How to Choose VoIP Software?
A Guide For Making the Right VoIP Decision
Transition to VoIP Telephone Systems
IP telephony is a sustainable choice for businesses of all sizes and with saturation of the market and IP phones are getting more and more affordable. Many businesses have replaced their traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) phone lines with the advanced features of VoIP phone systems to save cost and improve their communications.
Often business owners are reserved to take the plunge and invest in such a telephone system, since they aren’t sure how to choose among providers and features. A guided decision is important, so they don’t end up paying for more than they need and here are the 10 steps to choosing VoIP software providers.
Read more: What is VoIP?
#1 Evaluate Your Business Needs
The first thing before choosing a VoIP service is to see if the business actually needs such a system. VoIP software is equipped with sophisticated features that some small businesses may not find necessary. Although VoIP is suitable for everyone, some companies that have less lines, more basic communication needs or have an established system with a phone bill plan that is efficient enough for them, may find investing in a VoIP not that urgent to do. Business owners need to look at phone bills, international call rates and VoIP service plans to see if they need to shift to VoIP.
Read more: Business VoIP Phones
#2 Assess Current Internet Infrastructure
VoIP systems, regardless of the provider require a strong Internet connection. In fact, even the best VoIP service may cause many problems if the connection can’t handle all the running processes. Businesses need to estimate the size of investment to build a better infrastructure and see if their current one will work, before looking for VoIP software.
#3 Think About the Type of Provider
There are numerous VoIP suppliers on the business market that offer a wide range of services. However, small businesses with one office location may turn to residential providers, which usually serve private users (ex. home system). If this is not the case, companies should research the focus of the provider. Some of them emphasize on serving multinational businesses with huge benefits for international calls. Other may provide unlimited talk minutes, or a limit of minutes but a wider range of features. So depending on what your business needs the most, this should be the direction of the provider screening.
Read more: VoIP Providers
#4 Research Service Plans
Most providers offer different service plans depending on the size of business. While some are entirely capacity focused and other functionality focused, they all have offers to correspond to business needs. Prices generally vary a little, so higher price for a small business service plan usually means that it offers more advantages. Many providers give customers the opportunity for DIY plans, meaning that they pay a fee for the software and basic telephone system features and everything else is paid for extra. For instance, if a business has basic needs, but wants to have HD conference calls with multiple users, they can purchase a basic plan and add on this feature only to the price.
#5 Find Out the Reliability of the Software
This is extremely important, since no one wants to pay for a system that crashes often and makes it impossible to work with. Business owners should ask providers about their downtime (yearly minutes when the service is down) and their MOS (Mean opinion score). This will show them how reliable the software is and what is the quality of the call. Many providers may offer great prices and features, but if their MOS is lower than 3.5, users may have call interruption, background noise or overall low quality of calls.
#6 Look for Advantages
Some providers will emphasize on additional benefits with subscribing, such as unlimited faxing or free equipment, which can be very cost-saving, especially for smaller businesses.
#7 Request a Demo
Providers will often offer a free trial of the system to convince their potential customers for buying it. By getting a demo, the company will be able to evaluate if this is the right software for them. It should have a user-friendly interface, fast responsiveness and provide transparency. The user should have easy access to all the features they have paid for and be able to quickly navigate through the software and remove or add more features to their plan.
#8 Ask about Insurance and Money Back Guarantees
VoIP is a service which stores a lot of important information within the software and unfortunately, this information can be lost if the system goes down unexpectedly. Before signing a contract, business owners should inquire the provider about their policy if this happens.
Another important factor is their ‘return policy’, or what happens if you aren’t happy with the software and want to cancel the subscription. Some providers offer a refund after 30 days, others can be cancelled any time for free or for a fee, so make sure you are aware of their policy.
#9 Inquire Security Procedures
However reliable it can be, VoIP is an Internet service and it can be affected by many types of malware or intentional attacks. Some suppliers offer firewalls to the software and additional security operations, but it is important to know to what extent sensitive business information is protected by the provider.
#10 After-sale Services are Important
The last important thing before making the decision of VoIP software is to research support by the provider. It is important that there is constant customer service by many means (phone, email, live chat) and that the staff is welcoming and able to quickly resolve problems. Unprofessional attitude towards the customer can cause many problems, which if not fixed quickly will be a burden to the communication flow of the company.
Those are the main things every business owner should do before choosing VoIP software and if you don’t know where to start, look at the highest rated providers first and research them on the above points. Read reviews and opinions of other businesses and make sure that the provider is active in your industry for the best results.