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Choosing the right telephony system for your business

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Just as importantly as getting the right fleet of vehicles or IT network, your business needs the right telephone system in order to function properly. Article by Patrick Lincoln of Solution IP discusses how to decide which platform is right for you.

Like any complex and company-wide system there are a multitude of factors to consider, and matching these factors to your business needs will ultimately dictate the success, or otherwise, of your communications strategy. Gone are the days of simply choosing the number of lines and the type of handset, as most businesses now require something more complex than simply being able to make and receive calls. You may wish to have advanced call routing in place – potentially enabling staff to access the system from their mobiles – or call reporting abilities, and much more. The good news is that most of today’s telephone systems can do all of this and more. The difficult part is making the decision on where to invest your money. While there are no shortage of options or, indeed, articles explaining what’s right for you, we feel that the best starting point is to evaluate your business objectives. What are you focused on? 

Improving customer satisfaction
Having a system that can deal with fluctuating call volumes and help your business get intelligence on the caller experience is key here. Avaya IP Office offers a number of features that will assist you – advanced call flow and voicemail management, dial-back, audio information systems and message handling go a long way to enabling your staff to care for your customers. Avaya’s system is also easily scalable and compatible with SIP trunking (see below), meaning you can scale up operations easily to cope with periods of higher demand, lowering customer frustration levels. 

Controlling cost and future proofing your business
SIP trunks (Session Internet Protocol) remove your company’s reliance on increasingly outmoded connections such as ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), and give you scope for increasing, or decreasing, your telephony capacity at a moment’s notice. SIP has seen a sharp rise in popularity for its flexible nature. Those businesses with seasonal demand are able to quickly increase capacity for busy periods and drop it again when demand falls. The ability of SIP trunking to connect multi-site businesses effectively works hand-in-hand with the ability to reroute calls instantly to any location in the event of an emergency. SIP is compatible with most leading brands of IP Telephone Systems, and is a great way of enhancing your existing phone system quickly. 

If you’re actively engaged in looking at new phone systems, you’ll have heard the term ‘flexible working’. To cope with the modern requirement of a mobile workforce, a truly business class phone system must now be able to route calls to and from all your staff, no matter their location or what device they’re working from. Out and about, or working from home, if it’s important that personnel remain connected then look for phone systems with mobility built in. Mitel and Avaya both have excellent mobility solutions available in the MiCollab and One-X phone system add-ons. 

Growth brings its own challenges. Relocation, more calls, more staff and new systems will mean you’ll need a solution with scale built in mind. Look for systems that operate on a ‘per user’ basis, such as cloud-based hosted telephony. This will ensure that you don’t pay for elements you don’t need, or have to buy into a locked contract with no way out. In all of this means it will be the clear identification of your business needs that will see you matched with the best solution. A reputable and effective telecoms partner would always start by identifying what functionality you require, and you can aid this process by having a clear idea of future goals. BT plan to scrap ISDN lines, the traditional platform for digital telephony, by 2025 so now is the time to start looking at the alternatives.

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