In recent years, there's been a seismic shift in how business phone systems work, which affects both small businesses and large. The introduction of VoIP, which is phone calls made over the internet, has completely changed the way businesses communicate.
Gone are the days of needing expensive physical telephone lines and digital telephone systems. With VoIP, everything is done over the internet.
As we'll explain, there are many benefits associated with VoIP, but perhaps most importantly, it's far cheaper than older technologies. For a low-cost monthly subscription, your business can now get all the office phone system features big companies have been using for years.
Far from just giving your business a reduction in costs, a VoIP office phone system will open up all kinds of possibilities for your company's communications. This section summarises some of the key benefits you can expect from VoIP phone systems.
1. Work from anywhere
Implementing a VoIP-based office phone system gives you and your team the freedom to work from anywhere, as long as you have a stable internet connection. Firstly, you can plug your desk phone into any internet connection to make calls, so if you suddenly need to have your entire workforce work from home, you can. Not only that, but you can also make and receive phone calls on your desktop computer and mobile devices. This functionality is helpful in any business where people spend time away from the office. You could be attending a conference in London when a call comes on your desk phone, and it'll simultaneously ring your mobile. From the caller's perspective, you're in the office, they've rung a landline number after all, but little do they know, with your VoIP phone system, your not.
2. Extensive functionality
If you're used to having a small business phone system that relies on ISDN telephone lines or PSTN, you likely won't be used to having a significant number of features.
Let us draw your attention to some of the best you can expect from VoIP based office phone systems.
- Intelligent call routing and call forwarding - the latest VoIP phone systems let you tune the flow of calls to your precise requirements. You can have a virtual receptionist (auto-attendant) that distributes calls to the right people or a group of people (hunt group). You can set up rules based on the time of day and day of the week, and if you have a call centre, you can do all manner of call routing to ensure your agents never miss a beat.
- Voicemail-to-email - this feature is a real time saver for many businesses. It means you get the convenience of picking up your voicemails just like you would any other message. Some of the best office phone systems also have voicemail transcription, so you needn't even listen back to your messages - you can just quickly read them.
- Music-on-hold - far from being a nice to have, unimportant feature, music-on-hold isn't just for music! You can load any prerecorded message into your business phone system, and it'll be played to people while they wait. Perhaps you're running an event that you want to promote or have specific procedures or policies you want callers to be aware of. With Music-on-hold, you can communicate with your customers while they wait.
- Call recording - there are several benefits of recording your calls, from compliance to staff training. But perhaps most importantly, by recording your calls (and telling people), you minimise the risk of disputes and have an easy way to refer back to exactly what was said between your team and customers.
- Video calling and conferencing - the leading office phone systems include video calling and conferencing, so you and your team can do everything through a single platform.
- And much more - there are too many features to get into in this post, but needless to say, your new VoIP based office phone system will do everything you need and more.
3. Future-proof and scalable
As we've already outlined, you'll save money by using an office phone system that runs on VoIP, plus you'll get tons of additional benefits. In addition to those, you'll also get the safety of knowing that you've future-proofed your business and have in place the latest technology.
You may or may not be aware that in 2025 BT will be turning off its ISDN and PSTN telephone networks, which means everyone, be that consumers or businesses, will need to switch to VoIP.
The other thing to add to this benefit is that VoIP phone systems are incredibly scalable, so it's doubtful you'll outgrow the system you choose. You could be a small business now with only a few handsets and then experience colossal success and grow to thousands and still keep the same VoIP system.
4. Improved call quality
So long as you have a stable internet connection and good VoIP phones, you'll experience high-definition calls with no crackling, fuzziness or distortion. At T2k, we typically recommend that you have a separate internet connection for your VoIP phones in your office to avoid your general web browsing affecting call quality. You don't have to do this, but you can ensure the best performance from your phone system for the relatively small additional investment.
At T2k, we regularly review all of the leading phone systems on the market to be best informed when speaking to customers. We're vendor agnostic, meaning we don't prefer one over another; we always recommend the best one for the business we're talking to.
With so many office phone systems to choose from, it's always wise to request a comparison quote from us. We will do the leg work for you and come back to you with summarised recommendations based on your requirements.
In this part of our guide, we will distinguish between telephone systems that are best for small vs larger businesses. As you'll note, some systems appear in both lists as they're suitable for companies of all sizes.
Currently, we recommend these five small business phone systems, each with its use-cases and applications.
If you're here looking for a business telephone system and need some assistance choosing the best for you, please request a comparison quote, and one of our experts will be in touch.
Ok, that's our rundown of the best business phone systems for small businesses; we hope it helps you in your decision-making process. Given their importance when it comes to your business phones, it's vital that you spend a bit of time reviewing the best phone systems to find the right one for your company. As we say, if you need help deciding, please get in touch.
As we mentioned before, some of those we recommended to small businesses are just as suitable and beneficial to larger firms, albeit with differing benefits. If you are a large company looking for a new business phone system, please get in touch to discuss your requirements; our team of experts can quickly help you identify the best solution for your business.
We hope that this article goes some way to help you in finding the best office phone system for your business. As we've said a few times, the right phone system for your business will likely be different from the next, so please request a comparison quote to find out which fits your requirements.
T2k is an independent business telecoms specialist based in Bournemouth. Having provided services to businesses for over 25 years, T2k has established itself as the go-to adviser for companies across the UK in various sectors. We take pride in our approach and treat people as we like to be treated, meaning there's never any pressure selling; we always put you and your company first.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are office phone systems called?
There are several ways you can call an office phone system. Some might call them a PBX, others a digital system. However, as more businesses transition to VoIP, you'll see that most people refer to them as VoIP phone systems.
How do business phone systems work?
This is a complicated question that likely warrants a separate article. To keep things simple, let's focus on the latest technology, VoIP. With VoIP, your voice is converted into data packets and sent to a hosted phone system across the internet. That phone system will then connect you out to the broader world. One of the most significant advantages of VoIP over traditional telephone lines and systems is that you aren't tied to a physical line. You can make and receive calls from your laptop and even your mobile so long as you have a reliable internet connection. The most significant difference between a business phone system and a consumer service is the additional functionality you get. For example, you can record your calls, have music on hold, have a menu system when people ring and get your email delivered to your email. If you are a small business, most of this functionality would have previously been out of reach. Still, with the advent of VoIP, companies as small as one or two people can benefit from the tools large companies have used for many years.
Does an office phone system connect to the public phone network?
Historically an office phone system would connect to the public phone network via ISDN or PSTN. However, today, office phone systems tend to connect to the internet, back to a service provider and then out to the wider world.