VOIP Phone Services that Work

 

There are many aspects to choosing the phone service provider that is right for you, and it can be a confusing and discouraging process to narrow all the available choices down to the two best, and then choose between them. This is what you will need to do, though, if you truly intend to make an informed, intelligent choice of phone provider, and get the best deal for your money.

Step 1 in choosing who to use:

The first thing to consider is what you need from a phone service provider. This can range from a basic personal landline to a massive, complex system that meets the needs of a large business. If all you are looking for is a basic line, most phone service providers will offer almost identical services for very similar prices, and your choice can almost be made on the basis of which logo you like better. Most people, however, and all businesses, will need much more than a basic phone line. Before you start looking for a phone service provider, you should make a list of the services and options that you need your phone service provider to offer. Ask yourself which services are imperative and which would simply be nice to have. Do you need to make conference calls on a regular basis? Is videoconferencing a necessary part of your business? Do you need to provide cellphones for certain employees? Would a landline system or a cloud-based system work best for you? When you have determined all of the services you will need, you can begin to look at which service providers offer those things, and at which level. At this point you can eliminate all of the companies that do not provide all of the things you need, and concentrate on the ones that do.

Next, What Service Provider Works for You?

Once you have determined what you are looking for, you can then begin to consider the companies that you could end up dealing with. Consider each company on its own at first. Do some basic research to find out what kind of a reputation the company has. Are they the subject of a lot of lawsuits? Do they consistently show up on the news where they are being implicated in some kind of shady dealing? How long has the company been in business? This question is one where you could argue that a newer company may give you a better deal, or that an older company is pretty sure to be around for a long time, and you are unlikely to find yourself dealing with the fact that your phone service provider has just gone out of business. Another thing to learn about is the regional coverage that each company offers. You will need to make sure that whichever company you choose will provide area and network coverage that enables you to call everywhere that you need to call with no difficulty. Check out customer reviews to see if a particular company has a lot of disgruntled customers. Research the advertised price structure of the company, and compare it to others. If your plan will include one or more cellphones, look into the lengths and terms of the contracts offered by each company, and don’t forget to check out things like their policy on roaming charges.

What Equipment will you need

And last, but not least, look at the type of proprietary equipment offered by the company. If you are setting up a phone service for a company, where you will need everything from a receptionist’s switchboard through videoconferencing capabilities to executive cellphones, you will want to make sure that you get the equipment that suits your purposes best, and that it is compatible with any existing equipment that you have and wish to continue using. If your research does not turn up the answer to a question that you have, do not hesitate to contact the company you are curious about and ask a service representative. Their job is to answer these exact types of questions. Don’t forget, though, that another part of their job is to increase the company’s customer base, so they will do everything in their power to sell you their system, and as expensive a version of their system as they can persuade you to pay for.

Conference Calls and Webinars

Who are The Main Players

In North America, the largest phone service providers are ones like AT&T, Bell, Verizon, Rogers, and Sprint. If you look at these companies and what they offer to their customers, you will find that they all offer some or all of the following services, over and above the basic personal phone:

What Services Can you Get?

• Three-way calling
• Voicemail
• Call forwarding
• Call queues
• Interoffice instant messaging
• Extension dialing
• Directory assistance
• Call transferring
• Automated attendants
• Conference calling
• Long distance plans
• Wired (landline) plans and equipment
• Wireless plans and equipment
• Recording services for certain applications
• Videoconferencing systems and equipment
• Web-based calling
• Cloud-hosted VoIP systems
• Self-hosted VoIP systems

There are many other options offered by most large phone service providers, so choosing one seems a daunting task. It becomes easier, though, when you have narrowed down your choices to the few companies that offer all of the services you need.

Don’t forget to Check Costs

After you have reached this point, it is time to look at the prices and contract lengths of the companies that are still on your list. This will entail calling each of the companies and asking what your particular needs would cost. You will find that in many cases the advertised price is not necessarily set in stone, and that most companies will be anxious enough to get your business that they are willing to negotiate on the price, although it is imperative that you determine how long the offered price is valid, since many introductory deals only last six months and then the price jumps dramatically. If you’re looking for a long-term deal, then make sure you are being quoted a long-term price. Don’t just sign up with the first company you call, either, since you will want to check out the other companies and get similar pricing quotes from them. Make sure that you take thorough notes on what each representative tells you, and write down the representative’s name so that you can be sure to get the same price if you call back to accept their offer. Once you have called all of the companies you are interested in dealing with, you will be able to compare prices from all of them and determine which of them offers the deal that you want.

Can SmartPhones do the Job?

Many small businesses today are relying solely on smartphones to run their business, which can be surprisingly efficient, since smartphones are capable of performing many of the functions that larger systems do, while being completely portable and much less expensive as well. Most smartphones are capable of handling simple videoconferencing, although the screens are generally too small to permit much in the form of detailed graphs or visual aids. Some cellphone providers can install two separate numbers on one smartphone, so that you could set up two distinctive rings – one for personal calls and one for business calls, or one local number and another in a different state or province where you have a significant number of customers. Your system can be set up so that after business hours, all business calls are automatically routed to voicemail, and can be replied to during business hours, or one main number can be used as a sort of private branch exchange, so that callers can specify which person they need to speak to and can be rerouted accordingly. One possible drawback to this system is that, while all incoming calls can be routed to their corresponding phone number and its distinctive ring, all outgoing calls appear to come only from the primary number. This could cause some confusion as to which line the caller meant to reach. There are downloadable apps that allow you to do things like add up to six numbers to one phone, giving you even more options. Phone providers who offer the additional number options can also allow a tablet to be used as a phone, providing still more options, such as videoconferencing with a large enough screen to make it viable. Some of the companies that offer business smartphone solutions are Google Voice, Skype, Grasshopper, Line2, and OneSuite Business. Each of these companies offers a unique product combination that can be modified and adapted to fit your needs. Most of them are quite inexpensive compared to a traditional business multi-line phone setup, and are quite easy to use. It is conceivable that a business smartphone plan would provide all of the business services necessary to run a small business, and still be small, convenient and ultra-portable.

The phone company you choose should be the one that best meets your needs for the price you are willing to pay. It may take some time and effort to discover which company that might be, and more time and effort to ensure that the whatever system you eventually end up with, it is the system that works best for you and provides all the services and options that you require. When you consider that the success or failure of your business could well depend on how well you can communicate with your customers, it is understandable that most people do make the effort to be sure that they’ve chosen correctly.