Office phone setups have come a long way since the days of clunky devices, extension reference lists, and switchboards. Even small businesses benefit from advanced telecom features as larger companies do at a fraction of the price.
Though once you’ve found the phone system that’s right for your business, it can still be difficult to know exactly how to set up a small business phone system.
Get it wrong and there is the real possibility of making costly mistakes along the way.
This step-by-step guide goes over the basics of how to choose the right phone system, how to properly set it up, and how to customize it to your business’s needs.
Step 1: Choose Your Office Phone Setup
Phone systems come in various flavors, and the differences are important to understand. A lack of research can send you down the wrong path, and it’s hard to justify switching phone systems once you’ve already set one up that doesn’t suit the needs of your business.
The main types of phone systems include:
- KSU-less Systems
They’re affordable (can save you as much as $1000 even for a small setup) and work well for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. They include features such as business call transfers and extensions without the costs of setting up a key system unit (KSU).
The problem, though, is that businesses are required to maintain KSU-less phone systems themselves, and support can be hard to come by.
- KSU Systems
These can be good for small to medium-sized companies of up to around 75 staff. They are supported by a key system unit, which requires a business to use an external line for phone calls.
This makes them more expensive than KSU-less systems, however, they do offer greater scalability, flexibility, and major telecom vendor support.
- PBX systems
PBX or private branch exchanges are multi-line phone systems typically used by larger companies. They are flexible and come with advanced features, but the tradeoff is setup cost and complexity.
- VoIP phone systems
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems embrace the power of the internet to bring office phone systems into the digital age. They make it easy to enable remote, wireless work by eliminating the need for physical hardware.
Early VoIP experiences may have left a sour taste in the mouths of some, but rest assured the technology has improved to the point where reliability and quality are now indiscernible from traditional phone systems.
These days, VoIP service is often the most affordable and convenient option when choosing a phone system.
Step 2: Choose Your Office Phone Setup Provider
Whichever type of phone system you opt for, the next step is to choose your specific provider. Do some market research, compare the experiences of other businesses, and speak with providers to find out if they can offer exactly what you need at the right price.
If you have decided to go with a VoIP virtual phone system, the provider will often be a company that charges a monthly fee to host your phone service. Their pricing will depend on factors such as your location and the package you need.
Choose the right provider and they may include on-site installation as part of the package, meaning you won’t have to worry about how to setup an automated phone system.
Step 3: Make Sure You Have the Hardware and Software You Need
Different phone system setups will require different hardware and software to operate. Staying with the theme of VoIP as an example, you will need a wired Ethernet router that provides solid levels of connectivity, security, and speed.
Don’t cheap out on this, because it needs to be reliable. You will also need a reliable and fast internet connection.
You should make sure your staff is armed with VoIP-compatible phones and good-quality headsets. In terms of software, you can opt for a simple PBX, which is best for basic setups.
That said, a comprehensive phone system dashboard is a more powerful option for businesses, even if it means you have to spend a little more time Googling “how to set up a small business phone system?”
Step 4: Setup and Customize the Office Phone Setup
It’s time for the fun part: creating your business number (many companies choose to go with a toll-free number), recording your greeting and menu options, and adding extensions that route callers to specific employee cell phones or departments.
Many phone systems include an administrator dashboard that allows you to access these features, as well as others such as call transfers, business hours, and conference calling.
Step 5: Start Receiving and Transferring Calls
With the phone system configured to your liking, it’s time to get your staff on board (often via an app with VoIP) and start letting the phone ring. If that sounds easy, it’s because it can be!
Setting up a phone system can be a classic case of ‘easier said than done’.
If your staff is not trained to use it properly or your configuration has left gaps, issues can mount up fast. Make sure your staff know how to use the system, and keep a close eye on customer service. Make tweaks as necessary to ensure your phone system is doing its job.
Confused About How to Set Up a Small Business Phone System?
If all this sounds like too much work and you’d rather focus on running your business, consider working with a telecom consultant to choose, set up, and customize your phone system.
Working with a specialist is the surest way to a painless configuration, accessing all the system’s functionality, and ensuring you get the most value while avoiding costly errors.
At Select Communications, you’ll work with experts who’ll vet 300+ vendors to find the perfect phone system for you – and you don’t pay us a dime to do it. Our team also works with business owners throughout the implementation to make sure you don’t waste any time setting up.
Book your free consultation today. (We promise – no pushy sales tactics, no obligation to buy)