If your business is contemplating a switch to a VoIP phone system, part of the project will be purchasing new VoIP phones. These are available in a wide variety of configurations, and as you might guess, a pretty broad price range as well. At the low end are relatively inexpensive units at $50 each, and at the high end are units which sell for hundreds of dollars apiece.
The main differences between the high and low-end models are quality and the number of features which are included in the phones. Another big part of the difference is the fact that the lower end models are primarily the ones used by individuals and private citizens, whereas the more feature-rich models are used by businesses.
For instance, a private citizen would not need to set up a conference call with 30 or 40 participants, whereas this might be fairly common in a business setting. Some of the terrific features included on the more capable phone sets would have little or no value to ordinary citizens, but might be very necessary in a business setting.
By the same token, some businesses shy away from purchasing the more expensive phone sets simply because of the cost, but they miss out on some advanced features which might really end up saving them a ton of money. Here are some of the most important features that all businesses should have on their IP telephones, because they can provide the most value in the workplace.
One of the very most important features that a business IP phone could be equipped with are programmable function buttons. Virtually all phone models available today include at least a few buttons which have been programmed with special features. The really expensive models include a number of programmable function buttons which can be assigned to almost any feature you need.
The reason there is so much emphasis on programmable function buttons is that business users will routinely prioritize features according to their own business needs and requirements. A feature which might be extremely important for a support representative in the call center, might have little or no value to a person in the sales department.
With programmable function buttons, these features could be programmed in for specific phone sets, so that individuals in both departments would be satisfied. Some of the most common features which are ordinarily mapped to function buttons are voicemail, three-way calling, speed dial, call transfer, and redial.
Alternate Mode Support
Whatever type of phone you buy when switching over to VoIP, you should make sure that it includes support for whatever advanced functions you really need. For instance, you may want to include unattended mode, hands-free support, or perhaps even hotdesking, wherein you can transfer your existing desktop setup to some other device.
Of all the advanced features, probably the most popular one is the hands-free mode, which can be invaluable in settings such as call centers, where agents routinely are on the phone for long periods of time. Employees at call centers generally need both hands free, so they can be performing data entry while simultaneously carrying on conversations with customers. Many other people throughout the company would likewise have use of this advanced feature if they typically spend a great deal of time on their phones.
Apart from the most common advanced features, there are other things you should consider when purchasing your IP phone set. Some models are constructed to be extremely durable, and to perform well even in the harshest of environments. Some models are waterproof and come equipped with very large buttons which can be pressed, even while wearing gloves or some kind of protective gear.
If members of your staff frequently participate in conference calls, you may want to purchase phones with a larger screen, or which can be expanded for additional functionality. Keep in mind that whatever phone you buy, it should accommodate your needs for today, as well as for the foreseeable future.
Support for Hunt Groups
Hunt groups allow specific employees who are part of certain groups, to respond to incoming phone calls based on their availability. Incoming phone calls can also be grouped into ACD queues, so that they can be assigned to specific individuals who will answer them in a pre-determined order, or by individuals who happen to be available at the moment.
ACD queues and hunt groups would normally be used by employees in a customer service department, or sometimes by personnel in a sales department. In some cases, companies have found great value in distributing the capability to all employees throughout the business, simply because it provides better customer service, and fewer missed calls.
This is an especially useful capability during times where only a subset of the normal staff is available, such as during holiday seasons or during times when numerous employees are out on vacation. Whenever there are fewer employees on hand to take calls, it’s a good idea to have hunt groups and ACD queues set up in your company, so that no calls are missed, and so customers don’t become disgruntled when their calls are not answered.