Phone systems have gone through tremendous advancements in the past several decades. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which was developed around 1995, has enabled people to make and receive phone calls using a broadband internet connection rather than a standard phone line. This makes it possible to call practically anyone who has a telephone number and it’s how successful VoIP companies like Skype and magicJack offer their customers such low calling prices.

Today, in 2016, we enjoy high-quality, HD voice calls, coupled with faster internet speeds, making it almost impossible to tell the difference between a traditional landline and a digital line. It’s a great time to consider moving an expensive phone system to one of the many available digital phone services. Not only are they inexpensive, but these digital phone systems can offer everything a $100,000 system offers, for a fraction of the cost.

Online/Cloud PBX

Cloud PBX operates through an online private branch exchange (PBX), allowing any company to setup a wide variety of customized features without the need for costly equipment. Phone trees, call routing, transfers, unlimited extensions, three-way calling, customer conference numbers, custom on-hold music, automatic call recording and company hours are all possibilities.

When I started my janitorial supply business in 2003 (Wholesale Janitorial Supply), I was one of the early adopters of an online phone system. I had three people in my company with a phone system call tree. When a customer called, they could press “1” for sales, “2” for customer service, “3” for billing, “4” to connect directly to the owner, and “0” to speak with an operator.

We had eight different extensions ringing the same three people simultaneously. Customers thought there were 500 people in my company.

How to Find Providers

I recommend doing a Google search for “online pbx phone systems” to see all the different companies and their pricing. We have used RingCentral for 10 years and they have been great for all my businesses. Some other big players are Ooma, 8×8, Jive, and Grasshopper.

Depending on your company’s needs, it can be important to choose a provider that allows unlimited extensions, because you can have 50 employees and only pay for one user as long as you use your employee’s personal phones to answer calls.

You Can Start Small

It’s important to know you can start small with these systems as they can grow to accommodate the needs of even the largest companies in the world. Try beginning with just one user account for your business. With unlimited extensions, you can have as many call routing rules as you want. And most services come with both a toll-free and local number.

Other Services

Some of the other great services that these phone systems offer are:

  •       Free conference numbers
  •       Free faxing (incoming and outgoing)
  •       Unlimited long distance
  •       Integrations to third-party applications like Salesforce and Slack

For High Volume

As my businesses has grown, I opted to get desktop phones for each employee. Desktop phones and individual user accounts are best for companies that have a high volume of incoming and outgoing calls. It also allows every option a large call center would want, including:

  •       Call recording
  •       Call monitoring
  •       Transfers
  •       Routing rules
  •       User availability
  •       Video conferencing

If you’re looking for a feature-rich, cost-effective phone system for your company, an online PBX system can be a great option for both the smallest and largest of businesses.

Photo Credit: luca.mara, Twenty20