What Your Office Needs for VoIP to Work & What You Need from Your Provider
Are you considering moving your business over to a VoIP system? With all the new technology and incredible clarity that VoIP can offer your business, it’s becoming much more common, even for very small companies, to switch to a VoIP phone system.
In the majority of cases, you can get many more advanced features than a traditional landline service for less money. The truth is that we find it difficult to find reasons why you shouldn’t switch to a VoIP!
Once you’ve made the decision to switch, what do you do next? You could simply call your local Big Box store or one of the giant cable companies, but will you be satisfied with the end result? Probably not. This is a big mistake that many business owners make simply because they don’t know the potential pitfalls. But what too many experience is a costly exercise in higher fees, frustration and headaches.
To help you make the right decision for your small business VoIP system, here’s a checklist of all the questions you should be asking while you research a phone service provider.
What to Ask Your Internet Provider
This is the most important thing that you will need to know and prepare for when it comes to a VoIP system. At least 90 percent of all issues (a.k.a. “problems”) we see with VoIP stems from poor internet service and speeds.
While nearly every ISP will claim that you are paying for and receiving “super fast” internet speeds, chances are that you aren’t getting what you’re paying for. It is vital to check your actual connection speed before you choose a VoIP system. Having speeds that are too slow will result in dropped calls and poor call quality. One way to check your speed is to use Speedtest.net. One note: This only checks your speed at the time of the test, not your ongoing speed. At Open One Solutions, we can help conduct more thorough testing.
Once you’ve tested your internet speed, ask your current provider if you have a shared or dedicated internet connection? If you currently have a shared connection, can you get a dedicated connection? It may take you a few calls to get this information, but this is important information to have.
Think of a shared connection as a six-lane freeway with a speed limit of 80 mph. Now imagine that freeway at 6 pm on a Friday. On a holiday weekend. In a snowstorm. You get the idea. It doesn’t matter that you could do 80 mph. The fact is that with everyone else sharing the freeway, there will be certain times of day when you won’t be able to go 80 mph. You might be lucky to do 10 mph. This is what a shared internet connection is. You know this type of service from cell phone calls. When the cell phone tower is overloaded with callers, what happens? Yep, the call is dropped.
Now, a dedicated internet line might have a top speed of “60 mph,” but this is a two-lane highway that has your name on it. There is no one on it except for you and the people who are doing business with you.
While 80 mph might sound faster than 60 mph, it has a lot to do with how many people you’re sharing that highway with. This is why a dedicated line will prove to be so much faster for your company overall.
What to Ask VoIP Providers
To make things fast and easy, you should have the following list of questions ready to ask your potential VoIP provider. This will save time and weed out the unacceptable phone services.
- How many system failures have they had in the past month?
- What is the average length of downtime due to system failures in the past month?
- Do they offer active-active? (This means that your service is on data center one. However, if data center one should fail, does the system automatically switch you over to data center 2 or an alternate standby system?)
- Do they offer live, real-time backup?
- Where is their customer service team? (Here in the U.S. or overseas?)
- Do they offer installation and set up? Many companies simply ship you a box of phones and leave it to you to do the work of setting up their system. If you have problems or questions, you can spend hours with customer service trying to sort it all out. Worse yet, many VoIP providers only point you to a Wiki or website for you to figure it out on your own.
- Do they offer a guarantee? What is their return policy? Will they put your current system back in place if things don’t work out?
If you decide to get a quote, ask if this is a complete quote, including taxes and additional charges. Are there additional fees for the phones or installation? Ask if they’re willing to sign a statement saying that the price quoted is your bill and that you won’t pay one penny more for any other services, taxes or additional fees. Chances are they won’t be willing to do that.
Next, ask if they have any features they didn’t include in your quote. Many VoIP companies like to give a low-ball quote that sounds too good to be true. That’s because it is. You understand how this works if you have ever signed up for an incredible 1,000 channel cable TV service for a low, low price. They say they provide 1000 channels, but in reality, the package you purchased only has 50 and you need to upgrade to add the channels you really want, like HBO.
Finally, find out how long the salesperson has been with the company. Chances are, they are new. The average salesperson in these positions lasts 6 months. This is important because you want your salesperson to be there later on if you’re not getting the service you thought you agreed to.
Find Out the Status of Your Internal LAN Infrastructure
Without getting too technical, you should ask your potential VoIP companies if your local LAN supports VoIP. Those throw-away routers from the big cable companies certainly don’t, even if they say they do. Even if you’ve purchased an expensive router for your business, this still does not mean that it will support VoIP. Some routers simply don’t understand the difference between data and voice. You need a router that not only supports VoIP, but prioritizes it.
Also, does your company currently have a Power Over Ethernet switch? What is your switch’s speed? How much memory does your switch have? How much data traffic can it support? This is an important feature many people overlook. This switch provides power to the VoIP phones. It is also the highway your voice and data will travel on. Perhaps a better question is: Would you drive a Ferrari 150 miles down a gravel road? Maybe once. In order for VoIP to work properly, the proper internal equipment also needs to be in place.
Does This Sound Complicated?
It doesn’t have to be.
When you choose Open One Solutions, we do everything for you. We can tell you if your ISP and router support voice and if the speed is sufficient. We know which ISP companies can give you dedicated internet at the best prices. Our employees and customer service agents are LOCAL. We are right here in Chicago, and our employees are telecom experts.
We will find out what your company’s needs are: We don’t try to sell you some system to meet a corporate sales quota. We guarantee that you won’t pay one penny more than our quote. Plus, you will get everything you wanted from a VoIP service and more.
You won’t need to set up your own phones either. We will do that for you and train your employees how to use them, so you don’t have to rely on booklets or YouTube videos.
Moving to a VoIP system can be time-consuming, confusing and frustrating. Let Open One Solutions take the trouble out of managing your VoIP service so you can focus on your business.
For a complimentary VoIP assessment for your company, contact us today.