Virtual phone systems are a popular choice among businesses, especially now that most of us are working from home, the demand has increased further. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software replicates the functionality of an extensive business PBX system for a fraction of money. Plus, they are based on the cloud, so you don’t need any infrastructure to run them.
On top of that, virtual phone systems allow you to buy local and toll-free numbers of any country, enabling you to build a robust local presence in your area of operation. This is probably why almost one-third (31%) of companies globally use VoIP systems.
However, you need a flexible, reliable, and robust VoIP system to keep your business communications running at their best. Choosing an excellent virtual phone system provider requires extensive research and considering your business’s unique requirements.
That said, here is your seven-step guide to choosing a virtual phone system. This guide is effective for businesses of all sizes, from call centers to startups and enterprises. Let’s get started!
1 ) Determine What You Need
To ensure you choose the right virtual phone system provider, you need to determine what you are looking for. Consider what features are essential to your business.
For instance, for small businesses and startups, basic features of virtual phones like call recording, analytics, and voicemail might be sufficient for you. However, if you’re running a call center, you will need advanced features like custom IVR (Interactive Voice Response), on-hold music, call queueing, automatic call distributor, and intelligent call routing.
You should also consider whether you need local numbers or toll-free numbers and whether the provider of your choice offers you that in your country of operation.
2 ) Analyze the Available Features
Now that you know what you need, it’s crucial to make sure the VoIP provider of your choice offers them. Analyzing the feature of virtual phones will help boost your business communication and ensure customer satisfaction. But if you’re not sure what features you should look for, here are some of the important ones:
a ) Auto-Attendant or IVR
It uses automated voice prompts to help navigate callers to the right department. This saves your and your customers time finding the right agent for their needs.
b ) Call forwarding
One of the primary benefits of virtual phone systems is that it allows you to manage business calls from anywhere. In addition, call forwarding helps ensure no call goes unanswered by redirecting the calls to another phone number or extension.
c ) Call transfer
Even with call forwarding, it is essential to have the call transfer feature to redirect customers to the right agent or department.
d ) Analytics
It provides insights into call session metrics, volume trends, agent performance, customer satisfaction, and more.
e ) Voicemail
It gives callers an option to send their message if you cannot answer their call. You can listen to their queries when you’re available and reach out to them with a solution.
While these are the standard features that you must look for in a virtual phone system, there are several advanced functionalities that are good to have. It includes artificial intelligence, auto-dialers, call conferences, call barging, and global connection.
3 ) Determine the Costs Involved
As mentioned above, VoIP systems are based on the cloud. And, they are usually subscription-based. You will have to pay monthly to access the services. The cost of a virtual system for SaaS industry, it is common, however, price is one of the important components in selecting the right provider for your business.
But, the lowest price doesn’t always indicate the best price. You also have to consider the features, service quality, and security in mind.
Here’s a breakdown of the various fees associated with VoIP business phones:
x ) Price per user
You can expect the price per user to run between $15-$30 per month. But it can be more depending on the features you need and can go up as much as $99 per user per month.
y ) Add-on services
Certain features like voicemail to text, artificial intelligence, and number masking come as add-on services. You will need to pay additional charges for them.
z ) Per-minute charges
Your plan will likely include some free minutes. However, for any additional minute, you’ll have to pay additional charges. While the actual amount depends on where you’re calling, it usually ranges from $0.01 to $0.1 per minute.
4 ) Consider Uptime
The cost of communication outages can be huge. Plus, it impacts your customer experience negatively, hurting your word-of-mouth marketing efforts.
Therefore, it is crucial to consider uptime in SLAs (Service Level Agreements). However, no provider will guarantee an uptime of 100% as VoIP systems run on the internet, and unavoidable outages happen once in a while.
Most providers typically guarantee an uptime of 99.999%. This is equivalent to 5.26 minutes of downtime per year.
Remember, a single digit after the decimal can make all the difference. For example, an uptime of 99.99% is equivalent to 52.56 minutes of downtime per year. So, the more numbers after the decimal, the better.
Check what disaster recovery options your VoIP provider offers.
- Do they have multiple data centers to ensure your communications don’t get affected?
- How much time do they take to switch your call traffic from one data center to another?
Also, ask your provider if the service is typically down during maintenance or upgrades and whether that is during weekends or off-hours.
5 ) Check Third-Party Integrations
For example, if your VoIP system integrates with your CRM, it will automatically sync the customer interactions in the system. This saves your time entering the call details manually and minimizes the chances of errors.
Check if your VoIP provider integrates with all the tools that you use in your company or plan to use in the future. Some VoIP providers offer APIs to integrate with any and every app that you use.
6 ) Analyze the Backup and Security of Your Provider
VoIP services are hosted on the cloud and are prone to certain vulnerabilities. Since it is a hub of your business communications, inside-out security measures are even more important.
Therefore, it is recommended to look for a VoIP provider that takes additional measures to safeguard customer data.
For example, at CallHippo, we use high-level encryption and intrusion prevention systems to secure your data.
Another area to focus on is backup. Where does your provider usually keep the backup files? How long are they stored? These things will help you safeguard your data.
7 ) Consider Future Growth
You would not want to switch between VoIP providers very often. Therefore, if you anticipate your business growing in the near future, it is vital to consider if the VoIP system is scalable.
Check the features of the top-tier plans of your VoIP provider to determine whether they are in line with your future goals. Also, consider how easy it is to add new users.
Choosing the right virtual phone system provider isn’t difficult, especially after you’ve read this article. Make sure to follow all the seven steps to get the best out of your investment.
Have any questions regarding choosing a VoIP provider for your business? Shoot them in the comments, and we will address them ASAP!