8 Tips to Select a Business VoIP Service for Small Businesses
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Business-level VoIP service providers are a popular choice among small businesses and startups, especially now that the Covid-19 pandemic has fueled the cultural folly of the hybrid business. VoIP is great for replicating PBX functions for a fraction of the money for large companies, in most cases with monthly bills per user. But it is also an excellent option for remote workers who already have the same communication skills in the office. On top of that, you’ll get flexibility as your phone calls are now data. Enjoy a variety of file sharing, messaging, and even video conferencing features, and it is becoming increasingly crucial for VoIP businesses.
The versatility of VoIP solutions means that you can integrate with other systems such as customer relationship management (CRM) or help desk systems. These integrations can help you extract your call logs to gain insights into your customers’ feelings about your business and the demographics that make your core audience.
If you decide to upgrade to VoIP service but are wondering where to start, the short answer is: slow down, do your homework, and don’t just think about the cost. Many unique commercial VoIP systems have different features and pricing structures, making them difficult to choose.
1. Know Your Prices
A growing company needs to anticipate the features needed today but is innovative enough to determine what they need. Then, make sure your VoIP service provider can expand as desired and think about the consequences of future pricing. Once you’ve set up features for business processes requiring voice, you’ll know the minimum number of voice platforms you need to support them. From there, it’s just a comparative purchase.
2. Find Different Ordering Options
VoIP systems offer many ways to make calls. Their primary function is to mimic the traditional PBX, where workers call and speak using mobile phones and headphones in their simplest form. Some VoIP systems allow you to connect your existing phone, while others offer premium VoIP phones that give you access to more features.
Smartphones are another communication option unique to the VoIP system. A softphone program on your computer uses a connected microphone and headphones or speakers to mimic phone functions. Many of these apps offer features that you can’t get from any traditional phone system.
These mobile smartphones go a step further. Field workers need a complete set of communication functions to operate on their mobile devices. Unfortunately, not all VoIP providers offer smartphone apps with the same value and services as their desktop apps. Most of the systems we’ve reviewed offer iOS and Android mobile apps, but their quality and features vary. For example, the mobile application cannot create a call log or transcribe voicemail if a call is not answered. Of course, the business is to make smartphone apps as distinctive and potent as their desktop counterparts, but it’s worth testing them for mobile device deployment.
3. Do Not Ignore The Features Of Cooperation
Full-featured VoIP services enhance their voice capabilities with various collaboration tools that your employees can use to meet, communicate, and work online. Users can access these capabilities either through the Unified Communications client, through separate applications provided by the VoIP provider, or through third-party integration. Primary features include SMS texting, video conferencing, and online meeting collaboration.
However, as the market matures, you will find more sophisticated definitions of services with additional capabilities. For instance, online meeting collaboration and video conferencing usually include the ability to share a screen for a presentation or demonstration of a program. However, new interpretations may consist of adding annotations to a document shared with each call attendee and the ability to track participants and editions. Calendar and scheduling integrations are standard, typically using public directory services as hubs. Advanced services offer customization tools to integrate specific features of the primary VoIP platform with features gained through third-party integration.
4. Understand Call Management
VoIP platform feature sets are tailored to a specific audience. So, you will not find the same potential in products that directly compete with each other. If your organization invests in VoIP, make sure your business needs intelligence is actually in the product. For example, call management is a particular area that deserves attention.
For example, suppose you have many calls to a specific set of phone numbers or to the system at certain times of the year. In this case, you will have to wait for the call, as the VoIP system can cleverly deliver calls across extensions based on availability, geographic location, or other criteria. Extension management is another example, where the system assigns extensions to individual users and manages a directory of names that integrates with your IT department’s network directory.
5. Third-Party Consolidation Plan
The main attraction of VoIP is its ability to connect to other business systems, especially high-end systems known as UCaaS.
With this plugin, customers can create custom workflows to help them work more efficiently. For example, a phone call to a customer can trigger a softphone in the helpdesk application. According to the standard procedure, the service representative may receive the call and fill out a problem ticket stored as a document file corresponding to the ticket number in the database. But as part of the integration, you can also store automatic call logs as a WAV file corresponding to both the ticket text file and the ticket number, so both files will appear as supporting documents when anyone calls that ticket log.
If you find this exciting, find vendors that support the Integration API. These usually adhere to standards, which have become a popular way to integrate cloud services.
6. Don’t Be Satisfied With Second-Rate Support
As with most products, the level of customer service you receive is critical to how well your VoIP service works. Live chat is another popular option.
Most vendors offer 24/7 support via live chat. Moreover, if you are running a global business with twenty-four-hour needs, you need to find a service provider who can ensure that your questions are answered promptly.
However, be careful when adding capabilities to your phone system, especially in the custom integration mentioned above. But you should expect your price to increase.
Examine every component of your overall voice communication system and know who to call, when, and why. Also, if you’re in the process of developing a custom integration, it’s a good idea to look at premium support options. Of course, this is extra money, but you can make huge profits if experts are available during development and day-to-day operations.
7. Don’t Neglect Safety
Security needs to be carefully considered for every cloud-based service associated with your business. Comprehensive security measures are more urgent for Internet-connected applications like VoIP that serve as the center of your business communication. Do your due diligence with vendors to see where data is responsible for bypassing their cloud-based services and, if possible, negotiate the security terms of your agreement.
Find services that provide end-to-end encryption during data transfer and while you’re at rest. See also advanced authentication options, especially multi-factor authentication and biometrics. These measures are necessary because of the increasing number of cyberattacks targeting VoIP systems.
Behind your firewall, talk to your IT team and ensure safety is your top priority. First, make sure your LAN devices are VoIP-aware and have business-grade security features, then make sure you enable them wherever you want. For example, VLANs isolate VoIP traffic because having a network dedicated to voice traffic means that data from other network applications cannot interfere with call quality. But VLANs are also great for keeping VoIP conversations safe as long as they are remembered.
8. Combine your communications
Your VoIP service provider serves all your communication needs. Most of them have implemented this capability under Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). You can integrate the functions of chat, conference call, email, phone call, video call, and voicemail into a single app. All of the services we’ve reviewed offer this type of service, but not every VoIP provider handles it that way. Functionally, there is some overlap with group messaging apps, which started as convenient tools for organizing text messages and collaborating on documents and expanded to handle audio and video conferencing tasks.
The needs of each company are different, and so are the ways they communicate with their internal and external contacts. In addition, each company communicates through multiple channels, and having a unified system means using that channel more efficiently.