How to Choose Business VoIP Service Providers
Regardless of your business’ size, you are always on the lookout for avenues of improvement and growth. This can involve making new investments and ditching some of the dated solutions/technologies for advanced alternatives. A reliable and cost-efficient phone system is absolutely necessary for seamless communication and collaboration within a company. Traditional phone systems are no longer viable for modern business environments, as they don’t offer the desired features or flexibility. This is where business VoIP service providers come in and bring a paradigm shift in the way your workforce communicates.
There are some tangible benefits of choosing VoIP. You get lower costs for international calls and local calls are often free. It allows you to collaborate with remote colleagues via video calls and conferences. You can use smartphone applications to stay connected while on-the-go. You can even get your voicemails transcribed and sent to your email. However, before you switch, you have to make some considerations. Firstly, it is important to evaluate your business’ readiness to accommodate a VoIP solution and harness its maximum potential. Secondly, you have to review available vendors on the basis of some key factors to figure out a good fit for your business.
What to consider within your business before shifting to VoIP
Even if you’re certain that VoIP is going to be a game-changer for your business, consider these questions before you make the switch:
Do you have the required bandwidth?
Just like the name indicates, voice over IP requires internet to function. Business VoIP providers like RingCentral are known for their crystal-clear call quality, dependability, and rich feature-sets. However, none of these will function if your internet connection is lacking. You might already have a connection that caters to your data needs easily. However, whether it will be able to handle the additional voice traffic without faltering is a question worth considering. A very easy way to evaluate your internet connection’s VoIP readiness is by using these free online testing applications. These applications have been designed to run tests on your connection and gauge its efficacy. You are often able to see the amount of delays and latencies that affects VoIP traffic. If multiple tests tell you that your bandwidth isn’t enough to sustain a VoIP solution, then discuss your options with your internet service provider before proceeding.
Do you have the equipment or the budget for business VoIP service providers?
Traditional phone devices will not work with your new small business VoIP system. You will most likely need new IP phones or softphones for your laptops to make calls and use other VoIP features. If you have to buy new phones, you have to consider just how many you would require and your budget. In addition to this, if you go for an in-house solution, you will likely have to purchase new hardware to go with the VoIP subscription in order to set up the new communication infrastructure. An easy way to cut back on the hardware cost is to go for a cloud-based VoIP solution instead.
Will your employees require training?
An often-overlooked consideration is the extent to which their employees are receptive of a new system provided by one of the top business VoIP service providers. It goes without saying that VoIP can only be effective for your business if your workforce knows how to use it properly. This is why it’s imperative that you evaluate the level of knowledge your employees have regarding VoIP, prior to making the investment. Sharing training manuals, tutorials, and explanatory videos with your workforce can be a good first step. In addition to that, you can also hold workshops or lectures where a professional explains the basic concepts of VoIP and how a typical system functions.
Are there any risks?
Nothing comes without its pitfalls and VoIP is no exception. Even though the best VoIP phone systems are usually foolproof and highly dependable, there are still some risk factors that you should be aware of. Since business VoIP service providers use an internet-dependent service, the risk of potential cybercrimes is possible. The most common attacks associated with VoIP are denial of service, call tampering, phishing, malware, and identity theft crimes. The second disadvantage of VoIP can also be credited to its dependence on an internet connection. In situations where your broadband connection is unavailable, your phone system won’t work.
What to look for in VoIP service providers?
The above questions need to be considered prior to switching to a small business VoIP system. Once you are certain that your business is ready to embrace VoIP, you need to start evaluating potential choices. There are plenty of aspects of the best VoIP provider that you need to consider before you choose a solution that’s right for your business. Since the number of business VoIP service providers in the market is high, you are spoiled for choice. However, if you keep your business’ personalized needs a top priority while reviewing potential options, you are likely to shortlist the best business VoIP providers. Here’s are some of the most important factors you should consider:
The most tangible advantage VoIP offers over traditional PBX systems is the reduction in calling costs. The long-distance call rates you get with a VoIP connection are exponentially lower compared to landline rates. Calling within your office and even to colleagues in different locations is often completely free. This is why if you think you aren’t getting much of a switching advantage in terms of cost reduction, you are likely looking at the wrong option. However, price should not be your primary priority. Before anything, you should make sure that the business VoIP service providers cater to all your business requirements. Firstly, make sure that the vendor has excellent service quality, efficient support, and the right plan. If you want an on-site, self-managed system, you could be looking at some significant upfront equipment costs, while a cloud-based service will have close to zero upfront costs.
The worth of the global VoIP market has increased significantly over the last few years. At this point, it is at a staggering 16.5 billion US dollars. One of the reasons for this constant growth is that people fall in love with the superior service quality that VoIP offers. By being able to make smooth and clear calls every time, you can ensure that nothing hinders important conversations. Hence, while reviewing potential options, you should look for a VoIP provider that takes additional steps to banish any static, delay, latency or distortion during calls. The quality of the call is mostly dependent on your connection’s bandwidth. However, there are certain things that the service provider can do to boost the call quality. Search hard to find business VoIP service providers that prioritize voice packets, and use their own service network to ensure high-quality calling.
All data transfer within a VoIP solution occurs over the internet. This makes solution security one of the most important consideration while choosing the best VoIP service provider. Even the most feature-rich and dependable VoIP solutions have security loopholes which can be exploited by hackers for cybercrimes. You should consider a small business VoIP system provider like Ooma office; one that adheres to globally accepted security standards and recommendations for the protection of their systems. You need assurance that your business calls are safeguarded from viruses and spam and are impervious to network outages. The most secure VoIP systems come with voice data encryption using unbreakable cryptographic algorithms, which ensure that potential infiltrators are always kept at bay.
Customer support is another aspect of business VoIP service providers that you need to consider. Using a VoIP service with outstanding customer support will ensure that the problems you encounter are swiftly resolved and your business productivity isn’t compromised. A good way to gauge a company’s customer support team is by going through any customer reviews and testimonials online. If you pick the best VoIP service for your business that contains add-ons, then you should also ensure that the company offers support for those features. Furthermore, small businesses will want to consider selecting a service that allows them to use their existing phone equipment. This will save you from having to replace everything at once. It’s also worth considering a provider that offers professional installation, especially if you’re setting up a full service across different channels. And finally, 24/7 phone support should be on your list of must-haves.
No business wants to halt its growth. So why should anyone choose a service provider that can’t accommodate their future communication expansions? As your business grows, you will need more extensions, more features, more phones, and greater flexibility. Your selected best VoIP provider should have the ability to provide additional phone features and telecommunication services, as soon as your business requires it. If you have multiple offices in multiple locations, then you might need multi-location phone management, scalability, and mobility capabilities. Make sure that you are on the same page regarding everything with your service provider. Top business VoIP service providers also keep up with the latest technological advancements in the world of VoIP. Make sure you find one such vendor so that your business always has access to the best contemporary communication and collaboration features.
Switching to VoIP should be done patiently and carefully. Even though the features are tremendous and the flexibility is tangible, you have to first ensure that you are ready for the upgrade. You should only consider letting it handle voice traffic after you have run multiple tests on your internet connection. Once you have considered all the risks that come with internet telephony, your business is ready for VoIP to become your primary mode of collaboration. You can start searching for a vendor that listens to your needs and provides you with a customized, expandable solution. Find a solution that doesn’t cost much and contains no hidden charges, or the obligation to sign a contract. Also, ensure that the service provider implements state-of-the-art security measures to ensure the protection of your data. Lastly, never compromise on the scalability possibilities or customer support offered by a vendor.
This article, originally posted on July 4th, 2016, has since been updated to reflect new information and republished.