A multi-line business phone system is a basic starting point for any small business.

An example of a multi-line phone system in action would be if the copy editor of a newspaper wanted to reach one of the reporters in the same office. While the copy editor was on the phone with one reporter in the same office, another reporter was on the phone interviewing someone outside of the office.

Multi-line business phone system allow for this. Essentially, a multi-line phone system would allow you to make calls internally and externally at the same time.

Models will vary, but this type of business phone system allow you to have multiple units work off the same lines, allowing a receptionist and an executive to be on the line at the same time.

(Note - A hosted PBX system (or private branch exchange) is similar, and you can choose to use a hosted PBX system for your multi-line phones if you wish. A hosted PBX system uses an automatic directory to funnel callers where they need to go. This also allows your system to handle many calls at the same time without taking up a phone line initially. PBX systems support extensions. PBX platforms also allow you to hold employee conferences on lines without placing calls to an outside line. You'll read more about hosted PBX systems later.)

External lines allow you to communicate with customers/clients/etc. while internal lines allow you to communicate with your coworkers.

You will typically need to hire someone to install the multi-phone system as it can become quite technical.

Basic Features to Look for in a Multi-Line Phone System

A reputable provider would include the following basic features in a multi-line phone system:

  • Caller ID
  • Speakerphone
  • Mute and Volume Control
  • Voicemail
  • Personal Directory
  • Speed Dial Directory
  • Internal and External Call Transferring
  • All Page/Intercom
  • Call Waiting
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Message Waiting Indicator
  • "Hold" Functionality

Advanced Features to Consider in a Multi-Line Phone System

These features often add onto the cost, but will help streamline and organize communication.

  • Auto attendant - essentially, someone greeting you and routing you to the right person or department.
  • Wireless adaptors - so you can avoid a mess of wires to each phone
  • Conferencing - the ability to connect with clients and employees, even if they're not in the office
  • Integration - many small businesses look for an integration with a CRM or ERP to save time, especially businesses with a high volume of calls and accounts
  • Customer Support - your provider should have a reliable and easy-to-access customer support line you can call should you have a question or concern
  • Texting - the capability to text a customer on their mobile device. An example is if you've ever confirmed an appointment or found out about a text-only promotion via a text. (Note - be sure to obtain consent from the consumer before texting them; it can turn ugly fast.)

Benefits of a Multi-Line Phone System

It's possible you are a "solo-preneur" or your business is very small and uses other methods (such as Slack) to communicate quickly. In that case, a multi-line system might not make sense for you.

If, however, your office is larger and you'll need the ability to add extensions and upgrade easily, a multi-line phone system will work well. If you are a contact center or call center with a high volume of calls, you'll find that a multi-line system will act as a quick phone solution for your office.

Operating a multi-line phone system is a matter of simplifying communication. In addition to allowing more than one user of the phone at the same time, some options for this include the ability to pick up a dial tone from 40 ft. away. In a way, it allows you a bit more mobility while you're in the office. (If you're looking for a system that gives you complete mobility inside or outside of the office, consider VoIP.)

Many providers will allow you to keep your current phone numbers by "porting" them.

What a Multi-Line Phone System Typically Costs

Multi-line phone systems are often priced per handset. For example, a very basic system might cost $200/handset.

What You'll Need to Switch to a Multi-Line Phone System

You'll need physical phones, a reliable provider and someone who can handle the installation process. Be sure the provider you choose has a robust customer service department in place who can field any of your calls and help you take advantage of the business phone system features. You'll often find smaller companies fit to the task of being present during the onboarding process.

It's true that multi-line phone system tend to be a bit more expensive. So, if you are looking to cut costs, consider voice over IP systems, or VoIP. Click here to learn why switching to VoIP is becoming more common of a decision.

 If you want a free demo of a VoIP system with hosted PBX capabilities, schedule one below!

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