How do I Choose a VoIP Provider? – Things to ConsiderPosted on: 2016-12-06 | Categories: VoIP Services
Selecting the right service provider is comparatively simple for individuals or households. You don’t have to consider too many variables. Normally we just think about price and what features we get. We do not have to worry about integration with other systems, training, long term depreciation or ROI over a span of decades. The process isn’t much different for appliances, electronic gadgets or even stuff like clothes.
But businesses have many more aspects to contend with, especially when it comes to choosing a provider for one of their services. Moreso if the service is in any way crucial to proper functioning of the company or their product. An organization is going to put more thought and approvals over who supplies their IT equipment than over who does the landscaping for the head office.
Voice communication systems are very important for any type of business, regardless of industry type or market segment. It doesn’t matter if you run a small business with a team of professional consultant, a chain of clothing boutiques or a large multi national conglomerate – voice if crucial. This is why selecting the right VoIP provider is so important.
If you go with a vendor who doesn’t offer much in the way of tech support, what use is it if the service itself has the best or more powerful features? Sooner or later you will have bugs or problems that need to be resolved and your phones may be unusable until the vendor fixes it. Conversely companies often end up overpaying for features when a little bit of comparison shopping beforehand could have easily halved their bill. Or an organization that desperately wants to cut costs gets phone service from the cheapest VoIP provider and then regrets it because the service cannot handle the traffic, configuration or business needs.
Choosing a VoIP Provider
There is no simple flowchart for choosing a provider. No easy solution like “Choose the best vendor” (best for whom?) or “Opt for the cheapest service”. Research will play a big role in every part of the process: searching for vendors who have what you want, whittling down the list to something manageable and then finally selecting the service which will help keep your business competitive.
Identify the gaps in your current solution
There are some basic rules of thumb that you can follow when searching for a provider. But even before you look at the various providers and types of service in the market, you should know what you want. Even if you don’t have a clear idea of VoIP, the underlying technology or what features would be useful for you. You should know what needs or problems that your existing voice communication system is not addressing.
Perhaps your workforce has increased beyond the capacity of the on premise traditional PBX system that you use currently. Or you want to improve the productivity of your sales team. Suppose your existing system doesn’t integrate very well with all the other enterprise systems that you use for business processes. You may simply want to cut costs because revenues are down. All these are legitimate reasons to seek out VoIP services. It is not easy to find something if you don’t know what you are looking for.
Ask around for recommendations
VoIP has been around for a long time and is part of the mainstream. Chances are that someone you know or do business with has already been through this journey to upgrade from PSTN. They can help you with recommendations, criteria for shortlisting, their own experiences, or how to go about inviting bids from vendors. Do keep in mind that the vendor they have may not exactly be suitable for you but you can consider them if your business needs are similar.
Even if you don’t personally know anyone who can help, there is always the Internet. There are many forums, websites and groups where you can ask questions about VoIP technology or look through suggested lists of vendors. These are all available resources, so use them to reduce the total time you spend on the process.
Select a VoIP Provider Based on Your Criteria
Now there is not a single set of predetermined criteria that would work for all companies. So price, quality and faxing might be important to you whereas another company might be more interested in unified communication features and not care about the price at all. Other than features and price, you should consider customer support. That is very important and primarily what differentiates the average from the best providers. It might not seem important to you now but the moment something goes wrong, customer support is what you need foremost.
After that, there’s nothing much left to do but implement your new VoIP service. Always remember that switching between providers is not that hard, so don’t be afraid to move if the vendor fails to fulfill your needs.