7 Features to Look for in a Business Phone System

Originally posted on October 8, 2020 @ 6:44 pm

Phone System Features


When you’re creating a new business phone system, it can be difficult to know what features and functions you’ll need for it. We’re here to help. The following article will take you through features that you’ll likely need for your professional phone system.

Additionally, the big seven that we identify in this list are all covered and provided for by Interwest Communications cloud-hosted voice service. You can find out more about our professional phone services, and more information and helpful resources on our blog, or contact us with any questions.


Basic Phone System Features

Here is a quick general overview of features that most businesses will need from a phone system.

  • Call control – The ability to screen, transfer, and block unwanted calls.

  • Collaboration – The system’s ability to do functions like conference calls.

  • Mobility – Flexibility and mobility of service from multiple devices or locations.

  • Voicemail – Voicemail service that allows you to record outgoing messages, receive voicemail, and archive voicemail messages and caller information.

  • Messaging – The ability to send and receive different types of messages, such as SMS and E-mail.

  • Contacts – A functioning catalog of contacts that allows users for easy correspondence.

  • Scalability – How flexible the system is and can scale with the size of the business to meet its needs.

  • Security – How protected the system is from various incursions, unauthorized access, and threats to data loss and corruption.

Top Ten Business Phone System Features

7 Key Professional Phone System Features

In addition to the basic features a phone system offers, businesses will need features that expand on the basics to meet their needs and improve customer service experience. These are the professional phone system features that businesses need:

1. Call Management

Call management optimizes basic phone system features and makes the user interface more accessible and convenient.

Incoming Call Blocking

With our service, you can blacklist phone numbers to block them from calling your PBX.

Concurrent Call Limiting

Configure the maximum number of concurrent calls a single account can make at a time. This gives unprecedented control over your phone system and its users.

Dynamic CID

Use a feature code to change your outbound caller ID number to any number in the same account.

Softphone Compatibility

Our switch is compatible with all softphone vendors using SIP protocol to register and make/receive calls.

Incoming Call Identification

Identify an incoming call on the phone’s LCD display by modifying the Caller ID display indicating how the call was routed.


Call into the hosted PBX, enter a PIN and receive a dial tone. This feature gives users the ability to present an office caller ID number when calling from an outside line.

Hot Desking

Ability for a user to log into another user’s phone and make/receive calls as if the phone was their own.

Call Park

Park a call and illuminate a light on multiple phones. You have the ability to pick that call up from any phone in the account.

Disable Outbound Dialing

Disable outbound dialing on certain extensions only for increased data security.

Office Intercom

Dial another user’s extension, activating their phone speaker to make an announcement.

Caller ID Blocking

Disable Caller-ID for outbound calls made from your PBX.

Forward Calls via Phone or Web

Call forwarding is easy to set up and manage from a smartphone or web browser.

Dial By Name Directory

A system directory automatically built when every device user is created. Callers can call into the directory and dial by name to be transferred.

Holiday Routing

Route calls to each extension differently based on  holiday hours You can create global holidays or account-specific holidays.

Speed Dial

A device or SoftPhone feature that automates the dialing of a pre-determined phone number.

Call Routing Based on Special Hours

Allows routing decisions based on time and date. Multiple schedules can be configured as in the case of departments with different hours of operation.

Call Waiting Indicator

Indicates incoming call (and caller ID, if available) while another call is in process.

Do-Not-Disturb (DND)

A device or SoftPhone feature that simulates a phone being off-hook, sending calls received directly into voicemail. Other routing options are also available.

One Button Redial

A device or SoftPhone feature that redials the last number dialed by the extension user. Not all phones support this feature.

Incoming Call Identification

Identify an incoming call on the phone’s LCD display by modifying the Caller ID display indicating how the call was routed.

Outgoing Call Restriction

Prevent calls to specific zones such as high-rate, international, Caribbean, US Domestic, or US-Toll Free.

Incoming DID Routing

Route calls based on the number that was dialed.Calls may be routed to a Menu, extension, group, phone number, or PBX.

Busy Call Forwarding

Automatically forwards your calls to an extension, group, phone number when a phone is busy.

Call Forwarding

Forward calls via the Portal, or via your device or SoftPhone. Calls may be forwarded to any extension or phone number. Forwarding functionality is server-side so there are no compatibility issues with different manufacturers.

VM to VM Transfer

Forward a voicemail to another mailbox right from the phone. Allows the sender to prepend the voicemail with their own message to the receiver.

Direct to Voicemail

Transfer calls directly to the voicemail inbox.

Unattended Transfer (Blind Transfer)

Transfer a call to another extension, group, or phone number WITHOUT announcing the party being transferred.

Attended Transfer

Transfer a call to an extension, group, or phone number AFTER announcing the party being transferred.

Call Hold

Place calls on hold, and play music or a commercial for the duration on hold.

User Dashboard

Portal log in for a device user. Allows access to their CDRs, voicemail, call routing, and quick call.

2. Call Conferencing

Call conferencing is a must-have for any business, and Interwest offers a full range of features and services in this area on our cloud-hosted voice service.

Commercial On Hold

Easily record your on-hold commercial and upload it to your PBX via the Portal.

Custom Music On Hold

Create hold music with music you provide and upload through the Customer Portal.

Default Music On Hold

Royalty-free music that plays while a customer is on hold.

Conference Bridge

With a conference bridge, multiple on-site and outside callers can simultaneously participate in password-protected conference calls. Callers can be assigned talk-listen or listen-only access.

3-Way Conference Call

After making or receiving a call, a user may conference in any third party for a 3-way call.

3. Menus

If you have customers frequently engaging with your business through phone systems, organized and efficient menu hierarchies are a must.

 Top-level menu (always on)

Allows callers to select from menu options using a standard telephone keypad. Through the portal interface, calls can be routed to extensions, mailboxes, groups, conference rooms, or unlimited depths of additional menus.

Multiple top-level menus (always on)

Allows for separate telephone numbers to be routed to unique top-level menus. Each menu is configurable individually.

Top-level menu (time-based)

Available after an owner-defined amount of rings or based on time of day.

Sub-level menu

Sub-level menus are often used for different departments within an organization. For instance, you may have a main menu for the company, and then a sub-level menu for sales, support, etc.

4. Device Provisioning

A key feature of any phone system is the ability to provision and assign different devices to different users within the system. Here are some of the features Interwest offers in this area:

Device Auto-Provisioning

Automatically creates provisioning files for supported devices so you need only to set up the network and plug them in. Steps vary based on the manufacturer.

Line Key Adjustment

Create line keys for call park, speed dial, and BLF right in the portal, then reboot the phone.

Custom Code

Create your own provisioning templates for currently supported devices, or even BYOD (bring your own devices) that we don’t currently auto-provision.

5. Reporting

An essential feature of any system is the ability to aggregate and report on gathered data. That data can then be used for analysis and improvements to customer service.

Call Detail Records

Real-time call logging is available via the portal. From, to, call duration, date and time, and call type (International, On-Net, etc).

Call Volume Graphs

Histograms graphically display calling patterns and trends by time of day, month, a year, or custom dates.

Call Path Usage

Track the maximum concurrent calls in a given period to determine when it’s time to expand or contract different call paths.

6. Network Design

No matter what service you choose, you want to make sure that it’s on a reliable network that is designed to handle stress and strain. Interwest makes this a top priority.

Completely Geo-Redundant

100% Geo-redundant circuits allow for failover to either of our data centers in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Registrations Live in Database

All device registrations live in a fully-replicated, redundant database cluster so any device can use any server in any data center at any time.

VoIP Network Operations Centers

Full NOC in our Las Vegas and Philadelphia data centers to provide a short circuit between you and your customers no matter the location.


7. Call Origination & Termination

Where calls begin and end is essential to the cost and reliability of call routing. Interwest takes this into consideration and offers the best voice connection with the following services:

Domestic origination

Provides local phone numbers or DIDs (Direct inward Dialing)  in most of the LATAs (Local Access and Transport Areas) in the United States. That means that we can port your local phone number to our system, and provide your company with the highest quality voice communications and flexibility of Voice Over IP (VoIP).

Domestic termination

Provides competitive outbound call packages ranging from pay-as-you-go, pre-paid minutes, and unlimited usage plans. Our per minute rate is competitive, and our quality and reliability is uncompromising.

International termination

Offers competitive international rates. International rates are available via the website.

SIP trunking

Have your own PBX, and want to realize the flexibility and cost savings of business-quality VoIP? We offer ATA and SIP Gateway devices, or you can connect your SIP enabled PBX to our network and realize the benefits of VoIP.

Toll-Free numbers

Utilize one or multiple Toll-Free numbers that may be routed to a specific local DID, Menu, group, or queue.

E911 support, compliant with all FCC mandates

Every location and phone number where you utilize a device or SoftPhone must have an associated E911 charge and entry in the Web Portal. The phone number associated with your location is then registered with the national E911 database.

Features Offered by Interwest’s Cloud-Hosted Voice Service

Interwest’s professional phone plan includes everything a business needs. Our cloud-hosted voice service offers advanced features that will allow you to get more out of your phone system than ever before.

  • Local Support Technicians

  • On-site installation & training

  • Keep existing numbers

  • Unlimited Nationwide Calling

  • HD Voice

  • Voicemail to E-mail

Some expanded features can include things like web-based management, mobile applications, call training, integrations with software and other services like Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM), a contact center, analytics, and 24/7 support.


Interwest’s Premium Plan Features

Every business is different and has different needs— whether it’s the size of the business or the nature of their operations and services. Our premium hosted phone plan includes all the capabilities listed above in the professional plan, plus the following additional capabilities:

  • Find Me Follow Me (Routing Logic) – Set up advanced routing where callers can roll over to multiple devices assigned to the same Device User. Variable ring durations and ordering can be selected to meet your preferences.

  • Find Me Follow Me (without Routing Logic) – Define what time of the day to follow a user’s FMFM routing, for not all users want to be followed all day every day

  • Complex Recording – Ability to associate a portal user with specific phone users who are recorded. Ability to specify which actions the portal user can take on the visible recording files from the users they have permission to see/view their recording files.

  • Mobile App – Provides a full featured business experience right from a user’s mobile device. Users will have the ability to use their personal phone in a work application without publishing their mobile number to the world.

  • File Notes – Take notes on recordings and store keywords for easy file retrieval.

  • Archive Recording Files – Automatically FTP recording files off to your own FTP server for archive purposes.

  • Fax to HTTPS – Create a Fax account for inbound faxes to email and outbound emails to remote fax machines.

  • Fax over T.38 – ATA devices registered to our fax server allows for inbound and outbound faxing using T.38 Codec.

  • Call Recording – Selectively determine which users or on-premise PBXs to record outbound or inbound calls.

  • Dynamic Call Recording – Gives the hosted user or on-premise PBX the ability to start/stop recording a call by dialing a star code while in a conversation.

  • Fax Boxes – Fax boxes allow for inbound fax to email communication (inbound only at this time).

Interwest offers the phone system features businesses need, including local support— 24/7 technical support, local techs based in Eastern Washington, and guaranteed response times so you’re not waiting around for solutions. We provide a solid, stable, and scalable product line with an unmatched level of customer service and support by highly trained professionals.

Whether you need help Choosing the Best Phone System for Your Business, or you’re interested in Cloud-Based Vs On-Premise PBX Phones, we’re there when you need help. Our local technicians can assist 24/7, whether that means a visit out to your location or just a quick phone call.