Phone service providers should be all about raising your expectations, not your rates. Sadly, the opposite is true in many cases. Small businesses routinely complain about the difficulty in getting something done through the customer service channels of the major telecom providers. Just as common are the frustrations that come from being rewarded for such lackluster service with rate increases. Thankfully, there are alternative providers offering rate stability, improved technology, and superb customer service.
Affordable VoIP System and Competitively Priced Phone Service
Compared to purchasing an on-site phone system, moving to a hosted VoIP platform is very affordable. Businesses only purchase the VoIP phones, not the system itself. Additionally, the financial returns carry on over the long term. The hosted VoIP provider assumes the responsibility for maintaining and upgrading the system, thus the business does not need to worry about system maintenance or obsolescence. At most, they will replace or upgrade the VoIP phones as they age.
Hosted VoIP phone service is priced differently than traditional phone service. With hosted VoIP, businesses are charged for monthly service by the number of phones deployed, not the lines of service coming into the system. However, in most cases, businesses moving to hosted VoIP are paying less than traditional phone service. Additionally, most hosted VoIP providers do not require term contracts. This does not guarantee price stability, but it does guarantee that they will need to remain competitively priced to retain the customer. Despite requiring term contracts, traditional telecommunication providers have continued to increase rates to protect their margins, as their number of analog lines continues to decline with customer defections.
Improved Technology with Hosted VoIP
Technology improvements and increased functionality in the telecom space have been largely seen in VoIP deployments as opposed to analog phone systems. Businesses now expect their phone system and service to be flexible and programmable, conforming to how they run their operation. Hosted VoIP enables businesses to improve their external and internal communications, becoming more present and efficient.
Better Service with VoIP for Small Business
With rising expectations for improvements to their business operations with the new technology, businesses are becoming more reliant on their Hosted VoIP provider for their phone system management. Given previous experiences with traditional phone service providers, businesses were hesitant to rely on a service provider for maintaining their phone system as well. This is where careful consideration needs to take place with the choice of Hosted VoIP providers.
Frankly, the national VoIP providers haven't lived up to these higher expectations. They push their customers to their self-servicing web portal and deploy a call center approach for their support. Given the myriad of ways their system can be programmed, support is better performed by professionals familiar with the system and the options available. Self-servicing is frustrating to the customer. There are Hosted VoIP providers who provide more of a concierge type of customer service, taking the burden of phone system programming and managing off of the customer. This gives them time to focus on what is more important, their business! Because of this level of involvement with the customer, these type of providers tend to exceed expectations for customer service.
As you research hosted VoIP providers for your business, be sure to ask what their pricing history has been. "At sipVine, we are very proud of the fact that we have never increased our rates since our inception in 2005", states Robert Conner, sipVine's CEO. "In fact, our rates have declined. It is our goal to be the affordable alternative to the business community for phone service and set the standard for 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.