The 6 Key Questions to Ask a Potential VOIP Provider

September 17th, 2015

voice over IP Telephone unit

Moving away from traditional telephony to VOIP makes good sense for most businesses. VOIP innovation allows businesses to be more flexible in giving workers the option to work remotely or bring their own device, by allowing calls to be forwarded to, and answered, from anywhere.

It’s also cheaper, allowing businesses to pay a single monthly cost, rather than have a large upfront installation cost, and then frequent maintenance expenses. For this same reason, VOIP is far easier to scale as the business grows, as the business simply adds users to its plans.

Combined, all these benefits means that a business running a VOIP solution is a more efficient and productive business, and that means it has a competitive advantage over its rivals.

But VOIP can also be difficult to transition to if you don’t have the right preparation and expertise throughout the transition. For that reason, it’s a good idea for a business to seek out an expert partner to assist with the roll over, and then make sure that your business is prepared to ask the right questions.

1. Is my broadband connection fast enough?

Australia is gaining global notoriety for having patchy and relatively slow Internet (or providing fast connections at a premium well beyond what most would be willing to pay). The nature of VOIP is such that call quality will be significantly impacted with slower broadband, so the very first question to ask is whether the Internet connection is up to the task of having multiple people on the line in the office simultaneously.

2. Is my hardware up to the task?

In addition to fast broadband, it might be the case that your organisation needs to make some hardware investments to be VOIP-ready. The traditional analogue phones will need to go, for a start, and instead you’ll need to invest in business-grade handsets that have in-built security, as with VOIP, an insecure line can be hacked. Your provider will be able to talk you through any additional networking and infrastructure hardware investments you might need to make.

3. Should you go managed, or hosted?

It is possible to host the VOIP infrastructure and software internally, which some organisations prefer to do in order to maintain control over their infrastructure. Hosted solutions work better for organisations that are stable in terms of growth and demand. For high growth businesses, it is generally a better idea to have a managed service that can quickly scale as you need it to.

4. Do I really need all these features?

Unlike standard line phones, it is possible for VOIP phone systems to have a host of additional features added into them. Some companies go for the lot and then doubt their investment when staff don’t find value in many of the features. With that in mind, when discussing the solution with the technology partner, run through key feature sets to see if they will have value to your business. Two of the most valued VOIP features include:

  • Unified Communications support: In addition to phone calls, VOIP can be integrated with a UC solution to include presence, telephony and conference support. Organisations that don’t yet have a UC solution in the office should consider using VOIP as an opportunity to roll one out at the same time, as UC has been proven to significantly enhance office collaboration and productivity.
  • Call routing: If your interest in VOIP is to get your workforce more mobile, then this is a must. Call routing allows incoming calls to be diverted to an entirely different phone, such as a mobile phone, without the person making the call realising that it has been diverted. This in turn means that the mobile worker runs no risk of missing calls and not returning voice messages if they are out of the office over a long period of time.

5. What level of customer service is in my contract?

Communications are a critical part of a businesses’ operation, and if something should go wrong with the phone communications, a business can be left stranded and losing money by the minute. With that in mind, it’s important to ensure that the VOIP provider will be available on an urgent basis to resolve any problems as they arise.

6. How will I be charged?

Some VOIP plans charge by the minute, while others charge by the second. If possible, opt for a per-second plan, because the cost of calls can escalate quickly if you’re being charged by the minute and your team is making a lot of 45-second calls.

Additionally, if you’re confident in the quality and longevity of your provider, then try to lock down a longer-term contract, as these will generally be less expensive, and should still contain provisions to scale up and down as necessary to meet business growth.

To find out more or enquire about VoIP solutions, contact Connected Intelligence today.

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