As technology continues to innovate and further enhance our way of life in all its facets, certain older foundational aspects of our everyday life have taken a back seat rather succinctly. From our homes to our daily commutes, the essence of technological innovation is present at almost every turn. One such facet of everyday existence that has benefitted greatly from technological advancements has been our general working life. All aspects have received a technical upgrade in one way or another – the idea of a home office would have been laughed out of the room in days gone by, like it or not, with technology, comes a great shift in our normal lives.
One such innovative step has been in the slow symbiosis of our workplaces to a more digital realm, the internet being the main conductor for a lot of our daily necessities in the office or indeed, in any industry. The internet has opened many doors for communicative and efficacy in workplaces across the board. There’s no better example of the concept of marrying traditional office life with modern technology than with the integration and prominence of virtual phone systems.
A Virtual Phone System
A virtual phone system is more akin to a cloud-based telecommunicator buffer that is able to automatically forward and/or reroute incoming calls to any number you delegate. There’s also an array of extras that give the impression of a professional and sleek setup; from personalised number options to pre-recording auto-responses to common queries. The best part is that virtual phone systems work through an internet connection in lieu of more traditional phone lines and networks which have their own set of issues altogether.
Part-provider, part-service and all encompassing for potential clients or customers, there has been a massive uptake of the technology in recent years as the office environment becomes increasingly more fractured and remote working offices are slowly seeping into the mainstream working culture. There’s never been a better time to be getting on the virtual phone systems train, and luckily for you, there are a lot to choose from.
Which begs the question, how do you sort out the good from the bad, from the downright ugly?
The 4 Cornerstone Considerations
1. Business Size & Required Features
Size does matter when it comes to virtual phone systems and finding the right one for your company. While trudging through the endless cavalcade of options for your virtual phone system, it’s important to look at the catered size that the system covers. Some favour small businesses and are more niche and suited for specific industries, while others will be heavy-duty and more effective for larger scale businesses. It’s important from the get-go in your search for a virtual phone system that you take into consideration the size and scope of your company.
The features that you’re looking for also play a large part in the introduction of a virtual phone system to the business. Again, the features for your business will be determined entirely based on your company but defining them will help you greatly in sifting through the vast array of services on offer.
For instance, in the case of an e-commerce company, which has seen a major upgrade with the installation and subsequent utilisation of virtual phone systems – some features that would be applicable to them would be an effective and operational call recording for specificity on orders. They’d also benefit from an apt call-forwarding feature as well as a comprehensive dictation feature which is a feature on a number of systems to varying degrees of quality.
Another feature that would greatly benefit industries like sales and e-commerce is what’s known as ‘Vanity’ numbers. Which are prevalent to varying degrees across various virtual phone systems, seeing as the system works through an internet connection in lieu of hardline phone numbers, there are an endless array of potential options for companies to have easy-to-remember and poppy contact numbers that can be used for effective and targeted advertising campaigns, especially with e-commerce and sales industries.
2. Simple User Interface
The user interface is a huge factor to consider when looking at virtual phone systems for your business. The smooth and effective utilisation of any comprehensive system for a business should be a primary factor in deciding the system that’s right for you. One of the key factors in determining a superior virtual phone system is the ease of installation and troubleshooting, as issues will pop up from time to time, having a system that you feel confident in using and maintaining is a key consideration.
A minimalist interface that is clear-cut and to the point will invariably save you a lot more time than clunkier and less-than-stellar alternatives and competitors. Taking the time to have a look through the example interfaces that each system offers is time well spent in our humble opinions.
3. Customer Service On Both Sides
As it is a service you’ll be signing up for, it’s imperative to ensure you have a clear line of communication between you and the provider, should anything pop up or you have further questions regarding the phone system as you go through the process. As it provides a good and wholesome customer service feature for your customers, it should stand to reason that they know what they’re selling and have an array of contacts and communicable channels for your questions.
The very best virtual phone system operators will also invite you to ask questions and answer in a timely and concise manner, without all the jargon and technicalities. One way to determine a prospective virtual phone system provider is to send them an initial email with a set-list of questions that relate to the virtual phone system they have on offer and the way it could potentially assist you, timing out their response and rating the quality of their responses will allow you to make an informed decision and separate the prospective providers from the irrelevant or inferior ones.
4. The All-Important Budget
Alas, we come to the most important consideration that should be made well ahead of time while searching for a virtual phone system, and that is the all-important budget. This is the most important thing to consider for a variety of reasons. While it is true that virtual phone systems can save quite a lot in comparison to traditional phone providers, there are still a few cases we have found that show that some companies simply overcharge or hide fees away before signing up to their programs. This is a very black hat tactic by a lot of virtual phone system providers and can end up costing a hefty amount in time and money.
Having a look through the history and true reviews from previous and current customers of the system will allow you to determine the authenticity of their service and the value for money they provide. Having your maximum budget on-hand when shopping for a virtual phone system will also allow you to filter out some of the more expensive options and focus on the ones within your range for further consideration.
It’s time to start your journey into the exciting world of virtual phone systems, begin your research and best of luck!