As a business leader, surely you want to find the best business phone system for your organization’s needs. With so many business phone system competitors offering quality communication systems today, it can be tricky to figure out which one to choose. If you are looking for a new VoIP phone system, make sure to review these 7 steps for choosing the right VoIP provider for your organization.
1. Determine what kind of phone system you need
First of all, it’s important to understand that there are lots of different types of business phone systems and communication platforms available to businesses today. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is just one business phone system available today. But it is becoming more and more popular because of its convenience, affordability, and flexibility. Part of the reason for this is that it functions using internet connection, which is something most businesses already have. Plus, using the internet allows phone systems to integrate with other digital systems, including video calling platforms and live messaging.
When choosing a VoIP provider for you, start by determining what type of VoIP service is best for your needs. Below are some of the most common types of VoIP systems.
- Hosted PBX: Normally hosted on-site, this type of VoIP provides robust features with a reliable server and security system.
- Cloud-based: Using cloud-based technology, this kind of phone system allows you to leverage on-the-go and mobile VoIP functions.
- Unified Communication (UC): UC systems offer a complete business communication suite. This includes video conferencing, screen sharing, instant messaging, call forwarding and much more. This system is great for teams who work remotely.
- Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS): CPaaS allows businesses to expand on their communication needs with high-tech integrations and functionality. It can create an even more robust communication system than Unified Communication systems.
Many VoIP providers today offer several different communication system offerings. It’s always good to approach your search knowing what type of system you are looking for first.
2. Decide which VoIP features you need
The next step is determining which VoIP features your business needs for everyday communication. Most VoIP providers today offer long lists of features. So starting your search with an idea about your ideal features is helpful. Chances are, you will have “must-haves,” “nice-to-haves,” as well as features you definitely don’t need. For instance, your business might decide you definitely need features such as VoIP analytics and HIPAA compliance (if you work in healthcare), but you don’t necessarily need a virtual assistant.
You can start to explore VoIP functions by taking a look at this list of the most popular VoIP features for small businesses today. Then, consider what some of the most widely used VoIP providers offer, such as RingCentral, Grasshopper, and Ooma.
3. Figure out how many users (lines) will use the VoIP service
Many VoIP providers create pricing and plans based on the number of users, also known as phone lines or “seats”, the business will need. Before choosing a VoIP provider, determine how many phone lines your company will need when starting the VoIP service.
Typically, each employee needs their own phone line. However, you may have some employees who don’t need phone systems as often compared to others (ie. customer support or sales agents who use their phone regularly). If you’re unsure, take a look at how to determine the number of phone lines you’ll need.
Keeping your number of users in mind will be helpful when budgeting for the VoIP system. Some providers offer discounted monthly fees when your business signs up with more phone lines.
4. Determine your budget
How much are you willing to spend per month on your VoIP system? Luckily, with VoIP vs. a landline phone system, pricing is flexible. When choosing a VoIP provider, most businesses can easily find a plan that fits their business budget.
VoIP pricing today ranges from just $20 per user to $200 per user. But keep in mind that typically, the more you pay per user, the more robust communication features you’ll get. Pricing also depends on whether you are investing in a hosted system or using a simple cloud=-based system. Learn more about how much VoIP costs for businesses.
When budgeting, your main factors to keep in mind will be the steps you’ve already read about above – the type of phone system, needed features, and number of users. Remember that you may also need to budget for communication hardware, such as desk phones, headsets, etc. depending on your needs.
5. Consider your customer support needs
While customer support may not seem like an immediate concern when looking for a VoIP provider, it will make a difference once you’re set up and using the system. If you run into an issue with your phone system and need support from your VoIP provider, you will probably want to be able to get in touch with a representative right away.
Different VoIP providers have different customer support systems. Some customer support teams are available 247 while others are only available during business hours. Similarly, some offer convenient support options like live chat or text. Others may require you to sit in the “call queue” and wait for the next available representative.
A good way to investigate customer support systems is to compare the offerings of different VoIP providers. Check out the top 5 business VoIP providers and their customer and tech support offerings. You can also compare popular providers such as:
6. Explore potential latency and security issues
Remember: not all VoIP providers are created equal! It’s very important to choose a high-quality VoIP provider so that you do not face issues like latency or security breaches down the road.
Latency is an issue that causes lags or delays during communication. While VoIP phone systems are susceptible to some latency, some providers ensure less latency or “downtime” than others. You can ask VoIP providers whether or not they have an “uptime guarantee". You can also look into getting higher broadband, which can prevent latency issues.
When it comes to security, you want to pick a provider that follows reliable security protocols. Make sure the company encrypts all data that you may provide to them and uses secure networks. If you work in an industry where data is particularly sensitive, such as healthcare, you might look into additional security measures. This can include multi-factor authentication and data center audits. Don’t be afraid to ask each VoIP provider how they ensure data security before choosing them.
7. Compare top VoIP providers
Once you get a better understanding of the above factors, you can start to compare popular VoIP providers. Even if you don’t end up choosing a popular VoIP brand, exploring their offerings will give you a better sense for what you are looking for in a VoIP provider. Here are some resources to help you get started:
8. Read online reviews
If you are still unsure of which VoIP provider is the right one to choose for your business, online reviews can be a great resource. Exploring reviews from real customers of each VoIP provider, including noteworthy pros and cons, can help you decide whether or not to choose their service. It’s smart to look at reviews on multiple websites to make sure you are getting an accurate picture of what each VoIP provider offers.
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