A VoIP phone number is fundamentally analogous to the other…
5 Things You Need to Know about Your VoIP Provider
Posted on: 2017-01-06 | Categories: VoIP Services
Upgrading to VoIP – whether it is hosted services or your very own SIP deployment – can be the single best communication decision you make for your business. VoIP is a significant upgrade to the centuries old PSTN network. It brings voice calling into the 21st century alongside email and instant messaging, tools that are an integral part of enterprise communication strategies.
But it can also go terribly wrong. It’s not very difficult to switch over to VoIP but you will hit obstacles if you don’t know what you’re doing. Instead of the smooth and hassle free upgrade you wanted, you can end up with an expensive, time consuming project that brings few benefits to your company. So how do you avoid going down that road?
Selecting a VoIP Provider
One factor that is crucial to success in your VoIP efforts is selecting the right VoIP provider. Notice the word ‘right’ in that sentence. It’s not about picking the most expensive service or the highest rated vendor out of a random list. What you need to do is choose the provider that is a good fit for your business.
You should pick the service that offers what you need, not the one which offers everything under the sun. After all, why pay for tools you won’t use? VoIP is flexible and scalable, so you can always add features when you feel the need for them.
Here is what you should know about your provider before making a decision:
What is their Experience/Track Record?
This is more than just how long the provider has been in business. Sure, length of experience matters. A company that has been providing the service for 5 years is going to have more experience dealing with the technology than a startup. But it’s far from the only aspect that matters.
Ask for specific details about the vendor’s history like what kind of companies they target, who are their customers and what industries they operate in. Do they cater to multinational corporations or small businesses? Are most of their customers in a particular industry and if so, is there a reason for it?
How Customizable is the VoIP Service Itself?
Sometimes your business needs are pretty straight forward and almost any service will fit the bill. Then again, you might have quite complex requirements which means you need the ability to customize. VoIP technology allows for customization but the extent of what is possible depends on the provider. So if you’re looking for a service that you can adapt to your needs, check that the VoIP provider supports customization. Otherwise, you’re stuck with an off the shelf solution which is not right for the job.
Does the VoIP Provider Own the Service or Resell It?
Most reputable vendors own and operate their own VoIP solution. Other providers may simply be resellers. What are they? A reseller is someone who takes a ‘white label solution’ and puts their own branding on top of it. Then they sell the service to end users.
The issue with that particular model is that the reseller may have very little control of the user experience or service. What happens when you have a problem or if the service is temporarily unavailable? Who should you call? Can the reseller help you with troubleshooting or are you stuck until the service provider can fix it?
Does the Provider Comply with VoIP Legislation?
If your organization has offices around the world, your provider should have the capability to serve you everywhere. In an era where government surveillance is assumed to happen by default, many countries have tightened data privacy and security laws.
You should find out which countries the provider has data centers in and what security precautions are in place. Can they comply with privacy and security laws in all the countries you operate in? You don’t want to sign on the dotted line only to find out they can’t serve your offices in Germany for some reason.
Does the Vendor Have Business Continuity Plans?
Phones are the lifeline for your business and there is never a ‘good’ time for a problem. On the other hand, any technology or enterprise system will go down at some point or the other. No one can offer 100% guarantees. So the best thing you can do is to be prepared. Ask the vendor what plans they have for disaster or emergency management. When someone else is managing crucial services for you, their problems become yours by extension. It’s not enough if your offices are protected against natural or man made disasters, theirs should be too!
So take your time, do your research and find out all you can about a VoIP provider before making the leap.