18 Essential Business Phone Features to Boost Productivity
By Veronika Bucko
| 6. June 2024 |
Call Center
By V. BuckoVeronika Bucko
| 6 Jun 2024 |
Call Center
    By V. BuckoVeronika Bucko
    | 6 Jun 2024
    Call Center

    Boost Productivity With These Essential Business Phone System Features

    78% of service agents struggle to balance speed and quality of customer support, says Salesforce. Meanwhile, sales reps’ performance can be hindered by time wasted on repetitive tasks. The solution in both cases can be found through advanced business phone features.

    Call monitoring, intelligent routing, workflow automation, analytics—business phone systems are packed with features that boost productivity and empower agents to deliver top-of-the-line customer service or close more deals. 

    But how do you distinguish must-have features from nice-to-have (or no-need-to-have) ones? 

    We’ve created a checklist of all the essential business phone features to look out for in your chosen solution.

    Key takeaways:

    • The right business phone system can help customer support agents resolve queries more efficiently and sales reps close more deals.
    • There are three main types of business phone system; traditional landline-based setups, on-premises PBX systems, and VoIP-based solutions. 
    • VoIP-based calling solutions are often easier to set up and use than other alternatives, and also have a broader set of features. 
    • The most useful features of a VoIP-based business phone system include Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Call recording, call monitoring, and power dialers.  

    Find the Perfect VoIP Package for Your Business

    What Is a Business Phone System?

    A business phone system is a telecommunications network that allows everyone in your company to handle internal and external calls. Such systems support inbound and outbound call centers and contact centers as well as internal communications between colleagues.

    Types of Business Phone System

    Business phone systems come in three main varieties: Traditional landlines, PBX, and VoIP-based solutions.

    Traditional Landline (KSU)

    This is your basic multi-line telephone system. Similar to a home landline, it connects calls using physical wires and uses the key system unit (KSU) to manually control phone line selection. 

    While KSU systems are easy to use, they’re severely restrictive. They only allow a limited number of phone lines—typically, no more than 40—and they lack the advanced features needed to support modern communication needs.


    An on-premises PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system is a hardware-heavy communications solution that’s housed on your office’s premises. 

    The PBX is connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) via copper wires, and allows employees to make and receive external calls. They can also dial extensions to make speedy internal calls.

    PBX supports more lines than KSU and gives you a wider range of features, such as an auto attendant and 3-way conferencing. That said, on-premises PBX has significant downsides, most notably its high upfront and long-term costs, and its lack of more advanced features and functionalities.


    Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems use packet-switching technology to let users make and receive calls over the internet. 

    When you make a call, the audio is converted into digital data packets. These packets are compressed, sent over the internet to their destination, and re-ordered in a matter of milliseconds. 

    VoIP systems are also known as hosted or cloud-based PBX. This is because all of the system’s hardware and software is typically housed off-site by a third-party provider (usually in the cloud). 

    VoIP phone systems are usually much more cost-effective than either of the other alternatives. They don’t require complicated equipment (like servers or switches), which means you don’t incur high upfront and maintenance costs. Plus, they’re billed on a subscription basis, so you only pay for the business phone service features you need.
    Check out this article to learn more about VoIP business phone system pricing.

    Your Business Phone System Features Checklist

    To make sure that you’re getting the most out of any solution you choose, we’ve compiled a list of essential business phone features to look for:

    Discover 12 features that every business phone system should have.

    #1 Interactive Voice Response

    Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated phone system feature. It interacts with incoming callers using pre-recorded messages, speech recognition, and dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) technology. 

    In other words, it’s a virtual receptionist. It can greet incoming callers, present them with a menu of options, and use their inputted responses to gauge their intent and route them to the right place.

    Let’s say that you have three main departments: Sales, finance, and customer service. After greeting an incoming caller, the IVR system might say “Press 1 for sales, press 2 for billing, press 3 for customer support”

    From there, the IVR might present them with more relevant options, leading them to the right agent, department, or information source. 

    Thanks to IVR’s smart routing capabilities, you can minimize call transfers, reduce long call queues, and drive more first-call resolutions.

    #2 Skills-Based Routing

    Every business phone system should enable skills-based routing; the method of routing specific types of calls to the most suitable agent based on their knowledge and expertise. 

    For example, a customer whose query was made in Spanish might be directed to a Spanish-speaking agent. An angry or vulnerable customer might be directed to an agent with additional training in conflict resolution. Or, callers with specific questions might be routed to agents with qualifications in that area.

    Skills-based routing ensures that every call is answered by the agent most equipped to handle the request. In turn, it reduces wait times and transfers, improves first-call resolutions, and boosts customer satisfaction.

    #3 Call Flow Designer

    Your call flow is a visual map that represents how callers travel through your phone system from dial-in to call resolution. A call flow designer is an interactive tool that lets you create and customize call flows to optimize efficiency. 

    You can design optimal call routes and detail what happens at each stage, giving customers reliable, consistent experiences.

    #4 International Numbers

    Are you planning to expand your business across borders? If so, you need a VoIP-based system that offers local numbers in the countries you want to serve. 

    Customers are much less likely to answer your call or initiate contact if they don’t recognize your country code. It screams “potential scammer”, which does nothing for your credibility. 

    Having an international number gives your company a local presence even if you don’t have a physical one (like an office in the nation), improving pick-up rates and call volumes. 

    Take PlanRadar, for example, whose legacy phone system was hindering their global expansion capabilities. They made the switch to CloudTalk, leveraging 160+ international numbers to provide seamless service to customers around the globe. 

    In two years, they managed to catapult their growth to new heights. Capable of handling 144,652 calls using 585 international numbers in a single month, they successfully achieved a growth of 122.14%

    #5 Call Monitoring

    One in five of your loyal customers are prepared to part ways with your brand after just one bad experience. The majority will leave after two or three bad experiences. 

    Call monitoring features play a critical role in helping you deliver exceptional call experiences, every single time. They enable supervisors and managers to oversee calls as they’re happening and, if necessary, provide support.

    There are three main types of call monitoring features:

    • Call listening: This lets supervisors listen in on live agents to evaluate agent performance.
    • Call whisper: Supervisors can give real-time advice to an employee while they’re on a call, without the customer being able to hear.
    • Call barging: Supervisors can jump in on a live call to directly resolve issues.

    Let’s say that a customer calls in with a complicated question that your new employee is struggling to answer. Using call whisper, supervisors can coach the employee without the customer knowing that there’s anyone else on the line.

    If the customer were to grow particularly frustrated, the supervisor might barge in on the call to diffuse the situation.

     #6 Call Recording

    Call recording is a foundational business phone feature that allows you to record your team’s calls and store them for compliance and training purposes. 

    Through recordings, you can identify weaknesses and tailor your training provisions and scripts around them. 

    Perhaps your team is struggling to answer questions on a specific topic. Or, maybe they’re not as friendly or concise as you’d like them to be. Whatever the case, recordings unlock the insights you need to optimize your strategy and messaging.

    #7 Analytics

    How do you know if your call center is performing optimally? The best VoIP-based phone systems provide you with advanced analytics, such as call statistics and insights on your KPIs, in real-time from a centralized dashboard. 

    This gives you an accurate, data-backed view of your performance at individual, group, and department-wide levels, which is crucial for smart decision-making and strategy.

    Look out for calling solutions that make it easy to track the following call center KPIs: 

    • Total call volumes
    • Total missed calls
    • Average speed of answer
    • Call abandonment rate
    • First-call resolution
    • Average total talk time

    #8 Workflow Automation

    Repetitive manual tasks, like data entry and collection, don’t just eat away your employee’s productivity. They also erode your employee’s happiness and motivation. 

    This is why workflow automation is such a big deal—it automates tiresome tasks to fuel more efficient, productive, and error-free work. 

    With CloudTalk, you can set up automated custom workflows for various activities, such as ticket creation, follow-ups, and text-to-speech transcriptions.

    #9 Voicemail

    Voicemail has gotten smarter. Along with receiving voice messages on your preferred device, you can route callers to different inboxes, ensuring that they’re always delivered to the right person or team. 

    In fact, CloudTalk’s voicemail feature sends word-perfect voicemail transcripts straight to your email. So, if you’re in a meeting or otherwise engaged, you can still read time-sensitive messages.

    #10 Extensions

    A phone extension is a short number that you can assign to individual employees and teams. Anyone who knows the extension number can type it in when they call, and get instantly connected to the right person or department. 

    For example, imagine that your sales manager needs to urgently speak to your finance manager. Instead of having to navigate a complicated IVR menu or speak to a receptionist, they can simply type in the finance manager’s extension.

    Or, let’s say that a client wants to follow up with a specific member of your sales team about a prospective purchase. They can use the extension to connect to the right person directly, minimizing transfers and improving the customer experience.

    #11 Call Transfers

    Seamlessly transfer customers to the right team member, department, or extension using call transfer. With the ability to direct incoming calls to the right place at the click of a button, you can reduce customer wait times and meet immediate needs without lots of tedious back-and-forth.

    CloudTalk’s call transfer feature offers an extra layer of intelligence. As well as cold transferring, which blindly connects customers to agents without any briefing, it also facilitates warm transfers. 

    A warm transfer allows the agent making the transfer to brief the next agent on the context of the call, detailing the specific issue that needs resolving. This way, customers don’t need to repeat themselves and the next agent can get straight into the solution, promoting fast, personalized customer service.

    #12 Campaigns

    Create campaigns for teams using call scripts, questionnaires, and call notes to guide your agents’ communications and track their results in real-time.

    For example, questionnaires can be used to make sure that agents are asking customers the right questions when troubleshooting an issue. This leads to faster resolutions as agents can identify issues faster. 

    Call scripts help keep agents on track. If they feel like they’re getting side-tracked or losing their train of thought, they can refer to the call script to pivot the conversation in the right direction. 

    With CloudTalk, you can monitor campaigns in real-time and make improvements based on your results.

    #13 Smart Dialing

    If you make lots of outbound calls, smart dialing is essential for boosting productivity while helping you connect with high-quality leads. 

    Here’s how it works in CloudTalk

    Our smart dialer scours your website, CRM, helpdesk tools, and more to locate customers’ phone numbers and add them to your queue. Together with the click-to-call extension, you can make simultaneous calls, order calls in your queue, set buffer times between outbound calls, and even push lower-quality leads down the queue to prioritize warm leads. 
    In all, you can boost call volumes and lower call times by up to 50%.

    #14 Power Dialer

    It might only take a few seconds for sales reps to locate and dial a number, but those seconds can add up into minutes, and those minutes into wasted hours. 
    Power dialers automatically call numbers one after the other, eliminating the manual task of dialing. In turn, reps have more time to focus on researching customer information between calls and the other more useful tasks that lead to better, more personalized selling.

    #15 Voicemail Drop

    Chances are, a chunk of your sales reps’ outbound calls will go unanswered or get declined. Instead of writing the number off—or bombarding it with more calls and ending up on their block list—you can quickly leave the customer a personalized voicemail using voicemail drop. 

    Voicemail drop lets sales reps pre-record voicemail messages. These messages can be sent in a click if the customer doesn’t pick up the phone. It’s much more time-efficient than manually leaving a personalized voicemail every time you reach an inbox. 

    Plus, leaving a voicemail increases your chances of getting a callback.

    #16 Call Queuing

    Call queuing is an essential feature that places inbound calls into a virtual queue based on your predefined rules. For example, you might queue calls based on waiting time, issue type, priority, or agent skills.

    Call queues help you maintain transparency and manage customer expectations. Via recorded messages, you can let customers know their position in the queue and give them an estimated waiting time to ensure that they’re kept in the loop. 

    This goes a long way with customers. It reduces frustration, instills trust in relationships, and gives customers more control over their experience. With insight into their place in the queue, they can decide to stay on the line (reducing your call abandonment rate) or call back later when you’re less busy.

    #17 VIP Queues

    VIP queuing lets you assign VIP tags to your most valuable customers. With this exclusive tag, they automatically skip straight to the front of your queue and receive immediate, high-quality customer service.
    According to Salesforce, a staggering 77% of customers expect agents to be immediately available to handle their requests. This is incredibly difficult and potentially impossible to achieve during busy periods.

    However, by making the extra effort for your most loyal customers, you can reap the benefits that they provide to your business: Word-of-mouth marketing, frequent and high-value order purchases, advocacy, and more.

    #18 AI-Powered Features

    AI-powered business phone systems have some of the best business phone features. From automation to predictive analytics, they have what you need to enhance process efficiency and optimize customer experiences.

    For example, with CloudTalk AI, you can collect and process call data from every interaction. As well as the context of the call, AI can analyze sentiments, behaviors, and more. 

    This presents you with hyper-accurate insights that you can use to identify weaknesses, capitalize on strengths, anticipate customer needs, and make other strategic, data-backed decisions.
    But that’s just the beginning. Check out CloudTalk’s other AI-powered features, like topics extraction or automatic call summaries.

    Key Benefits of a VoIP-Based Business Phone System

    Why choose a VoIP-based business phone system over KSU or on-premises PBX?

    Enjoy High Quality Calling From Anywhere

    Say goodbye to latency and jitter. VoIP providers like CloudTalk use global server distribution and live call quality monitoring to ensure that your calls are always optimally routed. 

    So, as long as you have a stable internet connection and decent bandwidth, you can enjoy spotless calling experiences from anywhere.
    This is crucial because, according to Buffer, 15% of remote workers say that communication difficulties are a significant challenge for them. For 8%, it’s their biggest struggle when working remotely.

    Save Time With Quick and Easy Onboarding

    Unlike KSU and on-premises PBX, VoIP phone systems don’t require complex hardware installations and configurations. This means a VoIP phone system can be up and running in a matter of hours instead of weeks. 

    Your phone provider takes care of the complicated stuff—all you need are your VoIP-enabled devices and a good internet connection.

    Automate Workflows and Integrate Your Business Tools

    Along with automation features, such as IVR and power dialing, VoIP phone providers offer powerful integrations with business tools, including your CRM. 

    A phone system integrated with your CRM centralizes data, making it quicker and easier for agents to access the information necessary for successful calls—whether they’re support or sales calls. 
    By integrating CloudTalk with Pipedrive, for example, lead generation software company Leadspicker reduced the length of their sales cycle by 92%. And, they boosted their company’s growth and profit.

    Achieve More Effective Communication With the Right Business Phone System

    The flexibility, affordability, and feature-richness of VoIP phone systems make them vastly superior to KSU and PBXs, regardless of your business’s size. With so many providers to choose from, though, how do you know which business phone system is right for you?

    Along with the cost and ease of use, look for a provider that offers all of the features you need. CloudTalk offers all of the business phone features that we looked at above, from call monitoring, call queues, and transfers, to skills-based call routing, workflow automation, and powerful AI features. 

    Plus, the AI-powered calling solution is designed to meet the needs of every industry use case. Our customers’ industries range from telecommunications to banking, automotive, ecommerce, and many more. 

    Curious to know how it all works?

    Try out CloudTalk for free or get in touch with our sales team for more info.


    What Type of Business Phone System is Best For Small Businesses?

    The best phone system for small business use is a VoIP-based phone solution hosted in the cloud. Unlike KSU and on-premises PBX systems, VoIP solutions offer cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and scalability, as well as advanced phone features for small business needs.

    What Are The Most Important Business Phone Features For a Growing Business?

    Growth-focused businesses should look out for phone solutions that offer a range of international numbers to support expansion. 

    CRM integrations and workflow automation features are also high-priority because they help you manage increasingly complex workflows. And don’t forget call analytics, which are fundamental for monitoring and analyzing performance as you scale.

    How Do I Install a Business Phone System For My Business?

    Installing a VoIP-based phone system is simple, as your provider handles the complex stuff. On your part, all you need to do is install your chosen provider’s software on your devices, select or port your phone numbers, and set up your call routing rules. 

    In contrast, KSU and PBX phone systems require extensive physical setup and configuration.