VoIP is one of the latest technologies creating a buzz…
Choosing a VoIP Provider
Upgrading to VoIP might appear challenging at first but it can be surprisingly easy. The first step for any business should be to check the reliability of their current enterprise network and related hardware as well as Internet speeds and bandwidth availability. If those are deemed sufficient (maybe after upgrading), then comes perhaps the most important step – choosing a VoIP provider.
At this point all but a handful of large organizations will usually decide to opt for hosted VoIP. Not only does it require less upfront investment, long-term maintenance will also not be a concern. But choosing the right VoIP vendor can mean the difference between a successful or failed deployment. Failed doesn’t actually mean that the enterprise doesn’t get VoIP services, it simply means that the system fails to live up to the hype or promises made by the vendor.
Making the wrong choice here could mean that the business will end up overpaying for services received or the updated phone system may not deliver on the vendor’s promises of adding value. Both these situations can make the enterprise regret upgrading to VoIP but unlike traditional carriers, VoIP vendors do not require contracts. At least this makes it easier for the organization to switch later on.
How to choose a VoIP Vendor
There are a number of criteria that an enterprise can look at before deciding on a particular VoIP vendor. Some of them are objective such as how much uptime is promised in the SLA, whether international calling is included in the basic plan, or what kind of audio codecs are used on the network. These factors can easily be determined by simply asking the vendor.
Others will depend on the business needs and requirements, hence they are more subjective by nature. What works for one enterprise may not be sufficient for another. These include aspects like whether the features you require are offered, the quality of customer support and whether the vendor has a good track record or experience in the industry.
Look for the features you need
Sometimes it might be confusing to compare features or rates between various vendors because they all seem to offer a similar portfolio of services. But not every business will need every feature that is being bundled in the plan. Maybe your organization does not need virtual numbers but requires Internet faxing. Sometimes vendors craft their portfolio in such a manner that the features you need will be locked behind upgrades or only available in premium plans, significantly pushing up monthly expenses.
On the other hand, some providers like VoIPstudio make it easy for businesses by simplifying the plans. All the three types of plans include every feature offered by them, with the difference coming down to pay-as-you-go or unlimited options. This means that your business does not have to decide which features it does and does not need. You can start with utilizing the basic features required for your enterprise and add new ones later.
Is the provider a good match for your business?
Some vendors focus on small businesses and optimize their services/pricing plans specifically for them. Others may even offer customized systems that cater to a particular type of industry. It means that their features are designed to fulfill business requirements for those types of organizations, so that the clients can use the system without much modification. For example, Level 7 Systems – the company behind VoIP studio – also offers VoIP services that cater exclusively to the needs of the hospitality sector.
Customer and technical support
This is a very important aspect and is unfortunately glossed over by enterprises. It is inevitable that the organization will run into issues sooner or later – whether it is technical problems, unexpected downtime, billing errors or something else. In these cases, not only should the vendor solve the issues but should respond quickly to customer inquiries and open tickets. Reputable vendors like VoIPstudio will usually offer several resources for support – via email, phone, live chat, user manuals, FAQs and dedicated web-based support centers.
Every minute that your business does not have access to the phone system represents lost revenue. Even excellent support cannot redeem a service if it is frequently unavailable or requires troubleshooting every so often. When selecting a VoIP vendor, make sure that they offer an SLA that clearly spells out the circumstances under which maintenance and upgrades will be scheduled, how much uptime is promised and if/how clients will be compensated for extended outages.
One of the biggest advantages of VoIP is that there are no annual contracts unlike traditional phone carriers. However a few vendors still offer discounts if the organization signs up for an annual contract. While it may be tempting, it is better to utilize the monthly option until you’re convinced that this vendor is the best choice.
VoIPstudio offers competitively priced pay-as-you-go and unlimited plans, none of which require any commitment from your organization. It means the company will constantly innovate and introduce new features because clients are free to leave if they don’t like the service any longer. They even offer a free thirty day trial that does not require a credit card to sign up!
Selecting the right vendor is a crucial step for an organization that is deploying VoIP, especially for hosted services. A good vendor will provide a positive experience not just at sign-up but throughout the ongoing partnership.
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