Congratulations, you have taken the first step to enhance your communication platform and upgrade your capabilities by considering a move to a VoIP Service Provider. Before you make the switch, here are five considerations for you to include in your evaluation of potential providers:
- Does the VoIP service provider configure the system to how you do business? There are many VoIP service providers who "bundle and drop ship". These are usually priced very low, but you will have a very basic configuration. If you have a growing business or are already a business of size and complexity, gain a comfort level with the provider's ability to listen and understand how you do business and see if they will effectively guide you through their alternatives available. Large national providers expect you to understand how to navigate their provisioning portal and handle all of the programming yourself. Finding a VoIP phone service provider that programs the features and delivers a customized solution specific to how you do business would benefit you greatly.
- Does the VoIP service provider offer a number of solutions to meet your needs? This has evolved over the years. If you have an 0n-premises VoIP system, determine if the VoIP provider can deliver sip trunks to the platform. However, most businesses have already moved to a VoIP for Business hosted service platform, providing your business with the flexibility required to compete in today's markets. The solutions to look for surround the variety of VoIP phone options that best meet the needs of your employees. VoIP desk phones are ideal for in-office use, although many have moved to desktop soft phones. Remote or highly mobile employees tend to use either the desktop soft phone or a soft phone app that resides on their smart phone.
- How agreeable is the VoIP phone service provider to assist in network troubleshooting to resolve call quality issues? This is where the rubber hits the road for most VoIP phone service providers. With plug and play phones, having technical support willing to troubleshoot network issues is rare. Problems can occur on the local network or with the internet connection provided by another carrier. Avoid selecting VoIP service providers with the attitude that this is "not my problem". Granted, phone calls are a symptom of the problem, but it should be seen in everyone's best interest that these problems are diagnosed and resolved. Technical support can provide guidance on router settings that may be causing a conflict, help evaluate if there are problems with bandwidth utilization on the local area network, and run tests to see if the internet circuit is not performing at a level to deliver uninterrupted VoIP traffic. Additionally, does the provider offer a device to help prioritize voice traffic over data? This was a huge issue back in the day when internet carriers were not delivering large and affordable internet circuits. But, with the amount of business applications in the cloud, contention for bandwidth can still be an issue. So, ask your potential VoIP service provider how they approach these situations. You will be able to tell very quickly if it is something they do not even consider supporting or assisting you with!
- Is customer support do-it-yourself? Large national providers tend to provide off-shore call center support. This support tends to provide guidance to the customer on how to navigate their self-service portal and certainly does not make changes on behalf of the customer. Granted, some changes are easy to make. Others, like mentioned in the first consideration above, take a greater understanding of the programming required to meet the need. Examples would be main line call flow, call queue set up, auto attendant changes, time of day routing differences, etc. Most businesses have their own activity to manage and have little time to figure out how to work a third-party portal. Look for a VoIP service provider who will listen to what you are looking to accomplish and make the changes for you.
- What do their customers say about their VoIP service provider? Take steps to talk to their customers. Are they satisfied and why? Do they deliver what they promise in the sales cycle? Like with many vendor evaluations, reference checking is a very important tool. Ask for references and, after they deliver their standard set, ask for a reference in your area and one in your industry. See how quickly and willing they are to deliver additional references that may not be on their normal list of references.
Consider adding sipVine's complete business communication solution to your evaluation list! A better phone system for your small business with advanced features to match your unique business needs! Make your company's business communications better by engaging better customer experiences at every touchpoint. Want to learn more? Our small business phone service representatives are here to answer any questions you have!