How to Choose a Business VoIP Provider

More and more businesses are discovering the benefits Hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) provides. And as demand for VoIP services increase, a greater number of business VoIP providers will enter the market. With more competition, you may get more value. But you’ll likely have to weed through a number of providers to find the best fit for your organization.

When you evaluate business VoIP providers, you need to take a methodical approach and decide on the criteria most important to your company. A good way to start your analysis is to focus on the key areas of technology, service and innovation. Then, develop the critical evaluation criteria in each of these three categories.

What to Ask Business VoIP Providers about Their Technology

If you’re transferring the responsibility of managing your phone system to a Hosted VoIP provider, you want to be sure the provider is fully capable of doing the job. At a minimum, you should get answers from prospective VoIP providers to these questions:

  • Does the provider have an appropriate network infrastructure to deliver the highest level of services?
  • What hardware and software has the provider deployed, where is it located and do they own it?
  • Is any core technology licensed from third-party developers?
  • How secure is the provider’s network infrastructure and what measures are in place to protect it?
  • What level of redundancy do they offer and what’s their history of system outages?
  • What processes are in place to respond to a natural or human-caused disaster?
  • Will the infrastructure be able to service the requirements of its current and future customers?
  • What quality of service (QoS) measures have been integrated to improve voice quality by reducing static, distortion, latency, jitter, packet loss, etc.?

What to Ask Business VoIP Providers about Their Service

The success of your business will depend on the level of service you provide your customers and your phone system plays a vital part of that service. When you work with a business VoIP provider, you want the highest levels of performance for the technology solution, but you also want the provider to consistently deliver quality customer service. These questions will help you evaluate the service you’re likely to get from various providers:

  • How many businesses similar to yours, including size and type, does the provider work with?
  • Does the provider have references, testimonials and case studies from these customers?
  • What will the service cost on a monthly basis?
  • What charges are for maintenance, support, upgrades and more?
  • What are the terms of the contract, and what are the benefits of various term lengths?
  • Is a service level agreement in place?
  • How will the phone service be implemented and what will your business be expected to do during this process?
  • How will you get support during the service installation?
  • How will your users get support on an ongoing basis?
  • Are documentation and online resources readily available?
  • What are the provider’s service offerings and how do they differ?

What to Ask Business VoIP Providers about Their Innovation

When you work with a hosted VoIP provider, you should gain access to new system features and capabilities. The provider is responsible for upgrading and maintaining the platform and infrastructure and that requires that the provider keep pace with new technologies. To ensure you always have access to the latest capabilities, you’ll need to ask prospective providers questions such as these about their future plans:

  • What does the provider’s product roadmap look like in the short-term and long-term?
  • What is their development process and how do they decide which projects to undertake?
  • How has the provider’s solution evolved in the past and what investments have they previously made?
  • Do they have a mechanism in place to collect feedback from customers on new features?
  • Does the provider have adequate in-house development staff to handle future projects?
  • Does the provider have the necessary financial resources to fund future projects?

If you make the right choice when selecting a business VoIP provider, you’re positioned to reap all the advantages VoIP phone service has to offer.

To learn more about VoIP phones, download FairPoint Communications’ latest white paper titled “The Complete Guide to Hosted VoIP.”

By providing more streamlined, intelligent and cost-efficient solutions, FairPoint Communications helps businesses of any size get the most from their voice applications. FairPoint offers two voice options: Hosted PBX and SIP Trunking. A cloud-based voice service, FairPoint’s Hosted PBX eliminates capital investments in telecommunications equipment. SIP Trunking leverages an organization’s existing on-premises equipment by connecting it to FairPoint’s advanced softswitch network. Both options simplify network requirements, provide access to enhanced features and lower operational costs.

For more information on FairPoint Hosted PBX or SIP Trunking solutions, visit http://business.fairpoint.com/advanced-business-services/voice-services/.

Chris is the former Vice President of Product Management at FairPoint Communications, a leading provider of advanced communications technology in northern New England and 14 other states across the U.S.