This is the year! You placed a reminder on your calendar that your business telecommunications term contract is expiring. Every year, you've been burned by the dreaded auto renewal provision that is in the fine print somewhere and this is the year you are going to break from the shackles of term contracts and make a change in your phone service!
Let's recall why you want to make a change. The phone service contracts seem to be very one-sided. They auto renew "as a service" to make sure you are able to keep the "good" rates. However, your phone bill seems to grow as each year passes. Moreover, your current phone service ties you into your old, analog phone system. You've seen your business peers and competitors switching to hosted VoIP phone service and have heard about all of the cool features that can benefit your company. Time to dust off your old research and review.
Reasons to Move to Hosted VoIP:
State-of-the-art technology for a small investment. Analog phone systems are a thing of the past. You can take advantage of the myriad of features but not break the budget in doing so. With hosted phone service, you only need to purchase the VoIP handsets. The phone system is managed and maintained by the hosted VoIP provider. Additionally, you do not need to worry about the system becoming obsolete, as that again is the responsibility of the provider. Thus, not only is your current investment cost low, you will not have to invest in a system ever again!
Monthly savings. Many times, the monthly cost of hosted VoIP service is lower than your current phone service spend. You are able to calculate a direct return on investment without even considering the indirect benefits driven by a hosted phone service.
Features to benefit your business. There are many standard features that come with hosted VoIP service, such as voicemail to email. The real benefit is driven by the opportunity to improve your internal and external communication practices. Primarily this involves the programming of call flow, the auto attendant, and other features to delight your customers. This can include direct dial numbers, mobility features for your sales / service teams, hunt groups or queues, and other practices that can increase the accessibility of your associates to your customers.
Virtualization. Because the phone system is no longer on a wall in your equipment room and is accessible via the internet, your phones are not confined to the four walls of your office. You can integrate several locations, remote employees, and mobile employees into one system. This will improve your internal efficiencies. Plus, the external customer can be served by the appropriate associate no matter where they are located.
No contracts. You can start with hosted VoIP providers who do not require term contracts. You've experienced the negatives associated with being tied to such contracts with your current telecom provider, why go down that path again? You'll find this segment of providers to be more flexible and desirous of not being categorized with the traditional approach to telecom.
Customization. No business is the same. The customer service strategies, call flow, and operating principles are unique to the business and management philosophy. Find a provider who will take on the customization of their system to match your business. Many VoIP providers hand over an on-line portal for you to handle all of your administration and design. Instead, look for the providers who will handle all of this for you.
Approach to customer service. If you find a provider that offers no contracts and will handle the configuration and administration of your service, chances are they will also have the right approach to customer service. With no contracts, they are incented to serve your business well every day. By customizing your service, they get to know your business very well. By performing your phone administration, they use this knowledge and this incentive to respond expeditiously and with contextual expertise.
Check references. It's always good to discuss their approach to service with several of their current customers.
Time to move! Select your provider and your phones. Discuss your requirements and set a time frame for porting your numbers. And, don't forget to notify your previous provider that you are no longer going to be a victim of their auto-renewal practices!
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.