Business Telephone Systems in the 21st Century: Features to Look For

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Even in the age of email, instant messaging and social networks, businesses still need business telephone systems. Though each company is unique, the business environment of the early 21st century makes some features more desirable today than they were in the past. Here are some features a savvy, growth-minded business leader should look for.

Voicemail

Even the most basic of business telephone systems come with voicemail support, and that's a good thing in today's emerging market. Advances in internet technology make doing business across the world almost as easy as doing business with someone next door. These advances have also made it possible to do business outside of traditional "business hours." Customers need to be able to reach the company at all hours; a well-designed voicemail system allows this while also allowing employees to get some sleep.

Auto Attendant

Auto attendant is the industry term for automated answering systems. These systems have gotten a bad rap in the past few years as customers have gotten frustrated with navigating through endless phone trees. Auto attendant support can, however, serve the needs of both customer and business by helping customers quickly reach the right department to meet their needs. Smart implementation of auto attendant services -- with minimal steps before reaching a human being -- can make them a good choice for business telephone systems.

Remote Location

Rising gas prices and increasing family demands on employees (many of whom are caring for children and elderly parents at the same time) have forced businesses to get creative with scheduling. More and more employees work from satellite offices closer to their homes, or turn a spare room into a home office. Remote location support allows staff members to reach an employee working at a satellite office or working from home by simply dialing an internal extension, the same way he or she would reach an on-site employee, eliminating the need for long and confusing phone lists.

Follow Me / Find Me

Follow Me / Find Me support is a another smart 21st century innovation as smart-phones become more and more commonplace. Today, almost everyone has a phone that does a lot more than make calls, and many of them use their phones to organize their entire lives. When employees want to use their personal phones for work, it can cut business costs. Follow Me / Find Me allows employees to easily forward their work phone numbers to their personal phones, making business travel and telecommuting easier.

Computer Telephone Integration

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Computer Telephone Integration (CTI) is an advanced form of telecommunications which directly links an employee's computer to his or her phone. These systems make sense for the business telephone systems of businesses or departments with a high outbound call volume, such as sales reps making calls or survey takers calling subscribers. By allowing the user to dial by clicking a button on the screen, they can eliminate wrong numbers and, if configured to use Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) they can also lower phone bills.

Final Thoughts

Making smart choices when investing in services for business telephone systems is important, but wise leadership doesn't stop there. Even the best phone system will not benefit a business if employees don't know how to use it. Leaders must provide training in courteous and professional telephone etiquette. Employees must be taught to use professional -- not "funny" or "cute" -- voicemail greetings, to ask callers for permission before placing them on hold, to return their calls within one business day, and to speak in a kind and helpful tone. These tips can make investment in cutting edge business telephone systems pay off.