Does your business employ fewer than 5 employees?
Small businesses with fewer than 5 employees can get by without a true business phone system. A basic KSU-less package of office phones from a superstore will provide standard features like forwarding, putting calls on hold, and supporting multi lines.
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Types of business phone systems
- KSU-less systems: best for fewer than 10 employees; few advanced features; no central control unit. read more
- Key systems: best for 5 to 30 employees; some advanced features; powered by key system unit (KSU). read more
- PBX systems: best for 40 employees and up; most advanced features; powered by central PBX cabinet. read more
KSU-less phone systems are the least expensive type of business phone system. They offer standard business telephone features without a central control unit: their features are run by the phones themselves.
While their low price may seem attractive, they're generally not expandable to support your business as it grows. They also don't offer advanced features and may not have good support by telephone vendors.
These mid-level systems have a central key system unit (KSU) that unifies all the phones in your office and provides more functionality than KSU-less phones. While they can't usually provide high-end features like CTI, key systems can meet the needs of many growing businesses.
Newer key systems are sometimes called 'hybrid systems,' and share some characteristics of PBX systems. They're more expandable than older systems and can support newer technologies.
PBX systems are the workhorses of modern telephone systems. They're designed to be massively scalable, so if your 50-person company grows to 500 or 5,000 employees, you'll be able to keep adding capacity without overhauling the whole system.
PBXes offer all the latest features: CTI, ACD, hunt groups, conditional forwarding, and more. If you choose a PBX phone system, you won't be disappointed in the feature set - although you may have to pay extra for add-on modules to enable some of them.
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Questions to ask phone system dealers
Asking the right questions can help you get the best phone system, no matter what size business you have. Once you have picked out a phone system, here are some questions to ask:
- Will your employees or a subcontractor install the phone system?
- Have you installed phone systems for businesses like mine?
- What SLAs (service level agreements) do you offer? (How quickly will you respond if we have a problem?)
- Does your pricing include training?
- Will we be able to do basic MACs (moves, adds, changes) without calling you?
- How easy is it to expand this phone system? What's the maximum number of users it can support?
- Can we use other brands of phones with this system?
- If we want to add additional phone system features later, is that possible?
- How many of this brand/model of phone system have you sold and installed? Are those customers happy with them?
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