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10 Steps to Setting Up a Business Phone System

Business Phone System

It can be a bit daunting to think about setting up a business phone system. Many business owners aren’t tech-savvy and the idea that they have to learn something to achieve basic communication is stressful.

Fortunately, modern business phone systems are easy to set up. It can be done in 10 steps with most of those as simple as setting up your cell phone. To make it even easier, we’ve outlined the steps for you to follow so you will soon be using your business phone system to make deals and receive calls from customers.

  1. Activating your account.

The first thing to do to establish your business phone system is to activate your account. Every service provider has some variation in the signup process but all will require things like your business name, address, and payment information. This is where you will either choose or be given a phone number.

You may also be allowed to pick a toll-free number. This is important if you are doing business across the country or internationally. Toll-free numbers allow customers to contact you without using their data, roaming, or being charged. That can be vital if you are selling products or services online to many different places.

You shouldn’t ignore your local phone number. It gives you an identity in your region. Those who can choose a number should carefully consider that option as you can pick one that is associated with your branding or is easy for customers to remember.

Vanity numbers can also be selected for 800 numbers too so you may want to create one vanity number that works for both your local and toll-free numbers.

  1. Add a voicemail greeting.

You need a professional greeting on your voicemail to address customers when you aren’t available. A friendly, personal business message is more effective for getting and retaining customers than a generic message.

Be friendly in your message and tell your customers when they can expect a callback. You can say today, within 24 hours, or as soon as possible. You can also offer a way for customers to reach a live person if they need immediate help if that is something you can offer.

Greetings can also be customized to help callers get to different teams or other staff members for those who have multiple telephone lines. You may want to customize greetings for different times of the year, like the holidays, and you want an after-hours greeting.

Two general rules about creating voicemail greetings. First, keep them short. People hate long greetings when they just want to leave a message. Second, don’t put your callers through a complicated voicemail maze.

Nothing will aggravate a caller more than having to press a million buttons to get to someone they are trying to reach. They will get even angrier if they are then told to leave a message. Don’t have them routed to various lines or pressing multiple buttons. Having them press one additional button after hearing the general message is acceptable but keep it to just that one button.

  1. Establishing business hours.

Your business phone system needs to identify when you are open and able to take calls. You can set up your business hours on your system.

One thing to be sure of is to pick the correct time zone. Some new phone systems come with a preset time zone based on where they are built.

The time to decide how to set up a system to handle after-hour calls is when you install your business phone system. The way you handle after-hour calls depends on your business.  An emergency plumbing service will want to have an emergency number that gets a live person.

Others who have sole proprietorships may want to have a way for customers to contact them directly after hours up until a certain time. Larger companies may assign after-hour calls to different employees on a rotating basis.

All of these options are acceptable. It depends on your business and your preference. Some business owners put a priority on not being available after quitting time while others want to answer all business calls no matter how late to build their business. Whatever you decide, keep it as a consistent policy.

  1. Integrate

Business phone systems today have much more to offer than just taking calls and sharing greetings. Phone systems can be integrated with online business tools and that can save you time and make your business much more efficient.

Connecting your phone system to software may seem complicated but it doesn’t have to be. It can streamline your workflow so you don’t have to move to different apps every time you want to do something.

Some of the apps you may want to consider are Slack and HubSpot. There are hundreds available and most can be easily integrated.

  1. Set up an outgoing caller ID

People don’t pick up the phone when they don’t know who is calling. You can thank robocallers and sales pits telemarketers for calling about extended call warranties for that. That makes setting up an outgoing caller ID important for your business.

With an outgoing ID, customers will see it’s your business calling and are more likely to respond. An ID, also called a CNAM, can run to a maximum of 15 characters. There are some specific rules about what it can include so pay attention to the rules. For instance, most systems won’t allow special characters. They may not always work for Canadian numbers either. It depends on the carrier your customers use.

  1. Set up your contacts

Setting up your contacts with your VoIP system will help speed up your phone calls because you will just need to tap a name. VoIP systems have different ways of importing contacts. Some allow it to happen all at once while others stipulate you do it in smaller groups.

Importing your contacts at once is usually done by uploading a CSV file that also organizes your contacts using key details. You may want to check out ways your phone system can track details and data about your contacts. That could prove helpful for marketing and data collection later.

  1. Add other users

VoIP systems have an advantage for businesses as they can be turned into a multi-line phone system. This is typically done with a VoIP app where you send an invitation to your staff by email and they just have to accept it. Your team then downloads the app onto their cell phone, computer, or tablet.

Phone numbers for staff members can be assigned or they can pick their number. It can be an individual number or a shared number. Shared numbers are useful because your staff can use them to communicate with each other on projects.

  1. Add a phone menu

This is an important part of your business phone setup. A phone menu that is improperly set up can cost you customers. Customers don’t want to have to tap different extensions or numbers and don’t want endless transfers. They don’t want to be on hold for a long time.

Staff members don’t like getting phone calls not meant for them.

An easy want to handle this is to check out your system’s call routing functions and how you can improve the management of your system before you set up your phone menu.

Every phone system is going to have a different way the system routes calls. Some may offer multiple ways to handle incoming calls that may include going to a live person or forwarding it to a voicemail. It’s important to understand how your system routes calls and what you can change to make it work for your business.

  1. Streamline communication

Every VoIP system has some features that will help you streamline your system. Some features to look for are text message templates that allow you to speed up how you send the same message to customers. There are also ways to schedule text messages and convenient ways to handle outgoing calls.

There are other business tools available online that can also assist in streamlining communications. It pays to look at both. You find many free apps that can provide a lot of conveniences and can be integrated into your business phone system.

You don’t have to be confused or worry about complications when setting up a business phone system. Most are easily set up with basic instructions. VoIP companies typically have a customer service center that can help you too if you get stuck.

Amruth Laxman

About the Author

Amruth Laxman

25+ years of telecom experience, specializing in high availability software and systems, I’ve seen the transformative impact they have on businesses. As the founding partner of 4Voice, I deliver customized, reliable phone solutions and can’t wait to share my insights with you in this blog.

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