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Top 10 Questions You Should Ask a Business VoIP Service Provider

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When you are having a discussion on what VoIP plan/package you would like to have, there are certain pertinent questions that you need to ask the service provider. The answers to these questions would help you in making a considered decision.

1. How long have you been in business and how many customers you currently have (which gives an idea of size and company stability)?  This information is essential, as it would delineate your needs. The number of employees, infrastructure and customer base would enable the service provider to offer you the suitable plans for your kind of business.

2. Is there any special equipment I need? If you are taking a hosted plan, you do not need any special equipment. The hosted PBX service does not need a large investment for purchase of network equipment. The equipment remains with the service provider, which ensures that problems with the service are resolved remotely by the provider. If you are opting for the managed PBX service, you need to outsource the management of your PBX system, where the service engineer would come to repair any problems with your equipment.

3. Is there a contract length? Some companies usually have a minimum contract of at least one year and they can be longer periods of contact if desired. You need to examine the contract carefully and also inquire about the termination policy. You might want to end the contract if you are not satisfied with the service or for some other reason. Some companies even have a penalty payment if you decide to terminate the agreement before the contract period. You have to find out all the details before signing the contract.

4. What is the time frame for the system to be up and running? This can happen within a few hours or take a few weeks, depending on your needs. The provider needs to analyze your requirements such as the number of phones needed and also take the time to configure them for use before they are brought to the premises. The number of employees, offices and customers also are taken into consideration. There is also a time difference between  a hosted and a managed solution.

5. What is your reliability and quality? Quality and reliability are crucial to the VoIP setup, as the call must be clear and the signal must be reliable. Bandwidth connectivity affects quality and reliability and in VoIP, the transmission rate or speed affects bandwidth. A cable or a DSL connection is the preferred technology and you have to ensure that your Internet connection is a good one.

6. Is my Internet connection good enough? It is important to test your Internet connection ahead of time, if you are planning to get a VoIP service. This gives you an idea of whether a good VoIP connection is possible. There are websites that test your computer system for VoIP functionality and also test the speed of your Internet connection. If you have a slow connection, you may experience intermittent call dropping or a static connection.

7. Should I have a POTS (landline) phone for backup? Since the VoIP phones will not work in the case of a power failure, it is a good idea to keep one backup landline or mobile phone in case of emergencies.

8. How easy is it to add new phones or features – both physically and how expensive is it? Features come with the setup and are generally free of cost, apart from the monthly service charged by the provider.  Additional phones would have to be paid for depending on the brand and model. The installation is completely easy and is taken care of by the service provider.

9. Get a written quote with prices detailed making sure they show monthly charges plus any one-time fees. After all the talks are over, it is vital to get a written quotation on the company letterhead so that it is official. You must make sure that apart from the monthly charge, the service provider has shown any extra fees that need to be paid during installation and running of the VoIP system. You do not want to be surprised later on by any inflated charges levied by the service provider.

10. Let them know you are getting a couple of other quotes and ask if that is their best deal. Is there any wiggle room? Just like any sales process, it is always good to ask. It is wise to get a number of quotations from various providers to make a comparison and a proper choice. You should also inform the particular company, so that you get the best deal possible. In a normal sales pitch, where there is competition, you may get a lower price.

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