Find the right VoIP provider for you in three easy steps

CHOOSING a VoIP provider requires some thought as to the end result you wish to achieve.

Having a clear idea in your mind as to what you actually want from your phone system helps to clarify the choices available from different providers.

We work with many different companies from different stages of the VoIP-knowledge, from those who are completely new to VoIP, to those who have a history of using VoIP and are analysing prospective replacement services.

1. Draw a map

It's a good idea to start with the basics. Sit down with a piece of paper and draw out your phone system.

Map how you want customer calls to flow - who answers in the first instance? What happens to the call if it isn't answered? Do you want all your staff to have a direct dial number, or do you want all calls to route through a central reception?

This will allow you to see your phone call routing at a glance, and should provide a good place to start mapping your ideal solution.

2. Start wishing

Next - think about any additional features you might need or want. If you are signing up to a service with a minimum term contract, then have a think about a Wish List. It will be a better idea to engage with a new system that allows you these capabilities, rather than looking to change again to another provider. Apart from the time and hassle, you could well lose out due to minimum contract terms or cancellation fees.

If, for instance, you like the idea of being able to conference call with customers, then it is better to have a service which gives this option. It will be much easier to request a feature be enabled, than switching providers to one which can offer it.

If you have a clear idea of your requirements, then congratulations! After mapping out your call flow, and creating your wish list, you should have a clearer idea of your wants and needs. If this is simple, or unlikely to change, then your search will be narrowed. You can restrict your list of possible providers, and speed up the change process.

If you only have a rough idea of your requirements, then it may be an idea to factor in your Wish List. This way you will be covered if you decide to include any additional factors, or if you have to include anything in the future due to business requirements.

Preparation will allow you to smooth your transition from one provider to another. If you are completely new to VoIP, then it is even more essential to do the thinking first.

3. Start phoning

If a VoIP service will be completely new to your company, then phone round prospective providers to open a dialogue with them.

A bit of research on the web will allow you to narrow down your list of prospects, bearing in mind your current and potential future requirements. Working with your list of providers, you can cross-check with your Wish List and current requirements, and dismiss those you know aren't suitable.

From there, you should call the list of providers you have left. Open a discussion with them. Feel free to ask questions, and request their input. After all, they are the specialists. Any provider worth the money should be able to not only answer questions but also provide input and insight you may not have considered.

Be wary of any provider you can't enter into discussions with. Any telecoms company who won't actually use the phone when dealing with customers and potential customers should (quite rightly) crossed off.

Thinking long term

One possible solution is to select a provider who supplies a modular solution. This allows users to purchase add on features as and when required. However, bear in mind the possible costs, particularly for any add on features. It is quite common for providers to charge higher than expected costs for additional features. They know you are committed with your company phone system. They also know that you have to take their solution - you have no choice.

Another possible solution is to sign with a provider who provides a comprehensive feature set. If the provider in question has a full, feature-rich business-grade service, then you will be covered both for your needs and your future wants. Your basic requirements will be covered, as will your Wish List. The standard cost may be higher, after all businesses have to make money. However, you know that this price won't increase, even if you request every single feature on offer.

The best way to determine your phone system requirements is to run with it for a while. Improvements can be incremental. Listen to customers and staff, and see where improvements can be made.

Just be sure you have the option to switch on features if you need them, and you have factored the price of these into your initial analysis. Also reassure yourself that the provider in question is easy to contact, and knows their subject. If they were unhelpful, vague, or unwilling to listen to your specific situation, question using them. If they wouldn't discuss your situation thoroughly, didn't listen, or kept steering towards a solution you felt wasn't right for you, cross them off your list.

If they wouldn't even discuss things with you in a conversation, they shouldn't have been on your list to begin with.

Contact us to discuss your situation with us in a proper, old fashioned phone call

If you are currently weighing up VoIP providers, we have a useful Whitepaper that can help. It gives handy insider tips from our technical team. It gives background on the technology, some points to note, and a comparison table at the back for you to fill in with your potential supplier details.

Get in touch and we'll be happy to send this to you.