Internet. You can channel your calls over a system called VoIP, which stands for “Voice Over Internet Protocol.” With an Internet-connected system, your calls come through to the telephone handsets on the desks in your offices, but don’t actually arrive, or go out, through telephone networks.
You won’t have to pay any phone bills because, technically, no one at your company will be making phone calls. Your Internet router sends calls to each VoIP phone in your building in the same way that it can manage several different Internet connections from your company’s computers.
If you’re worried about the cost of installing a PBX system, the Cloud will solve your problems. When people refer to “the Cloud,” they’re talking about services that are accessed over the Internet. In the cloud scenario, all you need is a browser on your computer and an Internet connection.
When this concept is applied to PBX systems, all you need are digital phones that can connect to the Internet router and a computer, as you will tailor your PBX system through your Internet browser. If you already have a router, there’s no need to buy a PBX machine.
9. Maintenance-Free Service
Since cloud-based systems don’t have to be installed on your premises, there’s no need to buy any additional equipment. That means no worry about things breaking down or being too complicated to install. By removing the need for an actual PBX box in your offices, the cost of calling in technicians or maintenance engineers is completely eradicated. One of benefits of PBX phone services accessed over the Internet is that you don’t have to insure any special equipment or pay for maintenance contracts.
10. Hosted PBX Features
Cloud-based PBX services are also known as “hosted PBX.” There are many advantages of hosted PBX systems over physical PBXs.
For instance, sales teams today can access their calls, emails and marketing applications on smartphones, such as iPhones. Because your sales team is always on the move, following up leads and meeting clients, they’re rarely in the office to answer calls. Traditionally, you needed to have staff anchored in the office to answer calls and pass advice on to sales staff in the field. Hosted PBX systems aren’t located in your office buildings, so routing calls to sales staff downtown is no different than routing those calls to a desk in your office. Thus, mobile staff can be included in your office network even when they’re out and about – and even if they have to go abroad to meet clients or attend conferences and trade fairs. You won’t need to have that extra resource anchored to the office phone anymore; all staff can be accessed through the PBX as though they were at their desks, regardless of their locations.
Some people are not willing to use their own phones for work. This is usually because of security issues that make employees unwilling to give out their personal telephone number to customers. In these instances, roaming staff need to be issued with a company phone and end up with the unwieldy situation of having to check both their own phones and the company phones for calls. Hosted PBX systems can solve this problem.
As hosted PBX systems can route calls made to the company phone to mobile devices, employees can give the office number to clients and customers—the PBX system can then map that number to the employee’s phone. This means that calls can be received on the employee’s own phone without having to give out a private phone number. The ability to do this mapping make employees more willing to use their own phones for work. That eliminates the cost of having to supply staff with a second phone for business use.
Mobile workers can receive calls made to their private number and their office number on the same phone. And, they can set the ringer differently for each number to make caller identification quicker. An office-hours limit also can be set to divert calls to voicemail when the employee’s work day is done.
When it comes to picking a telephone system, the best small business phone system is easy to spot. The advantages of PBX phone services are so clear that you won’t even need to consider a traditional direct phone line, or an in-house PBX system. The benefits of hosted PBX services offer functions that just aren’t available through any other telephone network configuration.
You can get a maintenance-free, low cost, feature-rich phone system without having to buy any special equipment or install any new software. That new office phone system can extend all over the world and make your staff available to customers even when they’re on the road.
If you’re interested in getting a hosted PBX phone system for your small business, take a look at the AccessDirect website. You will see a range of plans that let you pick the phone services you need to give your enterprise the flexibility and big business image you’re looking for.
You don’t have to be a telecommunications expert to get your company top-drawer PBX services, and you don’t need to pay an expensive consultant to come and analyze your business’s needs. If you have any questions about PBX phone systems, contact our team today for a no-cost consultation.
Getting started with an AccessDirect hosted PBX system can be done quickly and easily online. Because our service is cloud-based, there are no geographical restrictions, either. It doesn’t matter where in the country your business is – we have you covered. Learn more about our phone systems and get started today!