It’s the 21st century and no business owner shouldn’t have a convenient business phone line set up to run company operations and communicate with clients and customers.
I use the word “convenient” because there are business phone systems that are NOT optimal for small businesses, like (private branch exchange) PBX systems, which are run by large corporations and quite expensive, or landlines for individual entrepreneurs, which are simply archaic in this age and time.
Some entrepreneurs use their personal phone numbers to act as their business lines. That’s not only unhealthy for a work-life balance, it’s also impractical for the company’s professional image and brand identity.
Owing to the aforementioned scenario might be the fact that, for many business owners, the thought of establishing a business phone line almost seems like a project.
They assume it might be too costly and could require quite some workload, but at this turn of the century, that’s not quite the case.
For instance, getting a toll-free number that won’t charge customers for calling your business is now as easy as it gets, as there are website builders that offer this service.
As we shall find out in this article, there are at least 4 ways to set up a business phone line that are cheap and easy to install. Of these 4 options, some are more convenient than others, we’ll discover, as we review the options:
Use a Second Phone Line App
This is one of the easiest solutions to setting up a business phone line. You just need to install a phone number app on your android or IOS and you’ll get an extra phone number you can use for all things business related.
This option is a great way to maintain your company’s professional image, as with a business phone number you can separate work calls from personal calls and avoid addressing customers the same way you would address family members.
You even have a business voicemail where your missed business calls go to so you don’t have to use your personal voicemail for work.
So all, in all, the option does afford a proper work-life balance, helping you differentiate business communications from the personal. You can also set business hours so that any call that comes outside those hours automatically gets routed to your business voicemail.
Most phone number apps allow you to communicate via diverse media, usually calls, text, and video calls, so that’s an added benefit.
But the best benefit of second phone line apps in this context is they are pretty cheap, going for as low as $10. You might even find some services that are free.
The hiccup with second phone line apps though, is that they’re great for individual use, not much else. They’re not the best option for a cohesive and presentable phone system that can be shared between multiple employees or offer competent customer service.
Get Another Phone Number with an Extra Phone
Depending on your budget and the size of your company, this could be a relatively smart option compared to the loss you could generate from not having a standard communication system.
It’s a pretty popular option too, as lots of entrepreneurs these days have two mobile phones; one for work and one for home.
It’s the best option for having a perfect work-life balance as a second work phone ensures there’s no chance you would mix work calls for personal calls.
You can also switch off your work phone for your convenience and stay completely shut off from work.
An advantage of having a second mobile phone as your business phone line is that it’s presentable, at least when you start having employees.
It’s the more encouraging option, not many employees would relish having to share work duties with their personal phones.
As per being cheap, you can get some good android phones for $200 if you’re not going for fancy. Then you also need to consider the additional cost of subscribing to an extra phone line, which is usually $30 per month.
So not exactly the cheapest option can, but you don’t have to break the bank yet.
It does start to become really costly though as you begin to acquire more employees, and it’s still not the most practical option for customer support.
Use a KSU-Less Phone System
To really understand what a KSU-less phone system is, you might need to draw a comparison to a KSU phone system.
A KSU phone system is basically a setup of multiple phone lines that are supported by a central control unit, or a key system unit (KSU). Think of a central switching device that controls all the phone line operations.
This system can support small businesses with up to 40 call agents so it’s really great for a customer service system. It contains all the features that are typically allowed by multi-phone systems such as call transferring, extensions, and conference calls.
The disadvantage though is, it could be costly, and would incur more costs for installation and maintenance. So it’s probably not the best option for businesses that are just starting up.
For the KSU-less variation, think of a similar setup, but without the central rig and wires hooked up to telephones. Also instead of 40 call operators, this version is limited to 10.
The cons of this version do outweigh the pros. While it’s wireless and relatively cheap (you don’t have to pay for installation and maintenance), it lacks technical support.
There are very few telephone vendors that support this system, so if an issue ever comes up, you will most likely have to figure it out yourself.
Add this to the fact that it’s strictly limited to 10 phone lines and it becomes unviable for a small business that has plans to grow.
In any case, both systems, KSU and KSU-less, are archaic compared to the next option, which trumps as the most convenient and appropriate phone line setup for small businesses.
Use a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) System
Hosted VoIP for small businesses is the digital era’s response to entrepreneurs seeking cheap, flexible, easy-to-use but powerful business phone lines that would foster communication between staff and also double as an efficient call center and customer support system.
A cloud-based VoIP makes phone calls through the internet, as well as offer any number of phone line functions through an online app. It eliminates the need for on-premise PBX, being a cheaper and upgraded alternative.
Difference between cloud-based and on-premise phone setup. (Source: United Cloud)
This feature means it’s well suited to work with any device that can make calls, be it your desk telephone, your smartphone, or laptop.
Basically, if you need multiple phone lines, employees just need to install the software on their computers or mobile phones and clear, direct communication over the internet with staff or customers through diverse channels (call, text, email, video) becomes possible.
As a software, it can integrate with many devices and create a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) experience. This powerful technology enables you to easily utilize the features of an immersive and complete collaboration platform.
It’s easy to install and use but more importantly, it’s a very cost-effective option for small businesses. Since calls go over the Internet, it costs less than traditional calls that receive charges from a cell service operator.
Source: Finances Online
It also doesn’t cost much to purchase, with VoIP tools like ooma or its alternatives offering their services for as low as $20 per month.
Benefits of VoIP systems
To get an idea of how much the benefits outweigh the costs, let’s look at the benefits of a VoIP system for small businesses:
- International calls: Since VoIP systems make calls over the internet, international calls are very possible, and in fact, easier, faster, and cheaper than traditional phone line versions.
- Auto-receptionists: With features like interactive voice response and automatic call back, they can automatically return or respond to your calls and greet clients with virtual voices and messages which you can edit to set a professional tone for your business.
- Multi-phone line features: Benefits usually offered by multi-phone line systems like call extensions, call forwarding, etc can be enjoyed with VoIP apps, which can be integrated and tailored to suit your business.
- Collaboration platform: Some powerful VoIP services like RingCentral or its alternatives have collaboration and team management features for both team activities, like team messaging, video conferencing, and document sharing.
- Visual voicemail: It doesn’t only automatically record voicemails, it can transcribe them to emails or texts.
- Technical support: Most of the companies that offer VoIP services will offer free customer support along with their software, so you can be confident you’ll receive help whenever you run into technical issues.
- CRM integration: VoIP software can be integrated with CRM software for small businesses, offering a more streamlined operation and a powerful and convenient way to improve your customer experience.
- Free number: Some services will offer a free local number for every account you create in case you were thinking about getting a second phone number to work with the tool. Some even offer toll-free numbers.
All the above-mentioned options for setting up a business phone line are feasible for any serious business owner but my money is on the VoIP system. It’s just the smartest option.
It’s the most advanced system and the best way to spend your money if you want a complete and professional business line experience.
Its only real disadvantage is that it works on internet connection and there’s the possibility it might not function with the lack of internet, unlike phone lines that use a cell service.
But it’s the 21st century, which smart business would want to exist without an internet connection!