5 Questions to Ask your VoIP Phone System ProviderPosted on: 2016-12-27 | Categories: VoIP Services
If your company is like most businesses out there, you’ve read about all the great reasons to use hosted VoIP services. You have done your research and know that it’s a good choice for your organization. So now you’re almost ready to upgrade but you are not quite sure how to differentiate between all the service providers out there.
They all offer great deals and promise you will get the best VoIP service possible. But some are better than others and you need to know that you can rely on your VoIP service provider when the need arises. Sure price is important when picking a vendor but so are quality, reliability, experience and expertise.
In fact the price is often the easiest factor to judge and compare between providers. But more often than not the selection of a provider comes down to one of the other variables. So here are 5 important questions you need to ask the provider before you sign on the dotted line. The answers will tell you which vendor will be the best choice for your company.
How do they Make Sure Call quality is Top Notch?
VoIP phone systems have really good quality audio now, a far cry from the earliest attempts. But the call quality depends on a lot of factors – your Internet speeds, the voice codecs that the vendor uses, QoS configurations and even the specific protocol that the system uses. Some codes prioritize quality over bandwidth and others were developed to use as little data as possible.
Your priorities – quality vs speed – should match what the VoIP phone system provider is offering. You should also ask if call quality is covered under the SLA and what the vendor would do if there is a drop in quality for any reason. Call quality is not just about clear sound though. You shouldn’t have dropped calls and conversations should be free of echoes or missing words.
What’s the Real Cost of a VoIP Phone System?
The total cost of VoIP is more than just the sticker price you pay the provider each month. Sometimes you need to upgrade equipment, get a faster Internet connection or even a second line. The cost of VoIP will also depend on how many lines you need, how many users you have and so on. Up close, that great deal you saw in the brochure may not be so cheap after all.
Some VoIP phone system providers offer free consultations to evaluate your infrastructure, so you can make needed changes. At the very least ask for a customized quote so you get a realistic picture of your future costs. What happens when your company grows and expands? Can your provider scale up when your needs change? How much will your costs change then?
What are your Support Options?
With cloud VoIP, you never have to worry about maintaining the phones, upgrading equipment or purchasing software. But you will still need support for technical issues, troubleshooting bugs or even just billing questions. Ask your provider about the hours when support is available, through which channels you can access them and if the price includes all support options. Some vendors may have premium support that you can use if you need to.
You should have more than one way to contact your provider – email, social media, phone, chat etc. This way you have options even if your phones or the Internet goes down. Also ask the vendor how long it takes to resolve support tickets, the time frame for when they respond to an email etc. If your phones go down, you want help as soon as possible.
What Measures do they Take for Security?
A hosted VoIP phone system by definition lives in the cloud and not on your premises. Which means you need to be careful about security – physical, virtual, hardware and software. Your provider should make sure they follow the best cloud security practices. So no one who is not an authorised user should be able to use your phones or network, data should be encrypted to prevent eavesdropping and there should be physical security systems at the data centers.
It’s not just your vendor who should take precautions though. There are steps you can take to protect your network too. If you don’t have experts within your company, you may want to consult someone or even ask the provider about what you can do to secure your phones.
How much Experience do they Have?
New services and businesses are popping up in the VoIP phone system segment quite often. The longer a company has been operating, the more experience they have in running SaaS services. The vendor will know how to handle bugs and fix issues. They will have the expertise to resolve problems quickly and they will be able to anticipate the problems that can come with an online service.
They will also have more clients that you can talk to about quality, service etc. You don’t want your business to be the ‘test run’ for a company that’s just getting off the ground. If possible get testimonials from other customers and even from past clients. Knowing why a client left will let you know what kind of problems you are likely to face.
Ask these 5 questions of every provider you talk to and the answers you get will make your decision making easier.