How to Spot a Reliable VoIP Provider (And Avoid Bad Ones)
Most VoIP providers provide some benefits when compared to a traditional landline connection.
You’ll most definitely save money. And you’ll probably get some fancy new features you couldn’t access with your plain old telephone service.
But VoIP providers vary widely in quality … There are some great ones, some mediocre ones, and a lot of not-so-great ones. So it’s important to take some time to learn how to figure out whether a provider is reliable – and how to spot an untrustworthy provider.
The characteristics of a reliable VoIP provider
When it comes to analyzing the reliability of your VoIP service, your internet connection quality is key.
If it goes down, so will your VoIP phone system. So it’s a good idea to partner with a VoIP provider that also offers connectivity solutions. That way, if your system ever does go down, you only have to contact one company for support.
At the very least, look for a provider that can give you guidance on whether you need to secure more bandwidth to optimize your VoIP connection. Even better if they can provide you with broadband services – or better yet with advanced connectivity solutions like SD-WAN.
A reliable VoIP provider will tell you if you have inadequate bandwidth for their service. And they’ll help you address the problem before going ahead with the installation process.
In terms of reliability metrics, look for companies that can offer greater than 99.9% connectivity. Reliable providers have access to multiple server locations to ensure redundancy and a better quality of service nationwide. It’s ideal if your provider has a server that’s somewhat near your key location(s) – as opposed to on the other side of the country. This way you’ll benefit from a more seamless connection and better call quality.
Reliable providers will also be upfront about the features they offer.
And one very important feature to look for is call forwarding. In the event your VoIP system goes down, this feature will forward all calls to your chosen mobile device(s). That way you’ll never miss an important business call.
Providers that offer redundancy services like call forwarding are more reliable because it shows they’ve invested in ensuring uptime for their customers.
Top providers offer mobility solutions.
Speaking of mobile devices: some advanced providers will give you access to a VoIP app that you can use on your smartphones or tablets to connect to your VoIP system on the go.
With the app, you’ll be able to make VoIP calls from any device, as long as you have access to an internet connection. This feature could save you a lot on your mobile device plans – in addition to the savings you’re already getting by cutting the cord.
Top providers have a history of strong customer service.
How long has the company been around? The longer they’ve been in business, the more likely it is that they’re financially solid and will be able to support your VoIP connection for the long term.
Ask if they’re able to port over your old business number(s) to ensure continuity. They should be able to set up your VoIP with minimal service interruptions. It should be relatively seamless, because the installation usually requires very little additional hardware. Many routers support VoIP, but in some cases you’ll have to install new VoIP-ready routers. And in some cases it’s highly recommended to do so in order to maximize performance.
Call quality should be on par with traditional phones.
Reliable providers offer pristine voice quality. You can always ask for a voice quality test/demo before you sign up, just to be sure.
OK, so now you know what to look for in a quality VoIP provider. But what about the characteristics of a bad provider? What are the warning signs?
#1: A bad website
Customer service is crucial in the VoIP industry. If your provider’s website looks outdated, or has several visible errors, it could be a sign to stay away. They should make it as easy as possible to get in touch for customer service issues.
Try calling to speak with a representative. Are they easy to reach? What’s their response time? Customer service agents should be knowledgeable and willing to help you out. And you shouldn’t have to wait 30 minutes to get someone on the line.
#2: An office in a residential area
Try Googling the provider you’re considering. If their office is in the middle of a residential area, stay away. Believe it or not, some VoIP companies are home-based businesses, which means they’re selling someone else’s technology and likely have poor customer service.
#3: Little to no social media presence
If the provider doesn’t have an established presence, it’s likely because they’re a new company. Of course, not all small companies are bad. But in the VoIP world, startups that offer super low-cost VoIP services crop up often. And they don’t survive for very long.
#4: They don’t share case studies
Another sign of an inexperienced company is a lack of case studies. An established VoIP provider will be eager to share its success stories. They should be readily available on their website.
#5: They offer extremely low prices
If the price they’re offering is really low (like too good to be true), it’s likely because they
A) don’t offer many features,
B) have a low call quality,
C) have limited customer service, or
D) all of the above.
#6: They don’t have Service Agreements
Service Agreements, sometimes called Service Level Agreements (SLAs), are important to establish a guarantee for system reliability (uptime) and the ramifications if the provider fails to meet this guarantee.
If the provider is unwilling to provide you with an SLA, it’s a sign they’re not confident in the reliability of their service.
The most important thing is to find a provider with proven industry experience, technical know-how, and exceptional customer service.
And you need stay away from providers that exhibit any of the warning signs listed above.
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