Before Signing Up For a VoIP Service: Things to Consider
Number Portability and Customer Service
One of the most important things to look out for when you're switching to a VoIP service provider is whether or not you can reuse your existing telephone numbers. If you're a typical business, you have probably spent years building up your brand in various channels such as billboards, coupons, magazines etc. All of these places have a contact number that you will be keen to not lose. Regardless of your communication system, you should always be reachable in one place. Most VoIP providers will allow you to retain your existing mobile number for a small fee. But make sure of this before you actually take the jump.
Another important factor when choosing a VoIP provider is customer service. This is one of the "intangibles" that is very difficult to actually measure and can only be ascertained by speaking to existing and past customers as well as asking for opinions on forums and doing the research. But it will probably be one of the most important factors in your long-term relationship. How attentive are they? Do they provide you with technical help in a timely manner? Do they respond positively to feedback? These questions will ultimately determine the success of your long-term shift to VoIP.
Features and Provisioning
Every business is different and the requirements will vary from place to place. Before moving to VoIP, you need to sit down with a qualified team and determine what features you're looking for. You want international calling, conferencing, HD voice, call waiting, IVR options, or all of these? Some service providers do not implement basic features such as SIP forking that allows multiple phones to ring at the same time. You need to determine whether or not these features are important to you and then settle on a hosted VoIP service that matches them.
Finally, try and give some thought as to what kind of landlines you want in your office. When you sign up for an SIP phone system, some services will also allow you to automatically order VoIP landlines at discounted rates. These are actually minicomputers in the form factor of a phone. They automatically update themselves and obtain the best configurations for optimal performance. While they're not necessary for VoIP to work, they can greatly smooth the transition by presenting a familiar and comforting telephone interface to your employees, many of whom would be used to speaking on a traditional landline. They come packed with features that improve productivity as well.
These are just a few of the factors that you need to consider when choosing a VoIP service.