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Things That Can Bring Down Your Business Phone System

Dave Haggblad - Wednesday, June 01, 2016 |
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Small businesses often work within tight budgetary constraints. The well considered selection of a business phone system is important for your business to function smoothly and profitably.

Equally important is selecting a phone system that delivers competent service over a long period of time. This thing needs to last!!....small businesses don't have the luxury of frequently changing or upgrading their phone systems.

There are some physical and virtual connections to your phone system that can cause issues and ultimately take your system down. Imagine if that happens....your customers can't reach you, and would most likely just hear your line ringing and ringing. They might even believe you have gone out of business. 

Have a look at these common issues and make sure you have addressed them as best you can.  Your phone system is only as strong as it's weakest link.

Wiring issues

One of the most common problems is faulty wiring. It causes service interruptions and creates a communication traffic jam. The reasons for this problem could be something as simple as rodents eating into wires..or perhaps a faulty phone jack shorting out your system. 

It's important to keep an eye on the state of your wiring. So many companies never look in the 'closet in the back' where their phone system and wiring are located....and miss seeing that the night cleaners have pushed their cart against the wiring blocks, potentially causing a short. The earlier the problem is detected, the faster it can be resolved without your business suffering.

Voltage fluctuations

A normal phone system operates on 110 volts of power and sudden fluctuations of voltage can damage the wiring and certainly the computer that is the brains of your system. During a voltage surge, the input voltage to the phone system might increase, leading to a crash and possible component burnout. A UPS, which also provides power backup (described next), can be installed as a go-between the phone system and the power supply. A good quality UPS will absorb voltage fluctuations and could ultimately save your phone system.

A lesser known issue is higher than normal voltage.  If your business is in an area that sees higher than usual voltage, over time this can also damage your system.  We're talking mostly about rural locations here...but even some areas of a large metropolitan area can have this issue. It's within the limits of the power companies specs....but may exceed the operating range of the phone system's specs. 

You can also suffer from a lower than normal voltage during high power draws...say you're in an industrial area and several of the businesses have large power needs. If they all fire up at once it can draw down the voltage until the grid can recover.  This fluctuation is hard on electronic components.

Power backup

Hopefully you've read the notes above and have come to believe that you need an adequate power backup mechanism. The most common one is called an Uninterrupted Power Supply or UPS. A UPS is a cost effective safety mechanism that protects your phone system from voltage spikes and and also provides battery backup if you lose power completely.  They aren't meant to run your system on the battery all day, but can provide a bridge for those 1-10 minute outages we all sometimes get so your customers can still reach you. Care must be taken with setting this up...it's no good to have 2 out of 3 components of your system plugged into the UPS, the 3rd component not having power during an outage will still take your whole system down. It's best to set things up and then test it by 'pulling the plug' and making sure everything fails over to the ups as expected.

The other, lesser seen, possibility is a generator that kicks in on power loss.  If you're lucky enough to have one of these you should still have a UPS or at least Surge Suppression on your system to cover those moments in time between power loss and the generator kicking in.

Internet issues

A VoIP phone system, or at least a Hybrid phone system makes a lot of sense for small businesses. You just need to remember that its performance is dependent on your internet connection. The efficiency of the phone system is directly proportional to the efficiency of the internet connection. 

This dependence on your internet connection could turn into a costly problem if you don't plan for it. So while your primary phone system can certainly be an internet-based one, make sure you have considered what will happen if your internet connection fails.

Just for example, you could:

  • have a spare land line connection that kicks in as a 2nd choice if the VoIP connection fails. 
  • set up automatic failover to another phone number, like a cell phone, if calls fail to complete to your VoIP numbers

There are other possibilities as well, it's just important that you consider and plan for this possibility. Most certainly, have the internet connection equipment connected to your UPS so it stays alive and continues to process calls during a power outage.

Virus attacks

So...you have installed a shiny new state-of-the-art phone system. It's working great....till one day it just stops working. 

It could be a virus attack or the phone system itself may have been hacked

This is a nuisance we are all well aware of and we take steps to handle for our computer systems.  Well, your phone system is in the same boat. 

Most small businesses don't have a need nor a budget for an in-house tech to take care of such issues. Your best protection for this is to make sure your phone system has the latest software updates, which include patches against current hacking methodologies. 

We take care of this by offering a Service Agreement that provides no charge software upgrades, but each service provider will have their own way of handling this.  Once again, it's just important that you understand how this happens.  Phone systems now are much like the computer you're reading this on, they require regular updates and patches to run smoothly and to be protected.

What should I do?

If you're concerned about any of the above, and you're in our serving area, give us a call at 403-543-6959 and we'll arrange to come by for a no-charge consultation and give you an idea of what it would take to address the issue(s).


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