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Top 3 Considerations for Selecting a Hosted VoIP Provider

VoIP is a proven way for contact centers of all sizes to slash their communications costs by up to 80%. That’s why so many VoIP providers are chasing the contact center market. For contact centers, that horde makes it challenging to find a VoIP provider that provides true enterprise-grade service and support rather than a consumer-class, best-effort offering.

The following three tips are an ideal way to separate the best from the rest:

1. Scrutinize pricing because it’s rarely as transparent as it might seem.

Many providers offer introductory pricing and eventually bump up rates. Before you sign a contract, find out if pricing is locked in and what can trigger changes.

Be sure to ferret out hidden fees and surcharges. The initial price might be right, but it can turn out to be wrong when you find incremental charges for service add-ons that are must-haves for your business. Having all of those details up front also enables you to make apples-to-apples comparisons between the providers on your short list.

2. What kind of support is included?

For example, where is the team located, and what is their availability? Bankers’ hours or 24/7/365? Are you guaranteed immediate access to a live agent every time, or is phone tag the norm? Do you get access to a team that already knows your organization and service portfolio, or will every trouble ticket begin with getting them up to speed? Are there SLAs? Is there an extra fee for the type of support your business model requires?  Does the provider’s system allow you to make changes on your own through a web based interface?

The ideal service provider is always willing to collaborate to solve problems. For example, if the service provider determines that its system isn’t the culprit, it shouldn’t say, “its someone else’s problem.” Instead, it should be willing to work with your broadband provider, your IT team or both to track down the root cause. One reason is because its vantage point might provide clues that the other parties can’t see because of their location in the communications chain.

3. Pick a provider that understands your unique needs.

When a VoIP provider has one-size-fits-all portfolio and rate plan, its customers often wind up paying more than they should and not getting the custom solution they need. For example, outbound contact centers frequently average call durations (ACD) between 6 and 30 seconds, and they typically have answer-signal ratios (ASR) of less than 50 percent.

Low ASRs and low ACDs consume service providers’ signaling and switch resources but don’t make them as much, or any, money as successful calls that last for a minute or longer. That’s why service providers typically charge call center operations much higher rates than they charge “normal” businesses.

The solution: Look for VoIP providers that don’t penalize industry- or application-specific call patterns. For example, the ideal provider shouldn’t use Profit Protection Applications (PPAs), which reject calls that go as far as the fourth or sixth option in their Least Cost Routing (LCR) table. Those VoIP providers frequently have 30 percent to 80 percent lower rates for their contact center customers compared to traditional telcos and other providers. A cutting edge VoIP provider should offer a product portfolio that includes SIP Trunks, Hosted PBX, Conferencing Services and Wholesale SMS. This will help to eliminate the VoIP organizations that offer a one-size-fits-all business model.

The telephone is still the most common way that people interact with businesses and other organizations. Choosing the right VoIP solution is key for providing consistently great customer service without breaking the bank.