Business IP phones offer a major advantage over old-school analog and digital phones: they have many, many more features.
Whether it’s HD audio, enterprise-class security, Bluetooth connectivity, or video integration, IP phones give you a plethora of options for optimizing your communications to match your business goals.
It’s great to have so many options, it can also be confusing when shopping. Where do you start when shopping for IP phones?
We have over a decade of experience helping customers find the right phone for their business. Today, we’re going to help you find the right VoIP phone.
Before we get into the meat of the article, we need to discuss the most basic feature of all: compatibility.
VoIP Phone Compatibility
Make sure your phone works with your VoIP phone system.
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is an open standard that’s widely used in the industry. Most on-premise VoIP phone systems and cloud VoIP phone systems are based on SIP. Many phone manufacturers work to optimize their phones with specific VoIP platforms like BroadSoft, MetaSwitch, or Asterisk. For a less stressful deployment, finding phones optimized for your desired phone system is a very good idea.
Beyond SIP systems, Microsoft Teams phones and Skype for Business phones integrate with Microsoft’s unified communications platforms. Avaya and Cisco systems might require support for proprietary protocols.
Business IP Phones Features to Look For
It’s easier to think through what features to look for when you know what the IP phone will be used for. That’s why we’re going to break what features you should look for in five common business scenarios:
- Call centers
- Open office
Executives demand a lot from their technology. Their IP phones are no different.
What features should you look for with executive VoIP phones?
Lines. Premium VoIP phones increase the number of supported lines or SIP accounts. As an executive, you need to keep on top of so much that an increased number of lines is essential.
Speakerphone. Look for a speakerphone that provides HD audio and echo cancellation. Polycom IP phones are famous for their excellent speakerphone technology with top-class audio quality and noise cancellation.
Video Integration. Video conferencing helps increase trust and intimacy between you and your clients. Look for an IP phone that integrates video, whether that’s a video phone or an IP phone that can control video functions.
Display and design. Executives require more flash than an everyday worker. A large color touchscreen display with a modern, stylish design looks great on the desk.
VoIP phones are incredibly popular in call centers and contact centers. They’re simpler to manage, much more scalable, and offer extensive call control features.
What features should you look for with call center VoIP phones?
Headset support. Do you plan on using wired or wireless headsets? Do you want to use USB headsets or EHS (electronic hook switch) headsets? Not all phones support every type of headset, so make sure your phone is compatible with your desired headset.
Intuitive design. Because call centers tend to have less experienced employees and comparatively high turnover rates, choosing a phone with a simple, intuitive design and user interface is important.
Intelligent audio. IP phones offer advanced features that limit call disruptions. For example, Yealink IP phones feature Yealink Noise Proof, which greatly reduces background distractions. For call centers, where people are close together, this is a big, big improvement.
Price-point. Call centers require a lot of phones. Look to options that balance features and cost.
The office worker who relies the most on an IP phone is the receptionist. VoIP phone systems simplify the life of a receptionist with integrated calendars and contacts and more. Your IP phone should match it.
What features should you look for with receptionist VoIP phones?
HD audio. You want to put your best face forward. Having a receptionist whose voice sounds tinny or cuts out is unacceptable. Emphasize sound quality when choosing a VoIP phone.
Cordless handsets. If the receptionist is photocopying documents or filing reports, they should still be able to answer the phone, right? Cordless handsets are the answer. Wireless IP handsets like the popular Polycom VVX D60 connect to a VVX deskphone, so the receptionist will always have a phone nearby.
Expansion modules. Also known as attendant consoles or sidecars, expansion modules give your receptionist extra quick action keys, increasing productivity by streamlining common tasks.
As businesses emphasize collaboration more and more, the open office has become the go-to workplace environment. But open offices pose significant challenges for telephony.
What features should you look for with open office VoIP phones?
Headset support. Open offices are louder than cubicle- or room-based offices. Headsets are an excellent solution. Make sure your VoIP phones are compatible with the wired headsets, wireless headsets, Bluetooth headsets, or EHS headsets that you want to use.
Intelligent audio. The noise levels of open offices are a real challenge. Look for intelligent audio features that limit background noise. For example, Polycom Acoustic Fence can create virtual walls to eliminate sound that would otherwise prove disruptive.
Common area phones. Common areas like break rooms, cafeterias, hallways, and lobbies need phones, too! Common area VoIP phones are used by many people. They should be budget friendly and wall mountable, like Grandstream IP phones.
Retail stores demand long-term reliability out of their phones. You don’t want to worry about your phone when you should be looking after customers.
What features should you look for with retail VoIP phones?
HD audio. Rich, wideband audio increases trust with customers.
Customizable interface. Streamlining your interface can simplify daily tasks. For example, you could make the soft keys be for common tasks or set feature keys for speed dialing important phone numbers.
Wireless IP phones. Instead of a deskphone, you might choose a wireless VoIP phone. WiFi phones like Grandstream WP820 use your wireless network for communications. DECT handsets like the Spectralink 7000 Series connect to base stations, which connect to your VoIP phone system. Use repeaters to extend your wireless range even farther.