A new business phone setup can be stress inducing. Not only do you have to ensure your business avoids downtime, but all your employees also need to quickly learn how to use the system to keep your business operating properly. A poorly planned transition increases the risk of calls getting missed or dropped and current or potential customers getting frustrated.

To make sure your setup goes smoothly, it’s crucial that you pick the right phone system provider from the start. A phone system setup can go from laborious to nightmarish fast when you realize that you’re unhappy with the provider you chose.

Let’s go over a few simple ways to pick out which business phone provider will be best for your company.

Know the Answer to These Questions

To begin with, understanding what your business needs will help you narrow down your options. According to Chad Brooks of Business News Daily, you should know the answers to these questions:

  1. Do you need a full phone system that includes physical office telephones, or could your business get by with a virtual phone service that relies on mobile devices instead?
  2. If you do need office telephones, what kind of service do you want? You need to choose between a traditional landline telephone service, which is provided by a local or regional phone company, and a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, which runs over the internet and is offered by a multitude of providers.
  3. If you choose VoIP, do you want to house the system at your business (on-premises) or have it hosted by your service provider (cloud-based)?

Having a rough understanding of what type of phone system you’re looking for will save you time and a potential headache down the road.

Other Factors to Consider

While understanding what type of phone system you’re looking for lays the groundwork for your search, there are still other factors about your business you need to consider. Business.com has a good list to reference:

Budget: If you find a system that appears perfect and sit through numerous sales meetings only to realize it’s too expensive, you’ve wasted too much of your time.

Growth and expansion of the business: Is your business growing? Will you have different departments when you do? It’s important to take the plans for the company into consideration to pick a solution that won’t be outgrown in a few years.

Desired productivity-enhancing features: Are your employees always on the phone? If it’s your employees’ primary function, you’ll want to consider a phone system that offers features that make their lives easier (i.e., HD Voice).

Maintenance: How much are you willing to spend on keeping this system up and running? Some systems are easier to maintain than others. Keep this in mind during your search.

The number of employees using the system: Are all employees on the system? Is it just one? This information will weed out a lot of providers.

The frequency of incoming calls: Are you running a customer service center or are most of your calls sales opportunities? Knowing how often calls are coming through will give you a better idea of what type of provider you’ll need.

Write all this information down and keep it handy; you’ll need it to find the perfect fit.

How to Research

Now’s the time to sit down in front of your computer and research. Make a list of providers and narrow them down by the type of service you need. Do they specialize in small business phone systems or enterprise? Do they have a VoIP solution that fits your call volume? There‘s plenty of information to sort through.

Understandably, there will end up being more than one provider that fits your criteria. Inc.com offers a few things to pay attention to before you decide:

Ask for redundancy: Choose a company that has prepared for an emergency by investing in redundancies.

Insist on quality: Make sure your provider offers quality of service, which is a technical term that refers to a protocol that gives priority to voice packets over data packets. Sound quality and customer service vary widely among providers, and undercapitalized carriers often seek ways to cut corners.

Focus on the metrics: “Uptime,” the percentage of time the network is running, is essential. So is bandwidth. Make sure that they’re providing at least 64 kilobits per second for each voice conversation. They’ll say you need less, but that’s the least you should have.

Get it in writing: Require hosts to address these issues in a “service-level agreement” that consummates your telecom deal. If nothing else, take advantage of the 30-day free trial that many companies offer. You try it out, and if it works, then go with it.

Hopefully, by this point, you’ve narrowed down your search to a few providers. The last thing you’ll need to compare is the price. Reach out to sales agents and work with them to negotiate a price that will work for you, then collect quotes and compare. If one of the providers offers the same services at a lower price than the others, then you’ve found your business phone provider!

If you find yourself thinking this whole process sounds like a lot of time and energy, you’re right. A new business phone system project can take attention away from your business. Luckily, you can avoid managing this yourself by working with a Telecom Consultant. Telecom Consultants study your business and suggest a phone system that makes sense. From there they will reach out to providers they trust to gather quotes for you. From here you’ll be able to quickly see which solution looks the best. Consultants will handle the entire setup once you’ve decided on a solution.

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How to Pick a Business Phone Provider