Is your company ready to make the leap from traditional phone service to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)? If so, you’ll need to know how to compare providers so you get the features you need for your business. While all VOIP software works in generally the same way, each provider offers a value proposition that makes them stand out from other companies. Use this guide to determine which features are most important in a VOIP provider.
Most VOIP providers automatically include a package of standard features on any plan you select, but the packages vary in the features they actually include. For example, some providers might offer an automated attendant and call forwarding in its standard package, but not a voicemail-to-text feature. Other providers might have the voicemail-to-text feature, but not video conferencing. Before you decide which provider to go with, ensure they offer the features you want from this list of standard features:
- Automated Attendant – Also called a “phone tree,” an automated attendant helps callers navigate to the right department so their call can be handled more efficiently.
- Call Forwarding – Calls can be forwarded to other phone numbers or extensions so they don’t go unanswered.
- Softphone – A softphone application allows you to make or take calls through any Internet-enabled device.
- Call Analytics – This feature gives you reports on various metrics related to your phone calls, including representative performance, call volume, call length, and more.
- Voicemail-to-text – Calls that go to voicemail are transcribed into text and sent to your phone’s SMS texting application.
- Video Conferencing – This feature gives customers the option of chatting with you over video instead of the phone.
- Business Text Messaging – Instead of calling, this feature allows you to send texts to your customers.
VOIP providers are always innovating, which means their value proposition may come in the form of an advanced feature that no other company has. This could be the factor that helps make your decision about which company to go with. For instance, some providers offer artificial intelligence features, IVR systems, third-party integrations, auto-dialers, store locator services, and more.
Just keep in mind that you will pay more for plans that include advanced features, so it’s a good idea to look for providers that let you choose these features a la carte instead of as bundles. That way, if you don’t need an IVR system, but would love to add an auto-dialer, you’ll be able to do that without paying more for features you don’t need.
Technically, because VOIP uses the Internet, your data is susceptible to breaches and other system vulnerabilities. For this reason, any VOIP provider you consider must have strong security features, including encryption and multiple data centers in multiple locations. Encryption is critical so that your data can’t be easily intercepted and multiple data centers are important in case your normal server goes down. If that happens, another data center can take over for the one that isn’t operable.
VOIP is becoming the mainstream way for companies to have affordable phone service that can be accessed anywhere there’s Internet. If your company is ready to make the change, the next step is to research your options, starting with the features mentioned here.