In this article we cover the basics followed by the most populer models for you to choose from for your business:
A multi-line phone system can be easily personalised to suit the needs of your business, operating as an integral part of the company. Whether you need multiple telephone lines directed to one phone, one phone to multiple lines that you can personalise so it works for you, or even having a personalised message playing to customers while they are waiting, you can turn your system into a powerful sales tool.
There are two main types of phone systems you can choose from – traditional touch key systems and Private Branch Exchange or more commonly known as PBX. With both you have the option to incorporate VOIP calls, turning them into a hybrid system, reducing call costs for long distance calling. If you are looking for a hybrid system, look for “IP ready” in the description which means they can run on VOIP.
Touch Key Systems
These are the more basic models used mainly by smaller companies as they can only offer one telephone number and can only be used in one office. Just by pushing a button, the user can select incoming or outgoing calls and transfer calls to other users in the same office. A touch key system itself does not offer extension numbers. However, additional features are available such as music on hold, conference calls and call waiting.
Private Branch Exchange
PBX or Private Branch Exchange are used in larger companies and have the added advantages of offering more than one phone number, use in more than one location and allow extension numbers and telephone numbers for each employee. Calls can initially be processed without taking up a line but you need to dial a single digit in order to reach an outside line. Generally, PBX systems are more expensive but are the popular choice because of their versatility.
If the system is hybrid it means you can choose between traditional analogue lines or VOIP, this allows you to choose the cheapest option for call lowering phone bills, for example, local calls this the regular phone line and long distance via VOIP.
A multiline phone system has the features and functions of a regular phone system with some added benefits. For example, caller ID, call waiting and even conference calling are some features that come as standard in many multiline phone packages. Other features include call forwarding and transfers, personalised voicemail for each of your lines, etc. You can also have support for your receptionist so they can answer multiple lines from their desk. Your clients can easily call different departments, specific individuals or your main office.
A rollover, popular in call centres allows you to use a multiline phone device but only publish one line or one number in phone directories and other marketing/contact materials that you have. Your clients can call one phone number but the line does not get congested because the system will use multiple lines in ascending order when the first line is busy. You can put customers on hold or transfer calls. You can also have multiple employees answer calls.
Top systems available in the market:
Suits 2-20 Employess
This system is one of the most popular on the market due to its ease of installation, top available functions and choice of colours.
Connects to up to 6 phone lines and includes great phone features such as automatic call forwarding, voice mail, automated receptionist, conference calls, caller ID. This system works with ordinary analogue phone lines so you will need a multi-line business phone service.
BT Versatility 2-line Analogue Telephone System with 1 x V8 Handset / V16 Handset
Suits 4-40 Employees
A very popular system due to ease of expansion, low starting cost and hybrid functionality. The flexibility of this system makes it a great all-rounder for small businesses.
Start up packages include 2 analogue lines and 4 handsets. With small ad-ons this phone system grows with you to the top capacity of 16 lines (if you switch to digital) and 40 handset extensions.
Orchid Analogue PABX 308+ Multiline Phone System
The Orchid PABX308+ is a great value for money for any small business. It is easy to install with a wide range of features although it might not offer the flexibility of the other multi- line systems. It supports 3 lines and 8 handsets. You need to dial 9 for a line or direct access.
A useful feature is Least Cost Routing which allows you program a provider’s Prefix so that it is automatically inserted for every call, saving you both time and money.
You can set the PBX to call over a BT line and set another digit for IP calls offering the ultimate hybrid versatility. The BT line could be on line 1 and the IP Gateway can be on line 2. This ensures your business can get maximum call cost savings.
The NEC SV8100 is a good choice feature-rich system for medium sized companies. Offering good looking phones and an impressive touchscreen display, it is an easily scalable system growing with the changing needs of your company.
Maximum capacity of 255 locations, up to 200 lines and 512 handsets per location. A hybrid system that is IP ready, easy integration of mobile phones and as you would expect from such a scalable system a wide range of features.
The Panasonic KXTES824E was created specifically for small to medium businesses. It provides many features that are rarely available for products like this in the market. For example, it has Caller Line Identification and an optional voice processing integration. These two feature increase efficiency and improves productivity. You can expand it easily. Auto Attendant is also available. It can handle up to 8 lines and 24 extensions.
Built-in USB Port for PC programming
This system comes configured to 3 exchange lines and 8 extensions however offers easy expansion with additional cards.
You can record greeting messages to direct the callers to the appropriate department.