10 Questions You Need to Ask When Signing Up for VoIP Services
Before you sign up, make sure you know the answer to these important questions about your VoIP telephone systems provider. These are the questions that many regret not asking when they find it is too late or too costly to consider another option.
What’s the True Cost?
Your quote should clearly highlight what is an up-front cost and what is a recurring monthly or yearly hosted VoIP system cost. Up-front costs include prices of hardware, installation fees and porting fees. Monthly costs can include flat rate charges, usage, taxes and fees. It is also important to be clear of the “lock-in” time periods. Locking in for two or three years can save you money but it’s a long time if you are unhappy. What will it cost if you need to break your contract?
What are the Usage and Overage Policies?
You may not plan to go over the established limits, but should your company come into big success – as you want it to – you must be prepared for ballooning costs. It’s important to understand at what point these overage fees for your VoIP telephone systems will kick in. Sudden spikes could cause unexpected fees or even shut down. You may also need to know what long distance calling to other countries will cost per minute.
What Is the Company’s History?
A company’s history is important. It’s not necessarily bad to try out a new and innovative, “young” company, but you shouldn’t discount years of meeting SLAs and satisfied clients. A quick search can often reveal any red flags about the company’s financial situation and standing with its customers.
What Support is Included?
When signing up for VoIP services, most clients do not think about things going wrong. However, outage and other issues are just part of doing business. What does the company offer in way of support? Is it outsourced to another company or country? What kind of SLAs are guaranteed? What are the hours that help is available? All these questions deserve answers before signing anything.
How Reliable Is the Services?
It is good to know what kind of outages the VoIP telephone system providers have had in the last 6 months. Companies should be transparent about this. A failure or two doesn’t mean they are a terrible service, but refusal to give these details is a sign that all may not be well. The quality of the calls is also important. You can use VoIP tests to see the packet loss, latency and speed of the service. The biggest source of trouble for VoIP is poor Internet connection or speed. Test this before signing up if possible.
Can I Use My Current Phone Number?
The costs of changing your phone numbers is often higher than many companies think. Loss of customers due to sudden disconnection of customers is still a factor in many industries. Search engines may have your old number listed prominently in many places and it may take time to change it. Find out how your chosen VoIP telephone system providers handle this and calculate the true cost.
What Kind of Numbers Can I Get?
Getting toll free numbers, local numbers, vanity numbers and virtual numbers (numbers for distant areas you service) is definitely something to consider. Although Internet commerce is growing, business is still done primarily over the phone.
Is E911 Supported?
It may seem like an odd question, but all business should be able to call 911 from any phone at any time. VoIP does not handle 911 calls in the same way as a landline so it’s important to understand this.
What Exactly is Included?
Can you “bring your own device” to save on the initial hosted VoIP system cost? Can you use eFax, CRM integration, call recording, conferencing and other services? Does the provider have these in-house or use a third-party? How much control will you have over programming changes and are there costs for making changes? All these questions are important.