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Office Telephone Systems for a Small Business

Many small businesses make the mistake of leaving their phone system as an afterthought. They stick with what they know, or take the cheapest option in a bid to cut costs. After all, who even makes calls anymore?

You may be surprised to find out that when a customer has an issue or a complicated enquiry, they still prefer to make a call.

A telephone system for a small business will incorporate multi-line phones, VoIP technology and many user friendly features to increase efficiency. These types of systems are sometimes referred to as a key system.

We’ve rounded up some of the best phone systems on the market, to save you both time and money.


What's on this page?



Small business phone system providers: overview

UK businesses have a great selection of phone system providers to choose from. Here’s a quick look at how they compare:

SupplierEst.Services OfferedCore Benefits
8x81987VoIP, Call Centre Software, Unified CommunicationsUnlimited Calling Zone, Simple Administration, Multi-Channel Compatibility, HD Voice
BT1969VoIP, Unified CommunicationsMobile Twinning, Multi-Level Auto Attendant, Integrated Voicemail
4Com1999PBX, VoIPCustom Solutions, Smart Computer Telephony Integration, Call Reporting
Mitel1973VoIP, Unified Communications, Cloud hosted PBXHigh-Definition Audio, Advanced Desk Phones, Unified Messaging
Lily Comms2009VoIP, Unified CommunicationsCost Savings, Custom Solutions, World Class Support
Cisco1984VoIP, Cloud hosted PBX, Unified CommunicationsAdvanced Mobility, Feature Rich Handsets, Enhanced Collaboration

What Small Business Phone System do you Require?


Traditional PBX vs. VoIP: what's the difference?

The ‘best business phone system' will vary from business to business. This isn’t surprising, when you think about it. If you don't expect many calls, and will have someone office-based throughout the day, then buying the most high-tech phone system might be a waste of time.

Equally, it’s important to think long term. Sure, your business might be small right now, but what about next year? Or in five years?. You may all be office-based at the moment, but will you want to work from home in the future? Your telephone system should facilitate rather than hinder these advances.

That’s where VoIP systems come in. They allow your business to move away from traditional in-house business phone lines. With VoIP, employees can communicate better than ever from their smartphones. With the right system and a good internet connection, businesses can lower their costs and benefit from all the features of traditional systems.

But what is the difference between traditional phone systems and VoIP? Let’s take a look.

If you already know which kind you need, click the corresponding button above to collect personalised quotes for that type of phone system.


Traditional

1. Traditional phone systems (PBX )

If you’re thinking about buying a traditional phone system, you will need a phone for each employee. If you have a small business with only a handful of employees, you can even use a home phone system.

If you’ll need lots of extensions, then you will need to look at a PBX or ‘Private Branch Exchange’. This will co-ordinate all incoming and outgoing calls, helping to make transfers and manage voicemail on different extensions.

A PBX used to be an on-premises wall-mounted box that each phone line plugged into. Nowadays, these can be virtual as well, offering the same functionality as traditional hardware.


VoIP

2. VoIP

Unlike a physical, premises-based phone system, VoIP phone systems work by transmitting the phone audio over the internet. It is important to make sure that your VoIP phones don't all use the same connection for the internet. Otherwise, you risk garbled or dropped calls if multiple people are online at once.

 

The number of lines you need for a VolP phone system depends on how many people will use the system at the same time.

For example, a two person organisation will be likely to only need two lines. A 10 person organisation will generally need five to seven lines, and a 100 person organisation could only need 20.

VoIP systems also have hosted (cloud-based) and non-hosted versions.


Matching

How to find the right match for your business

Hopefully you now have a clearer understanding of traditional and VoIP systems, and which you are likely to need.

10 questions to ask yourself when looking for a phone system:

Ask yourself these questions when looking for a phone system to help narrow down your options:

  1. How many lines do you need?
  2. How many extensions are required?
  3. What features would you like on your system?
  4. How many line provider sockets do you need?
  5. Can your telephone system expand with growth?
  6. Will you require call forwarding to mobile devices, and their integration into your system?
  7. Will you require call redirection to staff members who work from home?
  8. Do you wish to have a high-speed data network installed, which is able to use wireless technology?
  9. Is there a need for your business to be able to integrate the phone system with the IT used?
  10. Will you need to be able to identify customer details and dial numbers from a computer? This is called Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
  11. How much are you looking to pay for line rental?

Keep your answers to these questions in mind as we take a look at the best suppliers for the job.

If you’re still unsure which type of system will work for you, don’t worry. This short online form will walk you through some basic questions and match you with quotes that are right for your business.


Small business phone system providers

Read our reviews of the best business phone system providers, or skip straight to the best small business phone systems.


4Com

4Com pride themselves on tailoring their services to each individual business. They know that when it comes to small businesses, a one size fits all approach just doesn’t work. 4Com will work closely with you to improve business efficiency and reduce costs. Their services have won them recognition as one of the Top 1,000 companies to inspire Britain. Get Phone System Quotes

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4Com
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How 4Com can benefit your small business:


Computer telephony integration (CTI)

Enabling your computer and phone system to work alongside each other. This allows you to, for example, see incoming caller information, and therefore provide a more personal customer service experience.

Call recording facility as standard

Making it easy to provide staff training and monitor performance.

Call reporting

Analyse how customers transfer through your system, and where there are ‘blockages’.



8x8

Choosing a business telephone system for your small business can be a tricky business in itself. But it would be hard to find a supplier more innovative than 8x8. Their cost-effective, industry leading technology has won them a host of high-profile awards, including the Tolly award for Superior Voice Quality. With a high-profile client list (including McDonalds and NetSuite), you'd be in good company. Get Phone System Quotes

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8x8
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How 8x8 can benefit your small business:


Go global

Virtual office editions support calls to and from up to 45 countries.

Work from anywhere

Feature-rich mobile and desktop apps make working remotely feel far from remote.

Highly responsive customer service team

To aid setup and easily troubleshoot issues.



BT

BT offer an excellent selection of cloud-based VoIP and on-premises PBX phone systems for businesses. Businesses that are constantly on the move also have the option of BT One Phone Office. As its name suggests, this option gives you the best of a landline and a mobile, all in one mobile phone. BT have unrivalled industry experience and know-how, and are a very reliable supplier choice. Get Phone System Quotes

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How BT can benefit your small business:


Dedicated project manager

Someone who will come to know your business needs inside out, and can even visit your office to make recommendations.

Access to 4G and over five million BT Wi-fi hotspots

Working outside of the office couldn’t be simpler.

Plug ‘n’ play options available

So you can get up and running in no time.



Mitel

A leading business phone systems provider, Mitel power two billion connections every day. They cater for businesses with one to 2,500+ employees, in industries ranging from healthcare to hospitality. They recognise the need for telephone solutions that make life simpler, and technologies that can adapt to the changing dynamics of a business. Get Phone System Quotes

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How Mitel can benefit your small business:


Everything in one place

That means your desk and mobile phones, instant messaging, voicemail, web conferencing etc. together in one, integrated system.

Specialists in call centre solutions

Don’t risk aggravating potential and existing customers with a frustrating call. Mitel work to give your customers the best experience possible.

Facilitate mobility

Hot-desking and remote working needn’t have an impact on your team’s performance. Mitel’s solutions take this into account.



Lily Comms

Lily Comms specialise in providing affordable and efficient telephone systems for small businesses. In fact, a recent customer survey found that 86% of customers saved money when they switched to Lily. They’ve worked alongside high-profile clients including NHS, Lidl, Specsavers and Citroen. Get Phone System Quotes

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Lily Comms
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How Lily Comms can benefit your small business:


Save money

Lily Comms has a proven track record of saving customers money.

They guarantee the latest technology

Lily’s partner firm, Ericsson-LG, reportedly spend four times as much on research and development than their nearest competitor. You can be sure that every solution will be cutting-edge.

Dedicated account manager

Lily Comms pride themselves on being the ‘friendly expert’. Your dedicated account manager will work with you to find the best option.



Cisco

Established in the U.S. Cisco have been leaders in the business telecoms industry for over 30 years. They produce a number of tailored solutions and handsets for small businesses. Stay ahead of competitors with the latest communications solutions, including cloud-hosted software. Get Phone System Quotes

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How Cisco can benefit your small business:


No phone? No problem

Cisco software allows you to make and receive calls from a computer or tablet.

Simplicity

Solutions that unify your communications, rather than making them more complex.

Build relationships

High quality video links allow you to connect with clients and suppliers and like never before.



Best office phone systems for small businesses


Mitel 6865 SIP Phone

Mitel 6865

Mitel 6865

The Mitel 6865 is a great all-rounder. It offers a lot of flexibility to any business, whether at home or in the office. It’s a great option for a growing business, and can support up to 24 lines when connected to an expansion module.

Price: Price: From £92.00 (ex. VAT)
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Unrivalled audio - HD technology delivers enhanced performance and voice clarity

High quality speakerphone

Multilingual support options available

Eco-friendly design that seeks to maximise efficiency


Panasonic KX-TES824 telephone system bundle

Panasonic phone system bundle

Panasonic KX-TES824

The Panasonic KX-TES824 is a hybrid telephone system that can support up to 24 extensions. This makes it perfect for a growing small business. Handy features include Caller ID and Voice Message Delivery when a line is busy. This price is for the telephone system itself, which comes complete with three exchange lines and eight extensions as standard.

Price: From £374.00 (ex. VAT)
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Geared towards small and medium sized businesses

Maximum of eight lines with 24 extensions

Auto attendant, as well as call barring, diverting, management, voicemail and conference call

Bundles include a Panasonic KXT7730 system phone and 2 x Panasonic KXT7750 system phones

Caller line identification for increased efficiency and optional voice processing integration


Polycom VVX 301/311

Polycom VVX

This system was designed with call centre and cubicle workers in mind. This is a six line phone system that is ideal for both small and medium sized businesses. It's an affordable and simple system which promises to improve efficiency and productivity.

Price: From £53.90 (ex VAT)
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Easy to set up and to use, with a highly intuitive interface that means staff will be up to speed in no time

Facility to support Skype for Business and Office 365

Incredible voice clarity for a high quality customer experience

All updates and maintenance are carried out over the internet


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Mitel Aastra 632 DECT

Mitel Aastra

This is a wireless handset that is well-suited to industrial environments. It is dust and jet water protected, making it great for outdoor sites. It’s really easy to clean and complies with high hygiene requirements. This makes it ideally suited to the healthcare sector, too.

Price: From £180.80 (ex. VAT)
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Ambient noise filter to maintain call quality in louder environments

Ability to program an emergency call key - perfect for healthcare or security professions

Headset and bluetooth facilities

Think a wireless business phone will be the best option for you? Take a look at the other great cordless phone systems that we recommend.


Orchid XL220 small business telephone

Orchid XL220

Orchid specialise in functional office telephones for small businesses. This is a ‘no frills’, affordable option - perfect for a micro-business that doesn’t expect a high volume of calls. If you work from home, this could be the best phone system for you.

Price: From £24.00 (ex. VAT)
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Displays caller numbers and can redial the last 10 numbers

Ideal for conference calls

PBX and Switch compatible


Orchid PBX416+

Orchid PBX416+

The Orchid PBX416+ has capacity for up to five analogue lines and 16 extensions. It's packed with features ideal for small organisations including call forwarding and line selection for efficient communications.

Price: From £159.00 (ex. VAT)
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Supports up to four telephone lines and 16 extensions

Easy installation

Auto attendant and caller ID

Remote programming and call forwarding

Power failure transfer


Elite Telecom - hosted small business telephone system

Elite office phone systems

Elite Telecom Hosted Phone System

Elite Telecom's hosted office telephone system champions scalability. It’s perfect for home-workers and salespeople. This system removes the need for the hassle associated with hosting your own system. Elite can handle all the call routing and switching for you.

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Full access to all the features of a standard PBX for a small monthly cost

Plug-and-play functionality

Feature-rich and added benefits from network services such as call queuing and call recording

Easily scalable

Free DDI, voicemail, and conference calling

All systems come with added disaster recovery

Choice of top brands including Avaya, Panasonic, Siemens and Toshiba

Mobile and remote working options available


Cisco SPA 504G

Cisco SPA 504G

Another tried and tested , ‘no frills’ phone system. This is four line VoIP solution at a very reasonable price. It would work well for a smaller business that doesn’t have the need for complex functionality.

Price: From £74.00 (ex VAT)
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Wideband audio for enhanced voice clarity and enhanced speaker quality

Built-in security features

Full duplex speakerphone, headset, message waiting indicator, and dynamic soft keys for phone functions

Built in speaker phone and high quality microphone


Grandstream GXV3140 Skype phone (no PC required)

Grandstream GXV3140 Skype Phone

Grandstream's Skype phone allows you to receive the full benefits of VoIP without any needs for a computer. This can be ideal for many small businesses with communications often taking place online. It is ‘Skype certified’ and comes with Skype software included as standard. This means you can make Skype calls using just your phone handset.

Price: From £125.00 (ex VAT)
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IP multimedia phone with a powerful 4.3 inch colour LCD screen

Built in web browser

Multimedia features enable video calls with high definition wideband voice quality

Fully integrated with external connectivity options


Orchid 206 PBX

Orchid 206 PBX

Orchid 206 PBX system has the capacity for up to two lines and six extensions. It’s ideal for small offices or home businesses. Key features include call transfer and auto attendant.

Price: From £115.00 (ex VAT)
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Suitable for new and starter businesses with two analogue lines that supports up to six extensions/users

Power failure transfer

Direct dial extensions

Key features include an auto attendant with 12 second OGM

Programmable call restriction and call barring


Small Business Phone System Costs

For an entire small business telephone system, expect to pay around £170 as a minimum. This will set you up with a full, two line system with up to six extensions.

Higher specification systems can cost up to £1,700. These options have more telephones and extensions with extra user and customer features.

But ultimately it’s very difficult to work out the total price of your telephone system without getting quotes that are tailored to you.

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Next steps

Finding the right phone system for a small office is vital. A lack of space means small businesses often can’t afford to house large, loud and costly on-premises hardware.

Instead many of the hosted systems covered in this guide provide an excellent alternative. By hosting your business phone system externally you can instead keep initial investments to a minimum while affording monthly payments for custom plans and solutions tailored exactly to meet your needs.

Still, with so much choice available, and with so much jargon surrounding the topic of office telephones, it can be hard to know where to start. Fill in this short form to be receive quotes from trustworthy suppliers who can take your needs and turn them into an end-to-end solution.