Choosing the Best VoIP Provider for Your Small Business: What to Look For

Tips & Tricks and VoIP

When you’re reviewing your communications systems it’s likely that you’ll come across VoIP. Switching to a VoIP system can improve the reliability, quality and capability of your communications helping you deliver a better service to your customers.

But VoIP can feel like a new world, packed with terminology and an overwhelming number of features. If the time has come for you to either move to VoIP or choose a new VoIP provider then you’re in the right place.

We’ve broken down what to look for in your provider, what features you might want to consider and how to conduct your search so you choose the right VoIP provider for your business.

How does VoIP work?

If you’re brand new to VoIP then it’s important to learn the basics. VoIP is a technology that allows you to make and receive calls over the internet instead of a phone line. That means you aren’t limited to having a phone in one fixed location, instead you can use your laptop, your mobile or a VoIP handset to allow you to stay in contact wherever you are in the world.

Interested in VoIP? Learn more about what VoIP is and how it works.

What to look for in your UK VoIP provider

There are plenty of UK VoIP suppliers on the market, but not all of them are created equal. It’s important that before you commit to one supplier you consider your options. But with so many options, where do you start?

Here are some of the key features that you need to compare between providers before making your decision.

The system itself

When making a call using VoIP, the call goes from your device through your provider and onto the recipient. It’s important to know whether your provider is using a platform they developed in-house or a third-party provider. When it’s developed in-house, like Dial 9’s is, it allows the provider to have full control over the system for upgrades, flexibility and improved reliability. Definitely something to check before signing up.

Call quality and reliability

It’s no good having a phone system that drops out all the time or where the sound comes and goes. Reliability and quality are essential to your communications. Check any provider’s track record in these two areas to ensure you’re receiving the best quality on the market. You can check this by looking at and comparing their online reviews - you can find our reviews here, we’ve maintained our 5-star review status for the 6th year running which is something we’re immensely proud of.

You can also look at a provider’s R-factor. The R-factor measures call quality in VoIP and allows you to compare call standards between providers to help give a benchmark. A score of 80-90 is good, and 90-100 is excellent. Our latest score for April/May 24 is 91, so check with any providers what theirs is. Find out more about the R-factor.

Contract duration and terms

Some UK VoIP providers will only work via lengthy contracts, tying you into services which might no longer be suitable to your business or keeping you tethered to a service that has deteriorated in quality. Make sure you do your research into contract terms and duration to make sure they suit you. There are providers out there, such as Dial 9, who don’t have minimum contract lengths, meaning you can cancel at any time if you need to.

Customer support and service

We’ve all been on the end of endless automated chat support services and feeling like we’ve lost hours of time but are still nowhere near close to resolving the issue. You need to understand what service is on offer and how it’s delivered to you, and if you do encounter an issue you want someone who’ll resolve it quickly. Our support is fully UK-based and we don’t use automated chat or call support, so you’re speaking to a human every time. Check with the providers you’re looking at what their customer satisfaction scores are, and whether the type of support they offer aligns with your expectations.

Pricing

It goes without saying that any VoIP provider you choose needs to fit into your budget. But it’s easy to get caught up in the bottom line price and then find that there are lots of add-ons that push the price higher. Be clear on the full package and all additional or hidden costs before signing on the dotted line.

Find out more about how to choose the right VoIP provider for your business.

What VoIP features do you need for your business phone service?

VoIP offers so many options, particularly compared to a landline, so it can be overwhelming trying to establish which features you need, which would be a perk and which are unnecessary. Taking time to understand the features you really need will help to keep you within a budget and end up with the right VoIP service for your business.

Part of our job is helping our clients understand which features they need, so we’ve pulled together our most commonly asked for features to help get you started.

Option for unlimited calls

You don’t want your business potential to be limited by the number of minutes on your plan. With different options including unlimited calls or call bundles (paying for a certain number of minutes), it’s worth weighing up your call usage and finding the package that works best for you.

Phone numbers

If you’re an established business changing your number can be a nightmare. Find out whether switching to a new provider means brand new phone numbers or whether you can keep your existing number, including landline ones. We’ve got porting agreements covering hundreds of providers so if you switch to Dial 9 you’ll have the option to keep your current number.

IVR menu/auto-receptionist

VoIP systems can automatically interact with callers, collecting their information and routing them to the most appropriate person. That level of interaction saves time and hassle while offering a better level of service to your customers. With an IVR menu or auto-receptionist before you even answer the phone it’s gathered information helping you come across as professional, organised and prepared.

Call logging and analysis

Having access to data showing all the calls coming in and out of your business, along with who answered the calls, average wait times and so much more can be a valuable insight. Even if you don’t need this now, it might be something you need as your business grows.

What should you do next?

Now you’ve got some background information, it’s time to apply it to your situation. Every business is different and that’s why before you choose a VoIP provider it’s essential that you check a few key points.

  1. Decide what your business needs - there are so many features, options and packages that it’s easy to get confused. Make a list of what your business needs and focus on those deliverables.
  2. Establish a budget - you don’t want to pay for features you don’t need. Set a budget and focus on getting the key features within that price bracket.
  3. Test your connection - VoIP requires a stable internet connection. If you’ve got an office, test your network to make sure it can deliver the call capacity and quality you need.
  4. Do your research - once you’ve narrowed down your VoIP provider shortlist, read online reviews to get a feel for the level and quality of service that their current customers receive.

Choosing your next UK VoIP provider doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By taking some time to understand the key features to look for in both a provider and the service they offer you can quickly whittle down the options.

If you’re still struggling to wade through the technical jargon around VoIP, then take a look at our beginners guide to understanding VoIP technical terms.

For those businesses ready to take action, our Dial 9 Business Phone solution is ready and waiting for you. Offering advanced phone system features, detailed call logging and our outstanding UK based customer service, it’s one to add to the top of your shortlist.

A little bit about the author

Hey there, I'm Anastasia! My passion is marketing. I'm all about finding creative ways to tell our story and connect with our audiences. I'm hoping our blog will simplify your journey for the perfect cloud communications system!

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