Remember the PBX? Remember what those strange initials stand for—a private branch exchange? No, this is not about trees swapping limbs with one another. A private branch exchange refers to a telephone system that is self-contained within a business. When it first came into being in the 1960s, PBX was state-of-the-art technology. When someone called into your business with a special request, you could put that client on hold and call up your boss for permission to make the deal. Today the need for a private business interface has never been greater, but technology, expanding uses for telephones and work-from-home employees have resulted in the PBX system being more archaic than anyone could have imagined just a few years ago. The PBX was developed for the POTS (the “plain old telephone system”) as first created by Alexander Graham Bell almost a century and a half ago. Things have changed since Bell’s first intra-business phone message: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” Take a look at several of the phone platforms already available for in-house business telephone systems.
The Various Platforms for Intra-Business Phoning
Like the original analog telephone itself, you have to give the functionality of the PBX plenty of credit. Newer technologies are coming into their own as well. Here are some major existing forms of intra-business phone systems:
- PBX. Born in the era of landlines and expensive long-distance services, the PBX was sheer genius in its day. It still allows businesses a virtually unlimited group of in-house phones that can be used by employees to speak to one another as well as access exterior lines to speak to clients. The downsides of the PBX include its expense (a lot of dedicated equipment along with techs to install it), its limited scalability and the limitations it places on customer service.
- VoIP. This acronym means “Voice Over Internet Protocol.” These systems are scalable to a great extent. Rather than using phone lines, they are linked to your business’s internet service. As far as drawbacks are concerned, a VoIP system is as reliable as your internet connection. They tend to have lower audio quality and, since the internet is everywhere, your techs and representatives cannot set a pin to mark their location.
- Virtual Phone System. The newest addition to intra-business communication is the cellular business phone system, which is essentially a virtual PBX. This type of service is downloadable directly to your cellphone as an app. It does not rely on strung phone lines or an internet connection. Essentially, it allows you to have up to five business phone numbers on one phone, linking you to your business associates as well as a virtual receptionist.
The Features Most Entrepreneurs Desire in a Phone System
The qualities most entrepreneurs seek from a telephone system are pretty much the same regardless of what system they might be using. First and foremost comes reliability. You may remember that, in prior times, the internet was notoriously unreliable. Fortunately, the net is becoming much more dependable. The second is portability. Portability has two implications: the ability to move the system itself from one location to another; a business’s desire to move their representatives from place to place and still be able to speak with them whenever they wish. Third, since most businesses are interested in containing costs, the desired phone system should be as economically feasible as possible. In this respect, there is a world of difference between the costs of these three types of systems. Fourth, finally, is flexibility. Business leaders want their phone systems to be adaptable to the dramatic changes happening daily in business. By default, it seems, a system that boils down simply to being a cellphone app is going to be the most economical and most flexible.
The Legacy Phone Systems Are Going Extinct
While it is true that PBX systems are still around and entrepreneurs still have the option of installing them in their businesses, it is also the case that these legacy systems are slowly disappearing. Many hold that they have already become obsolete. This is largely a feature of the reality that traditional PBX systems are the most expensive, least programmable and least adaptable among all types of business phone systems.
The Customers Have Their Own Expectations
In addition to entrepreneurs wanting their phone systems to perform in a particular way, your customers also have certain desires when it comes to calling you. While there are many interesting statistics regarding customer expectations about your phone, perhaps the most telling is that three bad phone experiences are all it takes for the average customer to look elsewhere for an efficient, personable, professionally run business. Accordingly, research shows that over two-thirds of a business’s clients will continue to use a company—and even pay more for goods and services—if that company responds to them in a positive, caring way.