These features absolutely must be in your IP PBX suite offering
When proposing IP voice solutions to small businesses, certain applications and features are so essential that the customer won’t even consider purchasing a system without them. According to a study of more than 200 small businesses conducted by SoftwareAdvice, the phone system applications most often cited as “required” are:
- Auto attendant (57% of the sample): This allows callers to be greeted with a friendly voice and have their call routed to the desired extension without the need for a receptionist.
- Automated call distribution (29%): Also known as ACD, this is a rule-based call routing facility that uses multiple variables to route the call to the most appropriate extension. This is often done in collaboration with IVR (interactive voice response) functionality. ACDs vary in cost and sophistication and can also be used to authenticate callers, generate outgoing calls or responses, allow callers to record messages, collect usage statistics, and more.
- Fax over IP (28%): A third of the sample reported needing the ability to send faxes over the Internet.
- Softphones (25%): This application enables smart phones and general purpose computers to be used as office phone extensions for receiving and placing calls over the Internet.
- Conferencing (17%): Nearly one in five small businesses in the sample studied indicated the need for multi-party audio conferencing.
- Call recording (16%): The ability to record calls was cited as indispensable by 16% of the sample.
- Computer telephony integration (16%): Also known as CTI, this refers to interoperability between the phone system and the computer system, so that the IP phone system can be integrated with business software like the CRM (contact relationship manager), accounting platform, or ERP (enterprise resource planning).
Beyond these applications, there are a number of call capabilities that small businesses consider essential to have. The top three most requested functionalities are call forwarding, voice mail and mobile compatibility (which refers to the ability to use mobile devices as PBX extensions), according to the Software Advice study. Each of these capabilities was deemed indispensable by more than 20% of the companies evaluated.
Given their widespread popularity, the applications and functionalities listed here are a good place to start a conversation with your customers when it’s time to upgrade or overhaul their phone system. Among the must-haves, a number of them, including FoIP, soft phones, CTI and mobile compatibility, are not possible with legacy systems. This is all the more reason to encourage those customers still using an analog system to switch to VoIP.