PBX phone systems


No matter the size of a company, effective internal and external communication systems are vital to ensuring that all employees can connect with each other and clients as needed. For smaller companies, providing each employee with their own phone line can suffice. However, when a company has more than just a few employees, paying for individual phone lines for each person becomes expensive quickly.


As companies grow from a handful of employees into larger enterprises, the required phone systems become more complex as they need to allow for upwards of hundreds or thousands of individuals trying to connect to the system at one time. This is where private branch exchange (PBX) systems come into play. In this guide, we will explore what PBX is, how PBX works, the various types of PBX systems, and the benefits of each.


What is PBX?


PBX systems are effectively private telephone networks used within companies or organizations. With PBX systems, members of the company can place and receive both internal and external calls. PBX systems are compatible with a range of communication channels such as voice over IP (VoIP), ISDN, and analog phones.


One of the primary benefits of PBX systems is that they allow organizations to have more physical phones than phone lines. Rather than providing each individual with their own phone line, PBX systems provide organizations with the ability to exist with only one or two lines, which can then be routed to the various phones as needed.  Moreover, individuals with access to a PBX system can call other users within the system for free.  PBX systems also offer additional features such as call transferring, voicemail, call recording, interactive voice menus, and call-waiting queues.


In traditional PBX systems, users were usually locked into prohibitive contracts with telecom providers or were required to outfit their entire organization with provider-specific physical phone systems. This made changing PBX services expensive and challenging to do. Today, however, most PBX services work over the internet, lifting these restraints and providing even further advanced features.


How Does PBX Work?


PBX systems can work in a variety of ways, depending on if the system is on-premises or hosted in the cloud, such as IP PBX systems.


For traditional PBX systems, the company using it is still beholden to the local telephone company to receive and place external calls. Then, their on-premise solutions house the necessary equipment needed to transfer calls within the network, place internal calls, as well as any other features that aren’t directly related to fielding or placing external calls.


Cloud-based or IP PBX systems allow for the opportunity to almost completely eliminate on-premise systems, save for any physical phones employees may want (although, with a headset alone, an employee can easily field calls with an IP PBX system directly from their computer). All of the operations are hosted in the cloud by the PBX service provider. This means businesses no longer need to worry about servicing and maintaining large servers and other physical equipment to utilize a PBX system. Moreover, with IP PBX systems, switching service providers or making changes to the system can be achieved relatively easily, without worrying about high costs.


Benefits of PBX Phone Systems


As mentioned above, both traditional and cloud-based PBX phone systems come with a range of benefits. These include:


1. Transfer calls quickly and easily – When a customer calls an organization and needs to be transferred to a different department to deal with their request, PBX systems allow for this to occur seamlessly without dropping the call.


2. Customize greetings – Businesses can select ring-back music, hold music, and even prerecord greetings for customers who dial into the organization through a PBX system.


3. Field a high volume of calls – PBX systems allow for businesses to make and receive a high volume of calls at one time. With features such as call waiting and call queues, an organization can keep customers in line while they wait to speak with a representative. This makes PBX systems, especially cloud-based PBX systems, ideal for call centers.


4. Connect different offices – If an organization operates out of several different offices or has locations all over the country, a PBX system can provide a singular line for customers to call, from where they can be routed to their local office or necessary department.


In addition to these benefits, some other advanced features provided by PBX systems include:


• Call Queues


• Ring Groups


• Voicemailboxes


• Intercom


• Reporting


• Digital Receptionists


Different Types of PBX Phone Systems


Today, there are three common types of PBX systems typically employed by businesses (usually depending on the size of the business and how fast it is growing). These systems include cloud-based PBX, on-premises PBX, and PBX SIP Trunking.


Cloud-Based PBX – As mentioned above, cloud-based PBX systems provide organizations with all the benefits of PBX systems without the overhead that comes with maintaining the equipment on-premises. Cloud-based PBX systems are easily adaptable, scalable, and relatively cheap to get started with. That said, IP PBS systems require a high-speed internet connection as well as VoIP phones or a VoIP app.


On-Premises PBX – On-premises PBX systems are ideal for businesses that already have the infrastructure in place and don’t plan on expanding any time soon. However, on-premises PBX systems come with maintenance costs to ensure the systems continue to run effectively. Furthermore, if an organization is growing rapidly, on-premises PBX systems can be expensive to scale along with the business to meet demands.


PBX SIP Trunking – This is option is great for companies with on-site PBX systems but who also want the advantages of cloud-based PBX systems. It connects your on-premises system to the internet so that you can scale as needed without needing to replace your legacy system. While this option makes for an excellent middle ground between on-premises and cloud-based PBX systems, it still requires regular maintenance of the on-site systems and equipment to keep everything in working order.


Choosing the Right PBX System for Your Company


When it comes to selecting a PBX system that works best for your organization, it all comes down to what your specific needs are. If you already have a legacy phone system in place and don’t have any immediate plans to grow as a business, an on-premises PBX system will do the trick. While it does require maintenance, it also won’t require you to make any significant changes to your existing system. That said, if you decide you want to make changes, either to a physical system or with the provider, this can prove costly with on-premises PBX systems.


If you decide that you want to keep your legacy system but also would like to receive the benefits of VoIP PBX systems, SIP trunking allows you to do just that. You can scale your legacy system as needed by adding and removing lines, and you can leverage additional advanced features that don’t come with traditional on-premises systems, such as real-time reporting. However, you still need to ensure all on-premises devices are in working order so that the entire system doesn’t crash, keeping your business from making and receiving calls.


Finally, if you don’t want to deal with the headache that comes with maintaining physical on-premises systems, cloud-based PBX systems are your best bet. Not only are they flexible when it comes to making adjustments, but the cost of entry is also relatively low, especially if you don’t already have a legacy system in place.


Overall, PBX systems are vital to ensuring businesses of all sizes can communicate effectively both in- and outside of the organization. While there are several options, each comes with its pros and cons. Ultimately, the best PBX system for your organization is the one that meets your specific needs. Click here to learn more about virtual PBX systems and how they can benefit your business.