If you have ever tried to decide on a new hosted business VoIP solution for your company, then you have most likely run into, and been frustrated by some of the “gotcha’s” that VoIP company’s use to get you to consider their service above all others. Even when you have narrowed it down to just a few options, you have likely struggled to perform a comparison of VoIP services that helps you make a final decision.
So what are we talking about here? Well here are just a few that come to mind and please add a comment below if you have run into any others that have caused some level of frustration:
Tiered Per user Pricing! – You spot an advertisement that states “Business VoIP service from $19.99 per month” and you immediately get excited and take a look. It turns out that the $19.99 price is only available to companies that want more than 50 lines and you only need 10 lines for your small business. Actual price for 10 lines turns out to be $34.99/user/month.
No Detailed Pricing on Website! – The aforementioned tiered pricing models are actually fairly common and it is great when the VoIP provider’s website clearly states these pricing tiers. There are some providers that do not even list tier pricing information and you need to get on the phone and as such become part of their sales funnel to just get a ballpark price.
Premium Features are NOT included!– Did you know that getting an auto-attendant in addition to business VoIP service can often cost you in the region of an extra $24.99 per month? Did you know that some VoIP companies will charge you an extra fee if you want numbers ported? Did you make sure that the “cool” VoIP feature that you have heard about is even available from the provider that you are about to sign with? The answer to these questions is quite often “NO”, and when you start to add these premium features to you service at a later date, the big savings that you made by switching to VoIP in the first place, slowly start to erode.
What does a Feature actually do anyway? – Believe it or not, there is often different terminology used for the same VoIP feature by different service providers. The common features (call forwarding, call hold, etc) are typically named the same but when it comes to more advanced, or premium features, the same feature can often be called something completely different. An example of this is “call pass”, “call flip” and “single number reach”. All of these do pretty much the same thing but are named differently by providers.
Are Smartphone apps supported and what do they actually do? – Functionality and availability vary from provider to provider. Most Smartphone apps are an extension of the in-office solution and create a virtual presence for the user. Others are stand-alone extensions that require an additional payment. Additionally, some of these apps will support VoIP calling via Wi-Fi while others will use cellular minutes for every call.
Does the provider support the Phones I already have? – If you already have IP phones, make sure the new VoIP provider that you are considering can actually support them, as otherwise you could end up with a hefty upfront cost that could have been avoided.
The good news is that there are actually a lot of providers that display this information very clearly on their websites and make it relatively easy to understand what the pricing is, what features are supported and what any extras will cost. The bad news is that it will likely be somewhat painful to perform a proper comparison by simply pulling up two or three provider websites on your screen.
Some options that can help with this comparison are:
1 – Call each provider and request a custom quote and full feature list with detailed pricing for any extra features. If a provider can’t deliver this quickly then you might want to ask yourself why.
2 – Use a 3rd party website that lists the providers that you are considering and check to see if they have a feature comparison tool.
3 – Avoid all the research and comparison and just go with your gut. Not the recommended approach but it can save you time and get you up and running with a business VoIP solution quicker. You may pay the price later though.
Regardless of any potential hassle or confusion, VoIP is still a great option for phone service that every company should be considering.