In recent years the choices between business phone systems have increased rapidly as the field of digital communication has grown. An office that used a simple system of a few phone lines now may have a diverse set of features to increase efficiency of time and productivity.

Perhaps one of the most useful applications of business phone systems are the ability for live call screening. This allows for the monitoring of incoming calls as they are being recorded into the mailbox, and the intercepting of them using the telephone’s speaker or handset, for more privacy.

Business phone systems have evolved in all areas, including the user interface. There is a variety of wireless hands-free headsets allowing increased mobility, comfort of the user’s position and the ability to remain available while away from a workstation. Noise canceling features allow for crystal clear speech even in environments with distracting ambient noise.

Voice mail has become an important part of business phone requirements, and extends beyond simple voice mail and automated attendant service. There are multi-lingual options and custom designs tailored to the specific needs of any business, including the answering and routing of incoming calls to the assigned extensions with the possibilities of call screening, call blocking and intercom paging.

The call-screening feature records the caller's name and announces it to the extension user before transferring the call. There is also a callback number entry feature that collects the telephone number of a caller before, after or instead of recording a message, and includes it in the user's beeper notification. The user's pager then displays the caller’s number, allowing the call to be returned without first having to retrieve the recorded message.

On some of today’s business phone equipment, there’s also the feature of not having to look at a phone to identify certain callers. For example, with Panasonic’s Caller ID Name Announcement, a user can store up to 120 pre-recorded audio messages that match caller ID numbers, to be played through the telephone’s handset. Panasonic’s Caller ID Personal Greeting also allows up to four personal greetings to be recorded and assigned to specific phone numbers. On receiving a call from one of those specific numbers, the corresponding recording is played.

The efficiency of communication is increased in many business phone applications by enhanced message notification. Many systems notify users with message lamps on their extensions, a pager notification to call their mailbox, a pager display of a phone or intercom number or a forwarding call or message to a predetermined telephone number.

Aside from these everyday features, many of today’s systems can accommodate several custom greetings for holidays and play them on the specific days.

Many of the business phone networks in today’s offices can support more than a thousand individual, password-protected mailboxes, holding up to a hundred messages each. The messages heard on dialing each number can be a general greeting, an “after-hours” message or a “busy” greeting letting the callers know if the user’s on another call or away from their desk.

The business phone system of today’s office may be chosen from an extremely diverse array of innovative and efficient options.

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