9 Biggest Mistakes Made When Selecting or Upgrading Business Telephone Service
Business telephone services have transformed over the past decade, moving from extensive on-premise Public Branch Exchange (PBX) systems to cloud-based, mobile-friendly platforms. As such, there are more choices for providers than ever before. However, not all business phone systems are created equal, and it’s not a light decision to make.
Selecting or upgrading your business telephone service isn’t the same as switching utility providers. It’s a technology investment that affects your customers and employees.
1. Not Upgrading to a VoIP Cloud-Based Business Telephone
The traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) system supports voice communications and PBX features, such as call transfer. But you can’t make a video call or text a customer. In contrast, A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system sends data through your internet connection and sustains multiple channels, including voice and video calling.
Although customers still prefer phone calls, they also expect to reach your business through alternative channels, like instant messenger and live chat. Moreover, voice remains the costliest customer service channel. Companies add new channels to reduce costs and improve customer experiences.
The flexibility of multi-channel communications allows businesses to scale their customer service offerings without risking a fragmented customer experience. Unlike on-premise systems, VoIP technology doesn’t require expensive infrastructure investment, and companies can add or remove users easily.
The benefits of a hosted voice business phone system include:
- Minimal equipment and no infrastructure to maintain or update
- Access to advanced call volume, caller, and user data analytics
- Flexibility to expand or change service offerings
- Provides integrations with business-critical tools
- Automation capabilities to reduce data entry and manual tasks
- Supports workforce mobility with mobile phone and desktop apps
2. Excluding Business Users From the Decision-Making Process
Technology investments require more user data than a standard landline. Buying desk phones for an analog phone system doesn’t require much user input. The phones have similar functions, and office employees are familiar with different models. The other decisions are left up to the phone company and IT team, who determine infrastructure requirements.
But, VoIP phone systems are integral to many workflows and require buy-in from your team. According to PwC, “90% of C-suite executives believe their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, but only about half (53%) of staff say the same.” In addition, mobile capabilities are essential to business users, yet “only 60% of employees say they’re satisfied with the mobile options available to them at work.”
A diverse and distributed workforce uses various communication and collaboration methods, and it’s crucial to discover the challenges they face and the features used the most. Employee surveys, team meetings, and user demonstrations can provide insights into the viability of future phone systems. Asking for input can help decision-makers select a business telephone system with the right features and capabilities. It’ll also reveal skill gaps and uncover ways to streamline workflows and boost efficiency.
3. Not Completing a Thorough Needs Assessment
While you might be tempted to duplicate your existing system, changes to technology and infrastructure combined with shifts in how and where people work require a comprehensive evaluation. Consider your needs today and look ahead to the upcoming five years. Identify your digital transformation goals and the role your phone system plays. Your assessment should look at business and technical requirements, including potential risks and opportunities.
An evaluation offers the following benefits:
- Identifies user challenges with your current business phone system
- Examines the types of endpoints required, such as softphones and desk phones
- Assesses communication issues affecting staff and customers
- Explores potential productivity enhancements stemming from an upgrade
- Documents your current infrastructure and capabilities
- Highlights possible returns due to customer experience improvements
4. Downplaying the Value of Strategic Technology Partnerships
Technology is at the core of today’s business phone systems. It’s no longer about choosing between a couple of local providers. Instead, you have access to nationwide VoIP services. While this provides a greater range of options, it complicates the decision-making process. It can be hard to understand what differentiates VoIP systems and which solutions best fit your organization.
In this respect, it’s important to look beyond the basic business phone services and at the company behind them. A best-in-class Managed Service Provider (MSP) works with you to assess current and future needs, examine your infrastructure, and create a tailored plan. MSPs help you build the perfect phone system and scale it to include multiple communication channels, such as video and chat.
Your MSP should also deliver excellent post-sale support and be available to answer your questions virtually and on-site. Additionally, your phone provider partners with other technology companies to supply native integrations with project and productivity platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Salesforce.
These integrations enable out-of-the-box connectivity and make blending phone functions with your existing workflows easier. By thinking of your business phone system and provider as a strategic technology investment and partnership, you can set your business up for long-term success while minimizing disruptions.
5. Failing to Assess Your Network Infrastructure
A network evaluation determines if your infrastructure can support VoIP applications, including voice and video. It looks at the probability of delay, latency, or jitter issues that affect voice traffic. A close look at your infrastructure also identifies upgrades that make your system more resilient during a power outage.
For instance, MSPs may recommend data switches that support Power over Ethernet (PoE) and additional Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) resources. Although these extra steps may add to your overall installation costs, handling these issues upfront is less expensive than waiting until a problem occurs.
6. Not Exploring Unified Communications Features and Benefits
The sheer number of applications employees use affects their productivity and job satisfaction rates. Furthermore, more channels mean more chances for conversations to fall under the radar, leading to missed messages and underutilization of data. In comparison, a Unified Communications (UC) platform centralizes your team’s conversations.
It reduces app switching leading to productivity improvements, and lets employees view all customer interactions, including voice, video, and live chat records. UC also supports real-time updates to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program, reducing silos between departments and ensuring business users can access the best information to deliver excellent customer experiences. It allows for natural interactions among team members, such as one-click voice or video calls during a group chat.
The main features of Unified Communications include:
- Electronic faxing
- Email integrations
- Content sharing
- Instant messaging
- Team chat and video conferencing
- Media storage for shared files and recordings
- One-to-one messaging and video
- Audio conferencing and voice communications
7. Failing to Address Current Customer Experience Problems
According to Deloitte, “87% of customers find it frustrating to repeat themselves in multiple channels.” Yet, for business to truly revolve around customers, you need the right tools, and your business phone system can play a significant role. After all, their first customer service interactions could be with your Interactive Voice System (IVR). If they’re pushing zero over and over on their phone, hoping to get a rep on the line quicker, then they may already feel frustrated before they speak with a human.
Consequently, it’s essential not to downplay your business phone system’s impact on the customer experience. It can enable personalized and convenient experiences or feel robotic and repetitive. By thinking about your customer’s journey and viewing your phone system as an enabler — a key technology to building relationships — you can improve business outcomes and supercharge your reputation.
8. Overlooking Onboarding and User Training Support Strategies
According to iOffice, “30% of workplace leaders would like to make technology easier for employees to use.” User-friendly applications mean there’s less downtime and quicker employee adoption. A clear plan for onboarding and training can help your company achieve a faster return on your investment while fully supporting your staff.
Again, this is where the right partner can help your company reach its objectives. Technology providers offer different service levels, and support hours vary depending on your subscription tier. That’s why it’s vital to investigate the types of pre-sale and post-sale support offered by MSPs.
Look for industry leaders that offer:
- On-site support options
- Group and one-on-one training sessions
- 24/7/365 live customer service
- Online tutorials and videos
- Administrative portals
9. Failing to Account for Analog Devices and E911
Analog devices and emergency calling capabilities are critical yet often overlooked elements of a business telephone system. Your company may need to support several analog devices, such as fax machines and alarm systems. These require a Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) signal and may not work if converted to Internet Protocol (IP). Therefore, it’s crucial to identify the number and type of hardware requiring analog lines.
Likewise, the 911 center should locate the building and caller’s location within the building during an emergency. The same goes for your remote and mobile users. Your MSP assesses your requirements and offers solutions that support your analog devices and e911 service. In some cases, you may choose a hybrid enterprise phone system, combining TDM and IP to handle a large number of analog devices adequately.
Avoid Mistakes by Evaluating the Best Business Phone Systems
Choosing a business phone system is challenging because you have many options with various price points and feature sets. Indeed, it’s vital to select a phone service that meets your needs without overpaying for unnecessary features. By treating your business phone system as a technology investment and answering key questions about your usage, you can find a partner that works with you to deliver a reliable, user-friendly phone system. Learn how to build the best plan for your business by contacting Cox Business.