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How to choose the best VoIP service for your business

Posted by Carol Mahamedi

September 8, 2021    |     4-minute read (1183 words)

They say voice over internet protocol, the technology that allows you to make voice calls using the internet, is the future of phone calls. Many experts even predict traditional landlines will go silent in the next decade.

Whether that's true is up for debate. What is certain is that the telecommunications industry is slowly shifting toward VoIP.

As is often the case with new and emerging technologies, a lot of companies have jumped on the bandwagon. There's no shortage of providers that would love to have you on board as a client.

This leaves business owners with a challenging task: selecting a reliable VoIP provider that’s cost-effective and a good fit for your needs. 

In this guide, we'll help you with the process. We'll present some tips and key metrics to make narrowing down your options and selecting the right VoIP service provider easier. 

The current market and the future

The first time we heard about VoIP was around 1995. Adoption by the business market hovered around 1% for years, but this changed when Skype launched in 2003 and made VoIP more accessible. Since then, the industry has been steadily growing, and it doesn't seem that we've seen the end of it. 

Now VoIP is all grown up and revolutionizing communication around the world. The adoption of 5G networks, the rise of the hybrid workplace, the evolution of VoIP functionalities and cost-effectiveness are the biggest drivers behind the growth of VoIP.

The total market worth of VoIP reached an estimated $69.3 billion in 2020 and is projected to cross $100 billion somewhere between now and 2026. As more companies delve into the option of remote work, they'll need a solution that allows distributed employees to collaborate through smartphone apps. Analysts say this makes it increasingly likely a majority of North American businesses will be using some form of VoIP. 

Make the right choice: 9 key metrics that can help with selecting a VoIP service

Different businesses have different needs. True for a lot of aspects in business, also true when it comes to VoIP tech. 

Before you start comparing VoIP services

The first step in selecting a provider is to know what you need. So before you start comparing services, think about your requirements for a minute. 

Does your business handle mostly incoming calls or outgoing calls? How large is your business, and how many people will use the system at any given time? Will you be using VoIP typically for international or local calling? 

And you probably don't need all the cool features available, so you should decide which functionality is the most essential for your business and which features are nice to have but not necessary. Videoconferencing? Of course. Call management software? Yes, please. An extensive library of waiting music. Probably not. Opening the door with your phone? Hmm.

When you have a good grasp of your requirements, use them along with these metrics to compare different VoIP services.

Hosted/cloud-based versus on-premise

Generally speaking, there are two categories of VoIP services: hosted VoIP and on-premise VoIP. Choosing between the two is not only a matter of personal preference. There are pros and cons to both types of services.

A hosted VoIP solution means your VoIP system runs in the cloud and your provider is responsible for everything from the setup and maintenance to the service and equipment. No need for new hardware or to invest valuable resources. 

With on-premise VoIP it's all on you: You are responsible for the installation, hosting and maintenance of the entire system. The initial investment is higher because you need to purchase all the hardware, but usually monthly fees are lower.

Security and downtime

Crucial to any business — no matter the size —  is security. When you move your communications into VoIP, you introduce your sensitive data to a major vulnerability. This is even more so when you choose a cloud-based solution.

Look into how the different providers handle authentication, encryption, data storage and who is responsible when things go south. Does the company have a good backup plan? Do they offer uptime guarantees or service agreements? Downtime can cost you revenue or worse: clients.

Don't forget to check if the provider has a history of security flaws or has been subject to cyberattacks. Try to find reviews or testimonials to get a feel of the general reputation of the company.

On your end, make sure everything runs smoothly as well. Make sure the existing IT infrastructure is ready and security is top-notch.

Specialists versus enterprise solutions

Ask yourself what it is you value most in a business service provider. Are you looking for a large enterprise or are you better suited with a smaller but dedicated company that knows you and has experience in your industry?

Reliability and quality

The service you choose must have enough capacity, so you don't suffer from bad quality audio and unnecessary data loss and outages. Consider a service that has dedicated lines and guaranteed transfer rates.

Scalability and flexibility

This brings us to the next point, which is scalability. When your business grows, your VoIP service ideally grows accordingly. It should be easy to add new endpoints or remove them without any downtime or added costs. 

One of the major advantages of VoIP over traditional landlines is flexibility. VoIP should make your communications more flexible and agile. If that's not the case, look further.

Customer support

Often overlooked but very important: customer support. If you are going to rely on VoIP for your communication needs, you'll need good customer support.

Yes, VoIP is often seen as more secure than traditional phones, but things will go wrong eventually. Someone will make a mistake, or your network will malfunction. In those cases, it's comforting to know your provider has your back.

Pricing

The No. 1 reason for most businesses to switch to VoIP is to cut costs. A VoIP system is a very cost-effective solution for small as well as large businesses.

Using VoIP is estimated to save up to 30% off traditional phone bills and teleconferencing costs, up to 40% off local calls and to reduce the costs for international calls by up to 90%.

But remember, there's more than price alone. Make sure the price doesn't come at the expense of security and other important factors. 

Collaboration tools and custom apps 

Quarantine has changed the way we work. Maybe this is a temporary change, but there are signs that traditional offices will move toward a more hybrid style of work where some employees work on-site and others join from home.

This emphasizes the need for smarter collaboration tools that are supported by the VoIP service you choose. A growing remote workforce also means a growing need for the support of a wide range of devices. Most VoIP providers have custom apps for iOS as well as Android, but not all apps have the same range of functionality as the desktop version.

Third-party integration

Chances are that your company already has a sizable software and hardware stack, so be sure they play nice with the new VoIP technology. 

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