The telephone is one of your most powerful business tools. However, as Voice over Internet Protocol Communication develops and as high-speed internet becomes ubiquitous and cheap, more and more businesses are ditching traditional landlines and switching to VoIP. Making the right choice when looking for the best VoIP phone systems will have a significant impact on your business productivity and your ROI, which is why getting this step right is extremely crucial. Choosing a new VoIP business phone for your organization may not be the easiest task, even for the most tech-savvy business owners.
In simple terms, VoIP is voice conversation that is translated into a digital sound file. These “packets” of data are transferred through internet protocol and might be transferred over a wide or local area network or through the internet. VoIP phone systems may be “premise-based” or “hosted”. The “hosted” solution is one that requires no common equipment or has zero physical servers at your business site. A provider is hosting the VoIP telephone system and delivering this service through an internet connection. A hosted VoIP system only calls for IP phones connected to a data switch at your business location.
On the other hand, a “premise-based” VoIP phone system is one that requires a unified communication server to be deployed on the business premise. The IP telephones and users connected to this server might all be situated within the same building or they might be connected to distant users at different locations. With this solution, a dial tone from a telco service provider is connected to the server.
In order to pick a VoIP phone system that is right for your organization, you will need to start by asking the following questions:
- Are you looking for a full phone system that includes physical office phones, or will your business be fine with a virtual phone service that is reliant on mobile devices rather than conventional office phones?
- If you are in need of office telephones, what type of service are you looking for? You need to choose between a conventional landline telephone service, which is offered by a regional or local phone company, or VoIP system, which runs via the internet and is provided by an array of providers.
- If you select VoIP, do you want to install the system at your business site (premise-based) or have it hosted by your service provider (cloud-based)?
Your Internet Service
One factor that is extremely critical with VoIP phone system is sufficient internet bandwidth and a strong connection. Since VoIP systems run entirely over the internet, it is best that your organization has adequate bandwidth to facilitate crystal clear calls.
The amount of bandwidth required will depend on the audio codec your provider offers you. It is recommended that you go for 87 kbps for Full Quality Audio and 33 kbps for Compressed Audio. Prior to transitioning to a new VoIP phone system, it is essential to ensure that your current internet service can actually support the new system. If not then you will need to go over this with your internet provider.
Your Present Hardware
A VoIP system runs entirely on the internet and thus won’t be compatible with some of the software and hardware that may already be present in your organization. That said the switch to a VoIP phone system may require the purchase of new equipment and technology. For instance, the phones your office is presently using will not be compatible with a VoIP system unless they are programmed to do so. You can either program them using an Analog Telephone Adapter or buy new VoIP specific phones.
Quality Partner Support is Critical
The best VoIP telephone system for your organization is only as good as the trusted partner or service provider that is backing it. premise-based or hosted, you would need to know how the new implementation is going to be cared for by the service provider. From collecting the initial programming details, scheduling palling and training for implementation, along with offering support long after the deployment, ensure that your service provider is trust-worthy and topnotch. Look for the following features:
- Is service available 24/7?
- What is the warranty period and what features are included?
- Are there any programming features and changes that you can administer by yourself?
Any reputable service provider should be happy to offer you with multiple references. A great question to ask a reference would be “when you were faced with an issue, how did the service provider actually handle the situation?”
Last but not least, the right VoIP phone system for your organization will wind down to your budget. As mentioned above, you might have to buy new VoIP-compatible equipment or increase your internet bandwidth. Both of these expenses should be taken into account when planning your budget.
Your financial capacity is also crucial when it comes to things like VoIP phone calling features. Even though some VoIP providers offer their calling features automatically, some may even allow you to choose and pick features, costing more per feature. It is essential that you really understand what you can afford to spend on each month so you can opt for the services and features that are not only of value to your business, but also to your money.
The good thing about a VoIP phone system is that continuous updates and maintenance on your system is typically handled by the service provider, meaning you won’t have to worry about incurring these expenses, unlike with a traditional phone system. This enables you to create a predictable and manageable monthly bill for your system.
The best VoIP telephone system provider can help you determine the total cost of monthly recurring and one-time expense associated with any VoIP solution in a crystal-clear, easy to read format.