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Sunday 12 Apr 2020 | 4 min read

Everything you need to know about business phone systems

A man sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen and holding a computer mouse. He is wearing a headset with a microphone and appears to be talking into the microphone.

While there are more ways to communicate with your customers than ever before – thanks to the internet and social media – the standard phone system is still a communications lifeblood, and is essential to the success of any business.

Business phone systems work a little differently to the home phone line, however, as the typical business phone system will be distributed across a large number of handsets and needs to allow you to re-route calls throughout the office.

The right business phone system will have features that will give your business a competitive edge by improving the way that you communicate with customers, clients, and within the organisation itself. As such, it’s useful to know what is involved in a business phone system, to help you find the right solution for your organisation.

What is included in a business phone system?

The typical business phone system has five key features, most of which you wouldn’t expect for your home line:

  1. Multiple lines – so each person in your business can be using the phone separately

  2. Voicemail – allowing customers to leave messages for each phone line

  3. Automated features – one common example is an automated system that will direct people to the appropriate extension if they don’t have the direct line

  4. Conference calling – allowing for multiple people to be on the same call

  5. On-hold music – so the caller knows that they’re still on an active phone line when they wait

How most business phone systems have traditionally operated

Most businesses traditionally utilised what is known as a PBX – private branch exchange – to provide the infrastructure for their phone systems.

Really small businesses would sometimes use a multi-line phone system, which would allow for multiple calls to come into the one phone system (with those not being spoken to being put on hold). This would generally be found on a reception desk, and then the receptionist would go and find the appropriate person to bring them to the phone line to talk.

Obviously this was highly inefficient when you needed multiple people to have their own phone systems, and the PBX was the only solution to that. The PBX is a box that sits in the office environment and, operationally, works much like a server – it has cords that connect it to the phone lines in the office, and needs to be serviced and maintained by an IT team, whether an internal staff member, or a technology provider.

How business phone systems are changing

PBX technology allowed organisations, even massive international corporations with thousands of employees, to give each employee a dedicated phone line. However, it was still often not ideal.

For one thing, maintenance could become expensive, especially if it meant the organisation went through periods where the entire phone system was down. Secondly, as with all technology, the PBX had a life cycle, and that meant there was a periodic cost involved in replacing aged equipment.

This is why organisations are now transitioning to hosted PBXes and VoIP technology. The end effect for the organisation remains much the same – each person in the office has access to their own, dedicated phone line. However, with these solutions, the infrastructure is hosted by a remote provider (such as Aussie Broadband), and provided to the customer over the cloud for a monthly per-handset fee.

The downside to doing this has traditionally been that it requires a fast, stable internet connection. However, with the nbn™ being rolled out across Australia, most organisations now have access to the kind of connectivity they need to run a hosted PBX environment.

The benefits of such a solution are numerous, and include:

A shift from CapEx to OpEx

The business no longer needs to take ownership of depreciating technology assets, and instead only needs to worry about a small monthly fee.

Easy scalability

With traditional PBX units, scaling the organisation and adding new lines and handsets could be expensive, depending on whether it meant there also needed to be a new PBX installed. Furthermore, if the organisation needed to downsize, there was unused technology capacity. With hosted PBXes, organisations can seamlessly add and remove new users as the organisation scales, meaning there is no wastage.

Enhanced features

Because a hosted PBX is delivered over the cloud, there are a number of features available to businesses that wouldn’t be available through traditional PBXes.

One key one is the ability to forward calls to any line or device. With businesses finding increased productivity gains in allowing staff to work more mobile – either on the road or from home, a hosted PBX allows calls to that person’s desk line to be automatically forwarded to wherever the person is, meaning they can continue their work without interruption from anywhere in the world.

In allowing staff to work more efficiently and effectively, and minimising the cost of the phone systems to the organisation, hosted PBXes will become the dominant way that Australian organisations of all sizes manage their phone lines.

Is your business phone system ready for the future?

There are many changes being made with the rollout of the nbn™ and new technologies to how business phone systems will need to operate and be managed in the future. To ensure your business is proactive with its future-proofing, we recommend you call our small business experts on 1300 480 905 about your business phone system, and discuss how Aussie Broadband can help your small business prepare for the future.

Tags:Phone systemsBusinessHosted PBX

Written by

Headshot of Phil

Phillip Britt

Managing Director

Phillip is a highly experienced executive with 24 years in the telecommunications industry. He co-founded Wideband Networks in 2003 and became Managing Director when it merged with Westvic Broadband in 2008 under the name Aussie Broadband. ...

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