What Is The Best VoIP Service Available?
Finding the Best VoIP Service: 5 Considerations
If you are considering a move into the cloud for your phone system, it is critical you understand how to evaluate the best VoIP service so that you can pick the best VoIP provider for your business.
Broadview’s OfficeSuite cloud-based phone service provides businesses with unique features and applications that other providers don’t and can’t offer. And unlike other VoIP providers, OfficeSuite is easy to use, easy to buy, easy to install and easy to maintain. For three years, Broadview has been ranked as one of the top VoIP providers by Infonetics Research in the 2012 Business VoIP Services Scorecard for North America.
Here are a few reasons why OfficeSuite is the best service:
- Ease of use for employees and administrators – you have to see it to believe it!
- Wide variety of phones that are included with the service
- Phones have lots of buttons that are easy to change
- There is no capital investment required
- Everything you need is included – low total cost of ownership
So what else makes Broadview the best VoIP service provider? What are the items to consider when evaluating the best office phone services?
1. PHONE AND SYSTEM FEATURES
When evaluating top VoIP providers make sure you are getting the features you need and want. Most VoIP providers have the basic features, like hold and transfer, but the best VoIP phone services have unique features like hot desking (using any phone on the network) and mobile twinning (sending calls to both your cell phone and desk phone simultaneously) that can really enhance your operational efficiency and improve employee productivity.
This is a big area to keep an eye on. The brand of phones used and the types of phones offered should be an item to check. Make sure that the physical phone you are getting is from a quality vendor. There are a lot of cheap phones on the market from unknown vendors and while they may look great in a picture, the worst thing that could happen is you get the phone on-site only to discover that it is not a quality product. Top VoIP providers have a variety of phones to suit all your locations and applications. You may want a small phone for a lobby or point of sale location and a high quality conference phone for the boardroom. Having lots of phone options provides you with ultimate flexibility for all your business applications.
3. PRICING/BUSINESS MODEL
Generally, there are two types of pricing models offered by cloud-based phone service providers: unlimited per user plans and custom plans. Unlimited plans are simple to understand but you’re often stuck paying for features you may not use and paying extra for features you want while you can easily “over buy” as well. For example, if you have five users, each on an unlimited plan, you will likely get five phone lines too. The odds of you needing five lines for five users are slim. OfficeSuite has a custom pricing plan that lets you tailor the service to your exact requirements. Another consideration is whether to buy or rent the phones. Buying phones may be a good option for some but if they break or need to be upgraded to enable a new system feature, you are on the hook to pay for new phones. Pricing and business models vary greatly among the top VoIP providers and a few providers offer both purchase and rental options for equipment. Also, check the pricing for features. While some providers tell you the system includes a feature, they often charge you extra if you need additional quantities. So if you want multiple auto-attendants so customers aren’t forced to sit through one long prompt of menus, you may end up paying extra – sometimes a lot.
4. CALL QUALITY
Just like pricing models, there are two general types of cloud-based phone providers. The first we will call “Internet-based providers.” These providers use the Internet to transport calls from your office into their own network and then on to the final destination. This is usually fine for smaller companies or remote users but you need to make sure you have enough bandwidth to support the volume of calls at each site and you may want to manage the Quality of Service on your local network to prioritize VoIP traffic. The Internet is a best-effort network and therefore, the quality of the connection can suffer, and so can your calls.
The second type of provider, which we will call the “managed provider,” is the best VoIP service as it offers service over a managed circuit and generally will guarantee call quality and reliability. The connection from your site to the provider’s network is managed and traffic is routed over a dedicated connection, not via the Internet, so quality of service can be tightly controlled. Only the best VoIP service provider offers both Internet-based and managed options, giving you the flexibility to scale up or down as needed, depending on your requirements, applications and budget. Many companies use Internet-based service for smaller locations while large sites have managed services to ensure quality for larger groups of employees.
5. VENDOR EXPERIENCE
This is probably the most important item to consider. VoIP is not a new technology and the barriers to entry into this market are low. It seems like a new cloud-based phone provider is born every week and while some providers are very good, other providers will fail and you could be left high and dry for voice service. The top VoIP providers will allow you to review their financial data you can so you know the health of the company you are signing up with. Make sure you know how long they have been providing VoIP service and how many customers they support. While the barrier to entry is low, it takes years of experience to develop the best VoIP service and support structure to support a business customer in the manner they deserve to be treated.