A step-by-step approach to finding the best solutions for your business
Step 5: Choose a Vendor and Device
You’ve made some major decisions thus far about what you need and want out of your new phone system. Now it’s time to look at and compare actual vendors and devices.
SET UP AND SUPPORT
When choosing a phone system vendor, consider who will install the system and provide support for technical issues. Ask vendors how much experience they have in installing this particular system in businesses of your size and likeness. Do they offer training and support? Ask for customer references and call them. Find out if they charge for installation, and get an itemized list of maintenance and service fees. Lastly, inquire if the phone manufacturer itself offers support for the hardware—some do and some don’t.
TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP
Phone systems are priced all over the place. Some that boast low monthly fees have hefty up-front costs and vice versa. Others are reasonably priced at the outset and on a monthly basis but then require regular and costly upgrades or service fees. The best way to compare apples and oranges is to look at the total cost of ownership. Your vendor can help you determine this number.
While it will no doubt be an important factor in your decision-making process, be careful not to overemphasize cost in choosing your phone system. Finding a system that will serve your business well for the length of time you plan to have it is what’s most important. Selecting a system that will ultimately negatively affect your customers and productivity won’t be worth the few hundred dollars you will save over its lifespan.
AESTHETICS AND ERGONOMICS
Now comes the part in the phone shopping process that you may have been tempted to start with—the design of the device itself. Depending on your business and whether or not your customers will ever see or directly interact with your phones, phone design may be an important factor in choosing a system. After all, you wouldn’t want to junk up your sleek doctors office or modern boutique hotel with clunky telephones, would you?
The design of the user interface is key, too. Is the phone easy to use? Will employees (and customers, if they’ll be using them, too) be able to figure out how? The last thing you want is to invest in a communications system for your business only to find that employees are opting for email or their own personal mobile phones because they can’t or don’t want to use the new phone system.
And in that same vein, you also want to be sure to choose a device that is comfortable to use for extended periods of time. Does the handset feel natural to hold? Is it comfortable on the ear? Are accessories such as headsets or cordless handsets available?
Go to Step 6: Implement!