Business-grade over IP (VoIP) is the most popular method of telecommunications for micro and small businesses. After all, you get access to a wide range of features such as call conferencing, voicemail to email transcript and remote-working.
More and more businesses are keen to make the switch but steps need to be taken to find the best-tailored cloud solution for your business.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled 9 tips to keep in mind when signing up to a VoIP provider.
1. What kind of VoIP system does your business need?
Before looking for providers, compile a list of features that your business will need to run efficiently. Doing this will give you a clear idea of your business pain-points and how you want to solve them.
For example, the number of users (known as 'seats') your business needs and if this number will expand in the future. If you'd prefer calls to be routed to the sales team first or a custom call menu altogether etc.
It may sound obvious but make sure you are shopping around to make the best-informed decision. While many providers don't request an upfront fee for their cloud phones there may be price hikes during your contract period.
Moreover, make sure prices are suitable for your small business and that you are acquiring the best deal on the market.
3. Custom mobile apps
Using cloud phones encourage remote working so make sure your VoIP provider can offer a custom app. This is ideal if you have employees who are normally on the move. If this is one of your requirements make sure that they offer one that operates on your phone infrastructure (Google Android or Apple iOS).
Moreover, if an app is offered that it carries features that you need to successfully work remotely. For example, a log of calls made or access to past voicemails.
4. Call management
A one-size-fits-all VoIP system may not be the best approach for your small business.
Many cloud phone features are specific to communication and business needs. If your small business is one that takes a large number of calls daily decide how you'd like to manage these. For example, call queues are a great way to notify customers of a lengthy wait or redirecting calls to the right department using caller menus.
Bear in mind what 'journey' you want your customer to go on upon getting in contact with your business and how your chosen VoIP provider can best assist with this.
5. Third-party integration
As VoIP is essentially a software it can easily connect with various cloud products such as Google Drive and custom SaaS apps. Keep this in mind during your research and seek our providers who offer easy integration with your existing apps.
Third-party integration is key for small businesses who want to develop their own custom solutions. Look for providers that support integration either included in their service or are downloadable.
6. Check reviews
This step is important particularly for first-time VoIP customers. Ensure that you research a provider thoroughly on independent review sites such as Trustpilot, Google Reviews etc. You want to make sure that your business is fully supported when issues arise and you can depend on your provider to minimise potential business disruption.
Current customers are a perfect way to ascertain whether your business will be valued and if a potential provider can be trusted.
7. Backup and Security
When using a cloud system such as VoIP the security of your internal and external communications is of up-most importance. Make sure that your VoIP provider understands this and has a cohesive security system in place if data is compromised. Look for services that offer end to end encryption and authentication procedures to protect sensitive data such as customer voicemails.
8. Hosted or non-hosted VoIP system
When searching for VoIP solutions, keep in mind whether you want total control of your phone system or would rather a hosted service.
The difference between the two is that with a hosted system all updates and trouble-shooting is dealt with by your provider. This can help with minimising downtime and making sure that you have the most updated version.
If you’d rather deal with these tasks internally, a non-hosted system may be best for your business.
9. Onboarding and care
Switching to an entirely new phone system can be a challenging time. If you know your small business will need extra support in setting up a cloud system, choose a provider with an onboarding process.
This can include importing existing customer numbers, full training on how to use your phone system and custom user names. Additionally, in this process you can also discuss expectations and when you would need your cloud system live.
Keep this in mind when researching providers to make sure they can offer the level of assistance your business needs.
Overall, these tips will ensure that your small business is successful in finding the right cloud-based solution. In a crowded telecoms market, research is essential in making sure that your new provider is in tune with your business goals as you scale.
To kick-start, your research bOnline offers specialised cloud systems to meet small business needs with easy onboarding, excellent customer service and low pricing. Give our VoIP experts a call on 0203 697 4166.
For more small business VoIP tips and tricks check back onto www.bonline.com/blog