Telephone Switchboard System Comparison

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher

For most people, the words ‘telephone switchboard’ conjure up an image of someone unplugging and replugging phone lines in front of huge wall of switches. Unsurprisingly, the telephone switchboards of today are a little (read: a lot) different.

In fact, some don’t require you to own any hardware at all. Sounds impossible, right?

Let’s take a look at what modern day telephone switchboards look like, and the best ones on the market right now.

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What is a telephone switchboard system?

The first step in understanding how modern switchboards work is to abandon the idea of a physical ‘board’. Todays switchboards are automated. They greet the customer on the other end of the line, then use algorithms to direct their call and manage the queue.

Think about the last time you called a bank, or an energy company. Chances are there were a few steps between the call being picked up, and speaking to an actual human. In smaller businesses, there needn’t be so many steps, but the ability to put callers in a queue is still hugely important. Otherwise, you risk customers being unable to get through and giving up.

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What kind of telephone switchboard system do you need?

There are three main types of switchboard phone systems:

  • Virtual PBX
  • Interactive Voice Responsive (IVR)
  • Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

Virtual PBX

A virtual PBX is the simplest and most affordable type of switchboard. This solution is hosted in the cloud, meaning no infrastructure or maintenance costs. The virtual switchboard can route calls to the correct extension in any location, manage queues, put callers on hold and alert employees when calls are waiting. It means you can handle having more than one call to your business without callers hearing the ‘engaged’ tone.

Best for: Smaller businesses that only expect a few calls at a time.

Interactive Voice Responsive (IVR)

An IVR system takes virtual reception a stage further and automates call response so you don’t need a switchboard operator. Callers hear a pre-recorded message, and then the option to ‘press one for accounts’ etc.

Best for: Small/medium businesses with several departments. This will make their processes much more efficient.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

ACD systems route incoming calls to agents based on predefined business ‘rules’. This ensures each call is answered by an agent with the right skills or product knowledge. In busy periods, calls can simply be routed to the first available agents.

Best for: Call centres or larger businesses with sales or customer service teams.

Telephone Switchboard Comparison

Here are four of the highest performing switchboards on the market today:

Mitel MiVoice Office 400


MiVoice Office 400 Series

The Mitel MiVoice Office 400 Series incorporates the Mitel MiVoice 1560 PC Operator, which combines a PC and a telephone. The PC provides a central point of information to support efficient call handling and call management.

Overall Rating:

With the Mitel MiVoice Office 400, operators can take, make or forward calls via their computer or any system phone. This system gives access to a wide range of information, as well as flexible call management. The switchboard displays incoming callers’ names, meaning you can give a really personal service.

Key features:

Customisable screen layout

Caller ID

Status information on all employees

Call transfer by mouse click or key

Alerts by text or email

Mitel MiVoice MX-ONE


MiVoice 4224

The MiVoice MX-ONE is built for larger businesses or contact centres with between 500 and 100,000+ staff. It integrates voice, video and data for a comprehensive switchboard solution. The MiVoice MX-ONE will maximise workforce productivity and prioritise user experience.

Overall Rating:

Over 60,000 customers across 120 countries trust the MiVoice MX-ONE to deliver their staff and customers the best possible experience every single day.

Key features:

On-site or private cloud deployment

Integrates multiple communication channels (web chat, call etc.)

Flexible with unparalleled scalability

Extensive reporting functionality

Mobile apps

Callagenix Company Switchboard

Callagenix Logo

Callagenix Company Switchboard

The Callagenix company telephone switchboard offers the functionality of a PBX switchboard at a lower cost. The switchboard can be programmed to route calls along the most suitable channel, with simple reprogramming to deal with changes. Suitable for small businesses with a minimal number of existing lines. It can give you access to as the number of simultaneous call lines your business needs, with no need to purchase additional phone lines.

Overall Rating:

The Callagenix Company telephone switchboard offers the functionality of a PBX switchboard, but at a lower cost.

Key features:

Customisable message prompts

Multiple switchboard menus

Call recording

Online customisation

24-hour automatic call answering

Noble Outbound Solutions

Noble Systems Logo

Noble Outbound Solutions

The Noble Systems Predictive Dialler is the perfect tool for managing outbound call campaigns to maximise productivity and increase call volume. It provides call management, list control, workflow management, and an integrated database.

Overall Rating:

The Noble Systems Predictive Dialler can be integrated with automated messaging, IVR skills-based routing, and other features to provide additional functionality. It’s a great tool for companies with large sales departments or contact centres that make a lot of calls.

Key features:

PBX integration for call blending and remote agents

Multiple dialling modes

Call-back scheduling and appointment setting

Automated dialling

Filters uncompleted calls

Benefits of a telephone switchboard system

benefits of telephone switchboards

Many small businesses assume that a switchboard is something that only the largest companies will profit from.

Not so!

The key benefits of a telephone switchboard will be felt across businesses of all shapes and sizes:

1. Transfer calls to any location

Got employees or freelancers working remotely? No problem! So long as there’s an internet connection, a virtual switchboard system can reach them over a desk phone or mobile.

2. Reduce your infrastructure and maintenance costs

You can take a hosted solution, which is managed and maintained by a service provider ‘in the cloud’. You won’t have any upfront costs for infrastructure and you won’t need a technician on site to run the system. Instead, you pay an affordable monthly fee that covers management, maintenance and upgrades.

3. Advanced functionality

One of the most useful features of modern switchboard phone systems is ‘Presence’. This tells the system or the operator if an employee does not wish to be disturbed or is unavailable. The switchboard can then route calls to another extension if need be.

Telephone switchboard systems also support multiple communication channels, so callers can make contact by their preferred method, which could include email, voice, text, chat or instant message.

4. Scalability

Hosted switchboard solutions offer another important advantage – scalability. If your business grows, or call volumes increase temporarily, you can increase capacity on demand. There is no need to install new lines or keep customers waiting in lengthy queues. Hosted switchboards give you much greater flexibility.

Next step: how to get your telephone switchboard system

By getting a telephone switchboard system for your business, you’re taking a great leap towards improved customer experience and office productivity.

But a great leap needn’t require hours of tedious research and contacting suppliers. In fact, your ideal telephone switchboard solution is only three small steps away:

Step 1: fill in this form with a few small details about your business.

Step 2: we will match your needs with the best suppliers for the job.

Step 3: these suppliers will then contact you with tailored quotes, leaving you to choose the one that’s right for you.

As the famous quote goes, “three small steps for your tailored quotes, one giant leap for your UK business…?”

….or something like that, anyway.

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

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

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