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Communication is the lifeblood of any business, primarily as so many of us work from home (WFH).
Sales reps need to reach out to prospects to close deals. Managers need to interact with team members (either in-person or remotely) to keep business operations running smoothly. Customers need to contact companies for support and troubleshooting. The list goes on and on.
With the vital importance of communication in mind, it's no surprise that small businesses and large enterprises alike have invested in cutting edge phone systems. But what exactly should you look for in a desk phone? What features are (or aren’t) imperative for your business?
We’re going over our top five key features in a business phone system that will make your internal and external communications run smoothly and efficiently—even in these crazy and uncertain times.
Your Business Phone System: The Most Important Features
1. Softphone Capabilities
A softphone (or software phone) is a program or application that allows the user to make calls over the Internet with a computer. It is very similar to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) hardware and may actually come pre-installed with your VoIP system.
When you need to make a call to a landline or other non-virtual phone with your VoIP services phone system, you essentially have two options:
- You can call with a "hard" SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) phone (a device that’s usually sitting on your desk connected to your company’s IP phone network.
- You can call with your softphone.
Having the softphone option handy may prove to be invaluable since it allows you to bypass communication over the "traditional" data network as needed. Investing in a softphone costs much less than investing in a "hard" SIP phone, and softphones are typically easier to install and set up than VoIP hardware.
You can use softphone apps on your PC, desktop, mobile device/cell phone, or tablet. As long as there's an internet connection, you should be good to go!
The auto-attendant feature (aka "interactive voice response" or "IVR") is an invaluable asset for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Your auto-attendant acts like a "virtual receptionist" in that it fields customer calls, screens, and redirects inquiries to their appropriate departments, and also helps to answer common user questions.
An auto-attendant typically provides customers with a menu of choices, such as "Customer service," "Technical support," "Sales," and so forth.
Each option corresponds with a particular number on the dial pad. Auto-attendants may also list the extensions to specific people within your organization.
Another powerful capability associated with auto-attendants is the "self-service" feature. Your IVR can solve some customer issues before they escalate to a live support agent.
For example, suppose your customers frequently call in to check on the status of an order or a tracking number. In that case, your auto-attendant can pull the relevant information from your database system and answer the customer's question without ever having to transfer him to another department.
This self-service portal is particularly beneficial because it adds value to basic help desk scenarios: The internal IT help desk for employees, and the external customer-facing, product support desk for customers.
Having this virtual receptionist in place can significantly increase your company's efficiency and enable you and your employees to focus time and energy on your customers’ most pressing service issues.
3. Voicemail to Email Transcription
The “Voicemail to email transcription” feature is an incredible time-saving component, especially for small business operators that may be short on resources or time.
The reality is, most employees have more important things to do than sit and listen through one voicemail after another. Not to mention, many voicemails are garbled, indecipherable, or too long.
Instead of dealing with a high volume of voicemails day after day, voicemail to email transcription offers an alternative approach. It’s reading, rather than listening!
This transcription enables you to skip to the end of a voicemail if the message isn’t urgent or critical, and you can extract the call-back number immediately.
Voicemail to email transcription also makes it easier for you to set aside a specific time each day to read through your messages and prioritize them according to importance and urgency.
In terms of time management and efficiency, few things can beat voicemail to email transcription for your small business phone system.
4. Telemarketer Blocking
Telemarketing and robocalls are everywhere nowadays. Sometimes, it seems like you simply cannot escape them.
These spam calls are annoying enough when it comes to your personal life. But when you work from home or operate a small business, they can quickly become a time-stealing, energy-draining distraction that takes your attention away from your valued customers and critical business tasks.
So, what’s the solution? A telemarketer block feature automatically detects robocalls on the first ring; then, it hangs up and immediately blocks the number.
There are many desktop and mobile apps and programs available that block spam calls. But when the feature is built into your desk phone, you'll have even more peace of mind.
5. Audio and Video Conferencing
Unmistakably, there are times when you need to communicate with more than one person to get a job done, troubleshoot an issue, or close a deal.
Meetings are just a part of life for us in the business world. But a desk phone with conference call capabilities can help you to avoid any long and drawn-out meetings in-person.
Of course, you'll have to determine whether you need basic conferencing capabilities or calling features for your business phone system (such as three-way calling or call recording) or more advanced features (support for more than three participants, video-conferencing, and so forth).
You also want to have an intuitive, user-friendly conferencing system; the last thing you want to do is drop an important call because you were fiddling with too many buttons!
A conferencing feature is an excellent time-saver and makes it easier than ever to make sure that everyone's on the same page when it comes to significant business issues.
The Final Say: Top Features To Look For In Your Business Phone System
While our top five desk phone features discussed above are likely vital to smooth communications within your office, there are many other capabilities that you may need your desk phone to have.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the best phone system is to partner with an experienced and knowledgeable telecom provider, like AIS. Finding a technology or phone solutions partner is just as important as the device itself.
At AIS, we continue to find new and emerging technology solutions for all types of businesses. Whether you’re a large law firm or a small restaurant, we are dedicated to helping you and your employees stay productive and keep your business on its path of growth and success. To learn more about business phone systems or any of the products and services we offer, reach out to us today. We’re here to give you peace of mind to help you win more business.