What to Look for in a VoIP Provider
Choosing the right VoIP provider can seem like an impossible task.
You have a lot of options to choose from: some are multinational corporations, some are established U.S. telecom companies, some are big companies focusing only on VoIP, others specialize in multi-location installations (BullsEye falls into this category), and then there are VoIP-focused startups. So how do you choose? How do you know which providers are reliable?
These are tough questions to answer. So to help, we put together this article as a guide to what you need to consider (and the critical features to look for) when analyzing VoIP providers. Let’s jump right in.
1. Start with your goals
What are you hoping to achieve with your new VoIP system?
Most likely, you’ll want to take advantage of more than just phone calls. So you’ll need to find a VoIP provider that’s in-sync with the latest technology.
Consider a VoIP solution that integrates with other communication and productivity apps. For instance, you’ll definitely want your system to connect to your CRM so you can make calls to customers or leads from your computer with a single click. Call analytics are important too. A good VoIP service will collect and let you analyze call data to help you improve customer service performance over time.
Look for a provider that offers APIs to help you connect to other popular cloud services.
2. Consider mobile integration
It’s also important, given the rising prominence of mobile phone usage at work, that your VoIP system integrates with smartphones – ideally through an easy-to-use app.
Your employees should be able to use your VoIP system from any device, including smartphones, from wherever – as long as they’re connected to the internet.
3. Don’t forget conference calls
Audio and video conferencing are priorities for many companies looking to make the switch to VoIP.
Many VoIP providers include video conferencing as an optional feature. If you opt-in for it, you’ll need to make sure you have enough bandwidth reserved for seamless video conversations. Video quality will suffer if you have inadequate bandwidth.
4. Plan ahead for Unified Communications (UC)
If you’re thinking about migrating to VoIP, there’s a good chance you’ll be interested in upgrading to UC at some point in the future. Consider finding a VoIP provider that has the in-house potential to handle this upgrade for you.
UC refers to a communication platform that integrates many forms of communication (multiple devices and channels), including voice, chat, video, conference calling, and emails. It’s ideal for employees that have to use various communication tools and devices, and need help keeping them all synced.
It doesn’t make sense to use a different provider for every single office communication function. It makes more sense to bundle them together. That’s the benefit of working with a provider that offers UC in addition to VoIP.
5. Fair pricing
Pricing is always important.
One of the great things about VoIP is that it helps shift some of your IT costs from capital expenditures to operating expenditures (for example, if you’re switching from an on-premise PBX system to a cloud-based VoIP system). There’s not a whole lot of hardware involved in the implementation of a VoIP system, so setup costs should be low. That’s why VoIP services are subscription based, with monthly fees depending on how many users you need.
It’s important to choose a provider that lets you scale your subscription as your business’s demand increases. You should never have to pay penalties for upgrading your subscription.
6. Customer service
Finally, choose a provider with solid customer service.
If you have various locations across the country, choosing a provider with nationwide coverage will be important. Otherwise, it might be hard to get support when you need it, especially if you need IT help onsite.
Other support features to look for include 24/7 phone support, email support, and live chat support (on their website).
Stay away from VoIP providers that offshore customer support. That’s a big warning sign. You want a provider with support staff who understand your market.
And there you have it: 6 things you should consider when evaluating VoIP providers.
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