What to Look for in a Hosted PBX Provider:

When you rely on external services to host, manage and maintain your phone system it is important to ensure you choose a provider you can rely on. With the vast number of providers out there, it can be daunting to choose one – where do you even begin? With promises of service guarantees and satisfaction rates it can be difficult to confide in one sole provider. However, when you break the information down and focus on the objective points it can be easy to come to a conclusion about who would provide the best service for your business.

Features:

First and foremost, the features included in your service are key.

  • When comparing providers, one of the easiest factors to locate and compare is the comprehensive feature lists normally found on the provider’s website.
  • With a breakdown of every feature offered on the different plans, this first step offers an easy introduction to the services and allows you to quickly knock out providers that don’t suit your price point and telephony needs.
Reliability and Network:

However, the features included with your service won’t make much difference without a solid, reliable network. If the provider’s servers go down, your phones go down.

  • Ensuring the provider, you choose has a redundant, and robust network with a high service level guarantee – most providers promise over 97% uptime.
  • It’s important to look for a provider that operates data centers in multiple locations, not just around the world but also redundancy such as an East coast and West coast data center in the U.S. This way if one goes down, your calls can be rerouted to the backup without interruption.
  • Entering a Service Level Agreement is a good way to ensure the status and reliability of your service.
Customer Service:

If your provider’s servers do in fact go down, or you have any other issues with your service, it’s imperative that your provider offers consistent and accessible customer service.

  • Certain providers will offer U.S. based customer service.
  • Methods of contact can vary with phone calls, email, online tickets or even web chat.
  • Some providers even offer 24/7 customer service but may limit this to their higher paying customers.
  • You can take a look at our round up to see which business VoIP provider keeps you on hold the longest.
Flexibility:

As one of the major benefits of adopting a hosted PBX, you would want a provider that is as flexible as the service can be.

  • With a hosted solution scaling up and down is and should be, very simple.
  • A provider that allows this flexibility at little to no cost will be much easier to work with when it comes to expanding not only users but also features and overall service.
  • Some providers may charge fees extra for adding or removing lines or turning features on and off.
Hidden Costs:

And of course, no one wants to be ambushed with hidden costs or cancellation fees.

  • Many providers will supply transparent price quotes, but it’s important to keep an eye out for any extra fees or charges you may not have expected.
  • Cancellation fees can also be common if you decide to interrupt your service before an agreed upon date.
Benefits of a Hosted PBX Solution:
  1. Cost Savings – Between the initial setup, and ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs, a hosted PBX removes most of the extra fees associated with establishing and running your own phone system on premise.
  2. Ease of Use and Setup – As the initial setup is handled by the service provider, there won’t be many headaches on your end to get your system running. Adding lines or changing features is as simple as logging into the online account management portal and ticking different boxes.
  3. Local Presence – Hosted PBX providers have access to an unlimited amount of local numbers so customers don’t have to dial out to a big, faceless cooperate 800 number.
  4. Location Flexibility – With desktop soft phone applications and even mobile phone applications, your workers can access your phone system from anywhere. No longer are you tied down to just your desk phone, as you can also set one number to ring every device.
  5. Scalability – Since your system isn’t limited by what hardware you have on premise, you can scale your system either up or down at the flick of a switch to best fit your needs.
  6. Credibility – Ensure your business projects the professional image you deserve with a robust phone system that will never fail. Combined with features normally reserved for large Enterprise systems, like an auto-attendant and call routing, a hosted PBX will transfer your business’ image.

Don’t Forget To…

Make Arrangements Regarding Your New (Temporary?) Phone Number – This can vary depending on what your decision is regarding porting your number. if you are porting over your existing number, DO NOT cancel with your existing provider until the number is completely ported to the new carrier. If you have a new number, be sure and let everyone know, for instance with an email blast; if you have a temporary number (which is needed during the number porting process), it may be easiest to have all calls routed to your cell phones for the brief time that your number is being ported.

Tip: If you cancel your service with your old carrier before your number is ported, you’ll lose it.

 

Configure Your Dial Plan – One of the first things you need to do is organize how your calls will be routed. You’ll have to define a number of call rules, including:

  • What hours for your desk phones to ring
  • How to handle off-hours—whether calls go to voice mail or another phone, such as your cell
  • How to handle faxes
  • What buttons activate certain features, like pressing 1 for voice mail
  • Setting your dial-by-name directory
  • Simultaneous and sequential ringing/Find me & follow me rules

Tip: Be sure to configure your E-911 settings when you first set up your hosted VoIP service.

Review Your Bill – Review the first and second month’s bill to make sure that you have all the services you paid for. There are setup fees that may or may not be waived, activation fees, and number porting fees. If there’s something you don’t understand about your bill, be sure to call in to customer support, as they will explain it to you or fix the problem.

Write a Review – Share your experience with the world. Other people will get to gain from what you learned along the way. Talk about pleasant and unpleasant surprises, too. Other potential customers will want to know your experience.