A business phone system free trial allows you to test out crucial features that can spell success for your business. Every organization will have different needs, but the following scenarios represent the most common phone system features that companies will use.
Some features can be tested without any setup, like calling a PSTN number. Others will require a bit of configuration, such as testing an auto attendant. All in all, these tests are easy and doable in a short time frame.
When testing calls, you should ideally use whatever phone you plan on using with your phone system, whether that's a desk phone, softphone, or webphone. For OnSIP customers, we offer the OnSIP app as a free softphone/webphone for customers, available as soon as you create your account.
1. PSTN Calling
The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is the telephone network that encompasses landline and mobile phone devices. The ability to make and receive calls to and from the PSTN is the most important feature of a business phone system.
Make an outbound call using the phone service to your current business phone number, and vice versa. Repeat the test with your mobile number. You can also try dialing toll-free or international numbers, if permitted by the free trial. The more scenarios you test, the better.
2. Extension Dialing
Extension dialing is another essential feature of business phone systems. Extensions are used as offshoots from your main number, allowing individual employees to have their own dedicated numbers to make and receive calls off the same line.
First, create a few users on the phone service and assign each of them a personal extension and a phone. Now, try dialing another user's extension on the network, without a preceding phone number (i.e. x7001). A successful call will prove that internal extension-to-extension dialing works.
Next, try dialing the number associated with the phone service from an outside line, such as your personal cell phone. Enter one of the extensions we you created once the call is connected to see if you are able to reach that user directly. Ensuring that this feature works will allow outside parties to quickly bypass the main line and reach their desired destination.
3. Softphone and webphone compatibility
Softphones are phone apps that run on your computer, tablet, or smartphone; webphones are phone apps that run inside your Internet browser. These options allow your employees to work away from the office and stay connected to the network using their personal devices.
These apps are integral for remote workers, whether they're away from their desks, stuck in traffic, on vacation, or not immediately available. Softphones/webphones also retain the full functionality of a desk phone, including extension dialing.
If your employees already use a softphone or webphone, it's a good idea to test it out with the service. Or, if the VoIP service offers a proprietary app, try making calls with it to see if it will be useful for remote or mobile team members. Ideally, you want to test these apps with devices on a network outside of your office, such as your home computer or an iPhone with WiFi disabled. These conditions are a more accurate representation of a remote working situation.
4. Voicemail management
Voicemail boxes are a key part of your business phone system, and often serve as the final destination for your callers. In this test, you want to see if you can leave voicemails at a number, and manage those voicemails.
To start, set up a voicemail box for one of your users. Record a short business voicemail greeting to welcome callers. Then call that user and leave a few voicemails. If the recordings play properly, and you can successfully leave voicemails, then the feature is functional from the caller's perspective.
Now, try to manage to those recordings you just left. Voicemail management includes accessing your voicemail box, listening to messages, deleting messages, uploading recordings, and setting up voicemail-to-email preferences. Some business VoIP services will provide a web interface for users to manage voicemails in addition to the more traditional dial-in method.
5. Auto attendant menu options
Auto attendants are menu-based selection features that give callers a set of options to choose from (Press 1 for pharmacy, 2 for hours...). They route traffic to and from destinations within your phone tree to create efficient call flow for your customers. This saves your staff from having to answer every inbound call, and helps optimize your calling traffic.
To test an auto attendant feature, you'll want to have at least a few different destinations in mind to assign options to. For example, one number can lead to an employee's extension, another goes to a voicemail box, and a third will forward calls to your personal cell phone. For more ideas on how to set up an auto attendant, read our blog on designing business phone trees.
6. Business hour rules
Business Hour Rules (BHR) is a cloud phone system feature that often gets overlooked during testing. Here's how it works: if the call occurs during your business hours, the call will follow your normal call flow. But if the call is made after hours, it gets diverted to a separate path, such as an after-hours voicemail box or emergency line.
You can easily test this functionality by inserting a sample BHR at the start of your phone tree. Set the open and closed hours to times that are easy to test, e.g. 11:00am - 12:00pm is open, and 12:00pm - 1:00pm is closed. Then call the number before and after the hour to see if your call is properly routed at both times.
Business Phone System Free Trial: Vet It Right
A free trial gives you a chance to thoroughly vet a phone service before you make a final decision. By conducting a few simple tests, you can gain valuable insight into the core capabilities of a phone system.
The six tests we covered above are designed to assess both internal communication, such as extension dialing and webphone compatibility, and customer-facing features, such as phone menu options and voicemail messages. Of course, a fully configured phone system will include much more functionality— these are just a few of the most frequently encountered scenarios.
At the end of the day, you want to be confident that your phone service will perform the way you want it to before committing to a provider. With over 14 years of selling, building, and maintaining a business communications platform, we know how important it is to have a functional phone service.