How to Pick a Hosted VoIP Provider

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: February 14, 2011

After making the difficult decisions regarding the possibility of changing out your business phone system and coming to the conclusion that the best bet for your business is a hosted VoIP service, you now are in the final stages before your purchase. With all of the technical research as to which type of system you need behind you, now comes the task of figuring out who gets your business.

VoIP Providers Are Not Created Equal

Like most other products, all VoIP providers’ service packages are not identical. With differences in their levels of service, upgrade policies, and support packages, you need to be certain that you are picking the service provider that best fits your business’ needs.

To find the best fit with your new VoIP partner, it is helpful to keep in mind what the original goals were for your business when you began looking for a VoIP system. Most often, businesses are looking for:

  • Increased service responsibility – your new service provider should be able to manage your telephony needs for you. Your business does not want to be responsible for any of the day to day maintenance or operations of the system.
  • Adaptability – you want to be able to make changes to your network by adding lines, moving extensions, adding and/or removing features as your company grows and changes.
  • Overall cost effectiveness – one of the primary draws of VoIP phone systems from the beginning has been its price point.

Many service providers fit the bill in more than one of these areas, but rarely fill all three to the extent that they will match your needs exactly. Most often, the best course of action is to pinpoint exactly what the most important quality in your hosting company needs to be and make sure that the other requirements are fulfilled to an acceptable degree.

Service Responsibility

For many companies, a hosted VoIP system is the answer to the issues of having a technical staff on hand to deal with their telephone system. If this is your goal in selecting a provider, then it does your business little good to find a company whose focus is solely on pricing, and offers relatively little in the way of technical support or responsibility for your network. There are many companies available for whom the focus is undeniably on assuring that your network is up and running, that call quality is excellent, and that any issues on the technical side are resolved immediately and expertly.

Adapting and Growing

Particularly useful for small and medium sized businesses, VoIP allows for rapid growth and changes in your phone system. If your primary goal is to be able to change your telephone system and add features, lines, and complexity, you need to ensure that you are selecting a provider who will not charge enormous fees for each change. Choosing a provider that understands and emphasizes the changeability and customizations of VoIP networks will be the best fit for your business.

The Price is Right

Again, one of the biggest selling points of VoIP systems has always been its bottom line. If your ultimate goal in switching to VoIP phone service is to reduce and/or eliminate certain charges and to have access to the most cost effective plan out there, then you should make that a clear priority and understand that many of the providers who offer slightly more robust service packages also charge more. There are many different providers that offer very low cost service packages while maintaining a variety of options and technical support.

Most VoIP services will save your business money in the long run, just as most will offer your business a greater adaptability and a lessening of your involvement in the technical issues of your phone system. The key in finding the best long-term partner for your VoIP hosting is really a matter defining your priorities.
 

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