Consider the following:
A. The features you like,
B. The features you need,
C. The features you don’t like,
D. Your customer/client expectations,
E. Your Business Communication plan for the future.
The need to communicate effectively and efficiently:
Every business has to communicate with its customers. A small business may only need a line or two from the local Bell Company, whereas, a large business may need a robust system that offers an Auto Attendant/Receptionist, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), a Voice Mail, CDR (Call Detail Records), or even, Call Center Technology.
To find the system that meets your needs will require that you do a bit of research and ask yourself some questions related to your current and future business model.
By answering a few questions your organization will be stirred to a Telecommunications system that meets current needs and encompasses future growth.
How many numbers* do you need? ______
How many Fax Machines will you have? ______
How many modem lines will you need? ______
How many Analog sets will you need? ______
How many Digital sets will you need? ______
Are you planning on having an Operator Console/Position? ______
Do you want Caller ID capabilities?______
* – Numbers could be a 1 to 1 relationship (Analog lines) or a DID (Direct Inward Dial) range with the use of a T1. See T1 information below.
Trunks allow your business to communicate to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). The two common Voice Grade Trunks are: Central Office Trunks (Analog telephone numbers) and T1’s (Digital Circuits). Many systems are moving into VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) while maintaing their Legacy System features.
Do you need a T1?
A T1 contains 23 B-Channels and 1 D-Channel. The B-Channels are the dedicated Voice Connections and can be broken up into Incoming and Outgoing trunks/routes, and the D-Channel carries call control and signaling information.
Consider the following criteria:
How many calls are made in a typical business day? _______
What is the average length of the calls being made? _______
Have you every received a busy when attempting to access an outside line? ______
Is receiving a busy acceptable? ______
Is your business expecting considerable growth in the near future? ______
Does your business perform outside transfers and conferences? ______
Are you planning on buying a Toll Free number? _____
Note: A T1 may make sense for your organization – as it allows for DID (Direct Inward Dial) and outgoing routes to be associated to the number of concurrent calls. Thus idle talk paths are offered to system users when they are not in use – maximizing your system resources.
Analog lines perform the same action in a hunt group. A lot of small businesses over expand the hunt groups to prevent busy signals during the busiest time of day – the line is unused most of the day. T1 cost varies – As of 4/24/05, I’ve found a number of T1 Business lines for $359.00 and up.
If your organization has 20 associates, you would most likely want each associate to have a private number (a DID). Thus, 20 analog lines @ $35.00 to $40.00 per month = $800.00.
In this case a T1 would make sense as it allows the system programmer to route DID calls in and create a separate route for calls out, ensuring maximum efficiency.
On the other hand, if your organization as 8 or fewer employees then it maybe cost effective to keep your analog service dependent upon the features needed.
What features and applications do you want? Hold and Transfer, Conference, Music On Hold, Multi-Line Phones, Associate/Employee controlled call foward, Auto Attendant/receptionist, Voice Mail, CDR (Call Detail Records), Time of Day Announcements, ACD (Automatic Call Distribution), Advanced Call Center Applications,
Hold and Conference – Can be performed by Non-KSU (Centrex), KSU, and PBX Systems.
Music on Hold – Requires a KSU or PBX.
Multi-line phones – on a Non-KSU you are limited to 2 lines. KSU’s and PBX Systems allow for multiple lines. If you would like to view every line – you’ll need to insure that the system and phones allow for Busy Lamp fields or that the phones have enough programmable keys.
Associate/Employee Controlled Call Forwards – Can be performed with Centrex Services, KSU and PBX Systems. This is an important feature as it allows the associate/employee to determine where calls will go when not answered or when he/she is busy.
Auto Attendant/Receptionist – Is usually an additional module or software enhancement to a system. This enhancement when grouped with other systems/applications (Digit collection, Voice Mail, etc.) offers a powerful solution to handling incoming callers. Some KSU’s have this feature, most PBX Systems have this feature.
Voice Mail – Voice Mail allows each associate to create personal greetings, passcodes and manage messages. Ideal for creating and maintaining CRM (Customer Response Management). Can be performed by Centrex lines, KSU and PBX Systems
Call Detail Recording – Your organization may like to collect Call Details (the number dialed, the cost of the call, Date/Time, etc.). You may want to bill back to a client, associate, or department for calls made. Some KSU’s have this feature, most PBX systems have this feature.
Time of Day Announcements – Requires a KSU or PBX.
ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) – Some KSU’s support this feature, most PBX systems support this feature.
Finding your system
When you’ve developed your Business Communication plan – take a look at some of the KSU/PBX systems on the internet or this site and find the one that matches your plan the best.
Now that you have an idea of what features you need and the feature that you like – attempt to match them to the systems in PbxInfo’s · System Comparison. The only side-by-side system comparison on the internet.
Finally, be prepared to ask the following questions when you’ve decided on a system.
• Ask the vendor, “Are you an authorized dealer?”
• Ask if it’s possible to visit the last site the vendor performed an install at. Look for well documented systems, cable labeling, housekeeping and neatness.
• Visit the vendors place of business. Many times a vendor will have a mock-up of the system that you are interested in.
• Ask about service support and maintenance contracts – including how much it costs and whether it is offered over the phone.
• Ask about the possibility of buying a refurbished or used system.
Other areas of interest:
Looking for used equipment – Vist PbxInfo’s Market Place.
Looking for a vendor – Visit PbxInfo’s RFQ Area.
Related article, Saving Money on Your Long Distance.
Related article, ·Auditing Your Telephone Bill.
Related article, ·Bundled Services.
Related Website: CS2 Communications
Related Website: Pbx Info
Source by Charles Carter