Our Guest Post this week comes from Tony Campbell, Managing Partner at WhichVoIP.com
Business VoIP has been available for many years and continues to be used and adopted by businesses due to it being the top choice for business phone service. Much has been written about business VoIP and if you have ever researched, inquired, evaluated, or used the service, you have likely been both bombarded and overwhelmed with information. After all, every service provider wants to make sure that you know that VoIP can save you money, that there are lots of nice features available, and that their VoIP offering is by far the best available. Why then, is it still so difficult to perform a basic apples to apples, business VoIP comparison and pricing evaluation?
Finding the price can be hard
Go ahead and take a look at a handful of different providers websites and your first impressions will likely be that they all offer similar and clearly stated prices that are in the region of $19.99 per month per user. Dig a bit deeper though and you will see that this is often the best available pricing, and is only available for larger purchases in the 25 to 50 user range. As such, the pricing can actually vary significantly from provider to provider depending on what your needs are. Quickly finding out what the price is for your particular situation can be a challenge and some provider websites do not even break out this pricing. The only way to get it is to call and talk to sales.
The top benefit of VoIP is that it is a cheaper solution than alternative phone services. Why then do some providers make it a challenge to get pricing info?
The hidden costs
You have likely heard about all the great features that VoIP has to offer and how they can benefit your business. Have you heard how much they cost though? To be fair, VoIP does indeed come with a boatload of great features included with the basic service. If you are however interested in some features that are often considered to be premium, additional costs may be required. A great example of this is the auto-attendant feature. This feature answers your phone for you and gives callers a nice menu system to choose from. The auto-attendant then routes the call as requested by the caller. This seems like a very cool feature that every business would want. While some providers offer this as part of their basic package, some providers charge in the region of $24.99 per month to enable it. Some even require a setup and configuration fee. To get to the point though, if you research a provider's website to try and find pricing information on this feature, or any other premium feature, you are going to have difficulty finding it in many cases.
Are features even supported?
Most providers make it easy to see find a list of features that they support. Wouldn't it also be nice though it they showed a list of features that they don't support? To make it more confusing, some features with identical functionality are even called different names by different service providers.
Thinking ahead - What are the support service hours and locations?
So you have managed to sift through all the available information and have narrowed it down to one or two choices for a business VoIP service that seems to best fit your needs. You now start thinking about the installation process and potential need for ongoing support. A quick check on the service providers website can easily turn into a long search followed by a phone call to find out what the support hours are, where the support team is located and what the installation process is. If you have difficulty finding this info, you might want to ask yourself why the post sales information is so hard to come by.
The good news
Thankfully, there are in fact a number of VoIP providers that do a good job in displaying the key pricing, feature and support information up front and center on their websites. Skipping the provider website search and making a quick phone call can of course also be a great way of finding out the information you need.
In summary, if you are researching business VoIP options , make sure you are comparing like for like pricing and features. Clearly understanding what is, and what is not included should help avoid any future surprises and allow your company to benefit from all the marketed features of VoIP that every service provider promotes.