When evaluating your company phone system and service, a VoIP comparison is necessary to evaluate the opportunity before you. This VoIP comparison will take you down two separate evaluations: one, to compare your existing system and service with a VoIP alternative and, two, evaluating the differences in VoIP providers.
VoIP Phone System & Service vs. Analog Based Solutions
Many businesses have already switched their company phones to a VoIP-based system. However, there remains a good number of businesses who, for a variety of reasons, have not made the switch as of yet.There are several comparisons to make for this evaluation:
- Compare Features and Functionality - There are analog-based phone systems that provide a good set of features. However, the features of VoIP platforms are robust and expanding. Our first recommendation is to take a look at the features offered by a number of Hosted VoIP providers with an eye on how these features could impact your business in a positive way. Such features can improve your communication accessibility with your employees and customers, provide a platform for mobile or remote employees, and streamline your internal call handling processes.
- Compare Costs of Equipment - If you are looking to replace your business' current analog phone system, the cost to move to a Hosted VoIP service is hands-down much more favorable. The biggest factor in this calculation is that you do not have to invest in a core system with Hosted VoIP. Only the VoIP Phones are required along with some other minor equipment. If you are comparing a Hosted VoIP service against maintaining your current analog company phones, it is likely that the one-time cost of the Hosted VoIP equipment is still favorable to a service contract or the on-going replacement/maintenance cost of the analog system.
- Compare the Cost of the Phone Service - In the wake of mounting customer losses to VoIP providers, traditional telecom providers have been raising their business phone line costs to maintain revenues and margins. Even before such moves, the monthly costs of Hosted VoIP services have provided a monthly cost savings and helps provide a quick return on investment for the capital required. Solicit a few bids from Hosted VoIP providers and compare to your current phone service with the recognition that the traditional business phone service costs are rising over time.
- Compare the Cost of Administration - With your current company phone system, changes or programmatic updates (if even possible) are the business' responsibility. You may have some elements that are included in a service contract with the system provider as well. With Hosted Phone Service, there are providers that will take care of all of your administrative needs as a part of the monthly service. Research Hosted VoIP providers that will relieve you from this cost and responsibility.
VoIP Phone System Providers
The second lane in your VoIP comparison is to evaluate the various Hosted VoIP providers. The number of options out there are vast, and narrowing the list down can be challenging. We would suggest comparing a couple of the national named brand providers alongside alternatives that are regional or local to your area. One key to the local/regional list is to find a provider that has stood the test of time, operating a minimum of 5 to 10 years. Such a tenure would suggest that they are fiscally and technically stable and have a solid and loyal customer base. Another key with this set of providers is to make sure that they are not simply a reseller of a white-labeled national product. Resellers do not handle the technical customer service directly nor are they responsible for the on-going research and development of their product.
Once you receive bids for your company phones and service from these providers, be sure to contact references provided. They should be able to provide a reference from a company of a similar size and operate in the same or similar industry. Inquire about how the solution has improved their business along with how the overall experience has been for them. Are there any issues surrounding call quality, and how are they addressed? How was the initial installation and programming handled? What has been the approach to on-going administration and how easy are they to deal with for customer service?
You should find that the national providers have a robust technology, but drop ship the phones and provide the customer a self-servicing portal for programming and administration. Local providers tend to be more engaged on the initial set-up and on-going administration, thus scoring quite well on the customer service approach.
If your business is being pinched by the costs of maintaining and old phone system and absorbing continued increases in telecom costs, this evaluation becomes very timely and critical for you. Not only can you save money overall, but you can transform your communication model and make a noticeable impact in your customer service.
About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of VoIP phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.