Best Small Business Phone System of 2017 – Buying Guide and Reviews

Tired of using your cell phone to try and manage all your customer or client calls? No one could blame you. Some business owners launch startups with very specific business plans, and go out and buy everything they need right from the off. But many people who start small businesses build their companies more organically, and only gradually figure out what they are missing—and one thing most small businesses eventually end up needing is a small business phone system. With a phone system for small business, you get access to tools a cell phone can never offer you, like a virtual receptionist, an intercom, a quick dial directory, and more.

If you are planning to buy a small business phone system, but you are not sure yet what you need, check out features and prices for top office phone systems below.

AT&T ML17929AT&T ML17929View on Amazon
AT&T 1070AT&T 1070View on Amazon
Panasonic KX-TGF382MPanasonic KX-TGF382MView on Amazon
AT&T TL86103AT&T TL86103View on Amazon
AT&T SynJ SB67138AT&T SynJ SB67138View on Amazon
Xblue X16Xblue X16View on Amazon
OomaOomaView on Amazon

Still not sure what type of small business phone system to buy? In this article, you will learn everything you need in order to shop for the best phone system for your company.

What is a Small Business Phone System?

A small business phone system is one which is specifically set up for use in business. It may include an abundance of business-centric features you simply are not going to find on a mobile device. These may include everything from a virtual receptionist to conference calling, directory assistance, internet faxing, and more. If you take in a lot of calls for your business everyday, a small business phone system allows you to present yourself professionally to the public and conduct business more efficiently.

Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Small Business Phone System

How many lines do you have?

Some small business phone systems can only handle one phone line, but others allow you to integrate a number of different phone lines.

Corded or cordless?

Small business phone systems may include either corded or cordless handsets, or a combination of each. Cordless handsets are convenient since you can walk around the office with them, but corded handsets may offer you better sound quality and reliability.

How many handsets do you need? How many people work in your office and need to use the phone system?

What about in the future? Many small business phone systems are expandable and allow you to add on more handsets, so this is another great feature to shop for if you have a growing business.

Features and Add-Ons to Look For When Shopping for a Small Business Phone System

VoIP

VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” Small business phone systems which use VoIP use your internet connection to communicate instead of the copper wires employed by traditional landline phones.

On the whole, VoIP systems are much more advanced than traditional landline phone systems. The only real reason to consider a landline system over VoIP is if you have an unreliable internet connection.

So long as your internet connection is reliable, VoIP can offer you tremendous benefits in terms of cost savings and a profusion of sophisticated features. These features used to only be available to large corporations with expensive hardware, but now they are available to small business owners everywhere.

Phone conferencing

This is a feature which allows multiple parties to connect to the same call. Check to see how many parties are supported.

Virtual receptionist

When you call a company, usually you talk to a machine before you talk to a person. Sometimes you can even interact with that machine. With your own small business phone system, you can set up one of these machines to pick up and direct your calls, known as a “virtual receptionist.” The receptionist can provide information about your hours and location, record messages, and help callers to reach the appropriate party through your phone’s directory.

Programmable quick-dial buttons

This allows you to set up a directory for fast dialing. This feature can offer convenience both to you and to your incoming callers.

Caller ID/Call Waiting

Caller ID and Call Waiting are both standard phone features which are available on most small business phone systems. Caller ID tells you who is calling so that you only pick up the phone when it is necessary. You can view this information on your phone’s display, or you can have the phone read it out to your verbally if you prefer. Call Waiting tells you when another call is coming in while you are on the line with someone else—a very important feature in business.

Voicemail

While this is a standard phone feature, on a small business phone system, it may have additional functionality. Some small business phone systems may allow you to record longer messages for example. Navigation features to skip, delete and replay as needed are vital here, since you may have many phone messages to go through everyday. A high-quality voicemail system can save you a lot of time; a system with poor navigational controls on the other hand can cost you time.

Intercom

A lot of small business phone systems double as intercoms. This can be very helpful if you work in a location where cell phone services are questionable and your staff are spread out. The intercom may be more reliable and provide you with better audio, which make it a lot easier to communicate effectively with members of your staff.

Sound quality

This is important with any phone purchase, but it bears special emphasis when you are shopping for a small business phone system. Mishearing a single word over the phone in business can cost you a contract or a client. Crystal-clear audio is therefore indispensable.

You now know the most important features to look for when you are shopping for a small business phone system! Small business phone systems can vary quite a bit in terms of features and functionality, so set aside some extra time for research. Scroll back up to the top to save some time with our handy comparison chart!

Panasonic KX-TGF382M: The Ultimate Business Phone for Home Offices

Panasonic KX-TGF382MIn addition to performing all the usual functions you’d expect from a small business phone, the KX-TGF382M also doubles as a baby monitor. Another unique feature this phone has is smartphone compatibility. People who own the KX-TGF382M also love its big, clear display. It’s the perfect phone solution for sole proprietors working out of a home office.

Good

  • Jumbo sized font. This phone system boasts a very large, adjustable LED display and oversized fonts.
  • Connects to your smartphone. Download contacts directly from your smartphone via Bluetooth.
  • Large memory. Store up to 3000 individual phone numbers.
  • One touch blocking. Block robocalls and salesman with ease.
  • Good quality sound. If both parties are using the KX-TGF382M phone system, audio will sound equally good on both sides of the connection.
  • Baby monitor functionality. Use your phone to monitor your baby.
  • Battery backup. Communicate effectively even when the lights go out.

Bad

If you’re the type of person who always reads the instructions first, you may struggle with this phone system’s poorly written manual.

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AT&T ML17929: A Cost-Effective Solution for Small Business Startups

AT&T ML17929If you’re on a shoestring budget, every last dime you spend matters– that’s why AT&T created the ML17929 small business phone system. ML17929 compatible telephone equipment isn’t extravagant, but it gets the job done. If you’re looking for a system that allows you to quickly set up an effective office phone network, this one’s worth a hard look.

Good

  • Easy to use. Some small business phone systems have elaborate setup instructions, but all you have to do to get started with ML17929 is plug in and go.
  • Excellent speakerphone. Communicate with clarity and at any volume you choose.
  • Supports 2 lines. If you plan to stick with using 1 or 2 phone lines, this basic phone system is all you need.
  • Caller ID. Avoid unwanted callers and telephone marketers.
  • 18 speed dial numbers. An effective speed dial system is crucial because it allows you and your employees to save precious time.
  • Automatic time stamp. Find out exactly when you received a voicemail message.
  • Headset compatible. This feature is great for secretaries because it frees up their hands and allows them to be more effective.

Bad

If someone leaves a long voicemail message, you’ll have to listen to it all to because there is no fast forward function.

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AT&T SynJ: The Cadillac of Small Business Phone Systems

AT&T SynJSynJ is one of the highest rated small business phone systems on the market today because it’s easy to use, super expandable and compatible with a wide range of accessories. Owners of AT&T’s SynJ like its’ built-in intercom and the SynJ headset’s ability to transmit and receive audio effectively over long distances.

Good

  • Start small, expand when it’s time. Expand your phone system to up to 10 handsets and add up to 4 lines.
  • Super long range. SynJ cordless handsets work great at long ranges, even if you’re standing 1000 feet away from the station.
  • Caller ID display. Caller ID functionality is crucial because it allows your staff to know who they are about to speak to before they pick up the phone.
  • Headset compatible. This system is compatible with any type of 2.5mm headset.
  • Intercom functionality. Send out a message to all your employees when you want to say something important.
  • Individual voicemail messages. Give your business a personal touch by allowing your employees to record their own unique voicemail greetings.
  • Accessories available. Compatible SynJ handsets, desktop stations and range repeaters are available via Amazon.

Bad

SynJ is one of the most effective small business telephone systems on the market today, but it is also quite pricey compared to the competition.

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