6 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Business VoIP Service for Your SMB
You have decided to upgrade your small to midsize business (SMB) to a business VoIP (VoIP) service but you’re wondering where to start. There are a bunch of amazing business VoIP systems out there, but each one has a different set of features and a different pricing structure so choosing can be difficult. Fonality is our Editors’ Choice for business users, but that doesn’t average you should automatically run to their website to buy it. In fact, systems such as RingCentral offer voicemail transcription which Fonality only offers at the highest price tier (you can add transcription sets at the other price tiers for an additional fee). So you’ve got to do your homework to make sure the VoIP service you choose is the right one for your particular business.
With that in mind, and to help you celebrate National Small Business Week, we’ve compiled this list of six things you need to consider before choosing a business VoIP system for your SMB.
1. Plans and Pricing
We might in addition start with the most important characteristic: cost. What good is choosing a business VoIP service with all of the bells and whistles if you can’t provide it? Fonality starts at $19.99 per user per month for its barebones system. This gives you access to unlimited calling, basic queuing sets for incoming calls, and an auto accompanying. If you want to add more progressive sets, you have to bump up to the $24.99 service or to the $34.99 one (which includes video conferencing). Again, Fonality is the cream of the crop when it comes to business VoIP, so this is the highest price you should pay if you’re not looking for any specific customizations or add-ons. RingCentral offers similar (though not exact) basic and intermediate pricing, but it also offers a $44.99 per user per month plan that includes HD videoconferencing for up to 50 users at a time.
VoIP tools such as Citrix Grasshopper and Microsoft Skype for Business are chiefly geared toward videoconferencing, so you’ll pay much less per month. You can nevertheless make calls from a hardware desktop phone, but you’ll pay additional for this characterize. With Grasshopper, you won’t be able to transcribe voicemail messages, and your system won’t automatically record every call for posterity. These are great sets for companies that do everything from their laptops or tablets, but they’re not as good as RingCentral and Fonality for companies that manager a high quantity of incoming and outgoing calls.
2. Smartphone Integration via Custom Applications
Your staffers are probably on the go at the minimum some of the time, so you’re going to want a VoIP service that can travel with them. Unfortunately, not all VoIP providers offer mobile apps that deliver the same value and sets as the desktop apps. All of the systems we reviewed offer substantial mobile apps, but be careful as this isn’t an industry standard. Most VoIP sets will offer call forwarding, which is a handy way to get calls delivered to your workers when they’re on the road. Those systems without a dedicated app won’t be able to create a log for these calls nor create voicemail transcripts if the call isn’t answered.
3. Call Routing and Call Management
Fonality offers extended sets similar to what you’d find at a call center for a big box retailer. These options let you do things such as route calls from one rep to another after a few rings, provide a touch or voice menu, or keep up calls within a queue until they are answered. clearly, your videoconferencing-focused VoIP systems won’t deliver this kind of value. If that’s what you’re looking for, you should definitely choose a traditional desktop, phone-based VoIP solution.
4. Integration With Third-Party Productivity Apps
If you want your sales and service reps to be productive while on calls, you’re going to want a VoIP service that integrates with third-party apps. RingCentral, for example, offers a healthy measure of extensions, including Desk.com, Dropbox, and Google excursion
RingCentral’s extensions also include Microsoft Office and Zendesk. Fonality also offers integrations, including Box, Salesforce.com and most Android apps. Make sure you run down the list of integrations before making your decision. If one of the VoIP providers jibes better with your software ecosystem than the others, that’s probably your best bet, especially if you manager a high quantity of sales and service calls.
As with any product, the level of service you’ll receive is crucial to how well your service roles. Fonality offers 24/7 phone sustain, live chat sustain, and email ticket sustain for customers who experience issues. RingCentral offers 24/7 phone sustain for customers with plans for two or more users. If you’re a single user, you’ll only be able to get someone on the horn during 13-hour blocks Monday by Friday. RingCentral also offers 24/7 live chat sustain. If you run a global business with round-the-clock needs, you’re going to want to find a service provider that can guarantee your queries will be answered closest (or at the minimum in a timely fact). If they can’t offer that, you might want to look in other places, especially if your phone system is the main method of communicating with clients.
6. Unified Communications
Your VoIP service provider can also be a one-stop shop for all of your communications needs. This method integrating your chat functionality, conference calls, emails, phone calls, video calls, and voicemail within one app. All of the sets we reviewed offer this level of service, but not every VoIP provider will do this for you. This method you’ll be running disparate systems across your SMB, with no way to keep track of who received which message, on which device, and by which medium.
This isn’t necessarily a must-have characterize, but it’s something you’ll want to consider, especially if you have employees who are using multiple forms of communication to contact one another. Think of it this way: You can use Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Skype, Microsoft Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management), and Microsoft ERP (enterprise resource planning)-all on a Windows Phone-to conduct all of your communications, without ever leaving the interface. You can also do so without paying multiple bills and worrying about tying the apps together on the back end.
Hope this solves where you start when you think about Business VoIP.