If you are reading this, chances are that you are one of those businesses that have read all the great reviews about the new VoIP phone system and its game changing advantages. You have probably realised its worth and have decided to get one for your business as well. Great! Deciding to switch over from your old traditional phone system to the new face of business communication is the first step towards getting a better phone system for your company. The next step being choosing from a bunch of VoIP phone system providers, you now have to be careful with every step you take.
You have done your research and listed out the top VoIP phone system providers in your city. But what now? How do you differentiate between them to ultimately figure out which provider is best for your business? Sure, all of them offer great deals and prices and promise great service, but that is simply to attract more customers. Costing and pricing is not the only parameter that you need to consider.
We all know that some are better suited for your company than others. You just need to figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff and pick out the best VoIP phone service provider for your business. But how do you do that? Well, you can start by asking these 10 simple questions to your prospective providers before you seriously consider taking up their service.
Question 1 : How do they ensure seamless call quality?
We have all heard praise about the superior quality audio and video services that VoIP offers today. However, back in the early days of VoIP, the call quality lagged far behind the traditional phone systems. Even today, the call quality offered by VoIP phone system providers depends largely on a variety of factors like your internet speed, the voice codecs used by your provider, QoS configuration and also the particular protocol system that your service uses.
Different VoIP phone system providers target different areas and prioritise accordingly. For example, some go for lower data usage and speed, while others aim for the best possible call quality. Different vendors thus develop their codes differently, thereby resulting in largely differing call quality and bandwidth.
You need to make sure that your priority – speed vs quality – is in sync with that of your service provider. You also need to make sure that your vendor has a back up plan in case the quality plunges on a given date. Also, call quality doesn’t simply refer to the clarity of the audio that you receive. It also covers any call drops, echoes, line disturbances and missing words that one might encounter during a call.
You should thoroughly go through how your provider plans to maintain the call quality throughout his service and even do a few test runs if possible, just to be sure.
Question 2 : How much is their VoIP phone system service actually going to cost you?
When it comes to parting with money from your wallet, the costs incurred by a VoIP phone system are not just limited to the discounted price flashed across your service providers’ website. The real cost of a VoIP phone system is in fact quite different. What most VoIP phone system providers do not tell you is that you will also need to pay for a ton of other stuff that is required in order to properly utilise the VoIP service.
For example, you may need to upgrade your equipments to access some of the more advanced features or get a faster internet connection to support high quality internet calling.
In addition, you may eventually need to increase the number of lines depending upon your number of users. Think about when your company starts to grow and expand and more and more employees start coming in everyday. You will have to upgrade and provide separate handsets to all of them. Looking up close, the price may not be at par with what you were initially offered by VoIP phone system providers.
Ask your provider about the flexibility of their service and how they plan to be in step with the growth of your business. Draw up a rough estimate and customise it according to the needs of your business to get an idea of the real cost involved.
Question 3 : What provisions do they have for customer support and service?
Even though the VoIP phone systems are pretty easy to use and maintain, you may still require technical support from your service provider. Whether it is a billing issue or merely the matter of troubleshooting bugs, you should be able to get in touch with your provider without any hassle.
Before settling with a service provider, ask them about all the different channels – email, social networking sites, phones – through which you can contact them in case of any problems. VoIP phone system providers which have multiple channels open to reach them are the safer option to go for in case your phone or the internet is not working someday.
But just reaching them and laying out your problem is not enough. You also need to find out how fast your problem will be looked into and resolved. Be sure to collect other relevant data like how long do they take to respond to emails or send in a support team to fix your problem. After all, if dysfunctional phones are not immediately looked into, then your business is bound to suffer huge losses.
Question 4 : What measures do the VoIP phone system providers take to provide security and maintain privacy?
By using a VoIP phone system, you are essentially uploading all your call details and contacts on the cloud. Making internet based calls is definitely not the safest communication method out there. The internet has criminals lurking around every corner, waiting to hack into your system and access confidential information.
The worst can, however, be avoided with the right security measures. You must ensure that all the VoIP phone system providers that you are considering have top notch security systems in order to keep your company data protected.
Apart from your service provider, you will also need to be cautious while using your VoIP phone systems. Simple things like avoiding a public network to access your phone system can go a long way in terms of security!
Question 5 : Which services are included in their package and which ones are add-ons?
It often happens that VoIP phone system providers give you a long list of features and facilities of their VoIP service. You buy a package thinking you will be receiving all of those exciting features. However, you later realise that most of the features mentioned are add-on features that you need to additionally pay for.
To avoid such misunderstandings, you should clearly ask your potential VoIP phone system providers which services are included in the package and which ones are not. This will also enable you to draw up a rough estimate of how much a VoIP phone system is going to cost you depending upon which features you would like to use.
Instead of blaming your service provider and feeling cheated later, it is better to get a clear vision right from the beginning!
Question 6 : How many years of VoIP business experience do they have?
How VoIP phone system providers handle customer conflicts and technical issues all depends on how much experience they have had. As the VoIP industry is gaining popularity, new vendors and service providers are popping up every other day. While we should all encourage new startups, one should not do it at the cost of one’s business.
The longer a company has been in service, the most experience they will have in dealing with the VoIP system and the better service they will provide. From fixing bugs to resolving other technical issues, an experienced provider can deal with it all!
Other than this, you will also have a customer base which you can refer to. Depending on their reviews, you will be able to determine whether the respective VoIP service provider will be suitable for your business or not.
Question 7 : Are their VoIP phone services globally spread?
Being globally spread means that the prospective VoIP phone system providers have offices in cities across the globe. Their services are not restricted to your locality, but are widespread across various countries.
Having several data centres gives a lot of significant advantages to the clients. One being that in case there is any disruption or issue at one data centre, then the others can pick up the burden without any hassle to the users. Another instance when this will prove to be a huge advantage is when and if you decide to take your business global. Choosing a VoIP service provider which offers global connectivity and service will enable you to expand globally without incurring significant call or communication costs.
Question 8 : Which hardware and platform options does their service support?
Another important question you must ask all VoIP phone system providers that you are considering is what hardware and platform options are compatible with their service. VoIP as a service does not require any specific hardware for support but there are some hardware devices that are better suited than the rest. You need to make sure that the service provider you are considering offers your desired hardware and platform options.
To better understand the responses to this question, you must do your research and study about the various hardware and platform options that are available for the VoIP service. You should then single out those that fulfil all your business needs.
Question 9 : Do the VoIP phone system providers require any on site devices for their service?
The whole concept behind the VoIP phone system is that you do not necessarily need any external on site devices to use it. One of the primary features of the VoIP phone service is that you can access and use it from any device with a working internet connection. Thus, if any of the VoIP phone system providers require on-site devices for their service, then it essentially defeats the entire purpose of a hosted PBX service.
If you want to be sure of choosing the right fish from among a pond of VoIP phone system providers, then be sure to ask them these 9 questions before you get started! CallHippo is the trusted VoIP phone service provider for several businesses in over 50 countries around the world. Sign up now to know more about what we have to offer!