Your company deserves more from a phone system than to ring, have someone answer it, or take a message. Your telecommunications network must also provide the capability to enable voice communications with all your employees at their desks, support a call center for sales and technicians in the field, and connect with a host of other communication channels such as fax machines, video conferencing, conference calling, mobile communications, wireless handsets, and text messaging. If it doesn't, you could be missing out on new business. Your phone system is expected to provide more advanced functionality, like shared meeting collaboration, voicemail to email transcription, and call recording.
Can a public switched telephone network (PSTN), commonly known as a good old-fashioned telephone, do that? Jason Simons, business phone systems professional with ICS in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin shares his insights.
Benefits of VoIP for Your Business
Digital is at the heart of most telephone networks today making Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) the preferred telephone system for most companies. VoIP is a digital telephone service that uses the Internet for transport, as well as private IP networks. In order for calls to originate and terminate from regular telephones, connections to the PSTN are still required. If your telephone system is already in the digital space, the burning question is whether your current VoIP solution provider meets the following high standards.
If a VoIP provider is not reliable, it doesn’t really matter what features they offer or what special price they quote you, the relationship won’t work. It is crucial that your current provider can ensure ongoing and exceptional customer service. Find out how quickly they respond to service calls and their level of expertise on staff and compare if this currently suits your needs.
Although VoIP comes with a choice of different options and features, it’s important you know what features are most important to you. Your specific needs will always be different from other companies as not all companies or all VoIP systems are equal. Make sure you are not paying hidden fees for features you don’t need. In some cases, providers may charge more for specific features that other providers include at no cost.
One of the great things VoIP offers is its ability to integrate with other applications. A great VoIP provider should be able to integrate their software with other applications such as customer relationship management platforms (CRMs) and offer good mobile calling functionality -- particularly if many of your employees are working remotely.
Ensure your VoIP provider offers the flexibility to work in a wide range of environments from analog desk phones to softphones piggy-backing on a cell phone. These systems can often also integrate all or part of their softphone clients into other back-office applications, like your customer relationship management system (CRM) or IT help desk platforms. Consider the standard interface of an app supporting a dial pad and a pop-up screen and you'll have a very good idea of how some of this technology works. In addition, these cloud-based systems support a variety of phone numbers in global locations, so that your customers can have free access to your phone at little or no charge.
The security of any technology company is first and foremost and your hosted VoIP solution is no exception. Does your current hosted VoIP solution provider offer secure systems? If not then it's time to reassess and find out how they source their connection. The idea is to find out if they are providing a circuit to your business location or if they are leasing a circuit from larger vendors. Leased circuits carry risks of diminished quality and information security if they rely on lines that share facilities with public internet traffic.
Determining the Ideal Setup for System Control of Your VoIP
It’s difficult to manage the quality of a VoIP system that’s completely outside your control. Your provider should always maintain control over its own network and equipment. Some hosted VoIP solution providers own, operate, and manage their own equipment whereas others rely on a patchwork network of equipment and solutions leased from other providers. Still other VoIP providers are merely resellers, with little-to-no control over the actual network or service they’re offering. For organizations of all sizes, one of the most important factors to understand is that cost doesn’t always translate into value when it comes to hosted VoIP solutions. Going with a cut-rate VoIP provider can lead to risks such as hidden costs, mismanaged implementations, and poor post-implementation support.
No matter how large your organization is or what your technical requirements are, finding the right VoIP solution for your needs is to always focus on quality first. Delve deep into a provider's business practices, find out how long they have been in business, what level of customer support they provide, and all post-implementation factors that will impact the customer experience. Making informed decisions means you can unlock the full scope of benefits of a cloud-based phone solution that will stand the test of time. Reach out to your local IT managed services provider to help understand the full range of benefits for VoIP solutions. When you partner with a technology services vendor, you're gaining a new realm of expertise beyond your internal understanding as well as implementation best-practices and ongoing support.