The best business phone systems for restaurants provide basic and advanced call management features. Most platforms offer several subscriptions, allowing owners to choose the combination of tools for their budget and establishment.
Auto-Attendant and IVR
Modern restaurant phone services greet callers automatically with a virtual receptionist. For example, the auto-attendant menu may ask the caller to press 1 to place an order, 2 to speak with a manager or 3 to reach the host. Some providers offer an IVR system, which allows for self-service, such as letting customers hear that night’s dinner specials or business hours.
Desktop and Mobile Apps
Softphone applications turn mobile phones, tablets and computers into communication devices that allow you to make and receive calls, join video or audio conferences, send faxes or share files while messaging with your kitchen manager.
Business Phone Number
Nearly all cloud-based phone services for restaurants include a toll-free or local business phone number with plans. VoIP numbers aren’t bound to a dedicated line, meaning you can log in to your account from any internet-connected device and access your phone and service.
With call forwarding, you can automatically send inbound calls to another number, including your cell phone, landline or voicemail. This feature is invaluable for small business owners who need to handle an emergency or grab supplies midday but still must be available to accept incoming calls.
Growing restaurants experiencing high call volumes decrease caller wait times with the ring groups tool. When a customer presses 1 for reservations or takeout, this feature rings all lines associated with the ring group, either in a sequence or simultaneously.
Cloud-based phone systems also support internal communications. Several VoIP providers offer intercom or overhead paging features. Aside from letting customers know when their tables are ready, an announcement service can help when a guest leaves their vehicle lights on in the parking lot, for example. During the dinner rush, it’s much easier to make an announcement than to ask your servers to go table to table.
Voicemail comes standard with restaurant phone systems, but it’s also common to see visual voicemail tools, like voicemail-to-email or voicemail-to-text notifications. Because many consumers expect transcribed voicemails, VoIP providers now transcribe messages so you can scan your messages behind the counter discreetly.
Call Flip and Multiring
Call flip and multiring tools are must-have features for restaurant managers and owners. Suppose you start a conversation with a supplier in the back office but need to confirm details by heading to the stockroom. In that case, you’d appreciate the ability to seamlessly switch a call from your desk phone to your cell phone. Likewise, with multiring, calls to your business number ring your cell phone and office phone (or any device you choose) so you never miss a call.
Hold Music and Messaging
Several phone services for restaurants include hold music or messaging capabilities. This feature lets you upload tunes that match your brand or insert a promotional message. While a quick response is best, on-point messaging and music are better than dead air.
Call Reports and Analytics
Business intelligence and reporting tools vary by provider. At a minimum, VoIP services give call logs with a record of inbound and outbound calls. Advanced systems can analyze call queues, customer sentiment and more. With the correct data, restaurant owners can use the information to adjust business hours and labor to ensure phone coverage and profitability.
Nextiva, RingCentral and Dialpad offer standard and add-on voice analytics tools. These AI-powered features provide details about caller sentiment and can help restaurant owners decide when to hire or schedule more staff to meet higher call volumes.
Typically found on higher-priced plans, call queues are best for restaurants with high call volumes. This feature places callers in a waiting line until someone can speak with them. Sophisticated phone systems with call queues allow fast-paced eateries to manage multiple lines and guest needs (such as delivery, takeout, reservations, complaints, multilocations and catering).
Most internet-based phone systems connect to Microsoft and Google calendars and contacts. Some sync with point-of-sale (POS) or CRM systems, like HubSpot, Salesforce and Zendesk. However, most VoIP phone services don’t have built-in integrations for reservation platforms, online ordering systems or employee scheduling tools.
Although restaurant owners and managers use video conferencing less than other businesses do, this tool still comes in handy when you’re negotiating pricing face-to-face with vendors or landlords. Also, multilocation establishments can pull their management team together in one virtual room to prepare for upcoming events. Most VoIP services offer basic video conferencing features, including screen sharing and recording.
Team Messaging and SMS
A cloud-based private branch exchange (PBX) system unifies several communication methods on a single platform so your staff and guests aren’t limited to voice calls. Consider using private and public chat messaging rooms to improve employee onboarding, training and feedback experiences.
Some VoIP providers offer failover options in case of an internet outage. You can configure lines to automatically forward to alternate phone numbers, an internet service provider or a failover connection.
If your restaurant relies on delivery and takeout orders, speak with a VoIP representative about possible failover solutions. In most cases, your establishment requires top business internet services
for several tools (payment processing and POS systems). Therefore, an uninterruptible power supply, a specialized router backup device or a generator may be a better option.