Picking the perfect VoIP provider is a big decision for any company or professional. Whether you are transitioning from a traditional telephony system or considering switching to another VoIP provider this article will provide all the information you need to know to pick the right VoIP provider.
Comparing VoIP Solutions
As you compare VoIP providers, it’s important to first take time to understand your organizational needs when it comes to communication. Know what goals you are trying to meet with your phone system. Make sure to take into account how your organization may evolve over time. This will help you to make decisions about the features and options that you need.
You should consider:
- Business scalability
- Current limitations
- Desired features
- Hardware and software
- System integration
- IT and tech resources
- Compliance needs
- Reliability and call quality
- Cost comparison
Finally, you will want to examine the quality and cost of any VoIP provider that can deliver what your organization needs.
As your organizational needs increase, your phone system must be able to scale to accommodate more team members and customers. You want a VoIP provider that can scale quickly as your business grows. You also want the option to cut back on services during slow times.
You need to take an objective look at the limitations of your current systems, your monthly costs, and your frustrations. Ask your team members what frustrates them about your current system. By asking that question, you may find they have complaints they haven’t voiced. Once you identify the weak points, you need to make sure your VoIP provider can solve these concerns.
You will also want to create an itemized list of the features you need and want in a phone system to fairly evaluate vendors.
Most VoIP providers will offer some or all of these features. Depending on your business needs, some items may not apply. While you don’t want to pay for features you don’t use, you do want to make sure these services can be added in the future:
- Unlimited long-distance calling
- Free (or reduced) long-distance calling
- Team messaging or instant messaging
- Call Recording
- Automatic call routing
- Call forwarding
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
- Call analytics
- Management dashboard
- Mobile functionality
- Third-party integration
In addition, you will want to make sure you can add VoIP Clients to existing hardware, such as desktop computers, and apps for your mobile devices to take full advantage of the savings VoIP can provide.
If you have existing analog handsets, you may want to add analog adapters to continue using them. As an option, you may want to consider changing to new plug-and-play VoIP compatible handsets for your team.
You will have the option of a physical PBX system to route your VoIP calls or a virtual PBX system that lives in the cloud. Each has its advantages and costs.
Make sure your provider can provide the hardware and software you need.
Depending on your workflow, you need to decide whether it’s important that your provider can integrate with your internal systems. For example, if your organization uses a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software and places a lot of outgoing calls, you will want to make sure you can easily integrate with your VoIP system for click-to-call from the CRM.
Your Tech Resources
The choices of a VoIP provider will also determine the level of technical expertise you need on staff. Not all organizations have dedicated IT staff on-site. Managed VoIP systems can be managed in the cloud without a lot of technical knowledge. If this describes your organization, make sure to do a hands-on demonstration of the cloud-based interface to see how easy it is to navigate.
One of the key advantages to VoIP in the cloud is the ability to quickly add, change, or remove lines. Unlike the local phone company that has to install copper lines or make changes to your PBX system, VOIP allows for fast changes without construction costs.
When it comes to installing a VoIP phone system or changing providers, you need a solid understanding of what’s involved in setting up and managing the system. This includes any training and tech support you may need after installation.
Many industries have strict compliance regulations. If you are involved with healthcare, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rules dictate how you deal with the privacy and security of medical information. If that’s the case, your system needs to be HIPAA-compliant.
Other industries require secure systems for data management, which may include any cloud-based connections.
Make sure you understand which – if any – regulations may impact your organization and determine whether your VoIP provider can certify compliance.
Reliability and Call Quality
When comparing services, you will want to understand their reliability measures. Do you need a backup system in case your internet service fails?
The days of poor-quality internet calls are over. In most areas, VoIP call quality will be no different than what you get with landlines or mobile phones. Place a few calls to the provider, or run a test using their connections, and judge for yourself.
VoIP provides significant cost savings over traditional phone services from the local phone company. However, VoIP providers will have different pricing strategies and offerings. Costs may also vary depending on which features are available. It’s important you put together a list of things you need and do a side-by-side comparison of the same feature sets.
You will want to examine:
- Monthly fees
- TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
- Initial set-up, installation, and training
- Any ongoing upgrade, maintenance, or service fees
- Cost savings of 50 percent or more are not uncommon compared to traditional phone services.
How To Pick the Perfect VoIP Phone Provider
Make a list of what you need and do an apples-to-apples comparison. The right VoIP phone solution will provide you the quality of services you need at a price that’s right for you.
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