Choosing a VoIP provider can be tough. With so many companies vying for your hard-earned business dollar, figuring out which provider is worth your wallet is a real challenge. On top of that, the variety of features offered by each provider makes comparisons even more difficult. Fortunately, you’ve got us. Here’s our list of dos and don’ts when choosing a VoIP provider.
8 Do’s and Don’ts When Choosing a VoIP provider
1. Do: Test Call Quality Before Buying
The whole idea behind VoIP systems is to replace your existing business phone setup with a fully virtual VoIP phone system. Obviously, then, it’s important to make sure the call quality is good enough to say goodbye to your old phones. Nevertheless, virtual communication providers dangle the promise of a lower cost when you pay for a year up front. What should you do?
VoIP sales pages make it sound like you can’t get that great annual price if you pay per month, but in reality, it’s quite easy to switch to another type of plan. You can pay for a single month, test out the service, and then either cancel it or contact sales support to ask them to give you the annual price from that point forward.
2. Don’t: Replace Your Entire Phone System
While we’re on the topic of making the switch to VoIP, don’t immediately throw all your old phones in the trash. One drawback to consider is that it does require an active internet connection to function. What happens if service goes out in your area? You may want to keep a single landline active for security purposes, just in case there’s a major emergency.
In fact, for some businesses like dispatch services or medical centers, this is one of several requirements imposed by local governments. One service provider we love, RingCentral, has a service that allows your VoIP phone to stay in communication even when the internet’s out. It links a landline to a special device installed in your building, providing reliable backup phone service.
3. Do: Make Sure the VoIP Service Has Support for Every Device
If you are looking for a complete VoIP experience, you need to confirm that your new office system works on all your devices. That means every phone, tablet, laptop and desktop need to work. Look for providers that have both a Mac and Windows version of their apps. Then check to see if they support mobile devices with iOS or Android.
Apps based on Linux are a plus, especially for large enterprises with a large IT staff. Some providers might have a web browser-based option, which is great if you are on someone else’s computer and don’t feel like downloading an app. Set your sights on a provider that does it all.
4. Don’t: Get More Features Than You Need
You know how when you go to a car dealership, they always tell you to come prepared with research and numbers and a list of features. They tell you to stick to it, but we all know you’re going to walk by a top-tier trim level of the car you were thinking about, and before long you’re driving off the lot $10,000 deeper in debt than you intended. Shopping for VoIP providers for your business is quite similar.
Features are typically staggered across various levels of plans. Basic plans might only include the essentials: Unlimited calling and a phone number, plus some SMS features. Meanwhile, there’s a god-tier plan at triple the price that lets you use advanced artificial intelligence to analyze your calls. But do you really need that many? Don’t let the allure of certain bells and whistles seduce you into overpaying.
5. Do: Find a Cloud-Based VoIP System
Some smaller virtual phone services rely on dedicated servers or just a single data center to handle calls. You should find a company that can offer your business a cloud network for communications. A cloud network means that the provider uses multiple facilities to distribute the call load. If one goes down, the others can pick up the slack.
In addition, using the cloud enables several other options. For example, you can record your calls right to the cloud, or you can leverage analytics to track your call use and find ways to optimize your processes. When all of your data flows through the cloud, your phone system becomes a source of valuable information.
6. Don’t: Sign a Very Long VoIP Phone Contract
Every VoIP phone system will offer you some kind of discount for prepayment. However, don’t jump headfirst into a long-term deal. As we said, you need to at least take the service for a test drive. But even if you’ve tested out a particular VoIP company, and you’re sure you want to use it for a while, be wary of signing long deals.
There’s no guarantee that the VoIP system will keep its quality up for years to come. It may get worse if a company starts to cut corners. Perhaps other services will improve as they offer better options or a new feature that nobody else has. Then you’ll be sitting there with VoIP envy. We recommend annual plans at most.
7. Do: Consider Bundling With Video Conferencing
It’s nice to get everything your office needs from one provider. Look for a voice system that does more than just make a phone call. Find one that has other services to provide a complete business communications experience. For instance, RingCentral also has video conferencing. If you’re paying Zoom for their video call package, you could save money by canceling and switching to a single network.
Be sure to consider how your internet service holds up at the office. You’re looking at expanding your internet usage considerably, so you may want to upgrade your bandwidth or your Wi-Fi coverage in the office. Nothing’s worse than paying for a major upgrade and not being able to use it because you didn’t think about internet requirements.
8. Don’t: Be Afraid to Ask for Customer Support
We actually recommend hitting up customer support at least once during your testing period. It’s important to see how responsive it is. Even large providers may have a small customer support team, which means they may not have the time to address all your concerns. Try to get help with a specific issue to see how well they respond to your needs.
You need a network that provides a quality voice call all the time. Especially if you’re a small business, you need to know that each time someone dials your number, they’ll get through. Your new virtual number should work on all your phones and let you use the number wherever you are. If you’re having problems, the company should help right away.
If it takes a long time to receive the help you need, you might be using the wrong provider. Many new virtual phone businesses fail to take customer service seriously. Make the right choice: Find one that does. Check out the rest of our reviews for a more in-depth look at how these companies respond to our requests.