VoIP is one of the latest technologies creating a buzz…
Hosted VoIP Vendors
Hosted VoIP systems have quickly gained popularity thanks to a myriad of benefits such as inexpensive subscription plans, advanced collaboration and communication features as well as hassle-free maintenance and support. Even though experts generally recommend SIP trunking solutions for certain businesses – especially those that have the financial resources and technical knowledge – quite a few still prefer to get started with hosted VoIP and then migrate to their own deployment.
However not all hosted VoIP services are equal and the vendor you pick will make a huge difference on what kind of experience your business users have with VoIP. Hosted VoIP essentially means that the voice communication services are provided over the Internet by an external contractor. A business that opts for hosted VoIP service is exchanging control over the system for flexibility, scale and agility. As you can see, the service provider occupies a crucial role.
Before you go out and sign a plan from the hundreds of hosted VoIP vendors in the market, you should carefully evaluate each with regards to expertise, experience and level of tech support etc. It’s not nearly enough if the service they offer meets your business requirements and fits your budget. After all plenty of services can fall into that category. Some of the aspects and features to look out for include:
Look for a free trial or demo
Unlike the traditional enterprise market for phone systems, a free trial or demo is practically a standard in the VoIP ecosystem. Since the market is growing rapidly, most vendors do not hesitate to offer a trial of at least a few days for clients to check out the service. VoIPstudio from Level 7 Systems offers a month-long trial with all features enabled so that your business can get a better idea of hosted VoIP in real-world conditions. Trying out the service doesn’t even require a credit card.
Even if a demo or other form of hands-on experience is not advertised on the vendor side, just ask the provider if they will offer a short trial for your company. Unless you are very confident that a particular service will suit your needs 100%, it is not advisable to sign up for a service without trying it out first. The other thing to watch out for is whether the free trial requires a credit card for activation. Certain unscrupulous providers use this tactic to continue billing the client if they forget to cancel after the free trial period.
Check their credentials – expertise and experience
The VoIP industry may appear to be new but several vendors have been operating in the field for many years. A company with substantial experience may be better equipped to help your business, especially if your users are not used to VoIP. On the other hand newer entrants may offer better services or prices. You may want to talk to other enterprises that are current or former customers to evaluate the vendor. Level 7 Systems – the developers behind VoIP studio – has years of expertise in the field and maintain their own infrastructure, in contrast to some vendors who are merely reselling VoIP services. It gives their systems more reliability as they have control over quality, upgrades etc.
Evaluate their customer and technical support
The biggest test of customer support comes when something goes wrong. Good VoIP vendors should offer many alternatives for clients to get in touch with them including email, phone and an online helpdesk. Why would you need so many options? It’s simply because one or more of these channels of communication may not be available in a crisis. For instance, technical issues with the VoIP network can temporarily disable voice communication. If the vendor’s helpdesk is off-line due to problems at their end, you should still be able to reach them via phone or email.
VoIPstudio offers all the above options along with comprehensive web resources such as FAQ, guides and a knowledge base covering common topics. These additional resources can help users with troubleshooting basic issues so they don’t have to wait in a queue to fix a pretty simple problem. It’s easy enough to brush off the importance of customer support when everything is functioning well but it becomes paramount the moment a problem brings your phone system down.
Examine contracts, terms and conditions closely
Hosted vendors may try to overwhelm clients with a multitude of options when it comes to contracts, the service plans, methods of payment etc. Faced with the building area of options, some organizations simply pick what sounds the best instead of taking the time to evaluate all alternatives. Some vendors indulge in shady marketing tactics such as advertising extremely low prices for the most basic plan but in reality, they charge extra fees for every additional feature.
In contrast, VoIPstudio offers just 3 different plans – two with unlimited calling (domestic or international) and one without. Every basic and advanced feature is included in both plans with no extra charge, so businesses don’t have to worry about missing out on necessary tools. It saves businesses time too – who can afford to spend hours comparing 5-10 plans from every vendor, each of which has its own terms and conditions attached?
Hosted VoIP services from different vendors may appear identical on the surface but it’s the little details that differentiate the very best from the rest of the pack. Since voice communication is often the backbone and bedrock of any business, choosing the vendor you can trust and work with is worth the time and effort involved.
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