The best way to choose a VoIP service provider is by creating a list of communication requirements for your business and comparing it to the service offerings of your potential providers. This article covers key criteria you should consider when creating your requirement list.
- Assessing your business requirements will help you choose the right VOIP service provider.
- In addition to pricing and contract terms, consider other features like the provider’s reputation, customer support services, and security policies when choosing your VOIP service.
- Inquire about the service provider’s technology roadmap to ensure they invest in future technologies.
Assessing Business Needs and Requirements
Before looking for a VoIP provider, it’s critical to understand your business’s unique needs and requirements. Documenting these will help you avoid purchasing a phone system that falls short of meeting your daily operational needs.
Some of the primary considerations when assessing your business requirements are identifying business-wide communication needs, determining the scalability and growth potential of the business, and evaluating phone budget considerations.
Identifying Your Communication Needs
As a starting point, there are several essential criteria to consider when evaluating your communication needs. Your business may have additional, unique call requirements, but you should evaluate the following features at a minimum.
Call Volume requirements
Start with identifying how many phone calls you handle per day on average. You’ll also need to know, on average, how many employees are making and taking calls simultaneously and the average duration of the calls. Understanding these metrics will help your VoIP provider right-size your system.
International vs. Local
Are you primarily making local calls, or do you need international service capabilities? VoIP services are an extremely cost-effective solution for many businesses that need global calling capabilities.
Determine your service budget and look for providers capable of meeting your phone needs within your business budget.
Determining Scalability and Growth Potential with your VoIP Provider
Anticipating future growth will allow your VoIP provider to design a system that can grow with you. The ability to quickly scale your communication infrastructure will limit downtime as your phone system requirements change.
Discuss pricing features with your provider before the need to scale your phone system arises.
Evaluating Budget and Cost Considerations
Prices for VoIP systems can vary greatly depending on the provider and the call package.
Knowing your operational budget for communications will allow your provider to suggest the right package and phone services that meet your target budget.
Researching VoIP Providers
After clearly understanding your business needs, it’s time to research potential VoIP providers. When doing so, you’ll need to be familiar with different VoIP service types, compare call features and functionality, and examine phone service reliability and call quality to choose a provider that best fits your needs.
Understanding VoIP Service Types
Two main types of VoIP services are available: cloud-based systems and on-premise solutions.
Cloud-based systems are solutions where the VoIP service provider maintains all the necessary hardware and software in secure data centers. This is a very convenient solution for most businesses, as it eliminates the complexity of on-site hardware installations.
On-premise systems are designed around installing physical infrastructure at your business location. Your business requirements may require an on-premise solution. Just keep in mind that they are generally more expensive and may require additional resources for phone maintenance and regular upgrades.
Comparing System Features and Functionality
One of the most critical areas you must compare is each VoIP provider’s features. Refer to your business requirements and compare features like call management software, third-party integrations, and phone backup support.
Examining Service Reliability and Call Quality:
The reliability of the VoIP service and the quality of phone calls make or break your business communications. You need to ensure that your provider has excellent call quality.
Inquire about uptime guarantees and examine their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to ensure they align with your business requirements.
Evaluating Provider Reputation and Reliability
Similar to call quality is reputation. The business’s reputation will be one of the critical factors in making your decision on which VoIP provider to choose. You can use two primary resources to vet a provider’s reputation: client reviews/testimonials and their Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Customer reviews will give you insight into how well the phone service provider performs overall. Look for reviews from businesses similar to yours to get a feel for how the phone service would perform in your business setting. One of the key metrics you should check in reviews is the company’s customer service.
Providers with exceptional customer service should go straight to the top of your list.
Companies with poor customer service can negatively impact your business if they have slow response and resolution times should you encounter an issue with your phone service.
Next, you’ll want to verify the provider’s Service Level Agreements (SLAs). You are looking for the level of service guarantee you are getting from your provider. This needs to align with your business needs. For example, if their response window during an outage is longer than acceptable for your specific operation, continue looking at other providers.
The key takeaway is ensuring the SLA meets or exceeds your business requirements.
Security and Privacy Considerations
Security and privacy features are paramount when choosing a VoIP provider. When selecting a provider, you’ll want to understand their data encryption and privacy policies, compliance with regulatory standards, and backup and disaster recovery measures.
Data Encryption and Privacy Policies
You’ll want a VoIP provider offering end-to-end data encryption when call data is in transit and at rest.
Compliance with Regulatory Standards
Most VoIP providers will comply with regulatory standards set by the FCC. However, you still need to ensure they have compliance standards in place. Should you encounter a phone provider that has questionable compliance, steer clear.
If you’re interested in learning more about regulatory standards, read our in-depth article for a comprehensive guide on what to look for in this area.
Backup and Disaster Recovery Measures
What is the provider’s backup and disaster recovery policy? What measures do they have in place? You’ll want to understand their disaster recovery policies and features so you can match them against your internal business continuity plan.
Knowing your ability to operate during an outage is paramount to keep your business running smoothly should something cause an interruption in your service.
Customer Support and Technical Assistance
Good customer support and technical assistance is many times the difference between a smooth VoIP experience and a frustrating one. These areas can often be overlooked. However, you must understand the type of support systems your phone provider features.
Availability and Responsiveness of Support
Ideally, consider a provider that has nothing less than 24/7 support availability. Consider what communication channels are most important to you when contacting support services.
If your phone provider does not offer your preferred method, you’ll likely be highly frustrated when you need assistance.
Common Types of Support Channels
Regarding support channels, email, phone support, ticketing systems, and live chat are some of the most common features among VoIP providers.
Evaluate which options are the primary communication method for your prospective service provider.
Pricing and Contract Terms
Understanding the pricing and contract terms is crucial to ensure the VoIP service fits your budget and meets your business’s phone needs. Here are some considerations to look for when reviewing pricing terms.
Understanding Pricing Models
Service providers have varying pricing models. Two standard models are metered and unmetered packages. As the names suggest, metered packages have a sliding pricing model based on usage, whereas unmetered packages offer unlimited use.
Refer to your call volume metrics to determine which pricing model suits your needs.
Hidden Costs and Additional Fees
Businesses should always ask about hidden costs or additional fees. Some packages include other call features at an additional cost. Have your prospective provider’s sales representative walk you through the pricing models and ask about anything unclear in the terms.
Contract Length and Flexibility
You should be mindful of contract lengths and service flexibility. Ideally, your business will continue to grow over time, and you want to scale your needs without being locked into strict terms.
Your internal growth projections will come into play when determining what your business is willing to commit to regarding contracts. You want a provider with your best interests in mind, so look for the most flexible call options while still meeting your budget.
Implementation and Integration
Implementing and integrating a new VoIP system with your existing call infrastructure can be complex. Generally speaking, implementation and integration is something you will only do yourself if you have a dedicated in-house team.
Below are some critical areas you must consider when determining what solutions will have the most minor integration challenges with your current phone infrastructure.
Compatibility with Existing Infrastructure
How compatible is the system with your existing infrastructure? This is where working with an experienced and trustworthy call provider pays off, as they can accurately assess the actual cost of switching to VoIP.
Integration with CRM and Business Tools
Most businesses will want their VoIP system to integrate with their current CRM. If this is a feature you will need, be sure to discuss all call integration aspects with your prospective VoIP provider. An unforeseen incompatibility issue will result in additional costs on top of your new VoIP system.
Onboarding and Training Support
What type of support and training does the provider have? Do they have on-demand phone support if you need to talk to someone physically?
Again, be mindful and accurately determine your team’s level of training needed. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you have a new system and struggle to operate it.
Portability and Flexibility
Portability and flexibility are key advantages of VoIP systems. This section will guide you through understanding number porting and ownership, evaluating mobility and remote work capabilities, and considering scalability options for the platform.
Number Porting and Ownership Features
Businesses should ensure they can port their existing phone numbers to the new VoIP system. Porting is not a regulated requirement, so steer clear of providers that do not provide this option.
Mobility and Remote Work Capabilities
Many businesses need more and more remote work capabilities. Options such as integrated mobile apps and softphone capabilities are standard for remote work.
As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, scalability is vital when choosing a provider. Make sure you have a good understanding of the timeline required to add additional call lines and capabilities to your current call setup.
Future-Proofing and Growth Potential
Choosing a VoIP provider that can grow with your business is paramount. Something that customers often overlook is the service provider’s technology roadmap.
When asking a potential partner about their roadmap, be sure to inquire about three specific aspects of their platform: their current technology roadmap, their room for business expansion, and integration with future phone technologies.
Evaluating Provider’s Technology Roadmap
Businesses should look at the call provider’s technology roadmap to ensure they invest in future technologies. By evaluating this roadmap, you gain insights into their commitment to staying on the cutting edge of communication advancements.
Assessing Room for Business Expansion
Your service provider should easily accommodate business expansion, with the ability to add more phone lines or call features to the platform as needed. By ensuring your VOIP system is primed for future growth, you’re laying the foundation for a dynamic and agile communication strategy.
Integration with Future Communication Technologies
Your VOIP system should be able to integrate with future communication technologies, ensuring that your business can stay up-to-date with the latest developments.
A service provider with a forward-thinking strategy toward technology advancements puts you in the best position to become an early adopter of new technologies and features.
Making the Decision on a VoIP Provider
As you narrow the field of potential service providers, compare and contrast features, price, customer support services, and future-proofing to make the right choice and determine which call provider best meets your business requirements. If you have questions about Vercom Systems VOIP solutions, please contact us today!