Choosing the right Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system is a crucial decision that directly impacts your business communication. The right PBX telephone system can enhance internal communication and customer service, making your business operations more efficient and effective.
In this post, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the most suitable PBX telephone system tailored to your business needs.
Keep reading to find valuable insights that will help you navigate this important choice, thereby improving your business communications and streamlining your operations.
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What type of PBX is used in most companies today?
Modern businesses in the UK are increasingly moving away from buying new analogue PBX business telephone systems to buying more flexible and scalable cloud-based and hybrid PBX systems.
These innovative options offer cost efficiency, adaptability, and advanced features, meeting the demands of today’s dynamic business environment. Hybrid PBX systems, in particular, are gaining popularity as they allow businesses to make use of Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) phone lines while also offering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
The imminent PSTN switch-off in the UK has further catalysed this transition. In the era of digital transformation, cloud-based and hybrid PBX systems have become the new norm for companies looking for a new business phone system.
10 steps to find the right business phone system for your business
In this section, we provide a practical 11-step guide to help you find the perfect PBX phone system for your business in the UK. This actionable roadmap includes vital steps like evaluating your premises’ infrastructure against PBX business phone system requirements.
Following these steps will ensure that you select a system that suits your business needs, promotes effective communication, and aids in improving customer service. So, read on to discover a step-by-step process to streamline your business telephone system selection process.
1. Consider the PSTN switch-off and its impact
The PSTN switch-off in the UK signals the end of traditional telephony systems relying on copper lines. This significant shift affects businesses still operating these legacy systems, introducing the urgency for an upgrade.
It’s an opportune time to consider transitioning to IP-based telephony systems, like Hybrid IP PBX and Cloud PBX systems. These modern alternatives offer increased functionality and flexibility, future-proofing your business communication in the face of the evolving telecommunications landscape. Current owners of analogue PBX telephone systems should contact a specialist to get assistance with integrating VoIP.
2. Understand your communication workflow and requirements
When selecting the optimal PBX phone system for your business, understanding your specific business requirements is paramount.
Begin by identifying the number of users within your organisation and assessing their communication needs.
Next, consider whether you need or could benefit from additional functionalities and whether a unified communications system accessible via mobile devices is important.
Call forwarding, transfers, auto-attendant, and call recording are important for customer service based businesses whereas video conferencing, CRM system integration, and audio device integration are important for businesses with a mobile workforce or those operating from various locations.
As you evaluate systems, it’s also worth considering additional features that can bolster your business communications. More advanced features, such as night bells, multi-channel contact management, SMS and MMS, or GSM callback, can help you optimise your workflow and enhance your customer experience.
However, while these advanced functionalities can be beneficial, it’s crucial to ensure they align with your business’s actual needs. A small business, for instance, might not benefit from intricate telephone management and analytics or extensive user capacities.
Finally, when choosing the right PBX system, always have an eye on the future. Factor in your potential business growth and ensure that the system you opt for can scale with your anticipated expansion. This foresight will prevent the inconvenience of unexpected system changes and upgrades.
3. Investigate the different types of analogue and cloud-hosted PBX systems
To make an informed decision, it’s crucial to grasp the different types of PBX systems.
Traditional on-premises or analogue systems make use of PSTN phone lines and require a main control unit physically installed at your business premises. On the other hand, cloud-hosted systems utilise VoIP technology and in terms of hardware, only require a reliable internet connection to facilitate phone calls, offering vast scalability and mobility. Meanwhile, Hybrid IP PBX systems combine the best of both worlds, utilising both VoIP and phone lines to facilitate voice communications.
Each business telephone phone system has its benefits and drawbacks. While analogue systems offer robust reliability in the face of internet and power outages, they are fixed to a physical site, can be costly to operate and maintain while also lacking the flexibility of modern systems.
Cloud-hosted PBXs offer superior scalability and flexibility, but they are entirely internet dependent and are controlled by your service provider. Hybrid systems, however, strike a balance, offering the stability and control provided by analogue systems and the flexibility and lower VoIP call rates of VoIP systems.
Your choice should align with your business needs. Factor in your team’s mobility, scalability requirements, infrastructure, and budget to select a suitable PBX phone system.
Want to explore more PBX nuances? Read our article on the differences between a Cloud PBX and a hosted PBX.
4. Evaluate your premises infrastructure against PBX system requirements
A vital step in choosing a PBX phone system is evaluating your premises’ infrastructure against the system requirements. Your existing network infrastructure, including fibre availability, copper telephone lines, and desk phone cabling, plays a crucial role in determining the type of system you can effectively implement.
For instance, VoIP systems, which are increasingly popular for their scalability and feature-rich capabilities, require a reliable broadband connection or fibre to facilitate crystal-clear voice calls. If your current infrastructure doesn’t support this, you may encounter issues with the setup and functionality of your PBX phone system.
Moreover, consider potential upgrades or changes that might be needed to accommodate your chosen system. In parts of the UK without access to fibre or broadband, a hybrid or traditional analogue phone system may be a necessary interim solution until such connectivity becomes available. Alternatively Starlink has been proven to work well with VoIP phone system technology and areas with neither Fibre nor broadband can look at this as an option.
Thus, understanding your premises’ infrastructure ensures a smooth transition to your new PBX phone system, minimising disruptions to your business operations. Read our guide on PBX relocation and installation to learn more.
5. Assess the scalability and flexibility of the systems
Scalability and flexibility are key factors to consider when selecting a PBX phone system for your business, particularly if you anticipate growth. Your chosen system must have the capacity to expand and evolve along with your business.
Adding or removing lines and features with on-premises PBX and Hybrid PBX phone systems is a little complex and requires physical cabling for both the main PBX unit and desk phones. These systems may also come with certain user limitations. For example, a small PBX unit may only be able to accommodate a maximum of 5 users.
Conversely, a Cloud PBX phone system provides immense flexibility, allowing you to scale as needed with minimal hardware or cabling requirements. Hybrid and cloud PBX systems can be seamlessly paired with IP phones and softphone applications, empowering users to utilise the system according to their preferences. This can be a significant advantage for businesses with dynamic needs.
Ultimately, it’s essential to choose a PBX phone system that can readily adapt to changing business needs, providing a long-term solution for effective communication.
6. Consider the reliability of each PBX system
The reliability of your chosen PBX phone system is crucial as it directly impacts your business operations. A key aspect of this reliability is system uptime – the more your system is up and running, the smoother your operations.
In case of system failures, having backup and redundancy options is essential. For instance, on-premises and hybrid PBX systems can be connected to a backup power supply. Cloud PBX systems offer resilience in events like power failures, as they can still function as long as an internet connection is available. However, with the potential risk of IP phones going offline, ensure your PBX phone system offers access via softphones or web portals as a backup.
It is also important to choose a service provider that offers backups on network, data and security to ensure a seamless service.
Choosing a reliable PBX system helps maintain business continuity, ensuring that communication, a vital aspect of your business operations, is not disrupted, hence contributing significantly to your business’s overall success.
7. Analyse the upfront and recurring costs for each telephone system
When selecting a PBX telephone system, it’s crucial to scrutinise both upfront and recurring costs. Upfront expenses include the cost of hardware like the PBX main units, IP phones, software applications, and hardware installation fees. Ongoing costs encompass things like system maintenance, fibre packages, upgrades, and service fees.
Remember, a less expensive system now may not necessarily translate to cost-effectiveness in the long term. It’s crucial to consider both immediate and future costs in your decision. For instance, you might opt to lease an on-premises or Hybrid IP PBX system, reducing your upfront expenditure but leading to ongoing lease payments. Alternatively, a cloud PBX system, while offering the associated cost savings of being hosted off-site at the service provider’s data centre, involves regular monthly service or package costs.
In summary, carefully analyse all costs associated with each option to make the most financially sensible decision for your business.
8. Consider the peripherals, hardware and software each system requires
As you search for the right PBX telephone system, take note of the hardware and software requirements for each option. The success of your system largely depends on these aspects. For instance, traditional analogue and hybrid PBX systems require a main unit installed at your premises, and typically, desk phones for each user.
On the other hand, a Cloud PBX system offers flexibility. While you can opt for handsets, it’s not mandatory. You can run a smart telephone interface on PCs or use a mobile app to access the phone system, catering to the mobile and remote nature of modern business.
Further, it’s important to ensure any existing equipment, like current handsets, is compatible with the chosen PBX phone system. If not, you may have to incur additional costs to purchase or lease new, compatible handsets. Considering these factors will ensure you choose a PBX phone system that seamlessly fits into your existing infrastructure.
9. Check the selected provider’s reputation and support
The reputation and support of your chosen PBX provider are vital in guaranteeing a positive experience. A provider with a good reputation is likely to deliver reliable and high-quality service, significantly impacting your satisfaction with the system.
Exceptional customer service and robust technical support from your provider are essential. These factors ensure that any issues encountered during the use of the PBX phone system are swiftly and effectively addressed, minimising disruptions to your business operations.
Investigate the provider’s reputation by checking their “About” page, customer reviews, Google My Business profiles, and social media. These platforms offer insights into customer satisfaction levels, service quality, and how responsive and helpful their support is. Choosing a reputable provider with strong customer support significantly enhances your experience with the PBX phone system.
10. Contact a provider to get direct & deeper insights
Taking the step to directly contact potential PBX providers can be incredibly beneficial in your decision-making process. This not only allows you to gain deeper insights into their offerings but also opens up the possibility for custom solutions or pricing packages that may better suit your business needs.
Having a list of prepared questions can ensure you address all your concerns. These may include queries about specific features, scalability, compatibility, or support services. It’s also an excellent opportunity to ask about customised solutions that could be tailored to your unique requirements.
Remember, a reputable provider will be more than willing to address your questions and assist you in finding the right phone system for your business. A proactive approach at this stage can make a significant difference in your long-term satisfaction with the chosen system.
Final thoughts on how to find the right PBX phone system for your business
In conclusion, choosing the right PBX system for your business involves a careful assessment of your specific needs and an understanding of the different types of systems available. You need to consider the size of your team, the communication features you need, and how these needs may evolve as your business grows.
Remember to evaluate your premises’ infrastructure compatibility, compare the features of each PBX phone system against your needs, and consider the reliability, costs, and peripheral requirements of each option. Always ensure you choose a reputable provider that offers robust customer support.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, but we know that every business is unique, and you might have specific questions or concerns. At United Telecoms, we’re ready and eager to help you navigate through this process. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your queries about choosing the ideal PBX system for your business in the UK.