Outfitted with the latest phone and voicemail technology, your company can reduce or even eliminate functions that used to be performed by a receptionist and a message pad.
But even the most basic phone and voicemail systems can be pricey. You can expect to pay several thousand dollars for a system that is capable of serving no more than ten employees. In order to maximize your investment, it's important to know what you're looking for in advance.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help guide your search for the system that is ideal for your small business.
Plan for growth
The first step in selecting a phone and voicemail system is to assess your needs, taking into consideration the features and extensions that you will require in the next five years. Phone systems are not made to handle a limitless number of lines and extension. Likewise, voicemail systems are only capable of handling a finite number of voice mailboxes. Unless you anticipate your future needs now, you may soon find yourself with a phone system that is simply unable to meet your needs.
Experience is the best gauge for determining the kind of phone and voicemail system you need. The good news is that you can eliminate your risk by learning from other people's mistakes. Contact similarly sized businesses in your area to find out which systems perform well and which ones don't.
It's also a good idea to find out how much other companies spent on their systems. This will help you determine how much you can reasonably expect to spend on the system you ultimately buy for your company.
Research system requirements
Many phone and voicemail systems are not stand alone products, but require other resources to function properly. Software, handsets, wiring – these and other factors need to be considered in advance. If you need to make infrastructure improvements or purchase other resources, your system may end up costing more than you are willing to pay.
Contact phone & voicemail suppliers
Buying a phone or voicemail system is the same as buying any other significant piece of office equipment. The market is competitive and there are a number of suppliers who are eager to do business with your company.
To get the best deal, contact a number of suppliers and solicit proposals that can easily be used for a side-by-side comparison. You'll need to make sure that potential suppliers clearly detail the options and services they will provide, as well as a detailed quote. It isn't unreasonable to expect a supplier to include handsets, service agreements, voicemail capability, and software in their quote.
Also, make sure you know what you can expect from a potential supplier after you have purchased their product. Some suppliers offer no follow up service, while others are more than happy to provide training and service after the sale.