What to Consider When Upgrading Your Office Phone System

VoIP

With advances in Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the landlines and switchboards of old have yielded to fast, technologically advanced systems that can centralize services like voicemail, call waiting, conferencing, and more.

But once you decide to make the dive, there are a few considerations you’ll want to make.

Bandwidth

Before you dive into implementing a new system, you’ll want to check with your office’s Internet Service Provider to make sure your current set-up has what it takes to implement a new system. You can coordinate with the company installing your new VoIP phone system to find out how much bandwidth you need, but for high quality VoIP, you’ll want 90 kilobytes per second upload speed. The upload speed is an important distinction, because that’s how the calls on your end are being handled. This will ensure that the demands of your small business are met.

Bear this in mind: This is on top of your current office Internet needs. If your office is a dynamic environment that relies heavily on its Internet presence (for instance, a start-up), you’ll want to make sure that the demands of e-mail, servers, web development, and web browsing can all be met on top of the demands of your new phone system.

What kind of packages?

There’s not a set standard when it comes to VoIP phone systems between providers. When considering a provider, you’ll want to search around for options scaled to your business in order to get the best possible deal out of your VoIP system. So while we can’t provide a guide by provider and package, we can give you some pointers on what to look for.

At the fundamental level, you’ll want to know how many extensions you’ll need. Will each employee need their own direct extension, or will it have traditional multiple lines? You’ll want a system that’s equipped to handle that number, so that if need arises, each employee can have a dedicated channel, and customers are never met with a busy signal. You’ll also want to decide if you want specific dedicated numbers in your system, or if all customers will dial to the main line. Dedicated lines can help customers quickly and easily reach specific departments, but can add on to the overall cost of the system.

One other big consideration is checking in with the provider about call forwarding options. Many VoIP phone systems have the ability to forward calls to a cell phone if a certain number of rings go by at an extension, or to provide simultaneous calling to multiple lines. If your business isn’t always tied to the office, this is an especially beneficial service.

Go time!

So you’ve arrived at a service provider, and your bandwidth is set. Contact your ISP to let them know the installation will be happening soon. This ensures that you can plug the new phone system in when it arrives and not worry about hiccups in the system because of ill-prepared ISPs. In addition, ensure the address on file with the VoIP phone service provider is up to date, as this is essential when dialing 911 or other location-based services. Finally, ensure you have the right number of phones on hand should your old system not be VoIP compatible.

From there, the steps are simpler. You’ll want to make sure you’re well acquainted with the new system so that you can properly train employees on the new system. It’s not just the big things that are important, like transferring calls and making outbound calls, but the little things: voicemail set-up, becoming acquainted with new extensions, and other things you don’t think of until problems arise.

Finally, you’ll want to ensure that in the first few weeks after the system installation, any problems are noted and addressed with the service provider. That way, when the major problems happen, your company won’t be left in the dark for long.

David Wenz

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