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Telephone system advice
  1. You are a paying customer, so you should consider yourself the King or Queen and expect nothing but the best value & right product. It's yourThe customer is king money and there are a growing number of suppliers to choose from. However you really need to do some homework, understanding the basics of what it is you actually need, from your next business telephone system, will empower you with the ability to clearly choose the best deal for your business.
     
  2. 12 month contract Whatever the case maybe you really should be able to find quality services and products that meet your needs and budget, without having to sign up for more than 12 months. 12 months is a tried and tested term length, that will be able to satisfy the needs of both supplier & customer, any term agreement longer than 12 months will often come with overall costs & risks that you may regret. Communications technology products and service deals constantly change, so being in a position to negotiate your contract on an annual basis will generally be your best bet.
     
  3. floor plan layoutFloor plan, one of the best ways to begin your journey of understanding is to draw up a floor plan for your site requirements. It will allow you to clearly discuss and define your requirements on a per location basis. It is also a great way to engage in constructive discussion with your colleagues. It will serve as an excellent way to help you understand some basic technical details of how a modern business telephone system may benefit you, as well as a fantastic visual aid tool to engage with your chosen system suppliers, installers, maintainers, paid or free support services.
     
  4. With your plan to hand, it makes easy work to write a detailed list of useful information about each point / location required. Here you could even go as far as defining your internal extension numbering system as well as feature access on a per extension basis. Add mind map style comments as you see fit to best satisfy your planning needs.

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  5. Choose wisely, why pay more, when you don't have too. In terms of hardware once again there really are lots of great product available, at very competitive prices. Investigate some of the relatively new offerings from the likes of Elastix, Zycoo, OpenVox, Positron & Atcom they are really raising the stakes in terms of quality, value, security and features.
     
  6. Think modular-hybrid, providmodular ippbx telephone systemed you make the right initial choice for both your hard & software you will be able to take advantage of most mainstream connectivity methods. Typically a modern  business telephone system will come with Voice Over Internet Protocol trunk access options built in. However based around simply slotting in a module you can choose to add traditional Public Switched Telephone Network based services,  as well as mobile network based communications. The mobile option is great for taking advantage of some free mobile to mobile call tariffs. VOIP has many advantages such as cheaper call tariffs, per second billing, local numbers for a presence in other towns, cities or countries and mobility to name just a few.
     
  7. grow your businessBusiness Growth and future needs, business telephone systems come in many shapes, sizes and abilities. If you need user or technical integration growth, it really is best to take that into account at the point of system purchase. This type of consideration for your proposed future business development could be simply the difference of £200 at the outset, so it is worth trying to predict your future needs. This will make implementing your desired additions much more cost effective and speedy when the time for action arrives. By the same token,  if you have fixed long term needs, then why buy more than what you need.
     
  8. custom music on holdThink, about customer management, Interactive Voice Response, a great way to direct customers to the right extension or information without the need for a receptionist. In the event that you have to put customers on hold why not add some music with a voice overlay describing some of your products, services or some useful guidance information. If these are features you need, consider them as criteria when selecting your system. Consider the quality of any audio recordings played back to your customers. Most modern  business telephone systems will allow you to upload your IVR directives as well as your music on hold audio in standard formats such as MP3, however its worth bearing in mind that the tracks generally need to be in mono format. In the event that you do not want to contract this work out to a business audio recording company or professional voice over service, you could do it yourself. The tools for such an in house project would not come to more than £100, (a half decent sound card and an audio editor / recorder program such as Audacity, which is actually free to download & use, plus a microphone).
     
  9. Try before you commit, when it comes to using VOIP maybe you need to consider a trail, its a growing market but not everybody is in a position to take full advantage of its ability to replace ISDN circuits, auxiliary lines or standard lines. VOIP is very dependent on the quality and consistency of your broadband service. Note that there are many type of business and domestic class broadband services for sale so it's a good idea to check out some basic terminology such as the upstream bandwidth, downstream bandwidth & latency
     
  10. Asterisk logoMost hybrid modular business telephone systems are based on an open source communications software development tool kit called Astrerisk. Should you decide to take a much more active role in the administration of such a system you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of free resources you can access to help you along your way. Asterisk as a solution is extremely versatile and has available to it, a high number of fully tested plug-in feature additions. As well as full documentation to allow you to create your own custom plug-in features if required.
     
  11. Try to think local, when it comes to on-going support for your system, in terms of strategies it could be one of the best choices of all, lets say you need a replacement item or firmware security upgrade. This kind of support will more often than not work out best with a local service provider.
     
  12. calculate the costWhatever you decide in the end, whether you lease, rent, buy or choose a hosted solution, make sure you do the math, draw up some long term cost predictions for years 1 to 5 don't forget to include any extra costs such as increases in annual line / sip trunk services or costs of extra hosted features / business critical integration.

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