More businesses now are switching from the traditional telephone system to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications. According to statistics, approximately 31% of businesses in the United States are using VoIP systems to increase their efficiency and productivity. In this digital era, everything is really reliant on internet connection. Like VoIP, calls are basically done using the Internet.
There are several reasons why most businesses shifted to the use of VoIP systems. First of all, it is cost-effective. Imagine, businesses can save up to 75% in using VoIP systems. Second, it is also convenient for business operations. You can take calls as long as you are connected to an internet hotspot. The use of VoIP system is also flexible. You can use it even if you still use conventional phones. Lastly, it is multi-functional. Most VoIP service providers allow you not just audio calls, but also video conferencing and file sharing, among others.
There are hundreds of VoIP service providers available in the web. They have varied offerings and features. As a business owner, you need to make sure that the VoIP service provider that you are going to use can really help your business be productive.
In this section, we will discuss the top 11 criteria in choosing the best VoIP service provider for your business:
The first thing you have to consider is your budget. Choose the VoIP provider that you know your business can afford in the long run. The prices of VoIP service providers vary from each other. Usually, they range from $20 to $50 per month depending on the plan and the features. Some VoIP ask for extra charges if you want additional features. Some are only geared toward video conferencing, so basically they ask less.
Service Plan Programs
Service plans vary from one VoIP service provider to another. It is best that you inquire about their plans. The differences in plans include features, capacity, and other offerings. In order to know about the uniqueness of their plan programs, refer to this site.
Not all VoIP service providers provide mobile applications that are as efficient and productive as desktop apps. Those systems that do not have custom applications cannot create a log for calls and cannot produce voicemail transcripts if the call is unanswered. However, smartphone integration is not a standard among VoIP service providers. But since most people have smartphones now, it would be helpful if you consider this criterion in choosing a provider.
A quality VoIP service providers include conference calling system. But more than this, they should also be equipped with call management features. This allows the user to do call forwarding, call waiting for service, and other calling options. These options are very convenient especially when a user wants to forward a call to another representative. It can also be helpful in holding calls while certain operations are done.
Integration with Productivity Apps
This is one of the most important criteria in choosing your VoIP service provider. Businesses switch to VoIP for productivity. On the other hand, so much more productivity can be achieved if the VoIP system can be integrated with third-party productivity apps. These can help your sales or service representatives be more efficient. Most of the trusted VoIP providers can be integrated with dozens of extensions, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Desk.com, office software, and so much more.
Communication is the vital purpose of VoIP. Basically, they convert analog audio signals to digital so they can be transmitted to the internet. The earliest forms of VoIP only cater to voice calls. Now, they can be equipped with email, video conferencing, and so much more. Some VoIP service providers have this what we call “unified communication”. This allows all means of communication to be integrated into one system – email, phone calls, video calls, voicemail, and conference calls, among others. This is more efficient than opening separate apps, windows, or platforms.
24/7 Customer Support
Business operations should never be delayed. In case you encounter difficulties or problems in using VoIP, there should be a customer support that can answer your queries 24/7. Only a few providers have 24/7 customer support available for all plans and bundles. For some, they only provide if you applied to plans with two or more users or usually at high tiers. Customer support can be in form of email, phone call, or live chat.
It is important to choose a provider that offers you somewhat like a “trial period” in which you are allowed to decide if you are satisfied with their service and continue your subscription. Mostly, 30-day satisfaction guarantee is given. Within this, you can terminate service without penalty. If you subscribe, they will require you to sign a one-year contract and a penalty agreement in which you will be penalized if you discontinue using their service.
Company Size & Reputation
The company size can tell the credibility and the reputation of the VoIP service provider. It is much safer to choose the frontrunners in the industry than smaller companies. This is to avoid risks of losses and to ensure quality service. Their years in the industry should also be considered. Moreover, do a little research about how many servers are supporting their system to determine how reliable their connection is.
Local Area Codes & E911
Choose a service provider that support local area codes. If they don’t offer local area codes, people in your area who might be contacting you will be charged when they call you using a traditional telephone. Most especially, make sure that the provider offers e911 service. The enhanced 911 allows your details to be given to the local dispatch for emergency purposes.
Surf the web for reliable websites that provide helpful reviews about the VoIP service providers. These include personal experiences from companies and businesses. Their feedback will help you in deciding what VoIP provider you will choose.
If you have questions or concerns about a particular provider, do not hesitate to reach out to their customer service.