In your business do you make and receive a lot of long distance phone calls? Do you have sales people out in the field, juggling office voicemail and mobile voicemail and email? These days smart small business owners are exploring voice over internet protocol or "VoIP". VoIP phone systems used to be prohibitively expensive and only the largest companies could afford the initial outlay involved in harnessing the power of the internet for phone use in business. Small VoIP phone systems are now affordable for even a 5 or 6 person office. SIP trunk (session initiation protocol) technology is advanced enough that buying SIP trunking hardware is a smart bet for business owners. If your business relies on market expansion lines, SIP trunk strategy will pay for itself very quickly. Simplify your telephone circuits and enhance your flexibility by putting all of your traffic - voice and data - on the same circuit.
For someone just researching a small business VoIP phone system, we suggest you start and end with ShoreTel. All ShoreTel systems are voice over internet protocol, so the total cost of ownership, the cost of having stable, yet cutting edge technology, is set. You are not buying a phone system and then paying extra for the VoIP phone systems pieces.
ShoreTel has several levels of user software. Basic Communicator will give you more than you will probably ever need. You get hands-on ability to manage your office and mobile phone, import contacts and calendars from Outlook and update workflow out of many mainstream CRM software suites. The Professional version of Communicator also includes video conferencing and soft phone features. With the purchase of the ShoreTel conference bridge you have instant messaging across the enterprise. Until you have tried it, you don't know what a powerful coaching tool IM can be.
The ShoreTel business small VoIP system can also function as a call center in a box. The built-in work groups allow you to assign various roles to each phone, like operator, agent or supervisor. And these designations do not have to be permanent! A small business VoIP phone system should be as flexible as it is powerful. With the ShoreTel Director you have access to basic reporting that will help you manage your work force. More reports can be purchased as a one-time fee, if you find that you need more data to help you run day to day operations. Basic reports include trunk volume, call volume, call flow and optimization tools to help keep IT costs down. Reports are just half the picture, of course. Director allows you to dynamically update call flow, agent work groups and scripting. If you suddenly have an influx of callers, change the agent configuration so that your best customers are paired with your best agents.
Director allows you to be your own administrator. You will have access to all the phones on the network and the Director will even configure new users for you. New employees will be automatically given an extension, a voicemail box and a profile for auto attendant features. That is the magic of ShoreTel - powerful applications in an easy to learn, easy to use format.