A business IP PBX is a great option for a small business seeking to cut costs associated with their existing public switched telephone service. IP stands for “internet protocol,” and an IP PBX uses the internet to route calls to and from your business. This technology uses VoIP, or “voice over IP” to replicate the functionality found in an on-premises PBX at a fraction of the cost.
Today, small businesses can benefit greatly from a VoIP PBX, particularly now when so many employees are still working from home. But there are many providers on the market—how will you know which one is right for you? This blog will look at some of the requirements for selecting the best PBX system for your small business.
How Can an IP PBX Help a Small Business?
VoIP platforms are notorious for being easy to use and cost effective. If you’re using hosted PBX, there is no equipment to purchase, unless you want to add an IP phone for your employees.
In most cases, you can completely eliminate the per-call charges and fees you’re being charged each month by your traditional phone provider. Business IP PBX offers all the functionality of traditional phone service for about half the price. These tools can also be integrated with file-sharing, messaging, your CRM database, video conferencing, and more. Because the calls happen on the internet, you can capture data in real time, then use powerful analytics tools to spot usage patterns that matter to your business.
Hosted PBX vs. On-Premises PBX: What’s the Difference?
The first consideration when choosing VoIP service is to consider the differences between hosted PBX and an on-premises system. Hosted PBX means that a telecommunications vendor, such as VoIP First Media, handles everything associated with your service. There is no equipment to purchase, which means no large upfront cost. Instead, hosted VoIP is paid for in a manageable monthly service.
On-premises PBX requires you have some technical acumen to set the server up to run the phone service. If you don’t, you’ll need to hire an IT specialist to set this up for you. However, customization of an on-premises PBX may be exactly what you need, instead of the out-of-the-box functionality of a hosted PBX platform.
Typically, small businesses seek out a hosted PBX provider for the cost and time savings instead of the on-premises option. Even many large companies outsource this service to a hosted PBX vendor.
Criteria for Choosing a Business IP PBX Service
If you’ve decided to seek out a hosted PBX service, there are a few criteria to consider. Each hosted PBX provider is a little different, offering different features and pricing bundles. Start with these criteria for choosing the right fit for your business IP PBX:
- Cost: The whole point of adopting VoIP for small businesses, in most cases, is the cost savings. It’s a good idea to reverse engineer how you’re using your current phone service before switching to a business IP PBX service.
Do you have an automated attendant recording at the front of your call queue? Are your workers dispersed with some at home and some in an office? How do they use their phones currently? Will you need IP phones or will your employees connect via their favorite digital device? Advanced features come with a higher price tag, but even then, you’ll still save a bundle over your plain old telephone service (POTS).
- Features: Now that you’ve thought about how you’re using your current PBX, you should have a sense of the kinds of features you’ll need. The benefit of setting up an IP PBX is that this internet-based service is infinitely scalable. If your business is growing, pick a provider with the bandwidth to grow with you. Try mapping out the features that each employee needs to determine the requirements for the features you’ll need.
- Mobile Apps: If your workforce is on the go, they probably conduct their business by cell phone. VoIP is a good tool that will travel with workers. However, not all IP PBX providers offer mobile apps that offer the same features as desktop apps. Talk with your provider about whether they can support Apple iOS and Google Android. Can these calls log just like a call to a desktop computer would? Can the provider offer voicemail transcripts if the call isn’t picked up? What features are you missing if you need to focus on VoIP for mobile?
- Collaboration and Integration: Ask your hosted PBX provider what collaboration tools they can integrate with. Look for companies that can unify your disparate communications platforms into one communications hub. Some of the basic options should include voice calls, texting, video conferencing, and conference calling.
- Call Management: The best VoIP PBX providers for small businesses offer some of the features that big companies use. For example, look for an easy-to-use interface where you, as the VoIP administrator, can add features, manage call volumes, change the auto attendant call flow, and much more. If you have a high volume of calls flowing into a service desk, or at a specific time of year such as the holidays, you should be able to queue calls between extensions based on geography, availability, or call volumes.
- Security: What kind of security does the VoIP provider offer? Any company using a third-party vendor in an online service relationship must feel comfortable with the level of security for your data in the cloud. Look for companies that offer end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication, and more.
- Support: Last but not least, look at the support you’ll receive as a small business. Ask for references from the hosted PBX provider and make sure they’re companies of a similar size to yours. Were these companies neglected because they were a small fish in a big pond? Does the VoIP provider offer 24/7 customer care? What is their history of porting numbers from an existing service into the cloud?
Small business IP PBX service is a great option for companies seeking big phone system features for a fraction of the cost. Talk to VoIP First Media to see how we suit your needs. We work closely with small companies to help improve their telecommunications infrastructure. Click here for a quote today.