Selecting the Right VoIP Provider for Your Needs

Selecting a VoIP provider can be a daunting task, especially for small and medium businesses. Like with any industry, there are plenty of deceptive ads and marketing slogans employed in order to get new customers. Proper planning and thorough research can go a long way in avoiding the pitfalls of basing your decision solely on price or free offers.

Most of the individuals choose Voice over internet protocol phone services because it is much cheaper than landline service. You can find local and domestic long-distance Voice over internet protocol service packages, including a range of features like call waiting, voice mail, auto-attendant, call transfer and etc.

Here are some questions you should ask before committing to one vendor:

  1. Is there a contract? 
    Many companies will gladly offer lower prices in exchange for staying with them for one, two or more years. Unless you are absolutely sure that you will not switch providers, try to avoid any contractual obligations or ask for the ‘no-contract’ price. Flexibility beats rock bottom prices any day, especially in a competitive business environment.
  2. What kind of support is included? 
    Some companies offer 24×7 live support, others have only business day support while some provide very limited support via email or chat only. You should always be able to talk to someone when the service breaks and you are losing business due to it.
  3. Are advanced call features offered and at what cost? 
    If your company has employees working from home or in other states, features like virtual extensions and call routing are a must. Some don’t offer them at all while others put a cap on the number of additional numbers you can get.
  4. What are the specifics surrounding minutes and usage? 
    Depending on the requirements of your business, you might need unlimited minutes for desk lines or inexpensive international calling. Check if there is a limit on toll-free minutes or any conditions regarding specific features that you need to avoid nasty surprises later.
  5. Is there a trial period or demo? 
    Good providers will offer a trial period so you can use the service before committing to it. You can change your mind and cancel if you are dissatisfied. You don’t want to be stuck with a service you cannot return for any reason.
  6. Is faxing and web conferencing supported? 
    Although faxing usage has come down, a few customers still use it or worse, your suppliers might insist on it. Some providers have very strict conditions for incoming and outgoing faxes. Others will only offer web conferencing as a premium feature or not at all. Always ask if the particular set of features you need are included in the package or at least available as an option.

Some of the biggest differentiators between companies will be unlimited call minutes, support for virtual numbers and what sort of extras like web conferencing or toll-free numbers are included. Do your research in advance and compare with your needs to find the provider that will work for your business.