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Top 15 Phone System Features

There are so many different phone system features, so, we have investigated the top 15 phone system features required by our customers (across a diverse range of industries), and why they are needed. Here is a list of all of these phone system features and how they work. This list provides an excellent starting point and should help you discover which features are relevant to you and which aren't. Ultimately, it will help you to set up your new phone system in the best way for your business, and ask the right questions when getting a new phone system and get exactly the features and benefits that your business needs.

 

Daytime & after-hours greetings/announcements

This is arguably the most important feature on any new system. Day and night greetings ensure your business never misses a call (day or night) and they sound incredibly professional. It's so much better than the alternatives:

  • The phone ringing out
  • Callers getting frustrated trying to get through
  • Potential customers giving up and calling your competitors!

It's so simple but so effective. For example, if your receptionist hasn't picked up after 5 rings the system will pick up the call for you and greet them with your own customised message. "Thank you for calling ACME incorporated, your call is important and we will be with you in just a moment..."

Some phone systems can even answer multiple callers at once. While other phone systems allow you to present callers with options to choose from such as "press 1 for sales, Press 2 for admin etc". This is great for very large companies with multiple divisions or for small companies without a receptionist.

No matter which option you select for your business and customers, the result is you will never lose another opportunity, compromise professionalism or hurry through one call simply to take the next! You will now give every caller the best impression, every time.

With an Infiniti solution you can also program the system to answer with time specific messages at different times of the day, week or year. That's intelligent call management!

Be aware that some phone systems providers charge for this feature, however, many now include it at no charge. Make sure you do your homework if this feature is important to your business.

 

Voicemail (and Voicemail to email)

Voicemail saves time and money. Handwritten messages waste time, resources, and are often to blame for ineffective communication due to lost post-its, phone numbers written down wrong and illegible handwriting.

Just like your mobile phone voicemail, phone system voicemail allows callers to tell you exactly what they want, while maintaining their privacy. Voicemail saves unnecessary return calls and allows you to prioritise call backs.

Which staff members actually receive voicemail is entirely up to you. You may only opt to give it to key staff, or everyone - it's your choice.

Many of the latest phone systems also allow you to get voicemail to email. Anywhere you can access your email you can now receive your voicemail. This is fantastic for companies where staff are on the move. You could be 1000km away and receive a notification on your smartphone seconds after a customer has left a message for you on your office desk phone. No more missed messages!

 

Mobile Twinning

Do you have staff that are hard to track down? Perhaps they are simply forgetful and don't always remember to divert their call to their mobiles?

Don't worry. With mobile phone twinning it pairs your desk phone to your mobile phone. When you ring an employees extension it will ring both the extension and their mobile phone at the same time. So whichever phone they pick up it will then put the call through to that. You can even put the call through to the employee for free if you use a GSM gateway.

This is a brilliant feature for large warehouses that may not have great wireless coverage for DECT or cordless solutions, for IT staff that are always moving around troubleshooting, for sales people or for some people just want to be contactable all the time without voicemail. It really is an incredible feature that can do wonders for your productivity.

Mobile SIP Applications

SIP mobile applications have been around for a number of years. Some phone systems have native smartphone apps and others allow you to integrate 3rd-party SIP apps. These apps allow you to connect to your phone system and use your mobile like a desk phone with most of the system features. Essentially, it puts your office in your pocket! Some phone systems will even allow you to do extra features like Video conferencing, Geo Location tracking and much more.

Although similar to mobile twinning, it is more advanced as it actually gives you the ability not just to answer calls but also perform system functions like accessing system directories, conference call and transfer calls to other staff etc. Also, because it is only using your Wi-Fi or mobile data it is free for the mobile to receive calls (instead of paying a mobile forwarding fee) and it uses the phone system (via the SIP app) to make them. No more charges when you contact your own mobile workers!

 

VoIP phone calls and IP phone systems

VoIP is the latest technology and a fantastic way to slash costs. Plus with the introduction of the NBN, VoIP will be the way we all make phone calls. Any modern phone system can integrate with cheap VoIP calls these days but not every system actually offers VoIP phone system features or SIP trunking (which is the best type of VoIP available for the ultimate call quality and cheapest services) .

VoIP system features are used for linking multiple sites, or remote workers. They allow other users on the phone system to see, transfer, and receive calls, from other sites and staff no matter where they are located. The user can be sat on a beach, using their phone as if they are right there in the office!

If you're only after cheap calls then it really won't have any bearing on the system you buy (unless you want to use SIP trunking).

You can get different types of VoIP solutions and if you would like to read more please check out the VoIP phone system section of the site.

 

Transferring calls in and out of the office

Although it seems like a basic option, , "transferring calls" is a key reason many small businesses upgrade to a phone system. It's important that you and your staff can transfer incoming calls to the right person easily and efficiently. Different brands achieve this in different ways and you need to understand how the system you're looking at actually works (not just looks). It may not be the right option for you.

If you are looking to transfer calls from your office to staff mobile phones or directly to remote workers IP handsets or softphones you will need to ensure you have ISDN lines for the former and an IP platform for the latter. In the right environment transferring calls can send productivity through the roof. This is particularly relevant for sales environments and companies that have remote workers or home workers. It gets callers and potential customers seamlessly and efficiently through to the people they need to speak to.

 

Wireless (DECT and cordless) phones

Sounds simple but a basic cordless phone added to a standard phone system can redefine the way you use your phone system. This is especially true for retailers, customers with warehousing or large areas that become costs prohibitive for office phone cabling and for staff that are constantly on the move.

If your space/office isn't excessively large then you may be lucky enough to get away with a standard cordless phone. They're cheap, effective and will connect to any phone system via an analogue extension. However, the downside is that they're not purpose made for the phone system and therefore cannot replicate normal desk phone handsets functionality (transfer etc). That said they are perfect for receiving calls and that's all that most companies need.

If you are unlucky and the range of a standard cordless phone doesn't cut it then you may need either:

a) A specially designed Engenius long range cordless phone with a range of up to 10km line of sight

b) A DECT network created with handsets that are proprietary to the phone system. Here if you have an Ericsson-LG phone system you can get an Ericsson-LG DECT system.

These options are traditionally perfect for:

  • Mining companies
  • Schools
  • Large industrial companies
  • Transport companies

Either of these options can be rather expensive compared to a normal cordless phone but again, in the right environment, this type of solution is worth its weight in gold and can pay for itself in no time in productivity and associated communication efficiencies.

 

Customer System Self Administration

Historically every time you wanted to change something on your phone system you had to get in a phone technician. This was time consuming and sometimes very costly over the life of the system. The alternative which many companies adopted, was to simply ignore the fault or wait till many faults backed up to justify just one expensive technical visit, which of course is not good for any business!

No Longer! Many phone systems (albeit some better than others) have computer interfaces that allow technicians to make adds, moves and changes to the phone system programming. Most phone companies don't tell you about this because they want to continue to profit from you for many years to come.

At Infiniti we believe that empowering users with this technology allows them to control their own phone system and makes their owner and user experience much more rewarding. Did we mention it could also save you $1000's over the systems life?

It means that you can log on (password protected for administrators) and make changes to almost everything in the phone system:

  • How the phone rings
  • Where the phone rings
  • Announcement messages
  • Setting up a new user
  • Deleting an existing user
  • Day and night timers
  • Call queuing timers and messages
  • And much, much more

The only thing we don't show users is how to change the very technical phone line setup. One mistake here in programming and your phone stops working! Customers love this incredible functionality and the fact they get it for FREE when they choose Infiniti for their solution. No longer do they put up with annoying errors or idiosyncrasies. They can make changes to the system anytime, day or night and those changes are then effected real-time and are instantaneous.

It gets even easier when it comes to Hosted/Cloud Phone Systems and the SpringCom solutions we offer. It is a totally managed system so you will never have to touch the backend management dashboards at all, that is great for businesses who ‘just want it to work'. All adds, moves, changes and much more are included at no extra costs with the phone system, just let the tech team know via phone or email, and they will do everything for you. Easy!

 

Speed dialling and CTI

When you look at how frequently you dial the same phone numbers you soon realise that speed dialling can be a fantastic feature to have.

Whether you use a database, ACT, Goldmine, Microsoft Outlook, or just a list of your customers or associates, phone systems can make calling people as easy as clicking a mouse button.

If you are running a computer database or CRM then you should look at how you can tie this into your phone system. Imagine if when a customer calls their whole file could pop up on your screen ready for you. This is logically called screen popping and can save your staff an incredible amount of time, and your customers will no longer be frustrated by having to repeat the same details over and over again.

Some systems charge for this feature whereas others include this at no charge. Make sure you don't pay for something unnecessarily.

 

Call recording

Call recording is a fantastic addition to any sales oriented company. You can spend countless hours trying to train staff and improve call quality but none of this has the same effect as playing a call back to a staff member and dissecting the call together.

They can hear first hand exactly how they sound and respond to callers. This is one of the most effective training exercises you can do and is brilliant subject matter for sales meetings. Some phone systems will even allow you to email WAV. files (sound files you have recorded). This means you can email other staff members to illustrate a great call and is especially beneficial when you have remote workers or staff in other locations.

Call recording is also great for storing and being able to replay calls at a later stage. This is great for stock broking firms and other companies that accept verbal recognition for products and services.

Please note that it is illegal to record a caller without them knowing. This is why you will often hear messages saying "please note that this call may be recorded for training purposes".

 

Linking Multiple Sites & Remote Workers

When you have more than one location VoIP can be the single greatest phone system addition you can do. Not the cheap VoIP calls referenced before but intelligent VoIP system features that are used for linking multiple sites, or remote workers.

They allow other users on the phone system to see, transfer, and receive calls, from other sites and staff no matter where they are located in Australia and even around the world. Imagine these scenarios:

  • Being able to answer a call in Melbourne and by simply looking at your phone handset see if someone in Sydney, or any other site is available to take the call
  • If the phone in Sydney isn't answered in time it can overflow to other sites where other staff are available to answer. It will even come up as Sydney overflow so they know how to answer the call
  • Having a person log on with a laptop and automatically be able to make and receive phone calls just like they could in the office
  • Have staff work from home and be able to make and receive calls just like they were in the office

Be able to see all staff on the phone at a glance no matter where they are in the world

The possibilities are almost endless and can literally redefine the way you work and communicate. Geography and distance is no longer a deterrent to the way you communicate. The world is your office!

 

Speaker phone & Conference phones

Speaker phones are great for conferencing or just being able to talk, or dial numbers, without having to pick up the phone. Most basic models do not offer speakerphone capabilities. Make sure you get the right handsets for your staff and their needs.

If you are the type of company that has a lot of meeting and conferencing requirements then a dedicated conference phone is a great idea. They are affordable and allow multiple participants to communicate with crystal clear call clarity. You can even now get a wireless conference phone that allows you to take the equipment to any room in the office for a conference call. They are about the same cost as a traditional conference phone and the quality is almost identical.

 

Warranties & guarantees

Technology is not infallible and ensuring your new system comes with a warranty is a must. You wouldn't buy a new car without one and a phone system is no different.

In terms of ongoing maintenance and support it is important to check the legitimacy of the company you're dealing with. If you are buying from a one man operation then they may not be available when you actually need them, and this can cost your business customers and money. You need to know that a company doesn't just install a system, but that they have the staff and technical expertise to quickly resolve any problems that arise in the future.

Alternatively, for maximum peace of mind and insurance you may prefer to opt for a maintenance agreement (MA). A MA guarantees your business a specific service level agreement and response times to any problems you may experience over the life of your phone system.

 

Conference calling (how many parties can you link?)

This is different from a conference phone and just making calls. Here we are referring to the phone system capabilities. You see some phone systems will only allow you to have a 3 party conference call while others like Avaya allow up to 64 party conferencing!

The number of conferencing parties means how many independent people you can call/conference at once (it is not how many people you can fit in one office). If conferencing is important to your business then it pays to know a system's limitations.

Some phone systems also offer sophisticated conference bridging etc while others only offer basic functionality. Conference bridging is where the phone system will call and connect to parties at a predetermined time, which is great for those larger conferences (imagine having to call 20 different people to add them in, that would be time consuming!). Just think-you want to initiate a conference call at 1pm tomorrow. You tell the phone system what time, who the conference parties are and their contact details. At 1pm the system automatically calls and tells the participants that they are being connected for a conference call. You didn't have to do a thing. Conversely you can tell people to call a phone number at 1pm and the phone system takes care of the rest. Clever isn't it!

If conferencing is important to you then make sure you also ask about full duplex conference phones. Full duplex makes a massive difference to call clarity and quality.

 

Call accounting

Call accounting is the ability to see and allocate costs for each and every call made in your office. Some companies use it because they have different departments and want to allocate cost centres. Other companies are more interested in playing big brother and seeing if their staff are abusing call privileges.

You might be interested in none, one or both but call accounting is a great way to keep costs in check and let staff know not to take liberties with your money!

Call accounting is relatively inexpensive and can be added to any phone system. Some phone systems have a call accounting option but the best call accounting is from third party companies like phone control and the like that have built specialised platforms exclusively for this purpose.

 

Music & tailored on hold messages

If you genuinely care about your company image then nothing has as much impact as messages on hold. Not just music but messages about YOUR business. They sound incredibly professional whilst also educating and entertaining your callers.

When you consider that over 70% of callers are left on hold for a staggering 43+ seconds it's not difficult to see why messages on hold are so popular. At Infiniti some of our phone systems include messages on hold for FREE. Enquire today and see how you can save over $1000 with your own tailored message on hold package with your new phone system.

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FAQ / Help guide

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How To Move Your Business Phone Number In 4 Easy Steps


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