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Important Things to Know Before Choosing a VoIP Company

Whitney Troxel
Whitney Troxel | Contributor

Whether you’re switching from a traditional phone system or just changing VoIP providers, getting the best performance from your new system requires planning. Your IT department should be included in every step of the process, from initial conversations to implementation. They will be able to answer technical questions and ensure your network is capable of handling VoIP services.

Deciding If VoIP Is Right for Your Business

Before you even start looking at potential solutions, meet with your IT staff and any other key stakeholders to discuss the pros and cons of switching to a VoIP system (or changing providers). Your IT staff will be able to provide insight on what your current network can handle, what equipment would need to be purchased, etc. Other stakeholders will provide insight on what VoIP features are necessary for them to accomplish their jobs. After talking with the necessary parties, it will be clear if switching to VoIP makes sense for your business. 

VoIP services have the potential to significantly cut costs. However, just because it can save you money doesn’t make it the right choice for every business. VoIP is dependent on the internet. Loss of power or unstable internet connections make it impossible to make or receive calls. Depending on the needs of your business, you may need to keep a traditional phone line. Keep in mind that you don’t have to fully switch to a VoIP system. You can integrate VoIP features and services, but keep traditional phone lines where necessary. 

Things to Consider

Not all VoIP services are created equal. Different service providers specialize in different features. When researching which service to use, take your time to analyze all the variables. Finding the best service for your business may take some time, but it will be well worth the effort.

Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS)

Many VoIP providers offer unified communication systems, which includes phone and conference calls, video calls, voicemail, emails, and chat functionality all within one app. Using one application can make both external and internal communication more efficient. However, not every business will benefit from this service. Discuss the specific needs of your business with your team to determine how your business would benefit from a UCaaS system. 

Call Management

Call management requirements vary drastically depending on the size and scope of your business. Companies with high call volumes need features like call queuing or automatic call distribution. It’s important to know your specific needs to ensure you purchase a VoIP system that has all the features you require. 

Integrations

One of VoIP’s many benefits is its ability to integrate with other applications. Look for a service provider that integrates with the software you use frequently (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). The right integrations can simplify processes and increase employee efficiency. 

Security

Anything connected to the internet has the potential to be hacked. You cannot afford to have your communication system compromised by hackers. Look for services that provide end-to-end encryption, encryption of data at rest, and advanced authentication options. Have in-depth security discussions with service providers and your IT team to make sure everyone understands which party is responsible for the security of what data.

Desk Phones, Softphones, and Mobile Apps

VoIP also eliminates the need for physical phones. Of course you can still use VoIP desk phones if you prefer, or even purchase adapters to make your phones into VoIP compatible. However, you also have the ability to turn computers, smartphones, and other devices into softphones for your company. This is especially nice for businesses that employ remote workers. It saves the added expense of sending a physical phone to each employee. 

Keep in mind that using softphones can pose potential security risks. Your IT department should establish a process for confirming security measures and allowing access to your system for all softphone users. 

Customer Support

When researching VoIP providers, do not overlook their customer support options. Some providers have robust 24/7 support for no extra charge, while others offer limited options or charge by the hour. If your IT department is capable of handling all VoIP related issues, your provider’s customer support options are less of an issue. However, if you’re working with a bare-bones IT staff or outsourcing your IT support, you cannot afford to overlook customer support options. 

Business Growth

You don’t want to be changing VoIP providers every year. Be sure to look at your business’s growth projections to make sure the provider you choose can grow with your business. 

Helpful VoIP Terms

Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN) — The combination of telephone networks used in the world. Includes landline and cellular networks.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) — A telephone exchange or a switching system that lets a business with multiple phone extensions and lines share a connection to the public switched PSTN. It also allows internal extension-to-extension calling as well as inbound and outbound calls.

Hosted PBX — Calls are routed to you over the internet and your PBX phone hardware is off-site.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) — A network technology that delivers voice data via the internet.

SIP Trunking — A virtual connection to the PSTN. Delivers multiple voice lines to a single organization. More flexible than PRI. You can add more call lines without having anyone come on-site to set up any hardware.

Primary Rate Interface (PRI) and PRI Trunking — A physical connection to the PSTN over a dedicated line. It has 23 voice channels, allowing your business to take 23 calls at the same time. It's known for higher quality of service than SIP because it’s not subject to network. It travels through a private telephone network.

What is the best company for VoIP services and needs?

Finding the best VoIP company is important for all of your business and conferenincg needs. Check out the top companies for your area.

What are the benefits of VoIP?

International calls are cheaper with VoIP, and you can accept phone calls anywhere around the globe. You can also use special features without having a fancy phone.

What are the drawbacks of using VoIP?

VoIP depends on the internet and won't work in case of a power outage.

What is setup like?

Setup can either be easy or difficult, depending on the scope of your project. Some products require you to plug in a special adapter between your existing phone and your router. If you need to lay extra ethernet cables, then setup can be more extensive.

Do I need VOIP and a landline?

No. You can use just one or the other; however, some businesses opt to use both. If you are a business and you have high volume levels or some amount of fluctuation in your call volume, you might opt to use both landline and VOIP, in case of an outage.

Is VoIP practical for my situation?

For most cases, yes, VOIP is practical. The only thing to think about is the strength of your internet connection. Dial-up connections are not fast enough. The minimum bandwidth needed is about 100 kbps for upload and download.

How does VoIP pricing compare to landline?

VoIP pricing is usually cheaper than standard PSTN service.

Who uses VoIP?

Businesses, as well as individuals, use VoIP in many ways. Big call centers use VoIP, but there are also providers who specialize in services for small companies and entrepreneurs. In addition, people can use VoIP to replace their home phone or landline service. It is especially useful if you are making international calls, which can be expensive via a regular phone company.

Do I need special equipment, or even a computer for VoIP?

No. You can use a standard home or business phone, but you will need a special adapter. You can also use a specially made VoIP phone, or you can use a mobile phone, but with a special app.

How do I choose the best VoIP Company?

Consider your situation. Do you need to make phone calls just for you, or do you need to provide phones for multiple employees? Also check out pricing, add-on services, and reviews.

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