Some will say that voice communication is going down but when you look at the statistics, you’ll see that customers are grabbing the phone when they want to get the help fast.
In their latest study, Oracle analyzed how different age groups resolve issues with the product. Surprisingly, Millenials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers all call the company first. That is people age 25 to 75.
If you’re targeting one of these age groups, the phone should be your major customer support system.
But, getting a business phone line can be a costly operation.
There are a lot of factors to consider, features to choose from, and types of business phone systems available on the market…
Headache guaranteed! 🤕
So to make that one easier for you, we’ll go through all these variables one by one.
By reading this article, you’ll get to know:
- What factors influence the price
- What features you should be looking for
- What are the most common types of phone systems
- How to count the costs of your new phone system
- What is better: VoIP vs Landline
- Is It Better to Only Use Mobile Phones for Your Business?
- Is VoIP the best choice for businesses that call globally?
- How Much Does It Cost To Get A Business Phone Line
Ready to go?
Factors that influence the price
First, we’ll go through a few factors that will determine how much you’ll have to pay for a business phone line.
These factors are often simple Yes or No questions and will depend solely on a type of business that you run.
Depending on the size of your business, you’ll need a simple or more complex business phone line.
The most important determinant is the number of users that such a business phone line has to cover. If your customer support team comprises of only 5 people then you’ll need to estimate the costs for 5 licenses.
But, the tricky part is that not always the size of the company correlates with how big of a customer support team it has.
Some products are self-explanatory and even the 1000-people company may only have a team of 10 customer service reps.
On the other hand, you may serve a niche that heavily demands you to be available 24/7 no matter what. Then, even with the size of, let’s say, 300 employees, 30 of those might be customer service reps.
Most business phone systems will bill you based on the number of users. So given the size of your company and the customer support department, you might have to put more money on the table.
Number of Sites
This factor is tied to these companies that want to utilize the landline and have a phone system that includes physical phones.
In this case, the costs will highly go up when you have various locations, especially when these are spread across the globe.
Oftentimes, when you decide on a PBX phone system (explained later), you’ll have to pay a certain fee for the setup itself (besides the monthly fee for the software). Thus, the more sites you have the bigger your costs will be.
That’s, of course, a quite obvious conclusion but it may determine whether you go for a phone line with physical phones or a more flexible, virtual phone solution.
Type and model of phones
As I’ve mentioned above, if you need to purchase physical phones for your company this will be an additional cost.
Bear in mind that these systems will still likely require you to pay a monthly fee. So not only you’ll pay a price for setup, but also a separate fee for how many phones you need and the monthly fee to get everything going.
Number and type of features
Phone systems vary not only in type but also in the features that they provide.
Some will be more minimalistic and tailored to small businesses while others will come packed with tons of features that only enterprises could use.
Here, it’s good to remember to look for a solution that can scale with your business.
There’s no need to overpay for features you won’t use, as well as, it’s a bad choice to settle for a phone line that doesn’t meet your expectations. Look for a provider that has diverse pricing plans so you can choose the one that suits you at the moment and so you can upgrade when you need to.
Features to look for in a business phone system
The business phone system field is quite dense but you won’t find two providers offering the same exact features.
Thus, to help you with the consideration process, we’ll go through the main features that you should be looking for.
As always, this point will also be highly dependent on your personal needs.
Here, all the factors matter. The size of your business. Whether you service locally or globally. Do you have an in-house or remote team?
Let’s explore what features are available (and most important) so you can tailor them to all of your needs and wants.
Local area codes and phone numbers
Your business phone line should be a glue between your company and the customers. If it’s hard to get in contact with you then customers might leave without even trying to resolve their issue.
Taking all that into consideration, it’s a good choice to make it as easy for them to get in touch with you as possible.
One way to do it is by offering local phone numbers.
If your business presents itself with the customer’s local phone number (area code) then they will be more likely to call the company, as well as, answer the phone if they see your number on the screen.
This goes a long way, as business phone systems often come with an option to buy international phone numbers. Thus, even when you’re offering support for your global clients you still may seem like a local.
This might not be the first or even the second feature that comes to mind when you think about a business phone line. And yet, it matters big time.
When providing support over the phone, it’s easy to get your clients’ data compromised. And by saying that “it’s easy” I mean there are many ways in which their information can get lost.
From intercepted calls to leaked call recordings, all the way to the customer data breach. There are many ways you could get into trouble and piss your customers off.
Of course, the vast majority of providers take care of security issues. But, it’s always better to be cautious upfront not to pay after the accident happens. Thus, check whether there were any complaints regarding a certain provider and make sure their system seems secure.
Efficiency is the key to build a proper customer support team. Time is money and this saying couldn’t be more true when it comes to the service.
Time on your side, as well as, on your customers’ side is crucial. For you, losing a minute per customer call means fewer problems solved and therefore more angry customers.
For your customers, every minute lost on a call means more time wasted on a thing that they’d rather not be doing.
An IVR system lets you build an automated flow of calls by allowing your customers to choose the reason for their call. By doing this you can connect each customer to the right representative, every time.
Such a solution means fewer times you have to put a caller on hold or redirect them to another department which results in time saved.
Make sure your phone system does include an IVR that you can configure the way you want.
For a long time, flexibility was an overlooked feature of business phone systems.
People got used to clunky phones and that seemed to be the status quo. But with the proper use of technology, people created systems that are capable of providing flexibility and mobility to your everyday work.
When it comes to landlines and PBX systems there’s not much to say. Because it’s a local phone line that needs to be set up in a specific location there’s not much flexibility or mobility to it.
Things change when you go for a VoIP solution and/or cloud-based phone system. Such systems not only let you work from any place you want but may also give you several solutions to how you can access the system.
In addition to the phone system that doesn’t keep you in-house, some providers make it able to get the most important features through various extensions or mobile devices.
This way, you won’t feel a difference between working from an office, your home, or when you’re on the go.
Depending on how you and your team work, choose the solution with the right level of flexibility and mobility.
Recording calls is one of the main features of a business phone system.
Its benefits range from being able to get back to any conversation you want (the obvious one) to training your new hires (the less obvious one).
Call recordings can also help when you have issues with the quality of the calls and you’d like to analyze them in regards to physical quality (sound), as well as, the quality of your service itself (reps’ expertise).
Besides the fact of whether a certain business phone system includes call recording or not, you should also take a look for how long you can store those recordings.
For example, in Channels, it depends on the pricing plan.
In the Basic plan, you’ll get 90 days of storage but if you go one step higher it’s 365 days, up to an unlimited range.
So, make sure your phone system does come with call recording but also make sure they’ll store those recordings for as long as you need them to.
Being able to forward calls gives you the ability to present your business with one number but handle calls with another.
Call forwarding can be also used internally to pass on the calls when needed.
This can also come in handy when you’d like to use your current phone number – your mobile phone – but use a virtual phone number to look more professional. Using call forwarding, doing so will take you only a few clicks to set it up.
Another overlooked but crucial feature of business phone systems.
And to explain why it’s so crucial, let me invoke the same Oracle’s report from the introduction. Citing:
“One-third of respondents will actually walk away from a brand after having a disappointing interaction. If just one disruptive experience can impact a company’s bottom line, imagine what consistently poor CX could bode over time.”
And poor experience doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t answer the phone. Now, turn on your imagination and think about how your customers will react if no one answers their calls for a couple of hours.
Choosing an unreliable customer service solution is a bad choice. When everything works fine you’ll operate as usual but when things go down it will be extremely difficult to get back to the state from before the accident.
Just like with the security, check the reviews and past performances of a particular phone system before making a decision.
Nowadays, businesses utilize more than one or two pieces of software. You are likely equipped with dozens of different tools and solutions that help you with all sorts of tasks.
Such an approach is great but when you want to add another tool to the stack some problems may emerge.
Namely, when two tools don’t work together you’ll find yourself doing more tedious tasks than needed. This includes manually copying stuff, going back and forth various apps, and having way too many programs opened on the screen.
To prevent this mess from happening it’s wise to choose a phone system that comes with various integrations.
This way you won’t have to reinvent the wheel and your new piece of software will fit perfectly into your current workflow. No tedious tasks and no mess.
Types of phone systems
Now that we went through the most common features to look for in a business phone system, let’s point out what types of phone systems are out there.
This will help you understand what you should be looking for, as well as, which features you can expect in case of each of the types.
The Voice over IP (VoIP) solution lets you handle all your calls using the Internet service.
Thanks to such a solution, all you need to have to use VoIP is a stable Internet connection.
Thanks to its simplicity and flexibility VoIP phone systems are great for businesses that are looking to scale in the future, as well as, for those who don’t want to be chained to their desk.
The most common and well-known solution, a.k.a the most old-school one.
Landline refers to hardwired phones that you keep at your desk.
The ease of use is likely their biggest advantage. Yet, because these solutions are hardly upgradable you can’t scale such a system. Plus, with a landline, there are additional costs tied to the setup and phones itself.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) stands for a private network that you can utilize for internal communications inside your company, as well as, outbound calls if needed.
PBX system requires you to set up a dedicated server (on-premise or hosted) to get everything up and running.
This solution is usually only utilized by enterprises as it’s hard to find justification for such a complex system when you can find an easier way to connect employees and reps with customers.
Yet, when a company has thousands of employees spread across different locations then the PBX system may come in handy.
Virtual Phone System
This type of phone system is a favorite of all startups and companies that are looking to scale.
Such solutions often come as cloud-based systems that take away the need to download anything or put a physical phone on your desk.
Besides that, virtual phone systems don’t require you to pay a setup fee and by making smart choices you can save a lot of money. Choosing the right pricing plan and upgrading, when needed, is the easiest way to save money and, at the same time, get exactly what you need.
How to count the costs
Now that you know the ins and outs of a business phone line we’ll blast through how you should count the cost of it.
The price of a phone system scales quite fast. Just like when you pick an email provider the price goes up when your email list is bigger (or when you send more emails). Here, the price multiplies according to the number of users (agents/reps) you have.
This is tied to the size of your company and your customer support team. Here, it’s wise not to go on a cheap side as making two reps work using the same account can create a lot of mess.
You can use this simple equation when you want to gauge the costs of your new business phone line:
Total cost (per month) = # of users * pricing plan
For the landline/PBX system, you’d have to modify the equation as follows:
Total cost (per month)¹ = [(# of users * pricing plan)¹ +setup fee + phones]* # of locations
Below you can check how much you’d pay for a Channels virtual phone system.
Pick the pricing plan, insert the number of users and you’ll see what would be your total.
VoIP vs Landline
One of the questions that business owners ask when estimating how much does it cost to get a business phone line is which one is better – VoIP or a landline solution?
I believe we’ve vastly explained it through the rest of the article but I’ll highlight the biggest differences between both solutions.
First of all, virtual solutions are usually much cheaper.
Just scroll up and you’ll see that besides the number of users and the pricing plan you choose, the landline/PBX system will cost you more because of the costs tied to the setup and physical phones.
Secondly, there’s the flexibility that a landline simply can’t offer.
With a virtual phone system, you can handle all the calls using your laptop or, in some cases, using nothing else than your smartphone. When you’re running a startup or an SMB this will be likely a must-have for your team.
Lastly, there’s the matter of scale.
Enterprises are not looking to scale drastically in the near future. Yet, startups and SMBs make scale and growth their priority.
If in such case, you decide to go for a landline, anytime you’d like to add an agent you’d have to make changes to the system and get a new phone bought and set up.
With a virtual phone system, you can just add another agent and you can do it in a matter of minutes.
And it’s not only about adding new people to the team. What if your whole company grows and you outgrow the current stack of features that your phone system provides?
Well, with a virtual phone system you could just upgrade to a higher pricing plan. On the other hand, with a landline, it’d often require changing the whole system or doing manual updates to your setup.
Is It Better to Only Use Mobile Phones for Your Business?
That’s another question frequently asked by small business owners when we talk about how much does it cost to get a business phone line.
All of us have a mobile phone so couldn’t we just use it for business purposes?
Well, if you’re a solopreneur then maybe. But if you’re here it’s likely you’re much more than that.
One of the business (or work, in general) rules is that you should separate professional from personal. That doesn’t mean that you should be a different person, it means that you should treat your customers in a certain way.
The business etiquette is much different from what we’re used to in casual interactions. The same rules apply to the customer service side.
If you used your mobile phone with your regular phone number you’d have no idea whether it’s your friend who you don’t have a number to or a customer.
Plus, it’s likely you wouldn’t add your customers to the contact list. This means that you’d have no organization over who called you, when and in regards to which issue.
Such a mess would quickly turn into angry customers who simply expect better service.
A solution for someone who wants to use his mobile as a way to service their customers is to use a business phone system such as Channels.
Here, you have two options.
- The OK One – You can set up a redirect from your business phone number to your personal phone number. This way you can present in a professional way while using your mobile to answer the calls.
- The Best One – You can download our Mobile App(iOS, Android) which lets you access all your virtual phone numbers, contacts, and customer information right from your mobile. This way you’ll completely separate professional from personal while providing support using your phone.
Does VoIP Help Global Businesses?
The last question that is quite common and is worth addressing tackles the issue of global connection when providing support over the phone.
Many business owners have heard that going for a VoIP solution or a virtual phone system, in general, will help them reach a global audience.
Is that true?
The tl;dr answer would be Yes.
But let’s go through the why.
First of all, virtual phone systems offer relatively low rates.
For example, in Channels, you won’t pay for incoming calls so you can answer customer requests for free. And, if you need to make outbound calls, we offer affordable call rates so even those won’t hurt your budget.
Secondly, virtual phone systems let you quickly acquire and use international phone numbers.
Such will help you increase the contact rate or, in case of incoming calls, make it more likely that your customers will call your company. No matter which of the use cases applies to your business, it’s worth having a phone number from the location of your target customers.
The estimated cost of a business phone line
There’s no industry standard when it comes to the cost of a business phone line. And that’s probably good for you as you don’t have to settle for the same features and solutions in every phone system.
To give you an idea of how much you have to pay for a business phone system in regards to the type of business, we’ll use the Channels pricing as a starting point.
👨🏻💻LITE – For Small Teams – $15/month
What you get:
- Free incoming calls
- A free phone number
- 2 call distribution rules
- 30 days of calls history
- 1 active integration
- Up to 5 callers in the queue
- 24/7 Support
The Lite Plan was made for small teams and startups that are getting their venture started.
In comparison to other plans, the Lite version might look “poor” but actually consists of everything you need to offer proper customer support.
And, of course, the big determining factor is the price. With only $15/month per agent, it’s not a big deal to get started with a business phone line that you can scale as your company grows.
🤝BASIC – For SMBs – $24/month
What you get:
- Free incoming calls
- A free phone number
- All call distribution rules
- 90 days of calls history
- Up to 3 active integrations
- Up to 100 callers in queue
- 24/7 Support
- 90 days of call recordings storage
- Up to 3 IVRs
The Basic Plan is geared towards SMBs that require a more robust system to serve their customers. The big difference is that you can set up up to 3 IVRs, you may have up to 100 callers in the queue, and you get all of the call distribution rules.
Such solutions let you not only handle calls in an organized manner but also build a fully-functioning helpline for the fraction of the usual costs.
💼PRO – For Established Firms – $39/month
What you get:
- Free incoming calls
- A free phone number
- All call distribution rules
- 365 days of calls history
- Unlimited integrations
- Unlimited callers in queue
- 24/7 Support
- 365 days of call recordings storage
- Unlimited number of IVRs
- Unlimited minutes to US & Canada
- Advance data export
With a Pro Plan, you get, honestly, everything you may want as a big company. Unlimited storage, IVRs, integrations, and rules give you unlimited potential on how to build and configure your helpline.
Using a Pro Plan, you can customize everything up to your taste and needs and provide support the exact way you want.
Now that you know what each of the plans includes, you can once again check the price accordingly to the number of users that you have.
Of course, our plans are not an industry standard but a quick glance at our competitors’ pricing page should give you an idea of why you can treat it as such 😉
Time to get a business phone line
As you can see, it’s hard to give a definitive answer to how much does it cost to get a business phone line question.
There are many factors that you have to take into consideration and the price will vary widely depending on your needs.
Yet, now you know what you should be looking for in a business phone system and how to gauge whether the price you’re looking at, is a fair deal.
I hope that’s the last article you have to read on that topic and now you’ll move forward and get a proper business phone line that your company deserves! 💪