The world is a far more ‘connected’ place than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. Perpetually available Wi-Fi, 3 and 4G network coverage and the global ubiquity of smartphones has meant that we’re almost always within the reach of the people who need to speak with us.
This is a fact which has changed all of our personal and business lives for the better. With all of this ‘progress’ there are systems in place that might (on the surface at least) now seem antiquated but are in fact still as vital as they ever were, especially in the professional marketplace. One of these is the business telephone system.
A business telephone system works in much the same way as an old fashioned early 20th century telephone exchange. It makes connections between telephones using a switchboard system but the connections here can only be made between phones that are specifically wired to work in the system. Using this ‘closed’ system means that the only people who are going to be contacting you are the people you want and/or need to talk to, which might prove invaluable if you’re trying to run an efficient business.
The primary incentive however is the costs. You will save by not having to rely on an external network and a business telephone system will also prove a far more reliable alternative to mobile or landline phones. But which system to use? There are three different standards to consider, all suitable for different situations.
1. Key System Unit
For smaller businesses with less than 50 employees a key system unit is by far the wisest option. A ‘KSU’ is an affordable and remarkably simple system that relies on its users to select which external line they wish to reach (unlike PBX systems which do so automatically) and is a perfect system for smaller businesses.
A KSU phone system will operate from a central hub, which all calls are directed to and routed through. This hub is a completely secure and reliable system that routes and connects calls instantly, effectively and (perhaps most pertinently) free of charge without using an external phone service.
2. Private Branch Exchange
PBX systems can incredibly expensive and are often quite complicated but they are also supremely flexible and very powerful. They can potentially support thousands of users and are able to not only make connections between your company’s internal phones but can also (if necessary) connect them to the public phone network (PSTN). A PBX system is by far the most convenient way in which to cut down on internal calls within a larger company, with none of the outrageous hidden charges and potential ‘down periods’ that can plague major phone companies.
3. Voice over Internet Protocol
All a ‘VoIP’ system technically needs to function is a stable broadband connection and suitable internet phones. This is a standard that has only come to prominence recently due to the recent availability of fast and cheap broadband. With a VoIP system, the internet effectively becomes your telephone system and obviously the setup and running costs are significantly lower than both KSU and PBX systems. A good example of VoIP use on a wider scale is ‘Skype’, a software phone application that millions of people use every day on both a personal and professional level.
Perhaps a perfect example of how to easily implement small business telephone systems into your business would be a modern hotel. In most hotels (whether you’re in Lisbon, London or Luxor), each room will be equipped with a phone that is hooked up to a PBX and KSU system (depending very much on the size of the hotel of course) so calls can be routed to phones in other rooms, room service and the front desk. You should also be able to ‘dial out’ by using an extension. So if you’ve ever stayed in a hotel you should be able fathom exactly how business telephone systems work and why they are still a vital component of many businesses day-to-day operation.
Most systems now tend to operate with a blend of the standards listed above but the truth of the matter is they all offer the same thing, namely instant, stable and free communication. And in a world where many businesses will be making thousands, nay millions of connections a day, surely telephone systems are more valuable now than they ever have been.
About the Author: Ian Appleton is a U.K based copywriter who spent his early twenties working for a company which utilised small business telephone systems London services. He now works from the Midlands and you can follow his curmudgeonly wit on twitter.