As your business grows and you look for more efficient and scalable ways to manage your company, you may find yourself interested in transitioning to a VoIP phone service. But with so many different options, services, and providers to choose from, where do you even begin?

Why Switch to VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a relatively new technology that has grown in prominence as the preferred choice for small and large businesses alike. It allows its users to make calls using broadband internet, as opposed to conventional/analog phone systems.

“VoIP works by converting sound into digital voice communication and then transferring it through internet broadband,” entrepreneur Alexis Writing explains. “So if you are using a VoIP telephone system, you are basically using the Internet to make phone calls.”

Businesses switch to VoIP for a number of reasons, including:

  • One of the primary reasons businesses switch to VoIP is that it’s significantly cheaper than traditional phone service. This is particularly alluring to small business with limited budgets.
  • When you have a VoIP phone system, you aren’t tied down to a physical device or connection. You can access your system via an office phone, smartphone, or even your email (while traveling).
  • With a VoIP phone system, you don’t have to worry about meeting the demands of your growing business. As your business expands, your phone system can scale up to satisfy your needs.

On top of all of these benefits, VoIP is a multi-functional solution that allows you to perform other actions like videoconference calling. This flexibility allows you to accomplish more with less.

How to Find the Right VoIP Provider

Once you’ve made the decision to transition to a VoIP phone service, the big challenge becomes selecting the right provider. Here are some suggestions for vetting your options and making the correct choice:

  1. Features

In the early days of the technology, most VoIP systems had roughly the same features. Today, capabilities drastically differ from one provider to the next. Thus, it’s important to begin your evaluations by narrowing your list of potential providers down to the ones that have the features you want and need.

It’s best to start with the call management features of a given system, as these explain what you can do with individual calls. Do you need a system that allows for queuing (where the VoIP system intelligently distributes calls between extensions based on the availability of your team members)? Do you need a system that integrates with your IT department’s network directory for seamless transfer of information? Success is found in the details.

  1. Ratings

It’s one thing for a VoIP provider’s website to label its system as the best thing since sliced bread, but what do others think? Be sure to read up on reviews, ratings, and customer testimonials to get a good feel for the real world perceptions of people and businesses that have actually used it. A site like Top10.com, which provides unbiased comparisons and ratings, is a good place to start.

  1. Reliability

When it comes to phone service, reliability is the name of the game. While most VoIP services primarily depend on the reliability of your business’ internet connection, there are certain things providers can do to enhance the integrity of their services. Be sure to dig into this issue to find out more.

  1. Third-Party Integrations

A VoIP service isn’t much good in isolation. In order for it to serve your business well, it needs to be compatible with other services you’re already using (or plan to use in the future). It’s for this reason that you should research the third-party integrations that work with a given system before investing. Whether it’s Dropbox, Google G Suite, or Salesforce, never assume that a VoIP provider is compatible.

  1. Cost

Though purposefully listed last, cost will obviously be a large factor in the selection of a VoIP provider. Just remember that cost and quality are often linked together. The cheapest product may not be the best.

In terms of weighing the costs, you can expect a one-time, non-recurring charge that will cover the installation of the system. It’s also possible that you’ll be charged with an account set-up fee. But after these costs are out of the way, you’ll typically only have worry about the recurring charges for your plan. (Be sure to ask about how pricing works. Are you locked into your current price for a certain period? Or can prices increase at any given time?)

Set Your Business Up for Success

Every business has different wants and needs. What you’re looking for will likely differ from what the next company is seeking. Keep this in mind and make the decision that’s best for your business. As long as you do your due diligence, everything will work out for the best.

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.

VoIP stock photo by REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock