Choosing a New Business Phone System: Asking the Right Questions

By Digium Content Marketing Team

Business People Holding Red Phone

A company phone system is often considered a long-term investment and is certainly fundamental to the operational lifeblood of a business. Deciding to switch services or buy a system for the first time is a big decision that requires asking the right questions to the right people. Often times, the quality of the answers you get from internal stakeholders, consultants, and vendors alike stems from the quality of the questions you ask at the research level. When shopping for communications solutions, decision makers sometimes assume that any new phone system with updated features and functionality is a good investment simply because it is newer than what is being replaced.

How do you avoid buyer’s remorse on your phone system purchase? Asking lots of questions – the right questions to the right people – is the first step toward making a solid investment in any technology solution.

Below is a long list of questions to ask of yourself and your phone system vendors, as well as a list of questions you might expect to be asked in return when prospecting for a new business phone system:

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  •      What vendors and solutions do we currently have in place?
  •      Do we need to change systems or can we simply upgrade?
  •      Which features are essential for our business to have?
  •      What are our current costs and what is our budget?
  •      What frustrations do we have with our current phone system?
  •      How much are we expecting our business to grow?
  •      How much fluctuation is there in our communications needs?
  •      Do we have specific compliance measures we must meet?
  •      What are our goals for our new phone system?
  •      How will we train our IT staff and end users on the system?

 

Questions to Ask Vendors:

  •      What kind of platforms does your phone system run on?
  •      What resources are necessary to maintain and upgrade?
  •      How long does it take to get up and running?
  •      How easy is it to add a new user or location?
  •      What happens if there is a disruption in service?
  •      How does your phone system compare to other competitors?
  •      What features are available with this phone system?
  •      Are all of the features included or do some of them cost extra?
  •      Does this phone system support mobility?
  •      Is this phone system compatible with other technologies/ software programs?
  •      Can this phone system scale as my business grows?
  •      What service and support will I get for both installation and on an ongoing basis?
  •      How can this phone system integrate with my disaster recovery plan?
  •      Do you provide training on the system?
  •      How do I demo the system?
  •      What will this cost me?

 

Questions Vendors Might Ask You:

  •      Do you have a single site or multiple locations?
  •      Where are they located?
  •      What type of incoming connectivity do you or will you have- SIP, T1/PRI, analog?
  •      How many extensions will you need, including future growth?
  •      What type of network infrastructure do you have in place?
  •      What type of data connectivity do you have and how much bandwidth?
  •      What type of internet connection do you have?
  •      If you have multiple sites, how are they connected- MPLS, T1, Cable, DSL, VPN?
  •      What type of phone equipment do you have currently?
  •      Do you have any remote workers?
  •      Do you have any feature requirements? Which features are most important?
  •      What is your budget?
  •      Do you prefer a hosted PBX (cloud-based phone system) or a premises-based (on-site) solution?
  •      Do you plan on installing the phone system yourself or will you need assistance?
  •      Do you currently have an IT resource who manages your company’s network and/or firewall? Who is it?
  •      Are you under contract with any phone service providers? Are you currently using another hosted or cloud provider? If so, why are        you leaving them
  •      Do you have local or toll-free numbers that you would like to port into our network for use with other services? If so, please provide        those numbers.
  •      Do you have any fax requirements?

Smartphone vs. Business Phone Systems

In order to get the best price for your company’s new phone system, deliver your requirements to several vendors and let them bid on the project. Make sure you and your team have demoed their systems and that you ask for customer references. You also want to receive a detailed proposal that covers all the areas you’ve deemed important, and make sure that you have had all of your questions answered. To determine what is causing any price differences among the vendors, ask that the cost of the features be listed separately (or detailed, if they are included as a package of features). When you have the proposals in front of you, choose the one that meets your needs, falls within your budget, and is a system with which you feel most comfortable being at the core of your business communications.

Do your research and be patient with the buying process, and you will find a phone system that saves you money, exceeds your communications needs, and makes doing business easier.

Next Steps

Check out Digium’s phone system checklist to determine which system would be the best fit for your company!

 

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There Are 7 Comments

  • Thank you for this article alot of this infomation will be very useful for our proposals to prospects when making the choice on their next Phone solution!!!

  • Cora Cloud says:

    I’m glad you found it useful!

  • Mary says:

    A fantastic article as always! Business growth is heavily reliant on a strong communication infrastructure. Without one, a business will not only struggle to handle the communication demands of customers but also internal communication needs.

    Keep the great articles coming!

  • Considering how important the right phone system can be for your business it really does help to know what kind of questions to ask. I particularly like that one of the questions is about how well the phone system integrates with the current programs your company uses. After all, if you can answer a call from a customer and pull up their account all on the same computer then that can really help save time.

  • Anurag says:

    Wonderful set of questions to ask your marketing clients before referring them on to VoIP phone service providers. Helps to make the referral a lot warmer, than just sending in name and contact details.

  • Braden Martin says:

    Great blog post, thanks for sharing! Choosing a business phone service is a tough task for most companies, as the service provider needs to be able to offer exactly what the company needs (Cloud phone services/hybrid phone services) based on their own core service. How to choose the best service for you has been explained so aptly here. Kudos!

  • Emily Arnold says:

    You are so right, Braden! Glad you enjoyed the article!

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