Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, has quickly become the favored phone system for homes and businesses alike. VoIP offers advanced call management features to streamline flexibility, productivity, and communication, making it a practical choice over traditional landline systems.
You can find many great VoIP service providers on the market today, so choosing the one that suits your budget and provides all of the necessary features may feel like a daunting task. Read ahead to learn our tips to help you choose the best VoIP service provider.
1. Understand What VoIP Is
Transitioning from a traditional landline system to VoIP is a big step, whether you plan to use the system for personal use or for your business. Before you can choose the best VoIP provider, you need to understand what VoIP is and what functions and features it has to offer.
Voice over Internet Protocol, sometimes called IP telephony, is a system of technologies that delivers voice communications and multimedia collaborations over the internet.
In simpler terms, VoIP allows you and your family members or employees to make voice calls through the internet rather than a regular phone line.
Along with simple voice calls, this system also includes advanced calling features such as conferencing, call queues, options to play music while on hold, and click-to-dial automation. In addition, VoIP allows you to integrate mobile apps and third-party systems, such as CRM databases, into your phone.
VoIP systems convert your voice into a signal that your service provider transfers through the internet to your destination, be it a computer or telephone. This technology allows users to make calls through computers, VoIP phones, or adapted traditional phones.
Because VoIP utilizes the internet to transfer signals, most service providers offer the capability for users to make calls from anywhere with an internet connection. As a result, this system has become a popular solution for companies that have transitioned to remote work, as employees can make their calls from home.
VoIP is the phone system of the future, which is why thousands of users have made the switch from landlines to internet phone companies this year.
2. Know the Different Types of VoIP Providers
VoIP providers are companies that deliver VoIP services to your home or businesses. Just like a traditional phone service provider, VoIP providers create the channel through which your communications will travel to reach their target destination.
Dozens of VoIP providers are on the market, but not all companies offer the same level of adaptability and control. Before you choose a provider for your home or business, be sure to understand the different types of providers and what features they do and do not offer.
Some providers only offer base-level calling options that are similar to what you would see with a typical cell phone.
If you’re looking to implement a VoIP for personal use or for a small business, you may want to choose a VoIP-only provider that offers basic calling, voice mail, and caller ID. These providers are the most affordable options.
VoIP with Cloud-Based Phone Systems
Many VoIP providers utilize a cloud-based system that improves the base-level calling capabilities. These companies often include additional features like call management, auto attendants, virtual extensions, and answering rules.
VoIP with Unified Communication Solutions
If you need a VoIP provider that goes the extra mile, you want to look for one that combines traditional VoIP with a unified communication solution.
These providers offer advanced collaboration features like online meetings and team messaging, allowing businesses to streamline all of their communications into one platform. They also include options to integrate third-party systems into your phone plan.
Large companies will likely find this type of provider to be the most efficient option for their employees.
3. Identify Your Wants and Needs in a VoIP Provider
Now that you’ve considered what type of VoIP provider will best suit your home or business, it’s time to identify all of the boxes that your provider needs to check.
Some of these features are more pertinent to businesses than homes, but those who are adopting a VoIP for personal use should still understand what options each plan has to offer to make the most informed choice.
VoIP plans range in price–from less than $20 to over $50 per user per month. For most companies, the price correlates with the features you’ll receive. Basic plans start in a lower price range and increase in price once you begin adding features, improving its compatibility.
If searching for providers in a specific price range feels overwhelming, you may want to identify the features your service provider needs to include. Once you’ve made a list of the necessities, you can narrow down your search to companies that meet those needs and then begin comparing prices.
Some VoIP providers allow you to utilize calling and collaboration features through apps on your mobile device. Most providers offer compatibility with the Android and Apple app stores, but not all VoIP plans include advanced features that would allow you to utilize these apps.
Consider what level of mobile compatibility your home or business will require before you settle on a VoIP provider and plan.
Collaboration & Third-Party Integration
Many businesses require a phone system that allows collaboration between employees and the smooth incorporation of external programs.
If this is the case for your business, you should look for a service provider that includes cloud-based systems or unified communication solutions as opposed to basic calling. Then, examine the collaboration features that each company offers. These features may include:
- Video conferencing
- Virtual calendars
- Screen sharing
- Conference calling
Some VoIP providers also offer third-party integration options. If your company utilizes a CRM program, for example, certain providers will allow you to smoothly connect this system to your VOIP to create outbound calls right from your computer.
Even if your company does not currently utilize collaboration and third-party integration features, consider which of these improvements may benefit your company as you make the transition to a VoIP.
Though VoIP systems boast many benefits, utilizing an internet-based phone system creates the risk of your company suffering from a data breach. Choosing a company that offers top-level security is vital to the safety of your company and your customers’ information.
When looking for a VoIP provider, make sure you understand the built-in security measures that come with each plan and company.
Providers may include features that range from basic authentication and end-to-end encryption to multi-factor authentication. In general, companies that boast high-level encryption will provide the most reliable protection.
Think about the vulnerability of your company’s information and then look for service providers that offer an adequate level of security.
4. Shop Around & Read Reviews About VoIP Providers
Once you identify each of the features that your VoIP service provider needs to include, it’s time to begin the search for the provider that will meet all of your needs.
To see a list of great options, check out the Best VoIP Services to Boost Your Business. This comprehensive guide breaks down the pricing and pros and cons of a variety of companies so that you can easily compare one provider to another.
The best way to understand how well each service provider functions throughout everyday use is to read reviews. You can find customer reviews on the service provider’s website or search for professional reviews on VoIP forums or blogs.
Some customer reviews are more informative than others, and companies will sometimes create fictitious five-star reviews to rack up their overall ratings. To find the most reliable opinions of each company, filter the reviews page to show middle-of-the-range ratings, such as two, three, and four-star reviews.
You should also find out what customer base each company currently services. If big brands utilize a particular provider, you can trust that company to provide an adequate level of reliability for your business as well.
Gather all of the information you can, then spend some time weighing out the pros and cons of each VoIP service provider before you make your final decision.
5. Make Your Choice
Now is the time to put all of your research into action and choose the company that will best suit your needs. Remember that no VoIP Service Provider is perfect. If you find one that checks off most of your boxes and falls into an affordable price range, it will likely service your home or business well.
Many VoIP providers come with a warranty or money-back guarantee. Some even include a free trial period that allows you to test out all of the features before you commit.
The best course of action is to choose a provider, try it out for a while, and then determine if you need to upgrade your plan or switch to a different company before making any firm decisions.
Knowing how to pick the best VoIP service provider may feel like an overwhelming task, but these tips allow you to break down the search process into small, manageable steps.
To make the most informed decision, you should understand the benefits of a VoIP, consider the features and functions you need, then compare all of your choices until you land on one that fits the bill.
Once you make your choice, ask yourself: How can my family or business make the most of our new VoIP?