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Phone carriers in many countries around the world have already announced cutoff dates for land lines, and many other carriers are considering offering VoIP exclusively to their clients. Even those companies which have a smoothly functioning PBX system would be well advised to begin considering a VoIP system for their future needs.
Of course, for companies considering the switch to VoIP technology, it can be a little bit overwhelming trying to choose a provider, since the market is literally flooded with competing vendors who can all offer high quality VoIP service.
It can also be fairly confusing to consider the vast array of services available through VoIP technology, especially those which are most beneficial for your business. Another aspect of trying to make a good choice from among all the VoIP providers is the fact that there aren’t really any kind of constraints involving software, hardware, or anything else.
When you’re trying to find the very best VoIP provider for your small business, the features which should be of greatest importance to you are those identified below.
Scalability and Flexibility
One of the most distinctive features of VoIP technology is its flexibility, but you shouldn’t count on that flexibility being automatically included in the service provided to you. There may actually be some constraints associated with the service you subscribe for from your provider, and that package of features may limit the flexibility you can actually take advantage of.
Keep in mind that even though there are no technical restrictions involved with a particular service you might want, it may not be available in the package that you subscribe to. This means that you have to be very careful in selecting the features you want for your company in your VoIP package.
In terms of scalability, your company should be able to expand or contract according to the demands of your business. In the old days, your company would have been forced to buy a minimum number of phone lines in order to secure phone service, and when you needed to increase the number of lines, there would usually have been a waiting period.
When you have a hosted VoIP solution, scaling is much easier because you can remove phone numbers easily when business is down, and add additional phone numbers when business is booming. You won’t have to wait till the end of the billing cycle to make the changes, and you’re always only paying for the level of service that you’re using. That includes your actual phone lines, phone numbers, and any of the resources you have subscribed for.
When you’re considering hosted VoIP providers, pricing is of course one of the features that you need to take a hard look at. Small businesses simply don’t have the budget that large corporations do, and that means they need to get the maximum value from any features they’re actually paying for. With every dollar being critical, you won’t want to subscribe to features that your company isn’t going to use.
On the other hand, you definitely don’t want to choose your VoIP provider solely on the basis of the monthly fee, and then find out later that you don’t have important features which would really help your business. This means you need to take a very close look at the schedule of services and their costs to your company.
If features are available in packages and not individually, you need to be sure that you are purchasing a package which includes the features you really want. If some features are only available à la carte, you need to know that the total cost of all these features can be handled by your budget.
Finally, it’s important to know what the total price is for your VoIP service, so any quote given to you by a potential provider should include all charges and fees, as well as any taxes which may apply.
Luxury Features Versus Necessities
With the advent of VoIP, the line between luxury features and necessities is quickly blurring, which marks a stark contrast to services available years ago. Formerly, small businesses simply never had access to such ‘luxury features’ such as videoconferencing or auto attendant, but now those features are routinely made available through VoIP.
As a matter of fact, having access to these kind of so-called luxury features is one of the advantages now enjoyed by small businesses, to help them compete with larger companies. This is especially true of small businesses which have organizations which are physically remote from each other, but which still need to have close communications.
Videoconferencing can easily be arranged through VoIP, so that personnel need not be physically present in the same room. Not only does this solve the problem of arranging meetings, it saves hundreds of dollars for a company on travel and lodging costs.
Every company needs to decide for itself what is a necessity from its phone system, and what constitutes a ‘nice to have’ luxury. Companies which have only a single location and would not benefit from savings on travel, may also have little need for videoconferencing or other luxury features which are available.
Before choosing a package of features from your VoIP provider, your business officers should have several meetings to discuss the true needs your company will have, and what it requires from its phone system.