Market musings

Choosing a Phone Service for Business (No IT PhD Required)

by Nina Quasebarth
August 16, 2017

Choosing the right telephone system for your company may be the most important decision you have to make about your business infrastructure. Like it or not, the telephone is a necessary evil. The telephone remains an essential link to customers as well as a vital tool for internal collaboration. While email, live chat, and the web are gaining popularity with customers as sales and support channels, the telephone is most frequently the first point of contact, and when a customer wants an answer to a question, they reach for the phone. That’s why most owners of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) first consider PBX versus VoIP (private branch exchange versus voice over IP) when trying to control their telephone costs. However, there are alternative business phone systems that are more cost-effective, simpler to manage, and more user-friendly.

PBX vs VoIP

When considering the cost of a business phone system, the PBX versus VoIP discussion is where most SMBs begin. Each service has its advantages and disadvantages. PBX can be better for internal communications because it connects all internal lines to a single leased phone line. PBX also tends to have greater reliability because the company controls the phone system. VoIP, on the other hand, uses the internet for connections, which tends to mean lower costs for long-distance calling but can affect reliability.

A consideration often overlooked in the PBX versus VoIP analysis is maintenance costs.

PBX systems tend to be self-contained and the company pays to install the hardware, wiring, and handsets so after the initial cost the company owns the equipment. However, if there is a fault with the phone system it requires expert repair, usually at an added expense unless there is a maintenance contract. And when it comes time for an upgrade, you need to pay for new hardware and start again. VoIP systems require proprietary handsets and hardware. Once the system is installed, your IT department can handle maintenance because VoIP runs over the computer network. However, VoIP systems also need care and feeding and there are ongoing maintenance costs

Both PBX and VoIP also require telecomm service providers. With both VoIP and IP PBX you are using the internet to support long-distance communications so your connectivity costs are fairly moderate. However, service costs will increase with the number of services you need. If you add unified communications (UC), for example, pricing becomes complicated. As you add instant messaging, video conferencing, and other services, you end up with a mix of on-premise applications and hosted services. You may even end up with multiple UC vendors.

The more you think about PBX versus VoIP alternatives, the harder it becomes to find the right solution for your business. You want a telephone solution that is inexpensive, easy to operate, and requires minimal IT support. A simple alternative is abandoning your landline altogether and going mobile.

Ditch Your Landline

Why hassle with installing and maintaining an office phone system when your employees are carrying their own office phone extensions in their pockets? Smartphones are increasingly being used for business, and many businesses are opting to abandon their landlines and upgrade their employees’ mobile phone services. Smartphones can handle telephone calls, voice mail, chat, video conferencing, and many of the features that either a PBX or VoIP phone system offers.

All you need is to consolidate individual smartphones into one office phone system. That’s what Spoke is designed to do.

By installing Spoke on your employees’ iOS and Android smartphones, you turn those mobile phones into remote extensions of a central business phone system. Spoke gives you all the features you need for an office phone network—auto attendant, voicemail, call routing, smart directories, call forwarding, group calling, and more. And you can realize substantial savings by subsidizing mobile phone costs; your employees get to use their favorite phone hardware and you know you can reach them when you need them.

When you assess your business telephone requirements, what do you really need in a phone system? You need a smart phone system that connects your staff with customers to provide better service—responsiveness with a human touch. You want your customers to have frictionless access to sales and support, and with Spoke you can route calls to employees anytime, anywhere. It’s the ideal telecommunications tool for an increasingly mobile workforce.

Maybe it’s time to ditch your old phone system. Spoke can give you the same functionality, and more, without the complexity and costs of maintaining a hosted phone system. And Spoke is secure and scalable, so your phone system can grow with your business.

If you want to learn more about how to choose the phone system that is best for your business, check out our Simple Guide to Choosing a New Business Phone System. You may find there is an alternative that doesn’t require more hardware, more services, or a Ph.D. in IT.

Selecting and Implementing a Business Phone System
A Simplified Guide to Choosing A New Business Phone System