Go ahead, break up with your old phone company! What have they done to advance your business, lately or ever? How are your treated when you call? Have your rates ever gone down? Many businesses have found a new partner and made the move to Hosted VoIP Phone Service.
There are several reasons why Hosted VoIP makes good sense for businesses. Businesses actually advance their communication practices, save money, and future proof their investment by switching to Hosted VoIP. However, fear of actually making the change can be a barrier, so let's first tackle the steps.
- Examine your contract with your carrier. It is sad, but true. Old telephone companies believe in their service so much that they feel the need to lock their customers into a term contract. Under the guise of "getting the best rates", customers routinely sign three year agreements with their providers, although there are provisions for rate increases along the way. Additionally, the automatic renewal clause is typically buried in fine print or vaguely directed to some external website reference. Most customers think they are out of contract, but have been auto-renewed for one or more years. Therefore, understanding your term and notification requirements is important as you set the timelines for your conversion.
- Review your internal network for VoIP readiness. Hosted VoIP runs over your office ethernet network. Thus, wherever you desire to have a VoIP phone placed, you will need ethernet availability. Most IP phones have dual ports, so they can share an ethernet connection with a computer, eliminating the need for wiring. Standard ports on VoIP phones allow for 100mb data throughput. If your internal network is built for gigabit speeds, there are VoIP phone models available for those speeds. Finally, VoIP phones require AC power. Make sure there are available outlets or convert your network switches to deliver power over ethernet.
- Evaluate your bandwidth utilization. VoIP phone calls require very little bandwidth, only 80kb upload or download depending upon where you are talking or listening. Understanding your maximum concurrent calls and running the math would let you know the requirements for VoIP on your network. Most routers provide network utilization statistics, so double checking your utilization of upload and download capacity is important. With bandwidth speeds increasing in most markets with competitive alternatives available, most businesses have already sized their capacity to easily incorporate a VoIP service into their routines.
- Research and select a Hosted VoIP provider. There are many providers out there, so narrowing down and selecting the right provider for your business can seem overwhelming. Start with the reasons why you are breaking up with your current phone company. If you are frustrated with rising rates and auto-renewed contracts, look for a Hosted VoIP provider who does not force you to sign term contracts. If you're interested in how the new technology can help your business thrive, look for a provider who will customize the programming of the phones to accomplish your goals. Many hosted providers point you to a portal for self-servicing and provisioning of your phones, so investigate the process. If you're tired of the poor customer service delivered by the old phone company, check the references of the Hosted VoIP provider and make sure they have the right strategy and have executed the delivery of awesome customer service.
- Submit Paperwork for Porting of your Phone Numbers. Your new provider will help you through these steps. Timing is the key. You'll want to provide a couple of weeks for the porting of the numbers and coincide with the termination considerations of your current contract. Your provider should be able to deliver the phones to you, fully programmed, within that two week period. Allow for some time to have a consultation session with your new provider so that they can meet all of your design requirements.
So, just a little time investment can generate some great returns. You should experience a positive return on investment with this change, both directly from the monthly savings and indirectly from improved communication practices. Plan for your breakup today and follow the steps outlined above!
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.