VoIP Buying Guide and Tips

You’ve been trying to decide what phone solution is best for your business and have made the decision to go with VoIP. Congrats! You’ve made it over one hurdle. But there’s a lot of companies out there, and unless you’re super tech-savvy it can be hard to know what exactly to look for. Plus, honestly, who has the time to do all that research? Back in June, Alex wrote a great post with some useful buying tips for phone systems, but today I wanted to go into more detail. Think of me as your industry insider, here to give you what you need to make the best decision for you and your company.

Tip #1: Hosted vs. On-site – With a hosted phone system, there will generally be no additional on-site hardware needed aside from the actual phones. This tends to make your life much, much easier. With an on-site phone system, a bit more work is required on your part. If you can go with a hosted VoIP company, this decision will definitely simplify everything for you. However, if you do decide to go with on-site, that’s okay, just make sure to find out as much information as possible. Ask questions like: What additional devices are we going to need in the office? Will I be able to set them up by myself or will someone need to do it for us? If there is a problem will someone come fix it or will I be doing it myself with help over the phone? Hopefully the provider you chose will provide that information without you having to ask, but just in case, have those questions ready to go.

Tip #2: Internet Connection – Since VoIP uses your high-speed internet connection to make calls, it’s very important to make sure you have enough bandwidth. Ask what internet speed is adequate for the number of phones you will be needing in your office. Also think about how your employees use the internet. Do they mostly just check email and occasionally browse? Or do they need to download or upload large files through the day? These are important things to consider to make sure you will have the best phone quality possible. Everything mentioned above are questions that any VoIP provider should ask, as you will need to know if you should speak with your internet service provider about increasing bandwidth. If you are a tech-savvy company or have an IT person you work with, consider having a QoS (Quality of Service) turned on for VoIP calls so that it will prioritize to retain call quality.

Tip #3: Upfront Costs – One of the biggest upfront costs will be purchasing phones so here are some questions to think about and ask. Are you looking to rent or buy phones? Do you have several phone models to choose from? Can you mix and match to get exactly what you need? Do you have to purchase the phones from them or can you get them from somewhere else? If you do get them somewhere else, what additional steps will be needed to make sure they work properly? Most companies will also have a setup fee, and here’s an insider tip – they are probably willing to budge on this fee, so why not ask? Hey, save money wherever you can, right?

Tip #4: Features – Make sure to ask which features are included and which ones will be an extra monthly cost. If there is a feature that is really important to your company, then try to find a VoIP provider that has that feature already included in the cost, not as an additional fee. For example, if you host a lot of conference meetings over the phone then look for a provider that won’t charge you an extra monthly fee to have this feature. Trust me, those providers are out there (and Telonium is one of them).

Tip #5: Contracts – Don’t feel like you have to sign a contract in order to get great, reliable service. Many VoIP providers are month-to-month and therefore can be cancelled at anytime. This means they are continually earning your business through quality of service and dependable customer support. Having no contracts also makes it very easy to add extensions – great for growing companies, or take away extensions – a plus for companies that have seasonal employees.

With the knowledge above you should be ready to start shopping for a VoIP provider with confidence. I hope that you’ll be able to find a great fit for your company. If you have any questions about this blog post or would like to learn more about Telonium, shoot me an email at <my first name>@telonium.com.

Photo Credit: alles-schlumpf via Compfight cc