1. Do you need a full phone system that includes physical office telephones, or could your business get by with a virtual phone service that relies solely on mobile devices instead of traditional office phones?
2. If you do need office telephones, what kind of service do you want? You need to choose between a traditional landline telephone service, which is provided by a local or regional phone company, and a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, which runs over the internet and is offered by a multitude of providers.
3. If you choose a VoIP, do you want to house the system at your business (on-premises) or have it hosted by your service provider (cloud-based)?
We will help you answer those questions, but if you already know what you need and just want to see our recommendations for the best business phone systems, visit our best picks page.
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If you’re not sure yet, read on. We’ll fill you in on the pros and cons of each of the following types of phone systems:
Pros and cons: This type of service allows businesses with employees working from locations other than the company’s office to present a professional face at all times. It also gives remote workers access to a variety of phone system features that mobile and home phones don’t offer. The downside is that virtual systems aren’t a full-fledged phone system. Your calls are still processed on your mobile or home phone network. This means you are charged for the call on the virtual system and use up your mobile- or home-phone minutes.
Best for: Businesses with a large group of remote workers, or sole-proprietor businesses.
Pros and cons: Landline systems are a reliable, time-tested solution that many companies are comfortable using. The biggest negative of these systems is that most phone system providers are moving away from landlines, making them more difficult not only to purchase, but to repair should something break.
Best for: Large corporations that have the budget to pay for them and an in-house IT staff to run and maintain them. Also necessary for businesses without high-speed internet access.