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Phone systems for small business: a guide

Phone systems are not just for big enterprises. They can add real value for any business, whatever your size and sector.

Why? No matter the industry, every business has a need in common: communication. Whether it’s with customers, colleagues or clients, communication is fundamental. Get it wrong, and it’ll have a knock-on effect on everything you do.

Bad communication with customers makes you look unprofessional, and if you don’t come across right, you’ll lose business. Meanwhile, if internal communication is off it slows down your workflow, leading to bottlenecks and inefficiency. Sadly, this is all too common in the SME space.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you get communication right, you can become efficient enough to really thrive. And believe it or not, modern phone systems can play a big role here. As experts in the field, we’ve written this blog to show how.

This is our quick guide to phone systems for small businesses. We’ll cover some of the core features to consider.

Call management

There’s a lot more to phone systems, but this is the fundamental. If you take and make a lot of calls, the tech you use makes all the difference. Lots of small businesses have one or two phones around the office, and little to no queuing system in place.

A proper phone system from YTL can change all that. Calls join a queue, and you can set up an auto-attendant to route them for you. Calls can be initiated, transferred and ended with a simple click of a mouse. It’s just a much more efficient way of handling calls, and ultimately it’ll give you the professional image that sets you apart from your competitors.

The ISDN switch-off

Now’s a great time to consider changing your phone system anyway. All the old ISDN and PSTN lines are being decommissioned by BT. This is happening now – by 2025, all analogue landlines will be obsolete. What’s replacing them is VoIP, or voice over IP. This means all calls will be hosted over the internet. So if you’re not set for this, now’s the time!

Phone systems – not just for calls

Of course, voice calls are probably the first thing you imagine when you picture a phone system. That remains the core function, but modern systems do a lot more.

When you’re looking into this, you’re likely to see the phrase “unified communications” pop up. It looks like a bit of a buzz phrase, but it actually describes something incredibly useful.

Unified communications essentially means putting all your business communications tools within a single platform. That means voice calls, video conferencing, instant messaging, voicemail and email. These are all in one place, accessible with a single click.

It sounds simple, but it makes a huge difference in efficiency. Instead of having to click around a bunch of different screens, you’ve got it all there in one place, just a click away.

Cloud vs. on-premise phone systems

Traditionally, all phone systems were on-premise – which essentially means phones are connected to hardware held on your site. Nowadays, cloud hosted systems are increasingly popular. With an on-premise system, you’re responsible for maintaining hardware. With a cloud system, the servers are hosted elsewhere, and maintenance is someone else’s problem!

So, which should you have? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. Cloud is certainly more flexible, but both styles have their plus sides and you shouldn’t assume cloud is best just because it’s newer! At YTL We offer both cloud and on-premise systems. And because we know both inside out, we can assess your business and help decide which works better for you.

Collaboration tools

Collaboration is in fashion at the moment – but don’t let that put you off! There’s a lot to be said for managing tasks and projects through teamwork, rather than isolating everything off. Done well, it means you’re getting the best of your whole team, allowing each individual’s skills and creativity to shine.

The right tech can make this so much easier, and in fact it’s just what modern phone systems are designed for. This goes back to what we said before about unified communications. It gives you lots of different communication channels in one place, which means you can stay in touch in the way you need.

For presentations and big meetings, video conferences are the way to go. For quick queries, you can set up a group for whoever’s working on a project and use instant messaging. This also means you can keep on collaborating if someone’s working remotely.

Features, add-ons and integrations

There are so many more features you can add on to a phone system too. If you handle a lot of calls, you might want to consider analytics. This will give you detailed reporting on call stats, so you can see a whole host of KPIs in easy-to-read format. This really helps you identify areas for improvement.

We’re also able to provide call recording. In a lot of industries, this feature is essential for compliance purposes. Even if it isn’t, it’s a great tool for everything from staff training to complaint resolution. And with YTL, you can find recordings and play them back easily – you search by a number of fields, and then simply click and play.

These extras go beyond just telephony too. You can even integrate your phone system with your CRM.

How YTL can help

We’ve been in telecoms for over 30 years, and we’ve helped countless small businesses thrive through better communication. We know the telecoms business like the back of our hands. That expertise matters, but what’s just as important to us is honesty.

We’re not looking to offload and upsell a load of rubbish our customers don’t need. For us, it’s about building long-term partnerships. So, we’ll look at your business, your budget and your needs, and we’ll use our knowledge to help you choose a phone system that really works for you.

That’s the YTL way, and it’s kept us going for decades. If you want some advice on the right phone system for you, just give us a call.