Reliability, Big Reatures and a Small Price
Telephones are an essential part of a business, but should not be a part of your companies wallet. We offer both new and used phone, PA and Paging Systems from name-brand manufacturers at affordable prices.
When selecting a phone system, it is important you carefully explore the features that each system has to offer, and that you pick and choose a system that closely fits your needs to avoid overpaying. Keep in mind, you may want to select features that you may possibly use in the future and evaluate whether or not it is more cost-effective to purchase them now or later.
Common Phone System Features
This is one the most common features in phone systems. You don’t need a live operator or receptionist. Callers can choose the extension they need based on a menu. The call will automatically be transferred to that department.
Dial by Extension
This is another auto-attendant function that enables callers to reach the person they are calling by dialing their extension.
Dial by Name
This is a directory that enables callers to reach someone by dialing the first three letters of their name or last name.
Personal Automated Attendant
If a call is unanswered, it is delivered to a voice prompt that will allow the caller to choose from several options like choosing another extension or external number or deposit voicemail.
Music on Hold
Users can choose a song or upload a customized one such as a company jingle or promotion and play that for callers on hold.
Legacy Extension Support
Callers can use legacy extensions to reach the person they are calling from the automated attendant. You never miss an important call through this upgrade.
You can block calls to specific area codes.
Forced Conference Barge
Allows a user to barge into another user’s call by forcing a conference into the existing phone call.
Allows a user to listen in on another active call.
Users can view the caller’s phone number.
Caller ID with Name
The caller’s name is displayed along with the number.
Internal Caller Name Display
This function displays the internal caller’s name plus the extension.
The user may pause the current conversation.
Classes of Service
You can restrict outbound calls entirely or by area codes on a per-user basis.
Two callers can speak hands-free via speakerphone.
A user can communicate hands-free with multiple users with the use of their speakerphones.
Users can page groups of phones throughout the office regardless of physical location.
Some activities are brought to the user’s attention through on-screen alerts. Messages such as new voice messages or missed calls appear near the top of the display.
Remote Phone Use
Remote and traveling users can use the office phone from any location with the use of a broadband connection. This is useful for teleworkers.
You can program up to 16 internal or external numbers.
Call the last number dialed without re-entering the numbers. Just press a button.
A user can send a call to another extension after conferring with the recipient. This is also called a consultation or supervised transfer.
The primary call is put on hold then another call is opened with the intended party. The user then speaks to this recipient first before connecting the transferred call.
A user transfers the current call on his phone to another phone number without first consulting the recipient. This is also called cold or blind transfer.
General Voice Mailbox
Callers can leave a message in the general voicemail box not associated with the user’s extension. This is an Auto Attendant option. This is normally accessible by the receptionist.
Message Waiting Indicator
Users are given visual notifications of voicemails through red lights and on-screen alerts.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Voice Mail Access
Users navigate voice menus to deposit or retrieve voicemail messages via IVR. Users can even access voicemail from their own phones with just one touch or remotely from any touch-tone phone.
Multiple Voice Mailbox Access
One user can access multiple voice mailboxes through their phone.
Users can navigate the screen to retrieve messages.
Voicemail Broadcast/Distribution to all users
Forward a voicemail to the entire user base.
Messaging integrated with your system.
Voicemail Keep on Phone Control
Users can keep emailed voice messages saved on their phone or delete them after forwarding to email.
Voicemail to Email Group Notification
Multiple email addresses can receive voicemail notification.
Voicemail to Email WAV file forwarding
Send a notification with the WAV sound file attached to an email address.
Reply by Calling
Reply to a voicemail message from the system by calling back the Caller ID
Message Envelope Information
Incoming messages are automatically labeled with the time, date, duration and Caller ID.
Conferencing Floor Moderator
A user can serve as a moderator on a conference call. This person can manage invitations, mute participants, view and rest hand-raises, etc.
Ad Hoc Conferencing
Set up a conference call with up to 5 additional parties without conference bridge port reservations.
On-Screen Moderator Conference Controls
Manage conference participants from a service menu on the phone.
Conditional Call Forwarding
An incoming call is forwarded to an alternate internal or external number when the line is in use.
Permanent Call Forwarding
All incoming calls to a specific number are permanently forwarded to another destination.
Direct Inbound Dial Phone Number Assignment
Every phone is assigned a Direct Inbound Dial phone number. This allows calls to be routed to the recipient without passing through the main number or auto attendant.
Treat calls differently according to the caller ID. For example, specific numbers can always be forwarded to a mobile device, voicemail or disconnected.
Do Not Disturb
Temporarily prevent incoming calls from ringing an extension. Route them automatically to a pre-programmed destination.
Find Me or Follow Me
Create lists of numbers that you want to be found at before sending a call to voicemail. This is more sophisticated than Call Forwarding. A call can be configured to first ring an office number for a few times then go to his mobile phone and then to his home phone.
Answer another call on another phone from your phone.
Directed Call Pickup
Pick up incoming calls ringing on another phone by pressing a soft key and dialing that extension.
Pick up incoming calls from another phone by selecting it from an on-screen list.
Pause a current conversation and then retrieve the call from any phone using a graphical Park service menu.
Ring Hunt Groups
Allow calls to a single number to ring on several phones simultaneously or in series.
On-Phone Presence Monitoring
View the on or off phone status of other lines by associating buttons with those lines.
Assign an extension to every phone. The last 4 digits of that phone’s Direct Inward Dial are typically used. These extensions can be used for transferring, internal calls, etc.
Shared Line Appearances
Allow a set of extensions to appear on a group of phones
Phonebook, Call Logs and Directories
This is a list of configurable company extensions by a client administrator. These numbers are accessible from the phone.
A list of users and extensions of your company’s phone system that can be accessed from the phone.
On Phone Call Logs
Displays the date and time of received, placed and missed calls for a particular user.
Instant Messaging, Presence, File Sharing and Video Conferencing
You can quickly see if your colleagues are available to chat or if they are busy on the phone. Some platforms automatically update the status of the users.
This feature enables users to launch a desktop sharing session during a video or audio chat. You can share your entire screen or choose just a portion of it you want to share.
Chat with officemates, regardless of where they are in the world. You can eliminate multiple, unsecured and unmanaged instant messaging applications.
Peer-to-Peer Video Chat
You can have a face-to-face conversation with co-workers in the office and in other locations. Even if your co-worker is in another country, you can easily collaborate on a project.
You can send files easily to your co-workers during a chat.
Integration with PCs and other systems
Business Application Integration
Depending on your supplier, you can configure your system to integrate with your core applications such as CRM, ATS or ERP. Some vendors also offer pre-packaged offerings that allow you to click-to-dial, automated call records, inbound call screen pops and simple note entry. Some of these features are available at no extra charge.
You can dial your phone by clicking a phone number in your Internet browser or even Microsoft Outlook.
This is a list of your personal contacts.
Personal Phone Book – Import
You can import a Personal Phonebook into your vendor’s portal from a comma-separated values file.
This is software used in conjunction with your phone. It allows users to monitor multiple lines in an office on their computer. It also allows them to handle multiple calls easily.
Paging System Integration
You can integrate your platform with a third-party office paging system. Manufacturers now also make their solutions compatible with most systems in the market.
End users can have the option to press a soft key and then enter a billing or accounting code to tag inbound calls even while the call is still in progress.
View/Add Service Requests
Administrators can view the status of their service requests online and add them online. This feature is now becoming popular among vendors to make support easy and more convenient for both parties.
Door Phone Entry Buzzer Integration
You can integrate your phone system to an analog door phone to allow you to have a two-way conversation with a visitor and then unlock the door from your phone.
Your vendor will provide users as well as administrators the access they need to configure and manage the system. They can set preferences and even monitor activities through a web interface. This is simple and easy to use so you don’t need special training.
Administrators can view and even export inbound and outbound reports that include call details. They can view these reports by an originator, rate centers, destination, duration and even cost.
Administration & Portability
This is usually a 3-digit number that is reserved for a local non-emergency service.
You can let your customers call you for free. This makes you easy to reach. You can also brand your phone number with vanity toll-free numbers.
Directory Assistance Listing
You can ask your supplier if they can make sure that your directory assistance listing is accurate. Your main listing is already included in your service but if you need a supplemental directory assistance listing, you may be charged extra.
Outbound Caller ID
You can configure an outbound Caller ID to announce DID numbers or the company main number. You can also block it entirely.
Outbound Caller ID Blocking
You can ask your supplier to restrict your outbound caller ID data from being announced. This is by location.
Enhanced Emergency Service
Your supplier sends location information to your local emergency unit when an emergency call is made from any of your network phones.
Alternate Outbound Dial Digit
An additional digit is allowed to make outbound calls according to the requirements from the customer to send certain digits.
Administrators can require a code to be able to make certain kinds of calls. This is useful to prevent unauthorized international or expensive calls.
If your company is a potential victim of fraud, find a supplier that will routinely monitor unusual international activities.
Users can log in and out of phones or move one’s presence from one phone to another and back. Users are allowed to time-share their phones.
Nationwide Telephone Number Availability
Work with your supplier if they can secure telephone numbers across the UK.
The administrator can add new users or change names.
You can ask your supplier to configure the phone line to be accessed by Pick Up, Barge, etc. to increase group functionality but reduce privacy.
The administrator can manage voicemail and phone passwords online.
Tying it all together
If you have a cloud-based phone system, you can even add more services to it so you can create a customized solution to meet your needs. Here are some of them.
Take business calls on your mobile device using your business phone number. You can enjoy your phone system features and stay connected even when you are not in the office.
You can record inbound or outbound calls to enhance training, identify best practices and ensure compliance. You can record calls with the touch of a button and play them back. You can also search them from a web-based interface.
Users are given a permanent dial-in number and entry passcode that can be used 24/7. This allows users to host a virtual meeting anytime, anywhere.
Voicemail to email transcription
Your supplier can transcribe your voicemail messages into text and then send them along with the WAV file to your email. You no longer have to listen to voicemail to see who called. You can see them all in your inbox.
Many organizations still have fax as an integral part of their communications. If you are one of them, you can receive incoming fax in your inbox and send outbound faxes as email attachments. You don’t need to have a dedicated fax machine and all the costs and hassles associated with it.
Phone System Comparison
This is a question we hear a lot as more and more “Virtual PBX” type services are popping up. Though there is not a common name, these services are typically referred to as:
- Virtual PBX
- Virtual phone system
- Hosted phone system
- Cloud phone system
Below is a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of an offsite hosted service vs. an on-premise solution. We base our comparison below on 16-24 extensions, we do not recommend virtual PBX systems to customers with more than 40 extensions.
|16-24 Extension Phone System Comparison||On-premise System||Hosted/Cloud VOIP Service|
|Cost||$2000-7200 depending on equipment quality and type.||$100-200 per extension plus internet costs – $150-200/mo average fees|
|Long-term expense||Very little required for maintenance and repairs over extended periods of time||Costs are higher over long periods of time|
|Features/Customization||Typically has more features than hosted solutions, can be easily customized. Open source elements can be added at a very low cost.||Customer has less control over features and software extensions.|
|Managment||Requires routine maintenance, most of which is customer servicable||All equipment is maintained by the hosting provider, the customer is only responsible for subscriber units (phones) and their own local network.|
|Reliability/Voice quality||Traditional services can be used in emergency situations, On-site systems (even on-site VoIP systems) greatly increase communications reliability.||Dependant on internet connection, backup POTS (Plain old telephone service) lines cannot be used easily or without great expense. Cloud-based systems, however, are less likely to have failures due to equipment failure.|
|Portability||Newer on-premise VoIP systems allow multiple offices or remote offices to easily integrate. There may be more overhead in configuration but there are typically fewer expenses over a period of time.||Hosted solutions provide extreme portability with little configuration or setup on the customer’s behalf. They allow less control and customization, however.|
Should I go with a VoIP or traditional solution?
With almost every inquiry into a new phone system or upgrade, we receive a question along the lines of: “Should I go with a VoIP based phone system?”. A straightforward answer to this question is almost always VoIP. There are very few situations where we still see traditional, analog PBX systems in use. They do, however, serve their purpose in applications such as hospitality and industries where legacy compatibility needs to be maintained.
VoIP opens up a whole new world of possibilities via enhanced features and call control, such as:
- Use of existing networking infrastructure (Ethernet or WiFi) with no need to pull new cables
- The ability to connect multiple sites, and support for remote workers
- Integration with computer applications for logging, reporting and customer service applications
- Lower incoming and outgoing call costs
- Infrastructure and Subscriber units (phones) are much lower cost
- Easy to integrate with other equipment and legacy equipment – VoIP systems can integrate alongside existing analog systems
Virtual/Hosted PBX and on-site PBX systems are similar in many ways, but as you can see above have some unique differences.
It is often best for a small company to start with a Virtual/Hosted PBX solution and then move to an on-premise solution as they grow.
Larger companies/multiple locations & special applications
Larger institutions and those with special needs almost always need a permanent, reliable and on-site solution. At the point you reach 40 extensions or more the amount of time needed for an on-site system to pay for itself is greatly reduced, and monthly operating expense is lowered.