Top Phone System Features and Functions

When it comes to business telephones, there are a lot of features to get your head around. We’re here to explain what these features are, and show you how they can help your business.

An intelligent phone system is considered an essential investment for any ambitious, fast-growing business. It’ll help you provide a better level of customer service, and make life easier for you and your employees.

VoIP telephone systems are by far the most intelligent phone systems. They’re packed full of features. This is largely down to their connectivity, both to the internet and your local area network (LAN).

Office phones lined up on a desk

Standard VoIP features

VoIP telephone systems are either hosted PBX or self-hosted PBX.

A hosted PBX telephone system is entirely reliant on the internet. All the processing and data collection happens over the cloud and on your supplier’s server, so this kind of system is virtually responsibility-free.

A self-hosted PBX telephone system is hosted on your own server within your office. This kind of system relies on self-maintenance, and unless you already have a traditional PBX system installed, the setup is very costly.

Whichever VoIP system you opt for, both are packed with great standard features that are essential to call quality and customer experience. These are:

  • Call forwarding – forward the call onto another person’s phone
  • Call holding – keep a caller on the line
  • Encoding and decoding software – shrink, then unwrap call data so it’s processed faster
  • QoS (quality of service) – prioritises call/audio data over other data types to ensure high quality calls
  • Faxing – you can send faxes digitally these days, too

The top VoIP features

In this handy guide, we’ve highlighted the additional VoIP features you should be looking out for. Select any of the menu options to fast track to that particular feature.

  1. Voicemail
  2. Call monitoring
  3. Call distribution
  4. Automated attendant
  5. Unified communications
  6. Conference calling
  7. IVR (interactive voice response) systems
Voicemail icon


Voicemail as a function is nothing new. However, thanks to VoIP, it’s now been taken to a whole new level.

VoIP phones are capable of taking voicemail messages, converting them into sound files, then sending them over to you in an email.

This makes catching up on your missed calls far more convenient than dialling. Plus, you can access your voicemails from any device, anywhere there’s an internet connection.

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Call monitoring

Ever wondered what really happens during a phone call with your customers? Now, thanks to call monitoring, you can find out.

Tap into phone calls so you can see who’s delivering a high standard of customer service, and who needs additional training.

Collect heaps of data; find out who takes the most calls, who makes the most calls, and who spends the longest time on the phone. Then use these variables to assess performance.

Call distribution icon

Call distribution

Call distribution is an intercepting feature that diverts the call to the right person within a business telephone network.

This is a particularly good feature for businesses that experience high volumes of calls. Why? Because call distribution software can divert calls to contact centres when all the lines are busy.

This means you’ll never miss a call again. Gain more customers, retain more customers, and keep employees from being overwhelmed with calls.

Automated attendant icon

Automated attendant

An automated attendant not only frees up time for your employees, but improves the customer journey, too.

Employees don’t have to spend time figuring out what the customer needs before forwarding them on to the right department. Customers can call up, listen to the options, and dial straight through to the person who can help them.

You can also set up an auto-attendant, which updates customers on which position they are in the hold queue.

Unified communications icon

Unified communications

‘Unified communications' is a term that refers to the integration of business communications services. Think voice calls, instant messaging, conferencing, mobile communication, and video, all under one platform.

Unified communications can open up all kinds of communication channels for your business. This encourages greater employee interactivity and productivity.

And because it’s all hosted on software, employees can access these communication channels from any internet-enabled device.

Conference calling icon

Conference calling

Conference calling is essential for internal and external business communications. It can either be  voice or audio, depending on the device used.

VoIP conference calling works in a similar way to traditional phone conference calling. All lines connect to a conference bridge (or server), and packets of voice data are sent over the internet to each participating phone.

IVR systems icon

IVR systems

When was the last time you called up your insurance provider or bank? All these call-heavy companies have invested in an interactive voice response (IVR) system.

An IVR system can significantly cut down the number of calls a company receives.

How? The computer is clever enough to recognise vocal responses. The system can then play an automated answer that best solves the inquiry, without the caller ever needing to take up the time of a real person. Clever!

Choosing the right features

Choosing the right features comes down to two things: the size of your business, and how much you’re willing to pay each month.

That’s because the extent of the VoIP features available to you is determined by the package you choose from your provider. The more expensive the service package, the more features you’ll receive. You’ve just got to decide whether you can get by on a basic package, or if it works out more cost-effective to spend that bit more.

You can expect even the most basic package to include a heap of handy features that’ll help you run your business more effectively. The majority of suppliers will offer the following features as standard:

  • Auto attendant
  • Voicemail
  • Instant messaging
  • Call recording
  • Internet faxing
  • Conferencing
  • CRM (customer relationship management) integration

If you’re looking for more intelligent features, you’ll have to think about paying a little extra. Intelligent features include:

  • In depth telephone data analytics
  • Artificial intelligence software
  • High grade security

The great thing about a VoIP system is that it can grow with your company. Adding a new user or upgrading your software package is as easy as calling up your provider and requesting the change.

It’s also really quick and easy to find out how much a VoIP system will cost your company. All you need to do is fill in our form with a few details, and the suppliers that best match your requirements will be in touch with quotes.

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems and point of sale go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about dog walking on Dorset beaches.