Choosing a VoIP provider is an important process for any organisation. It could potentially affect every phone call you make, which is a huge part of every day for most business and charities.
With that in mind, it’s well worth spending a bit of time comparing VoIP service providers based on a number of key factors. Read on as we explore how to choose the best VoIP provider in eight simple steps.
Cost is always going to be a factor when you’re choosing the best provider for any product or service – and VoIP is no exception. What’s important to remember is that VoIP in itself is typically a cost-effective alternative to a landline phone and the private branch exchange (PBX) required for multiple lines.
You’ll most likely be saving money simply by switching to VoIP, so the marginal differences between providers shouldn’t be the standalone factor in your choice. Instead, consider the value you’re getting in return for that cost, which is where the remaining seven points come into play.
2. What’s included?
One of the easiest ways to assess the value you’re getting is by checking what’s included with each service provider. Some VoIP providers will race to the bottom to give you what appears to be a low-cost package. You will likely find they add on unexpected extras such as handset costs, high call charges or an added fee for essential features.
Ideally, you want to find a provider that covers everything you need in one manageable payment. That way, you’ll typically get a cheaper deal overall. It will also provide more peace of mind and be much easier to manage going forward.
Because VoIP is growing in popularity – with good reason – many organisations will no doubt be choosing their first VoIP provider. While VoIP itself is very straightforward, it’s reassuring to have expert support on hand whenever you need it. Even if you’re switching from an existing provider and fully familiar with VoIP, it’s nice to know the support is there.
The best VoIP providers will be able to offer this. Take a look on their website and find out how easy it is to contact them. Do you have to jump through hoops to speak to someone, or is there simply a phone number and email address listed for their office – or offices?
It’s also worth checking where they are based. We’ve all had those bad experiences with overseas call centres, which sacrifice customer service to cut down on costs. Ideally, you want a UK VoIP provider with support available wherever you’re based. The more local the support, the better – as this means there’s less chance of getting put on hold at a national call centre.
VoIP providers will need to work with a number of different vendors to provide their customers with the best technology for their requirements. These partnerships can also be a good indicator of which VoIP provider is best for you.
For one, the likes of Toshiba, Cisco and BT won’t partner with just anyone. Seeing their name on a provider’s website is a sign you’re in good company. This also means the chosen provider has access to the best VoIP equipment, with others to look out for including Samsung and Gamma.
There are some sectors where you can set up and be ready to go in a matter of weeks. VoIP isn’t one of them. When you’re choosing a VoIP provider, you want a company that knows the ins and outs of VoIP like the back of their hand. That only comes from years of experience in the industry.
Given that VoIP technology is relatively new on the scene – arriving roughly at the turn of the millennium – it’s impractical to expect a company to have several decades of experience. However, having 5+ years of experience is a good sign that they’re tried, tested and here to stay.
General experience with VoIP is great. But what’s better, where possible, is finding a provider that has specific expertise providing VoIP to companies just like yours.
That could mean the same size – from start-ups and SMEs to large multi-national organisations. Or it could be in the same sector, whether it’s finance, retail or healthcare. Whatever the case, it shows they understand your company’s unique challenges and can tailor their services to help you overcome them.
At VS Group, for example, we provide dedicated business VoIP phone services for the voluntary sector. Having helped over 500 charities, we’re well placed to help overcome the specific cost restraints and communication requirements that come with their industry.
7. Future-proof functionality
Unlike conventional phones, VoIP is modern and innovative. Ideally, you want your VoIP provider to complement that with advanced features that empower your staff to communicate and collaborate.
Audio and video conferencing is a must. Screen-sharing can be hugely helpful for shared projects. And feature-packed applications can give you a much deeper insight into your calls – as well as enabling you to answer from your mobile device.
8. Flexible contract
Just because VoIP is future-proof, doesn’t mean you should have to sign up long into the future to get it. The best VoIP service providers will offer a selection of contracts, with options as short as 12-months, so you’re not tied down for years to come. However, bear in mind that you might get a better deal by opting for 24 or 36 months with the same provider.
Leading VoIP provider for charities
As one of the best VoIP providers in the UK, VS Group can offer your charity VoIP solutions that tick every box. Choosing us as your VoIP service provider, you’ll benefit from over eight years’ experience, partnerships with leading technology vendors and cost-effective packages with everything included.