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Written by
Katy Ratican
24 Jan 2022
5 minutes

Everything your small business needs to know about multi-line phone systems

If you're considering getting multiple phone lines for small business, you need to read this
Multiple phone lines for small business

As your business grows, you will need more than the traditional business phone number. You will need to handle multiple calls at the same time and allow internal calls between employees. That’s when it’s time to look for multiple phone lines for small businesses through a multi-line system.

What are multi-line phone systems?

The conventional phone lines connect two people on either end. This is the standard residential phone system where each house has a single line. But this won’t serve the purposes of a growing business. Enter multi-line systems. These allow several people to use phones at the same time.

In other words, a multi-line system gives multiple phone lines for small businesses. It allows several people to use the same line from the devices on their desks. Multiple customers or clients can call the number and be easily directed to the right contact with a multi-line phone system.

A multi-line system is managed through a switchboard that will guide callers to the right phone. They can be either two-line systems or four-line systems and can be used for both external and internal calls.

With an external line, you would be able to talk to several customers or clients at the same time. The internal line would allow multiple employees to talk to each other through the system.

Does your business need a multi-line phone system?

Your business might need a multi-line phone system if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • You are a freelancer working from your home who wants separate phone numbers for work and personal use.

  • You have a small business that has two or more people on staff and want to give all of them access to your business phone.

  • Your business, whether it’s a restaurant or salon, receives a large number of calls during particular times of the day.

  • You use the number for customer support and want to accommodate several callers at the same time.

  • You don’t want to wait for someone to end their call for you to make an outgoing call.

All these are signs that your business is outgrowing the traditional phone line. Now it’s time to choose the right multi-line phone system for you.

The different types of multi-line phone systems

The type of multi-line phone system you need primarily depends on the number of simultaneous phone conversations you will hold. It’s also important to remember that merely additional lines don't always mean that your system is better.

If you’re looking for multiple phone lines for a small business, these are the systems you can choose from.

2-line multi-phone system

This provides two lines in the same system and is ideal for freelancers and small businesses that have two employees. This is also suitable for retail outlets that want to provide a dedicated line for incoming calls.

4-line multi-phone system

Growing businesses that field a lot of incoming calls would need the 4-line system. If you have a receptionist, for example, they will be able to transfer several incoming calls with this system. This is also the ideal solution if you have customer support executives.

6-12-line multi-phone system

This is the system for you if your primary mode of business communication or first point of contact is phone calls. For example, if you expect customers to call you first, you should consider using this system.

Private branch exchange (PBX)

If you’re in the market for multiple phone lines for small businesses, you will also come across PBX. While it’s a multi-line system, it centralises communication for many users. Several phone lines are fed into the system that can automatically route calls to landlines and switch lines within an organisation.

This is most suited to medium and large enterprises. However, over time, more of them are switching to VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol. One of the differences between PBX and VoIP is that the latter doesn’t require hardware and is considerably less expensive.

Top features to look for in a multi-line phone system

While looking for a multi-line system to facilitate multiple phone lines for small businesses, these are the main features you should look for:

Auto-attendant: With an auto-attendant, the system will route the call to the right extension based on keypad input.

Call hold and parking: You need call hold because it allows you to place a call on hold as you answer another call or talk to a colleague. With call parking, someone else will be able to retrieve the call that you put on pause.

Call analytics: This is how you measure call volumes and real-time data for business analytics.

Call forwarding: As the name implies, this lets you transfer incoming calls to any extension or device.

Voicemail: When callers have the opportunity to leave a voicemail, your business will generate leads even when you’re unable to take the call.

An alternative to multiple phone lines for small businesses: Chalkboard

Are you a freelancer, sole trader, startup founder or small business owner looking for multiple phone lines for small business? If so, you’ll find that Chalkboard is a superior alternative to traditional multi-line systems for the following reasons.

Easy to set up: Multi-line systems come with hardware that would take some time to be operational. With Chalkboard, you can download the app and get started in minutes.

Affordable: You don’t have to pay for hardware or expensive monthly fees. All you’ve got to pay is an affordable subscription fee.

Business-friendly features: Chalkboard allows you to set pre-written messages to calls you might miss with auto-reply and send automated messages to callers.

No device needed: Why buy additional hardware or landlines when you can get a virtual number that can work on any connected device?

In short

While multi-line systems are suited for enterprises with bigger teams, a virtual number like Chalkboard gives you and your team the freedom to stay connected from anywhere. If you’re looking for multiple phones for a small business, since it’s remote-friendly, business-oriented and highly affordable, a virtual number is a smarter option.

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