If you're a business owner, you will agree that one of the most crucial business tools is your phone. For that reason, you need a business phone solution that can help connect you and your employees with clients and other stakeholders. While business phone solutions are not one-size-fits-all, it's important to scope out the different options available so you can find the right solution that meets your business needs and budget.
Before you sign off on a solution, make sure the offered features will not only help you with your day-to-day tasks but also help you work smarter.
Here are ten essential business phone features that should be on your wish list that will help facilitate your final business phone service provider selection:
1. Unified Communication Management
The last thing you want is fishing for calls and voicemails on one app, your business texts (e.g. text auto-replies, SMS broadcasts, etc.) on another, and managing your answering service on a separate platform. For a unified experience, you want to bring it all together on one system so you can effectively manage your communications accordingly.
By having your calls, business texts and answering service on one platform, you avoid your communications getting siloed. It's also the most efficient way to stay on top of client and team communications. By using features like smart call routing, shared phone numbers, unified voice and text conversation threads, and transcription services, your business can streamline communications while optimizing the time and money required to manage it all.
2. Cloud Connectivity
Communicating over the cloud allows your business to use the internet to make calls, send texts and chat online with internal team members. This puts your SMB in a good spot if you want to retain global talent or provide your employees with the ability to work from anywhere.
In addition to providing the ease of communicating remotely, a Voice over IP (VoIP) or cloud phone system offers a number of functionalities that can make communicating effortless, like downloading the platform’s app directly on your smartphone or tablet so you can call or text from anywhere.
3. Virtual Receptionist
Also referred to as a virtual assistant, a virtual receptionist allows your business to automatically route calls to the appropriate department or agent, eliminating the manual process. A virtual receptionist includes features like call waiting, virtual call queues, callback functions and rule-based call routing. In some cases, a virtual assistant can even screen calls and provide you with contextual information so you know who is calling and why.
Since this feature is fully virtual, you can operate customer service activities remotely since your virtual receptionist can be set up in one location and your business can receive calls (and address them) from anywhere in the world.
4. Multi-User Functionality
When looking for a business phone solution, you want the biggest bang for your buck – and making sure your team members can all benefit from the platform is a good ROI indicator.
Some platforms provide a user-specific experience, which means the user’s dashboard or view will be tailored per that user’s specific login. Other systems allow you to share functionalities amongst your team, like Shared Business Numbers, which enable team members to pick up a call or respond to a customer text from your business number directly on their phone.
Multi-user functionality allows employees to collaborate and communicate with each other more easily, which can lead to faster and more efficient workflows. It can also provide an enhanced customer experience since team members can address customer inquiries quickly from their own device.
5. Cost-effective, Flexible Deployment
A study by Microsoft revealed that 82% of companies report cost savings when they moved to a cloud system. So if you are looking to upgrade your phone system, you will be glad to know that cloud-based solutions are a cost-effective alternative to on-premises platforms. These solutions can either be deployed with the help of the provider's support team or can be installed by the user as a self-serve app.
To ensure you are harnessing the latest technology and features, you will need to make sure your system is updated regularly. However, you want a service provider that offers automatic software updates so you don’t have to set time aside for keeping your system up-to-date.
By configuring your device settings to allow automatic updates, your phone system will use the latest security patches and features. This protects your business communications from cyber threats and allows your employees to use the latest communication features to increase efficiency and productivity.
7. Team Collaboration
A phone system that allows your team to collaborate not only allows you to share and balance the workload, it can help you keep up with customer expectations. Features like Team Messaging where you can quickly fire off a text to one or multiple team members allows you to get answers quickly. Look for a service provider that offers unlimited Team Messaging so you don't have to keep track (and stay focused on what matters most – your business).
As mentioned above, Shared Business Numbers let any team member answer calls or texts, so whoever is available can address a customer or stakeholder without leaving them hanging. This feature also allows anyone on that shared phone number to chime in or view the conversation thread.
The ability to share notes or files can also be useful. It’s a cost-efficient way to share insights as a group and stay on top of projects, requests and potential sales, much like a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) but without the features you don’t need (and the hefty price tag).
8. User-friendly Apps
Cloud business phone solutions often have apps that can be downloaded on portable devices. By using an app, you and your team can manage your communications from anywhere and, if required, have an “always-on” presence. Look for a service provider that offers an app for various devices such as PC, Mac, MacOS and Android.
9. Powerful Web Portals and Support
Isn’t it great when you can manage your settings and features on your own without depending on anyone for help? Various cloud phone systems allow you to log into a web portal and set up your communications features the way you want. Think business hours, voicemail greetings and more.
If you aren't tech savvy, make sure you choose a service provider that has online resources and training that can guide you through feature configurations.
10. Simple, Intuitive User Interface
Opt for a business phone solution with a view and interface that’s easy to navigate with features that are easily accessible across all devices and platforms.
Choose the Best Phone System for Your Business
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the plethora of business phone solutions available. Determining what communication features are needed to better meet your business goals will narrow down your choices. Bottom line, you want a solution that meets your budget and makes your day-to-day easier and more productive. With the right phone tool, you can take your business to the next level.