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10 Things to Know while Choosing Hosted PBX Systems

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choosing a hosted PBX providerTelephone is still an important means of communication for most of the businesses and so, it is not surprising that hosted PBX systems are getting increasingly popular these days. They can provide businesses of all dimensions with professional phone systems and features which used to be accessible only to big companies. It is important for you to know what exactly to look for while choosing a hosted PBX provider. Let us see what it is.

1. Coverage – Your Area

This is the most important thing whether the provider can port telephone number of you business to their services. If they cannot, they are of no use to you. Many hosted PBX systems can serve only a limited area and therefore it should be confirmed first whether your area is covered by them.

Also, you can additionally be informed about which cities they cover. This is because, now you may not need that service but in future if you expand your business to one of those cities, you will easily find that provider.

2. Payment Per Line

Some hosted PBX service providers still practice an outdated system of charging for lines which is important for you to know. It has been obsolete with the latest VoIP technology. But as that being a revenue-generating system, many companies still practice it, although there are no physical lines anymore.

3. Features

What are your exact needs and will the service provider cater them is also important to know. The provider might have many features, but many of them might be of no use to you. In such cases, it is good to see which features they are offering.

Business Features Consider what you are expecting from a new business phone system to accomplish in terms of branding and operations of your business. E.g. you may want to get multiple phone numbers for the purpose of marketing. Most probably you will need statistics of your call data to make sure customer service and offer opportunities for training. Some important features you should ensure about are call statistics, multi-party conferencing and/or dashboard application to monitor and modify your system in a self-served way.

Call Control Features Think upon the types of functionality which the most frequent users of phone in your business will need. Caller ID, call forwarding and the capability of putting callers on hold and transfer them to others are quite standard requirements today. Large businesses need advanced features like call queues, apps for blackberry, iPhone or android or ring groups.

4. The Possibility to Be “Locked-In”

You should always take care to ask for the contract term of the hosted PBX provider. Some providers like traditional telecom companies require long-term contracts, which may be too rigid for businesses that change frequently.

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Maybe the provider avoids the term “contract”. But you can at least ensure some things by asking following questions:

  • Will you need to re-negotiate every time while expanding your business?
  • If your business contracts, will you be locked in the original deal till it expires?
  • What if your business changes – e.g. what if you launch a new office location or start having your staff work from home?
  • If you want to take your business to somewhere else, are there any cancellation charges and can you transfer your business numbers to another provider?

5. Money-back Guarantee

It is also important to know beforehand what are the policies of the provider for cancelled services. If you find that the services are not suitable for your business after some months, and want to stop taking their services, will they refund your investment, is essential to know.  

6. Support

It is also important to know about the level of support you will be getting from the provider and at what cost. It is seen over the years that the hosted PBX service providers have to have a topnotch support team, because changes to the computer network of the customer can have unseemly consequences. The speed with which the provider responds, identifies and resolves problems is an important criterion that makes or breaks the relationship with the customer in most of the cases.

7. Quality of Service

QoS i.e. quality of service means the ability to offer a different priority to some internet-based apps, users or types of data so as to assure a desired performance. You should ensure about whether your hosted PBX provider has a good QoS policy.

8. Service Level Agreement

SLA or service level agreement is a guarantee by the provider to:

  • give a certain quality in service and performance and
  • consent to particular penalties if the SLA is not maintained.

Ask your provider if they have an SLA and if they have, ask to see it in writing. The SLA has to be easy to understand.

9. Number of Customers

Enquire about the current customer base of the provider and think if it is substantial. Actually you should speak to some of them and get feedback.

10. Standards-based Providers

A hosted PBX system provider can be standards-based or not (called proprietary). You may think that “standard-based” technology is important for only those who build technology. But it also has significance for you as the owner of a business.

The biggest expense you will pose while choosing a hosted PBX provider will be the expense on business phones. If you select a provider who offers proprietary VoIP phones, you can only use those phones with that particular provider or another provider who supports that brand. Thus proprietary PBX services restrict your choices and lock you in.

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