Telephony for Small Business: Comparison of Options

April 25, 2022

Today’s business telephony comprises integrated telecommunication solutions based on VoIP technologies, virtual and physical IP-PBX, virtual numbers, and much more. There are all kinds of market players who can install and configure any kind of telephony you need. If you want to use, for instance, SIP telephony in your office, various SIP trunk providers can make it happen. However, SIP-telephony is a topic for another article.

All businesses take calls from customers. Sometimes they are few, and sometimes they become regular. In any case, you need high-quality phone service and useful features such as auto-answer, voice menu, multi-channel number, call forwarding, integration with CRM, etc. In this article, we’ll consider options for organizing office telephony and connection schemes that meet all the needs of businesses of different sizes.

Types of telephony for the office are as follows. One can use analog telephony, where the signal is transmitted through the usual telephone network. One can also use IP telephony, where the Internet connection does the job.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Both Telephony Types

Analog telephony is cheaper to implement, especially if few numbers are used. Still, there can be organizational difficulties when the amount of numbers increases, and long-distance and international telephone rates are quite high. So it’s a good solution for small companies that work within one city or region.

IP telephony can require considerable investments at the implementation stage because its specialized equipment is relatively expensive. It also requires a good high capacity Internet connection. In this case, communication will be relatively inexpensive (within the company, even free), without geographical constraints.

In addition, it will be possible to use a computer or notebook with special software instead of a telephone. Advantages of IP telephony compared to traditional ones are plenty: single multichannel number, redirecting, routing of calls, conferences, recording of negotiations, integration of telephony with CRM, etc. Such telephony is suitable for larger companies, especially those with many branches in different regions or call centers, which need to handle many calls and control operators.

Telephony in the Office of up to 5 People

Very small companies should begin with analogous communication via mobile or stationary phones as it will be much more affordable than IP telephony. There are several possible schemes of telephony organization in the office:

  • There should be one telephone number, preferably a landline number, since it positively affects customers’ trust. As an option, connect a virtual urban telephone number with a code of any city and configure forwarding to a mobile phone. There is no multi-channel, as there are few employees and still no physical ability to respond to multiple clients simultaneously. All employees are either in the same office (and there is no need for them to talk on the phone), or they use other communication channels, such as messengers or personal cell phones (in this case, it will be beneficial to order a corporate package from a mobile operator).
  • If the business has several physical locations — for instance, small retail outlets — they can be equipped with a landline for communication with customers and other employees.

Telephony for 10-15 Employees

In this case, the scheme of IP telephony for small businesses is applicable. For example, there is an office with three departments with 3-5 people in each. They need to receive incoming calls from clients, and they don’t have a secretary to forward calls between departments. How to set up telephone communication in this case?

You can organize telephony in the office as follows:

  • Purchase an IP PBX for the office (or connect to a cloud PBX), connect 6 city lines: 2 per department, and 10-15 internal lines, according to the number of employees.
  • You can use landline phones, cell phones, or softphones, as desired.
  • Further, you need to set up a voice menu for PBX, through which the customer will choose options he is interested in and get through to the necessary department or dynamic routing of calls according to certain rules.

Office Telephony for 20-30 People

How to organize IP telephony for small businesses with 20-30 employees? Suppose the company has an office and a warehouse in the same city. The office takes all customer requests, but a connection with the warehouse is also needed. In addition, using stationary phones for employees in the warehouse is not recommended. The warehouse is quite large, and one should be able to call the office from anywhere in it. Here is the scheme of connection and operation of IP telephony for such a case.

  • Organize local IP telephony in the office, i.e., install a server to manage telephony and connect 6-8 city lines and 20-30 internal ones.
  • The secretary should have a system phone with extended functionality, and other office employees should have IP phones or softphones, depending on their needs.
  • In the warehouse, organize seamless Wi-Fi coverage to ensure high-quality communications. As part of the IP-telephony project, connect 3-5 wireless DECT VoIP phones (so that warehouse workers can use them at any part of the warehouse without any problems). Prohibit long-distance and international calls from these phones and calls to mobile numbers so that it remains possible to call only to the office or the city. You can set up an encrypted VPN tunnel between the local office and warehouse networks for IP telephony security.

Telephony for a Company of 40-50 People

When building corporate IP telephony for an enterprise of 40-50 people, especially if they work in several offices in different cities or remotely, a good solution would be a full-fledged business communication system, such as Skype for Business with Office 365 or an analog. In addition to calls, it will allow you to keep shared contact books, work with documents together, organize workgroups, and much more.

With so many users implementing IP telephony in the enterprise, you can buy your server for IP telephony or use a cloud phone system for small business.

When you connect IP telephony in the office to make at least two incoming lines, office staff should put fixed IP phones, including some conference phones, and those who work remotely should arrange telephone communication, set the forwarding to their mobile phones, or install softphone. Set up short internal phone numbers, call routing rules, voice menu, voice mailbox, the ability to receive calls from the site, and other required functionality. Integrate CRM with telephony to record, organize and store information about customer calls.

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We hope that our examples will help you navigate the question of business telephony. Whether to choose analog or IP telephony is entirely up to you. As we have already mentioned, you can find decent companies that can implement any telephony scenario you find desirable.


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