Even in the age of digital communication, video conferencing, and instant texting, a multi-line phone system is still one of the most important tools of your business. Small businesses and enterprise organizations alike still use the phone to sell products, help customers, and build their brands. A multi-line phone system lets you do all these things simultaneously.
There are many choices these days for phones to power your business. But you probably have a lot of questions, such as:
- Why do you need a multi-line phone system?
- How do multi-line phone systems work?
- What features do you need in a PBX or VoIP system?
- What are some of the best PBX phone systems out there?
- Are there advantages to choosing VoIP phone service over traditional PBX phone systems?
We have answers for anyone delving into their voice communications needs.
Why Do You Need a Multi-Line Phone System?
If you’re a large organization, the answer to this question may seem obvious. If you have more than two people that need simultaneous access to phone service, a multi-line phone system is a necessity. Sales reps, customer service staff, and account managers often need a private line to give out to customers. But even if you’re a small business and just you and your receptionist need to use the phone simultaneously, you’re going to need a few dedicated lines.
Today, you do not necessarily need to buy an expensive private branch exchange (PBX) and plain old telephone service (POTS), which have thus far been the traditional way of providing multi-line phone systems to a business. Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is an equally effective but lower cost option that uses the cloud to provide phone service. As a communications tool, VoIP can provide all the features of a PBX and the same high quality, but for a fraction of the cost.
No matter your choice of service, how do multi-line phone systems work?
How Do Multi-Line Phone Systems Work?
The benefit of a PBX system, which includes both software and hardware, is that the connection to your physical phone lines is not 1:1. Several phone lines run into the PBX located in your business, and the PBX parcels out the connection to many phone handsets within the business. This type of multi-line phone system distributes calls by assigning calls to dedicated phone extensions automatically.
On the VoIP side of this technology, there are VoIP PBX systems, also known as IP PBX, that do the same thing. However, these systems avoid traditional phone lines entirely, instead, using the internet to send voice signals.
What Features Do You Need in a PBX or VoIP System?
The features you need in a multi-line phone system depends, of course, on your business needs. There are major differences between PBX and VoIP in terms of the kinds of features you’ll need. For example, a PBX uses an analog signal that travels over POTS copper; VoIP works on any digital device. You can make calls from your computer, smartphone, or from a digital handset that looks the same as the phones that go with your PBX, but which convert voice packets into digital signals for transmission over the internet.
A PBX system limits the features to those that are built into the handset you’re speaking from. Once the signal leaves the phones, it’s in the copper phone lines we’ve used for over a century, and you can’t do anything else about it. But VoIP is connected to the cloud and can integrate with many of the digital tools you use every day to communicate, such as email or chat.
Some of the basic features that you can use with a PBX or VoIP multi-line system include:
- Caller ID that shows who is calling.
- Hold and transfer functionality to let you move a caller to another call recipient.
- Message waiting indicator that shows you have a voicemail.
- Mute and volume controls.
- Speakerphone for hands-free calling.
- Voicemail to let your callers leave a message.
There are also more advanced features that allow for an automated recording, or an auto attendant to handle the calls up front. Video conferencing is available via integrated VoIP systems. Texting is another example of a feature that lets you talk to one person while texting another.
What are Some of the Best PBX Systems?
One of the biggest differences between VoIP phone service and a traditional PBX phone system is that the VoIP service can be entirely virtual.
Hosted PBX is a service that delivers a full set of calling features for a multi-line phone system without the need to place expensive equipment in your business; it is an alternative to traditional on-premises PBX equipment. This service is a cloud-based virtual telephone network that delivers the same features of a PBX. It’s a very good option if you have multiple employees that work remotely, i.e., not in your physical office. The biggest advantage is that your VoIP provider handles all the hardware, software, maintenance, and security for your multi-line phone system. It’s a hassle-free way to access the lines you need without the expense of on-site equipment.
With that said, VoIP service is only as reliable as the internet you use each day. So, if you’re currently stuck with unreliable internet service or are in a location where high-speed internet isn’t easy to get, a VoIP multi-line phone system may not be the right choice.
If you’re selecting traditional PBX, it’s a good idea to choose a system that offers local support, since the hardware will be on-site in your business. Reaching out to your local phone company provider is probably the most reliable way to find a traditional PBX vendor in your area. Talk with your provider about what they recommend, but make sure you find out more about the most common PBX charges, such as the actual server, the phones, and any monthly service fees for both the phone lines and the phone equipment.
VoIP vs. PBX for Multi-Line—Which is Better?
Making the decision to select traditional phone line PBX or a VoIP PBX in the cloud likely depends on your budget and the needs of your company. For enterprise organizations with a corporate office and a tech team available to provide support, a traditional PBX may make the most sense. But today, more companies of all size are choosing VoIP solutions for their multi-line phone system. Some of the reasons why they’re making this switch include:
- Lowered monthly service fees.
- Lower or no upfront equipment costs.
- Easier installation.
- Flexibility to offer service to remote, mobile employees.
- Scalability to add or subtract service as needed without adding physical phone lines.
- Advanced call routing features.
- Integration with other software platforms, such as your customer relationship management tools, email, and much more.
If your organization is ready for a multi-line phone system, we can help. VoIP First Media specializes in providing companies with secure, reliable VoIP systems. Contact us today to talk about what you’re looking for—and how we can meet your needs.