There are many phone systems available for start-up businesses, however ensuring you choose the right one can be a step into the unknown – especially if you’ve not had your own business before. There are many considerations that should be taken into account when making your choice, bearing in mind that things within your business may change very quickly.
Telephony considerations for Start-Ups
We think that businesses should consider the following telecoms issues when starting out or when moving into a commercial or office property for the first time:
When considering a phone system for a new business it’s worth weighing up what type of system to go for. VoIP technology is quickly replacing standard telephone systems all over the country. It can offer many additional features over a standard PSTN line that may be of benefit to start-ups businesses. VoIP is the technology that all phone companies use to handle calls within their own systems. So even if you opt for a traditional phone line your calls are being handled by VoIP.
VoIP systems have great benefits compared to traditional ones which is why they are rapidly dominating business communications and making the on premises PBX a thing of the past. The benefits include superior handling of phone numbers where any number from anywhere can be associated with the system. The VoIP systems are scalable which means that they can easily expand or contract. The systems are available with no long term contracts
Choosing the correct phone number for your business from the start is crucial. Changing the number associated with your business is a process that is best avoided, so make sure you get it right. Some small start-ups set up at home and just use their residential telephone number for the business as well. The problem is that the number gets associated with the business. When it’s time to move the business to new premises or expand you may not be able to move the number.
The real killer though is if you put broadband onto a phone line that has the main business number associated with it. If you transfer the number the line ceases and the broadband stops working. So, you really need a separate number from your broadband. VoIP numbers, which are also called virtual numbers are a great way to go. You can get a number instantly and it can move with you. Even better you can have as many calls as you like, at the same time, using that phone number. Some providers like Birchills Telecom even provide the numbers for free.
VoIP companies can allow a start-up company to choose their own phone numbers from the thousands available. These numbers can stay with the company forever, no matter how many times and to where the company relocates. Numbers for any UK geographic area code can be applied to a VoIP system and therefore, a start-up can advertise phone numbers that indicate their presence in the area(s) that they wish to work in. Birchills Telecom offers 1 free number with every extension.
VoIP also allows one number to ring on multiple sites making remote working easy and efficient. Direct Dial Inward (DDI) numbers can be allocated to VoIP systems that allow a call to be directed to one or a group of telephone extensions. This also makes it possible to have more phone numbers than lines – which is useful if you want to direct certain types of calls, and certain types of customers, to particular staff in the company.
Once your business becomes established and begins to grow you may hire more staff or find yourself with a need that is not currently being met by your existing service. An increase in staff means that you need more phones which may or may not be on the same site as the initial system. This in turn can mean that there are multiple contact numbers that become associated with the business and communications between staff. Call transfer and diversion may also be an additional cost, as all outgoing calls of any nature are charged to the subscriber.
With a traditional system, new lines can be added, however to do so requires an engineer to come out and this alone will leave you with a bill of up to £120. It’s also possible that the new line will mean another different contract which could leave you tied in for a very long time. It is not quick and the line will also require a phone meaning more expense. And the new line will have a different phone number to the business meaning larger system can end up being very complex.
These are not issues with Birchills Telecom as calls between our phones are always free and new phones and numbers on a new extension are also free.
Some telecoms companies offer very good deals for the installation of new lines and systems, but they do this because they tie customers in for long periods – sometimes up to five years. While this low initial cost may help to begin with it may not be ideal further down the line.
Contracts can be restrictive and/or expensive when a business need changes, or when an expansion is on the horizon. They are often long winded and complex and have penalties included for early termination. They can be heavily weighted in favour of the supplier too with various clauses and small print. One sneaky trick employed by providers is that contracts auto renew and once your tied up in a contract it can be a nightmare to get out (however not impossible) especially as some of them can be up to 5 years long.
There are a few companies who do not tie you down in long contracts and allow you to move on. There is only one company that we know of, Birchills Telecom who does not tie you down and also offers amazing deals on new installations. We are able to do this because customers stay with us once they get the benefits of the system – we don’t need to impose onerous contracts.
Start-ups by nature may be slightly more unpredictable and unsettled than an established business. You may be away from the phone dealing with unexpected issues and this may mean missing calls from potential customers.
A VoIP system frees the business from any kind of Geographic restraints making taking calls on the go a lot easier. People can work from wherever they are using a clever range of programmes or apps on almost any device.
You want to have options within your phone system to deal with calls when you can’t personally take them. The options are generally, in order of preference:
• Divert the call to another extension, landline or mobile. You can use a call answering service
• Place the call in a queue until you can answer the call
• Use an answer phone service such as a voicemail system
• Play a message to the caller
For more tips on inbound call management, we’ve written a blog on this too
Birchills Telecom’s systems have all these options covered.
Lead times can potentially kill a small company before it’s even off the ground. Depending on the type of phone system chosen lead times can be up to 8 weeks and that’s if everything goes smoothly. Throw in a sick engineer here and a snow storm there and it’s possible to be without a vital tool for communication for months. No phones can lead to no sales and that in turn leads to no turnover. It’s also worth considering how long it may take to add extra lines in the future if the business were to expand.
VoIP is an on demand technology and users can be up and running using softphones or apps like Birchills Communicator instantly. With communicator, there isn’t even anything to install, simply go to web page and start trading. VoIP systems can be deployed extremely quickly onto existing broadband services. Set up and changes are done as the business requires them without delay.
Result - VoIP is much more beneficial for start-ups
Birchills Communicator is an instant business grade VoIP phone system in a browser. It allows you to make and receive calls directly from within your web browser, without the need for any additional browser plugins, addons, or downloads. It uses a new browser standard called WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) which is supported in most modern web browsers.
Communicator allows access from any device at any time and when combined with some of our other web apps allows effective control of remote workers whilst empowering and enabling them to work from wherever they are unhindered. It’s like having your VoIP desk phone with you wherever you are.
How It Works
Communicator works using the infrastructure of our existing VoIP telephone system. It simply acts in exactly the same way as your VoIP phone extension except it’s accessed through a browser on any device. Check browser compatibility here. There’s nothing to setup or install, no apps to download or configuration to do. It connects directly in to your office VoIP phone system in the same way any physical VoIP desk phone would, uses the same servers meaning security is never compromised and allows the use of all the normal features of your office phone service including call recording, presence indicators and voicemail.
How can Birchills Communicator work for a start-up?
Communicator offers many advantages to start-up companies such as:
• No hardware to purchase saving on initial outlay
• Low ongoing cost (especially compared to a company mobile phone for example)
• Ability to work from anywhere using any device
• Simple to access and use reducing making it quick and simple
• No need to worry about missing calls
• Monitor phone usage when combined with Birchills analytics
• Safe and secure
• Display the business number on all outgoing calls wherever you are
• Use all the normal call routing and rules you’d expect from a VoIP office system
• Connected with any co-workers on the same system
• Can record all calls
• Manage your own VoIP phone extension
• Easy to use interface
• Click to dial when combined with EasyDial+
• Presence indicators – see when colleagues are on the phone
• Instant set up reducing lead time
• Fully scalable – add and remove features or extensions at will
• No long term tie in – 30 day rolling contract
Features of Communicator
The communicator allows the use of all the free power features you get with any system from Birchills
They can be set up however you want them and can be changed at any time.
Interactive voice response, also known as voice menu, or auto-attendant - a list of options plays allowing caller to choose where to direct their call
See information on all calls made and received, anywhere in real time, including full cost information
Place a caller on hold with custom music and messages. Ideal to create the right impression
With caller ID active you know who's calling before you answer. Great for greeting customers, useful for screening calls.
Voicemail allows callers to leave messages outside of hours or when you can't take the call.
Your mobile phone, home phone and office phone systems can ring at the same time - you can answer whichever you choose
Calls are recorded and stored on the user portal to be played back if you need to hear them again.
Transfer calls to another user easily, either blind or announced wherever in the world the other user is.
TIME BASED RULES
You can have the system work differently at different times of the day. So you can have out of hours messages, messages for holidays or transfer calls to different numbers.
Calls can be queued until operators are ready to take the call. Call position is announced to the caller.
See all extensions in the system and see who is on the phone in real time.
Getting Communicator from Birchills for your business is easy. Just get in touch and let us know and we will configure it all and send the logins to you and your team. It’s ready to go as soon as it’s configured and there’s a great free trial so there’s no need to commit straight away. Once the trial is over communicator is just £5 per month when adding it to an existing extension and we’ve even compiled a helpful guide to get you started.
Give Birchills a call and give your start-up the best start possible for its telecoms
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