Part 4: Additional Questions that Should be Asked

1. Installation

Are you a Do-It-Yourselfer?  If you want to install the phone system yourself, then ease of installation should definitely be something you consider when browsing phone systems.  Typically IP phone systems are going to be easier to install than normal line phone systems.

Whether it will be you or your IT guy installing the system, evaluate how much know-how and capability you have as a person who is installing a system.  Questions you should feel comfortable answering, "Yes" to:

  • Can you install a router?
  • Did you connect your PC's to the network?
  • Are you comfortable with a pair of pliers and a pair of wire cutters?

The last question is important if you are installing a standard line phone system.

Finally, if you answer yes to the following question, you should probably consider hiring an installer. Do you throw your hands up in fear of plugging an electrical device in the wall?

2. Variety of Phones

Often times phone system shoppers forget to think about what kind of phones they would like to use with their phone system.  It is possible to have Call Forwarding as a base feature, where any incoming call can also ring on another phone, like a cell phone.  But what about phones that are connected directly to the system?

Do you want cordless phones?  Do you want to be able to pick up any analog phone at a local department store, be able plug to it in, and Voila! it works perfectly with your phone system?

Not all phone systems offer this capability.  A phone system may only work with its proprietary phones.  This means that the phone has to be made by the same manufacturer as the phone system, and in some cases be a specific model to work with the phone system.

3. Remote Offices

There are many scenarios where the option of having a remote phone is extremely nice.

  • Multiple warehouse sites
  • Offices in different towns, states, or even countries
  • Remote sales team
  • Home offices

If you're looking to set up a remote phone, make sure the phone system can handle it.  And if the system does offer remote features, how easy is the remote feature to use?  Sometimes a phone system will claim remote capabilities, but setup is difficult and time consuming.  For example, the Syspine Response Point phone system has remote capabilities, but relies on a hardwired VPN (virtual private network).

4. Line Appearances

In a heavy call traffic environment line appearances are very important.  In that case you will want to make sure your phone system is a "key system."  For example, there is a button with a lit-lamp that shows you the status of extensions 101, and another button with a lit-lamp that shows you the status of extension 102.  The more buttons you have on a key system, the more line appearances (buttons for extensions) you will have.  You can page extension 101 simply by pushing its line button.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are PBX phone systems.  With a PBX system, you have a single line appearance.  To transfer a call you either have to send the call to another extension so that it rings, or park the call and tell someone to pick it up from a park orbit.  To page another phone, you have to dial the extension number, which requires you to know who is at which extension.

So why is a key system better in a high call volume office?  That extra time it takes to transfer a call with a PBX system can add up over the course of a day.  Eventually your receptionist is going to complain.

5. What are you used to using?

When transitioning from an old phone system to a new one, you should consider what affect the change will have on your employees.  If you are switching from a key system to a PBX system, there is going to be some frustration and training time required.  The technique of using a key system vs. a PBX system is quite different.

Of course change is inevitable, especially when paired with the speed of technology.  If training time is something you want a minimum of, make sure you find a new phone system that is at least somewhat similar to the old phone system.

Buyer's Guide Brief Introduction

If you’re a newbie in the world of phone systems, this buyer’s guide will help you understand what your exact needs are when it comes to phone systems.

Part 4: Additional Questions that Should be Asked

This last section concentrates on your office's infrastructure, and finally your personal preferences.

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