Changing VoIP providers – what you need to know
If you have decided to change your business VoIP provider, there are a few things you need to know, or at least understand and keep in mind if you want to be sure the process runs smoothly.
Leave with dignity
It is always easier to get along with everyone if there are no hard feelings. Of course, your current supplier is going to be disappointed and will almost certainly try to persuade you not to switch. But as long as you have made your decision for the right reasons, they should respect that can co-operate in full. As long as you stick to the terms of any contract that may be in place, they can have few complaints. There is not much for them to do frankly, except turn the service off and perhaps issue with a closing bill.
Check you can take your hardware
If you have VoIP handsets, you may well want to take these with you and use them with the new hosted VoIP system. This ought not be an issue, but it is worth checking. It will be useful if your former supplier they can also be persuaded to co-operate on ensuring they devices are re-set and the new supplier is ready to get them set-up.
Plan for the switch-over
In theory, the switch-over from one supplier to another should be seamless and not involve any disruption to your telephony services. You should also be able to take all your numbers with you – but just make sure that you have checked that this is indeed the case with your new suppliers and that they are all ready to go from the planned commencement of your service.
Be clear about SLAs
One of the reasons you’re likely to switch is quality and/or availability of service. You will hopefully have already checked out the customer satisfaction levels for the new supplier and even tried the service out yourself as well, so you should be confident about it. Even so, you should still have a service level agreement (SLA) in place and a clear understanding of how quality and service will be measured and on what timescale.
Although VoIP does not need that much bandwidth, other applications and services can eat up a lot of what’s available and if you are on a contended line (and all broadband connections are shared), then there is always the potential for call quality to be impacted in some way. Having an open and frank discussion with your new provider about this in advance is a good idea. It may be that it’s a good time to upgrade your connection anyway – we are all using more bandwidth now and fibre connections are much more widely available. The better your external IP connection, the better the chances of your VoIP working flawlessly.
Check the networking infrastructure
Just as you’ll need a good connection to the external network, your internal IP infrastructure also needs to be capable of managing increased traffic levels and supporting higher quality connections.
Retrain in advance
The new VoIP system may work in a slightly different way to the previous one, so you may need staff to be given a training session and have access to support, especially within the first few days after the switch. Support should be an integral part of the SLA.
Plan for what do you – and what you don’t want from the new VoIP service. Be very clear to your new provider about how you want the system to be set-up in terms of direct dialling, voicemail, auto attendant, call direction, group hunting and other features. Getting this right first time can save you a lot of time later and make sure you create a good impression with customers.
Think mobile and remote
If you want your VoIP system to be used by staff when they are on the move, or when they are working at home, it’s worth getting this capability set-up at the start and making sure users know how to make use of VoIP when they are out of the office.
Do you want to ‘hot-desk’?
If you do have more staff working out of the office regularly, you may be able to save on office space by using ‘hot-desks’ that anyone can use when they are in the office. This can have other benefits and it’s entirely possible with VoIP as no user is tied to an extension.