Small business phone systems provide businesses with custom phone options that enable companies of all sizes to manage their business calling needs. The options include call routing, customer service, and automated call answering. A small business phone system has features typically not provided by residential phone services.

Close up of office phone on a desk

Among the features one could expect from a small business phone system include:

  • Multiple inbound and outbound lines

  • Voicemail with remote access

  • Automated call answering and routing

  • Conference calling

  • Hold music or messaging to keep customers on hold engaged and informed

The technology for small business phone systems has evolved significantly over time, along with many technology standards. The current options available for small business phone systems include multi-line, PBX, VoIP, and cloud-based solutions. They differ in technologies, providers, and costs. Each of these systems possesses the capabilities noted above, but prices can vary widely.

Keep reading to learn more about features to expect when choosing a small business phone system.

VOIP painted on brick wall

VoIP Phone Systems

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems use high-speed internet connections instead of traditional phone lines and systems. Most new services from local phone companies use VoIP technology. Small businesses can enjoy some unique advantages when using VoIP phone systems instead of traditional business phone systems. Advantages include easier setup, pricing, scalability, and custom features like automated call forwarding and call answering.

VoIP phone systems provide unique, local phone numbers just like a traditional local phone service provider. They accommodate toll-free numbers and calling, and automated call routing to specific employees or extensions.

Some features to watch for when shopping for VoIP systems and services include integration with other products and services, like CRM software or services, automated call logging, and related functions.

NEC office phone

PBX Phone Systems

PBX, or private branch exchange, is an in-house business phone network. A PBX can physically reside at a business, or it can be hosted in the cloud – known as a virtual PBX, often used with VoIP. PBX systems manage all calling and call handling features, not the individual phones on the system.

PBX phone systems are scalable and cost-effective solutions for businesses requiring flexible expansion to accommodate growth and manage costs.

Illustration of cloud computing running software and phone systems

Cloud Phone Systems

Cloud phone systems move all small business phone system infrastructure entirely offsite. Cloud phone systems also provide small business phone system features for businesses that have no on-site presence. They typically offer all of the standard business phone system features for a low monthly fee.