In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations need an effective communication and collaboration platform that goes beyond a conventional phone system.
There are many benefits to using VoIP for your business’s communication needs, such as improved scalability, mobility, flexibility, cost-efficiency, and productivity.
Many VoIP service providers also offer features in addition to voice calls, such as video conferencing, screen sharing, instant messages, and file sharing to deliver a unified communication solution.
However, with so many vendors vying for your attention, it can be overwhelming and confusing to select a service that’s right for your company.
Here are the key factors to consider when choosing a VoIP provider:
1. On-Premise vs. Hosted Solution
Most VoIP services are “hosted” or cloud-based, which are becoming more popular thanks to its many advantages — e.g., the provider will be responsible for the maintenance of your phone system and there’s minimum hardware needed on-site.
A cloud-based solution also requires a low upfront investment and you don’t have to worry about hiring a large IT team for on-going maintenance.
Whether you choose an on-premise or a hosted solution, your vendor should manage the installation and routine update of your system and equipment to ensure the highest quality of service.
2. Plan and Pricing
A cloud-based VoIP service allows you to purchase just the right level of capabilities when you need it so you can optimize your operating budget without paying for capacities you don’t need.
This is particularly helpful if your business is fast expanding or experiences seasonal fluctuations in communication needs.
Most VoIP vendors offer a variety of plans with different features and capacities. When evaluating your options, consider your business objectives to help decide the key features you need (e.g., calling features, voicemail, video conferencing, instant messages, call routing, etc.)
You should also take into account all the upfront and recurring maintenance costs so you can get a holistic view of your overall budget.
IT downtime can be very costly to businesses in the form of lost revenue, recovery costs, lost productivity, and intangible costs (e.g., reputation, customer satisfaction.)
Consider a provider’s uptime track record when selecting a VoIP service to ensure that you’ll get uninterrupted services. It should also have built-in redundancy to ensure call continuity in the event of a temporary connectivity issue.
In addition, a reputable vendor should have a comprehensive backup and recovery plan in place to minimize interruption while protecting your data.
4. Customer Support
Your business requires a robust communication system to maximize productivity so choose a vendor that offers 24/7 customer support that can offer the help you need when you need it.
When selecting a VoIP vendor, interact with the customer care team to make sure you’re satisfied with the communication channels (e.g., phone, email, live chat,) response time, and customer experience.
You should also consider using a provider that can send a technical team to your location to offer in-person support so you can further lower IT overhead while ensuring uninterrupted services.
Data breaches can cost businesses dearly — the global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. Your VoIP service provider should have the proper cybersecurity measures in place to protect your data.
This is particularly important if you’re in a highly-regulated vertical (e.g., healthcare, finances) since violation of industry guidelines (e.g., HIPAA) could result in hefty fines.
Your vendor should be regularly updating its platform to implement the latest cybersecurity best practices. Also, inquire about the security of their physical location to ensure that the servers housing your data are protected.
In addition, your VoIP provider should offer endpoint security features, such as multi-factor authentication and access control, to help your employees adhere to IT security protocols.
6. Third-Party Integration
Choose a VoIP platform that offers integration with the various software applications that are already used in your business (e.g., CRM software, customer service application, and file sharing platforms) to further improve productivity, enhance cost-efficiency, streamline workflows, and reduce errors.
Besides “built-in” integrations, some VoIP providers also offer APIs so you can connect your existing systems with the communication platform and customize the user experience.
Inquire about this feature and the technical support you’ll receive to implement such third-party system integration so you can incorporate as many of your business functions into one centralized interface as possible to increase efficiency.
Choosing the Right VoIP System For Your Business
Every organization has its unique structure, business objectives, and communication needs. It’s important to consult with a reputable vendor and identify the optimal solution for your company.
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