How to Choose a VoIP ProviderBy:Michael Roden
Today, most businesses are either thinking about or have already began replacing their existing phone service with a Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone system. There are a range of reasons for making the switch, and companies that have already adopted these systems can attest to them. This article will cover some aspects on how to choose the best VoIP provider. They include but are not limited to the following key factors and considerations:
Costs Involved - Of course, price will be a large component in selecting a provider that's right for you. However, the lowest price may not always be the best price, as factors such as service quality, customer support, service plan options, and others should certainly weigh in on the final decision for a VoIP provider.
Expect a one-time, non-recurring charge that typically includes an installation and/or an account set-up fee. After this step, there will generally only be recurring charges for your designated plan along with small service fees, etc. Call forwarding, voicemail, call waiting, conference call, caller ID, and call filtering are all very useful, with many VoIP providers offering these services for free. Prior to signing up with a provider, read details thoroughly to make sure of exactly what you'll be paying initially, the inclusions, and the amount you'll be seeing in coming months. These costs can easily and quickly add up, therefore ask for thorough explanations of all cost.
Quality & Reliability - VoIP services will rely primarily on the reliability of your Internet connection, with top-quality network equipment and solutions developed for customers of companies delivering business-class VoIP. Make sure your broadband connection is suitable for VoIP, along with the quality of hardware. Research and investigate to gain as much knowledge and information as possible prior to investment or use of an ATA, router, or IP phone, as the uses of all VoIP equipment your internet connection will weigh into the type of quality you will receive.
Mobility & Portability - VoIP phone systems have numerous features that enable employees to work remotely, yet still be able to access features on the company's phone system. This might be a strong consideration if staff are often spread out or working remotely. If your company is large, it may also be best to focus on having more sophisticated equipment and facilities than would smaller companies.
Many leading business VoIP providers are also supporting and enabling cloud computing as a service. The main aim of introducing this service has been to centralize all the hardware and software resources at one place. Again, focus on your specific needs to create the ideal network through the options available to you. It's all about customization and optimization at the best price, so don't be afraid to shop around. Set your goals for what type of features you need, and want.
Customer Support - Some providers, such as Phonebooth and Phone.com, offer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Be sure that if a technical problem is encountered while using VoIP services, you'll get the help you need when it's needed. Most other VoIP providers offer telephone support during normal business hours. VoIP outages can occur when you least expect it. Having customer support available when you need it is extremely important for both residential and business VoIP. Therefore, knowing what type of support you will receive, and when you can expect to receive is definitely a must know. Another key factor to consider when it comes to the customer support to be expected from your VoIP provider, is to inquire about the location of the customer support team and where they are based. Some VoIP providers outsource their customer support as far as other countries.
Satisfaction Guarantee - Most VoIP companies require you to sign some sort of a contract, usually one year. Nevertheless, it is much more prudent to choose a company that provides a satisfaction guarantee or free trial. If you end up not being pleased with their service, then you may cancel at no penalty to you. As setting up for VoIP service often requires a hardware investment, this could be the difference in keeping trial and error mutually exclusive or being stuck with a paperweight.