As more and more companies discover the benefits of cloud-based phone solutions, more phone service providers have entered the market. But not all business VoIP providers are created equally. In order to find the best hosted PBX provider for your business, we recommend that you get answers to questions in a few key areas: technology, service and innovation.
Technology Questions to Ask VoIP Service Providers
If you’ve decided to go with a hosted PBX provider, you’re likely doing so because you want to be out of the business of running a phone system. You must be able to trust that you are turning the task over to a phone service provider with the infrastructure to do the job. You should be sure that the system hardware and software are more robust, more secure and more resilient than they could possibly be if you were doing it yourself.
The success of the solution is linked to the software that powers the system itself and enables integration with other business applications. Buyers should seek to know a lot about the past, present and future of each phone system vendor’s software offering. It is a little known fact, but many business VoIP providers license core software, called the softswitch, from third party providers. We don’t think this is the right approach for our customers and have developed our own Call Conductor software, but even if that is acceptable to you, you should understand the implications. Here are some key technology questions to ask any prospective hosted VoIP provider:
- Describe your solution’s network infrastructure.
- Do you have redundant equipment configured?
- What are your recovery expectations for a major natural or man-made disaster?
- Did you develop your own softswitch?
- Do you license any core technology from third parties?
Service Related Questions to Ask VoIP Service Providers
The best business VoIP providers deliver outstanding customer service that is reflected in the experience of implementing, using and supporting the solution. Your solution shouldn’t arrive in a box with a set of user manuals and a card from the VoIP provider wishing you luck. It should be offered as a complete package that leverages best practices and expertise to make the experience painless. Here are a few questions that will help determine if the VoIP provider will be able to provide you the service you deserve:
- Do you have customers like me? Ask them to identify companies of similar, size, industry and complexity. Are there case studies, customer testimonials or videos that you can review?
- What are the initial, monthly and ongoing maintenance and support costs?
- Will I have to pay for upgrades to the system?
- How long is the contract?
- What are the details of your phone system implementation process?
- Will someone be provided to help me with the implementation or am I on my own?
- Who will support my users if they have questions or problems?
- Do you have a service level agreement in place?
- Do you make your performance and reliability statistics public?
How Innovative are the VoIP Providers?
One beauty of cloud-based business phone solutions is that they are, in essence, always new. Long term customers can get all of the features and products offered to brand new clients. Therefore, it is important to understand, not only what the VoIP service provider is offering today, but what will be offered down the road. So, you’ll need to understand the vendor’s history of anticipating future market demands, by questioning their product development philosophy and methodologies and by having a look at the roadmap. They should be willing to tell you:
- What is your product roadmap for the next year?
- How are development priorities decided?
- Are customers consulted as new features are developed? If so,what is the mechanism for doing that?
- What is the size of your engineering and software development organizations?
- What can you tell me about your financials? How do I know you will be around to support me for the next five to seven years?
We hope you find this information helpful. Any VoIP service vendor who won’t address these questions, or can’t answer them satisfactorily, does not deserve your business. Of course, we are happy to answer these and any other questions you might have, just drop us a line.